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GYLA Assesses the Activities of Parliament in 2017

By Vladimer Napetvaridze
Friday, January 12
Focuses on Lack of Communication between Government and Legislators

On January 10, the Georgian Young Lawyers' Association (GYLA) presented a report about the activities of the Parliament in 2017.

GYLA has defined main problems in the work of the Parliament based on the reports of Parliamentary sessions and meetings. The report refers to the legislative as well as supervisory functions.

According to the GYLA report 2017, several problems were identified: (1) The Parliament has not worked on legislative initiatives, which needed additional activities for further improvement; (2) The Parliament adopted some of the legislative initiatives on which the majority, the President and nongovernmental organizations have expressed their disagreements, (3) There were some attempts to demonstrate the Presidential veto as an instrument of political speculations; (4) Sometimes discussions exceeded the general standards of political debates, (5) Regardless of the majority’s willingness, in some cases, to share some initiatives in response to the Presidential veto, it was impossible due to inflexible Parliamentary regulations; (6) There have been defects in all phases of preparing the draft Constitutional Amendments, which led to the absence of a consensus over the changes in the Constitution; (7) The majority representatives were more constructive in supervisory activities and largely refrained from critical comments. They also evaluated the current government activities, in comparison to the previous government; (8) As for the minority representatives, their critical statements were mostly based on a political context.

The Parliament’s inability to properly use its monitoring function was also highlighted in the GYLA report. During the autumn sessions in 2016 and spring session in 2017, the Parliament has not used its right to hold a “governmental hour.” The governmental hour is a right of MPs to invite a member of the government to address questions at the plenary session in Parliament. According to the regulations, the governmental hour can be hold on the last Friday of each month.

"The members of the Parliament do not use the Governmental Hour. The minority representatives have summoned the government members to faction sessions and the majority representatives prefer to use different forms of informal communication and meetings with their government," reads the GYLA report.

The head of Procedural Issues and Rules Committee Giorgi Kakhiani has proposed: “to give the rights to summon the government members to the Parliamentary Committees instead of factions.”

The initiative of Kakhiani was criticized by the representative of European Georgia and the Vice-Speaker of the Parliament Sergi Kapanadze. Kapanadze noted that it would be a big step backward.

"If this regulation is abolished, it means that the political opposition will lose its tool to directly ask questions to the government and hold a discussion. No other formats allow that, no committee hearings or governmental hour," he said.

The representatives of GYLA also disagree with the abolishment of the right.

"It is not right to abolish the regulation just because Ministers do not attend the faction sessions. This means that members of the government need to have more responsibility towards the regulations," said Nino Tsukhishvili, a representative of GYLA.

According to the Rules of Procedure, a member of the government, is obliged to attend a faction session, if summoned to Parliament and answer questions of MPs. Based on this regulation, the Parliamentary opposition summoned the Ministers at faction sessions several times, but despite the obligations under the Rules of Procedure, the government members preferred not to show up.