Ensuring cooperation between the public and private sectors is important for the development of evidence-based and inclusive policies and legislative basis as well as the effective execution of regulations. By strengthening dialogue, it is possible to find timely and effective solutions to economic and social issues facing the country. The Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), with the support of USAID, has been assessing the quality of cooperation between the public and private sectors since 2015. Initially, we evaluated the quality of dialogue at the central level, and since 2021 IDFI has also assessed municipal normative acts.
The purpose of this report is to assess the quality of engagement of the private sector in the process of developing normative acts that will have a significant economic impact. Specifically, the study assessed the quality of dialogue held within the framework of twenty normative acts adopted/initiated in 2021-2022. We selected eight laws/draft laws, eight sub-legal normative acts, and one priority budget program from four municipalities: Batumi, Kutaisi, Gori, and Rustavi. We selected infrastructure priorities for Batumi and Rustavi, and economic development priorities for Gori and Kutaisi.
Based on the findings of the assessed normative acts, the recommendations have been developed.
- The private sector was involved in the development of most normative acts (12), although the quality of participation varied.
- Public hearings were held for almost all the acts, but in the opinion of the private sector, in some cases the discussions were treated as a formality and the feedback was a standard response.
- A significant number of public agencies published draft acts on their websites, but this mechanism was not effective for receiving any comments.
- Initially, public agencies prepared projects without the participation of the private sector, although they relied on information provided by the private sector.
- The acts that were prepared with private sector participation underwent significant changes as a result of their comments.
- The active participation of the NGO sector had a positive impact on the dissemination of information and the involvement of civil society in the process.
- Regulatory impact assessments (RIA) were carried out only in case of three draft laws and one subordinate normative act.
- The period of preparation of the studied draft laws ranges from one to 10 years. Some private sector respondents noted that such a lengthy process is ineffective.
- It is necessary to proactively disseminate draft acts, including by sending documentation to and actively communicating with interested parties.
- It is important to prepare and publish analytical documents.
- It is desirable to involve the private sector in the preparation of initial working versions of acts.
- To increase the involvement of the private sector, it is necessary to effectively manage the act preparation process, conduct result-oriented public discussions, and provide well-reasoned feedback on comments.
- To disseminate information and improve draft acts, both the NGO sector and the business sector must actively participate.
- It is necessary to prepare RIAs for acts with significant economic impact, regardless of whether the law requires it or not.
- Stakeholders in municipalities were not adequately informed about the budget cycle and the competencies of public agencies.
- Stakeholders had trouble finding the published drafts of budgets.
- At the budget planning stage, meetings were held with the population, to a lesser extent with businesses and NGOs.
- Effective communication by local self-governments is necessary to enhance the quality of stakeholders’ participation in the dialogue.
- Information about the stages and the calendar of budget preparation should be proactively disseminated and easier to access on the website.
- Increasing the involvement of the population and the private sector in the planning of projects for economic development is necessary.
- It is essential to raise the awareness of stakeholders about the powers of local self-government.
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