On June 12 2017, a draft law amending the Law on National Regulatory Authorities was registered in the Parliament, aiming to limit the scope of the new Civil Service Law on the employees of regulatory authorities. Namely, according to the amendments, the staff of regulatory agencies will be exempt from the requirements of the law in areas of remuneration, classification, bonuses, promotion, disciplinary actions, evaluation, etc. The amendments could threaten the principle of uniformity of the civil service.
The adoption of the new Law on Public Service was preceded by the development of the Civil Service Reform Concept, which includes all the main principles that serve as the basis of legislative and other changes. According to the reform concept, a civil servant is any person, who is engaged in public administration, which in itself is defined as any institution that has administrative functions falling under the classification the General Administrative Code of Georgia. Regulatory authorities perform public functions and thereby are considered as public institutions.
The new Law on Civil Service exempts the members of regulatory commissions; however, specifically does not mention the staff of these commissions.
If the amendments to theLaw on National Regulatory Authorities are adopted, civil servants employed at theGeorgian National Energy and Water Supply Regulatory Commission and Georgian National Communications Commission would be exempt from the jurisdiction of the Law on Civil Service. The reasoning of the above-mentioned amendment can also be applied the National Bank of Georgia and other independent public institutions, because similar to the regulatory authorities they are also independent in the execution of their functions. These amendments threaten the uniformity of the civil service, because such exemptions limit the uniform application of the law. The uniformity of the public service is one of the main goals underlying the Law on Civil Service and the civil service reform concept.
The principle of uniformity is important for civil servants for the realization of their rights and for the interests of public administration. Uniform application of the law guarantees the career development principle for all civil servants and protects them from political and private influences.
The explanatory note of the draft law states that regulatory authorities are independent from other branches of government. While this is true, the application of the Law on Civil Service and subsequent legislative acts on regulatory authorities cannot be considered as interference in their activities. Regulatory commissions are independent from other branches of government but not exempt from the obligation to act in accordance with public interest.
The draft law does not include comments from the Civil Service Bureau. The opinion of the Bureau is especially important, since it is responsible for coordinating the civil service reform. In order to guarantee and inclusive process, the new law was developed by the Bureau with active involvment of all interested parties, including regulatory commissions.
In order to ensure the principle of uniformity of the public service, it is of crucial importance for new civil service legislation to cover regulatory bodies. By exempting regulatory commissions, it could open a logical possibility to expand exemptions further to include the National Bank, Personal Data Protection Inspector, etc.
Therefore, IDFI calls on the Georgian Parliament:
- Not to support the current draft law and consult with all interested parties on this issue, especially those organizations which were engaged in the long process of developing the civil service reform concept.
- To request the Civil Service Bureau, the institution responsible for coordinating the reform, to provide its written opinion during parliamentary discussions of any amendments to the Law on Civil Service.
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