Public forum in Chisinau: Parliament, debtor in terms of transparency and public information

The selective organization of public consultations, the lack of information on the results of consultations, the difficulty of following the path of a draft law, the non-publication on Parliament's website of documents accompanying a draft law and the non-functioning of advisory boards between Parliament and the associative environment. These are the conclusions of the study "Analysis of deficiencies in ensuring transparency in the legislative process of Parliament", presented on December 11 in the forum "Strengthening the institutional consultation process and public oversight in Moldova", organized by the Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Policy (CAPE).

The study is signed by the lawyer of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Policies (CAPE), Viorel Pirvan and Mariana Kalughin, anti-corruption expert at Transparency International Moldova and analyzes the application of transparency requirements in the legislative process of the Parliament.

"Parliament continues to lag behind in terms of transparency and public information about its work. The process of public consultation on draft legislative acts in standing parliamentary committees is difficult and incomplete, which limits the possibility for stakeholders to present their position and make recommendations. Thus, the participatory process of elaborating public policies must become an indispensable element in the activity of the Parliament, which must solve any problem through dialogue, consultations and public discussions”, says Viorel Pîrvan. Likewise, he said, advisory boards and working groups are effective tools for cooperation and partnership between Parliament and the association, but they are not used by standing committees.

Weaknesses in ensuring the transparency of the legislative process refer to the selective and sometimes defective organization of public consultations for draft laws, limiting public consultations only to publishing draft laws on the Parliament's website, ignoring the opinions of consulted parties and not informing about the results of consultations, the difficulty of following the route of a draft law, but also the non-existence of norms that provide for the sanctioning of deputies and guilty persons for violating the requirements regarding the transparency of the decision-making process. All these gaps are caused primarily by the imperfections of the regulatory framework and the dispersion of rules in several acts and are caused by the non-application in practice of the rules of law, designed to ensure an efficient and transparent legislative process, the study "Analysis of deficiencies on ensuring transparency in Parliament's legislative process”.

"Although the regulations on ensuring transparency in the parliamentary decision-making process are contained in several normative acts, the provisions remain confusing and too general to be applicable. And the normative acts aimed at decisional transparency in the activity of the Parliament do not contain a series of regulations, which cannot ensure the transparency of the decisional process in the Parliament”, Mariana Kalughin thinks.

According to the study, the legislative initiatives of the deputies are not subject to public consultations, the experts, the specialists in the field, the representatives of the profile associations are not always involved. Thus, the initiative of the deputies is not known to the public, being elaborated without the participation of the society. And the public consultation is generally limited to the publication of draft laws on the web, and the public has the task to constantly follow the page of the Parliament, to find the projects that interest them and possibly to submit proposals for improving the draft legislative acts. This diminishes the public's involvement and participation in the legislative process. Therefore, in 2018, for the 268 draft laws adopted, only 84 recommendations were received from civil society and only 17% of draft laws were publicly consulted.

In order to ensure an efficient and transparent legislative process, the authors Viorel Pirvan and Mariana Kalughin propose a series of recommendations. Among them we can mention the systematization of the norms regarding the transparency in the parliamentary decision-making process in a single normative act; sanctioning deputies for non-compliance with the rules on transparency in the legislative process; the publication on Parliament's website of the documents contained in the file accompanying the legislative initiative; implementation of the e-Parliament information system; establishing mechanisms for cooperation and partnership with civil society, currently regulated by the legal framework, such as permanent expert councils composed of representatives of civil society organizations and working groups of experts and specialists in the field, stakeholder representatives, etc.