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TI: 30 MPs did not use their right to speech

By Nika Gamtsemlidze
Monday, July 15
In the framework of the parliamentary monitoring program, Transparency International Georgia published an Assessment of the Performance of the Parliament of Georgia in 2018. The report covers the time period from January 1, 2018, till December 31, 2018, and includes positive trends and current challenges that the Parliament faces.

According to the TI, this year, unlike the previous years, the number of requests for fast-tracked draft laws was declined. As the report reads, during the first year of the 9th convocation of the Parliament, in 2016-2017, 213 draft laws were heard through the fast-tracked procedure, this year, the number was reduced to 180. Other than that, compared to the last year, the instances of deferral of putting laws into effect were decreased.

As the report reads, the number of parliamentary committees with an annual plan saw an increase this year. In 2017, 7 committees out of 15 had an action plan published on the Parliament’s website, while in 2018 the number of parliamentary committees with an action plan increased to 18.

The most active parliamentary committee in 2018 was the Legal Issues Committee. It held 58 sessions, heard a total of 593 draft laws, presented 13 legislative initiatives, and expressed an opinion on 355 draft laws. According to the TI, the Parliamentary Budget Office and the Gender Equality Council drafted a methodology on the gender analysis of legislation; the Council actively worked on new legislative initiatives.

While talking about Parliamentary control, the report says that a new Rules of Procedure was adopted, which significantly improved the mechanisms for control. The report also touched upon the establishment of a thematic research group in the Committee on Environmental Protection and Natural Resources and noted that this was a significant step for exercising the oversight function.

“During the reporting period, the thematic research group atmospheric analyzed the air condition in Tbilisi,” reads the assessment. During the reporting year, the number of deputy questions also saw an increase. 40 MPs sent out 482 written questions to responsible bodies and public officials in 2018, while in 2017 only 25 MPs sent 182 questions.

Compared to the previous year, there were more instances of accountable persons summoned to faction sittings in 2018.

According to the TI, in 2018, 21 summons were made; however, the summoned persons “did not show up for any of the settings.” In 2017, the number of summons was 11.

The faction sitting summons were most frequently ignored by the Minister of Finance, Ivane Machavariani, and Minister of Internal Affairs, Giorgi Gakharia.

Openness and Transparency of the Parliament also had some improvements. People with disabilities can now move freely in the Parliament’s building, Parliament’s website publishes an audio recording of the plenary sessions, one of the commitments under the 2017 Open Parliament Action Plan was also fulfilled, this year, the Parliament conducted a self-assessment report.

On the other hand, according to the TI’s report, in addition to specific challenges identified in the work of the Parliament, there were some issues related to the cooperation of the Parliament and the civil society.

The TI says that ex-Chairperson of the Parliament, Irakli Kobakhidze, has made numerous aggressive statements against the non-governmental sector.

As the report reads, neither the ruling party nor the opposition has used parliamentary control mechanisms for exercising effective oversight; instead, they have mostly used it for party interests. Also, Parliament did not carry out monitoring of the law-making action plan, which was presented by the Government.

Absences from plenary sessions remained as a challenge this year as well, in the first year of the 9th convocation of the Parliament there were 1430 absences, while in 2018, the number of absences was 1500. Also, some of the violations of the parliamentary code of ethics by MPs mostly were not followed by the respective response mechanisms envisaged under rules of procedure.

It should be noted that 49 plenary sittings were held in the Parliament of Georgia in 2018. According to the official information of the Parliament, despite the busy schedule, extensive statements and sometimes even fights between the MPs, there was a total of 30 deputies who did not use the right of speech at the sessions.

TI assessed the following law positively. New Rules of Procedure of the Parliament, Amendments to the Law on Violence Against Women And Family Violence, Code of Ethics, Electronic Petitions, the ones that need improvements are: legislative initiatives on the “Fourth Wave” Reforms, Law on the State Inspector Office, and the ones assessed negatively are: Pension Reform and the amendments to the financing of political parties, which allows parties to receive budgetary funding even if one MP is elected through the majoritarian system.

TI also named Eka Beselia as the most active MP, Zurab Tchiaberashvili as the most active MP in plenary sessions from the parliamentary minority, Roman Gotsiridze as the most active MP in plenary sessions from outside the majority and minority factions, Khatuna Gogorishvili as the author of most deputy questions.

According to their official website, Transparency International Georgia was established on May 7, 2000, as a local non-governmental organization committed to combating corruption in Georgia through the promotion of transparency and accountability.

Their mission is to serve as the primary source of information on corruption reform in Georgia, to assist the Georgian Government and the broader public in facilitating reform in sectors where corruption exists, to build and strengthen institutions and to promote good governance.