What issues piqued the interest of Members of Parliament in 2023? - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო

What issues piqued the interest of Members of Parliament in 2023?

03 April, 2024

While parliamentary questions are frequently employed by members of parliament, labeling this mechanism of parliamentary control as effective is challenging. This is attributed to both the content of the questions and the subsequent responses, particularly when the question is submitted by an opposition MP.

In 2023, a total of 2,997 written parliamentary questions1 were submitted by 47 Members of Parliament to ministers and accountable institutions.

Among these inquiries, 77 originated from MPs belonging to the majority, while the remaining 2,920 were submitted by opposition MPs. 

Out of the total, 796 questions were left unanswered, with the opposition submitting 791 of them. 27% of submitted questions by the opposition were unanswered, whereas only 6% of questions posed by the majority remained without a response.

In 2023, the spectrum of questions spanned diverse subjects such as: 

  • Water supply in the regions; 
  • Education and culture;
  • Frequency of meetings conducted by the Gender Equality Council in municipalities;
  • Initiatives undertaken to raise awareness in municipalities; 
  • Quantity of training sessions and seminars organized in municipalities. 

In 2023, parliamentary questions primarily centered on soliciting statistical data on diverse topics. Identical inquiries were dispatched to multiple institutions, leading to a large volume of questions.

The study of parliamentary questions revealed the following challenges: 

  • There have been hundreds of cases of government members ignoring MP’s questions, particularly when posed by opposition members. In 2023, 791 questions (27%) submitted by opposition MPs remained unanswered. The issue of unanswered questions and delayed responses is a recurring concern highlighted in the periodic reports issued by the Procedural Issues and Rules Committee;
  • In 2023, parliamentary questions primarily centered on soliciting statistical data on diverse topics. Additionally, similar information could be acquired through requests for public information in accordance with the General Administrative Code. As a constitutional mechanism for parliamentary oversight, the focus should extend beyond mere statistical data to encompass more vital national issues, prompting inquiries that explore critical issues more comprehensively;
  • If the minister or head of the accountable body fails to respond to parliamentary questions, the political accountability mechanism should be effective, in line with best international practice. The government’s disregard for parliamentary questions can fuel debate during a plenary session and, in certain instances, serve as grounds for the dismissal of a minister. Procedural Issues and Rules Committee scrutinizes adherence to the legal regulations governing parliamentary inquiries. The committee forwards information regarding the response to parliamentary questions to the parliament’s bureau, which holds the authority to incorporate the mentioned issue into the agenda of the plenary session. Despite ministers frequently neglecting parliamentary questions, no one has been held politically accountable for this issue.

Given the aforementioned, it is crucial that: 

  • MPs and government members exhibit greater accountability towards the constitutional mechanism of parliamentary control; 
  • Parliamentary questions should be leveraged by MPs to enact genuine scrutiny; 
  • Ministers should provide responses to questions irrespective of the political affiliation of the question’s author; 
  • Unanswered parliamentary questions ought to be deliberated upon during the plenary session of the Parliament.