Report on the Performance of the Parliament of the Tenth Convocation - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო
GEO

Report on the Performance of the Parliament of the Tenth Convocation

26 July, 2022

The post-electoral political crisis and the problems related to the coronavirus pandemic had a negative impact on the first year performance of the Parliament of the 10th convocation.

Due to growing political crisis, the Parliament failed to exercise its control mechanisms effectively. The opposition, largely due to its legislative boycott, was not fully involved in the activities of the Parliament. No significant reforms were implemented during the reporting period, including the 19th April agreement between political parties, that envisaged power-sharing within the Parliament

Key Findings

Performance of the members of the Parliament

● The right of legislative initiative was not exercised by 53 members of the Parliament;

● The right to speech was not exercised by 21 members of the Parliament; 10 of which are representatives of the majority (Samvel Manukyan, Elguja Gotsiridze, Edisher Toloraia, Sumbat Kiureghiani, Zaal Mikeladze, Dimitri Samkharadze, Goderdzi Chankseliani, Vasil Chigogidze, Irakli Khakhubia, Viktor Japaridze) and 11 of which are representatives of the opposition: Giorgi Godabrelidze, Levan Varshalomidze, Abdulla Ismailov, Manuchar Kvirkvelia, Vakhtang Kikabidze, Ramaz Nikolaishvili, Kakhaber Okriashvili, Dilar Khabuliani, Zurab Japaridze, Shalva Natelashvili, Elene Khoshtaria (The last two persons in the list had publicly stated that they would not take part in the activities of the parliament and boycotted, although they had not officially signed a boycott statement).

●  In the reporting period, 12 MPs (including 11 from the opposition and 1 from the majority) did not exercise either the right to speak or the right to legislative initiative, 1 of them is a member of the majority: Sumbat Kiureghiani, and 11 are members of the opposition: Giorgi Godabrelidze, Levan Varshalomidze, Abdulla Ismailov, Manuchar Kvirkvelia, Vakhtang Kikabidze, Ramaz Nikolaishvili, Kakhaber Okriashvili, Dilar Khabuliani, and Zurab Girchi Japaridze, Shalva Natelashvili, Elene Khoshtaria (The last two persons in the list had publicly stated that they would not take part in the activities of the parliament and boycotted, although they had not officially signed a boycott statement).

●   GEL 766,860.60 was spent on working trips abroad taken by 47 MPs;

● A total of GEL 1,105,617.42 was withheld from the salaries of 59 MPs as a disciplinary sanction.

 

Assessment of important legislative amendments

Progressively assessed laws include: increasing the number of votes required to limit MP's immunity; granting rights to a faction of a political group consisting of at least 2 members, except for the rights defined for the faction by the Constitution of Georgia; imposing the obligation on the Deputy Chairman of the Sakrebulo faction to file a declaration.

Positive legislative amendments that require further improvement: increasing mechanisms of protection of minors’ rights in the process of administering justice; several issues of election law reform.

The following legislative amendments have been negatively assessed: amendment to the rule of election of CEC chairperson and members; reorganization of the State Inspector Service; amendments to the Law on Common Courts; stricter sanctions for disobeying a police officer.

Main Challenges

Power-sharing and participation in the activities of the Parliament

  • The chairpersons of all committees are representatives of the majority. The April 19 agreement with the political parties on strengthening the role of the opposition in the parliament was not fulfilled;
  • The opposition was not fully involved in the activities of the Parliament, largely due to its boycott.
  • During the reporting period, there were three different chairpersons of the Parliament.

 

Legislative process

  • The most active committees were: The Legal issues committee and The Human Rights Committee, while the least active was: The Diaspora and Caucasus Issues Committee.
  • Parliament did not ensure the involvement of civil society and experts in the discussion of bills related to the significant reforms for the country. Legislative initiatives concerning important matters for the country were either not considered or suspended without reasoning, for example, the legislative package on the establishment of an anti-corruption agency, the draft Law on Freedom of Information, and amendments to the Law on Personal Data Protection;
  • The practice of expedited consideration of draft laws continued, and extending the term of consideration of draft laws has become a regular practice. The Parliament adopted 95 bills under the expedited procedure. The term of consideration was extended 94 times for the total of 46 legislative packages (242 draft laws); in the reporting period, the leaders by the number of an extended term of consideration (five times) were the Amendments to the Election Code and the Enforcement Code;
  • Delays in enacting adopted laws represented a problem; for example, the enactment of separate norms of the Law on Civil Service were postponed five times. In total, the enactment of 22 draft laws was postponed;
  • The Bureau of Parliament received 122 legislative proposals. Seven of them were endorsed by committees[2] including the ones that would hinder the democratic development of the country and the authors of which are known for their radical rhetoric against liberal groups.

 

Parliamentary oversight

  • Government members and other officials accountable to the Parliament did not treat the parliamentary oversight with due respect: the Ministers did not provide complete and timely responses to MPs’ questions, did not attend committee sittings upon the invitation of opposition factions.
  • The total of 256 MP questions were left unanswered, the majority of which were from representatives of the opposition.
  • The opposition factions summoned accountable persons to committee sittings 12 times, but none of the hearings took place;
  • Mechanisms of parliamentary oversight were not effectively applied to the process of management of the pandemic as well as handling of serious pandemic-related problems such as: risks of corruption during the pandemic, public procurement, etc. The reporting period saw the failure to hold even a single interpellation, the decline in summoning public officials as well as in the effectiveness of control over the enforcement of normative acts. Terms for consideration of reports were breached, in particular, of total 21 reports submitted to the parliament 10 were not considered in the reporting period;
  • The parliamentary control over the security sector remained weak and ineffective. The Trust Group was not fully manned and hence, the opposition did not take part in the activities of the Trust Group.

Accountability and openness of the Parliament

  • Entering the Parliament building still remained a problem for representatives of the media and civil sector. Permits to enter the Parliament and attend committee sittings were denied without justification, by making reference to general safety rules of the parliament;
  • Despite the adoption of the Code of Ethics, the Ethics Council was not set up. As a result, the requirements of the Code of Ethics cannot be enforced;

Recommendations

Power-sharing and participation in the activities of the Parliament

  • It is crucially important to honor the matters set out in the 19 April agreement between the political parties, in particular, the obligations concerning the enhancement of the role of the opposition. The Rules of Procedure must lay down provisions for proper participation of the  opposition in the election of parliamentary officials and the appointment of opposition members as committee chairpersons, which represent the best international practice;
  • The opposition must fully engage in Parliamentary activity. To avoid politicized decisions in appointing heads of entities accountable to the parliament, consultations with opposition factions must become mandatory and the Rules of Procedure must stipulate a rule of reaching a decision through consensus.

Legislative process

  • It is important that the consideration of draft laws is considered within the timeframes defined in the Rules of Procedure, and the term of consideration of draft laws must not be extended without good reason; 
  • Except for special cases, legislative initiatives related to significant reforms for the country should not be considered under expedited procedure (passing all three readings within a week). Involvement of civil society and experts must be ensured.

Parliamentary control

  • Accountable bodies and members of the government should assist the Parliament in conducting a comprehensive and effective oversight, must honor parliamentary oversight procedures set out in the Constitution and the Rules of Procedure;           
  • The parliamentary control over the security sector must be strengthened. The Trust Group must be fully formed and opposition factions given an opportunity to join the Trust Group in accordance with the procedure set out in the Rules of Procedure;
  • A thematic inquiry group must conduct an intensive monitoring of the fulfillment of recommendations by accountable persons.

 Accountability and openness of the Parliament

  • Citizens must not be denied entry to the parliament building without substantiation. Steps must be taken towards the abolition of the system of passes;
  • The Parliament must succeed in manning the Ethics Council as soon as possible;
  • The information about the parliamentary oversight, the result of the oversight, and related statistical data, including the information about the summoning of public officials accountable to the parliament must be regularly published on the website of the parliament, which needs further improvement.

 


[1] The presented statistics do not include 2 initiatives on constitutional amendments, which were initiated by 85 members of Parliament, and in the second case, by 91 members of Parliament.

 

[2] The data is based on information posted on the Parliament website.

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