On January 27th, 2014 IDFI referred to the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development with a FOI request. Various data was requested. Among them information on the amount of salary supplements and bonuses given to the high officials as well as to other employees of the Ministry, results of the audit checks, higher education diplomas of the Minister and Deputy Minister and etc (13 requests in all). Unfortunately the Ministry failed to provide us with complete information. Hence on 24th February, 2014 administrative appeal was filed to the Ministry of Economy. The proceeding were started in the administrative agency, nevertheless no administrative act was issued within the period fixed by the legislating. Dwelling form the fact, that the Ministry of Economy failed to duly exercise its obligation, the institute referred to the Ombudsmen, informing him on the fact of violating the right of IDFI, enshrined by article 41 of the Constitution. The Ombudsmen was asked to prepare recommendation insuring that the right of the institute on the access to information would be well respected.
After receiving the application and getting acquainted with the case recommendation was prepared by the Ombudsmen. In the document it is unambiguously highlighted that information requested by the Institute was indeed open public information. Hence the Ministry had the obligation to provide IDFI with the complete data, within the timeframe set by the legislation.
In the recommendation important emphasis is made on the issue of audit checks. The Ministry of Economy refused to publicize information on the results of audit and inspection checks based on the argument that „it was not advisable to publicize the results of internal inspection”. According to Georgian legislation all information held by an administrative body is public, except for the cases when the data constitutes state, commercial or personal secrecy. In addition according to the General Administrative Code of Georgia everyone shall have access to information concerning results of auditing or inspection of the activity of a public agency. Hence the recommendation highlights that refusing to publicize the results of audit checks based on the argument that it is not “advisable” is against the requirements of law.
The ombudsmen addressed the case of the failure of the Ministry to issue an administrative act within the term fixed by law. The recommendation emphasizes that the approach of the ministry towards the issue, that is the explanation according to which the failure of the ministry to issue an administrative act should be considered as a refusal to issue the act, infringes the right of citizens to access public infuriation.
Based on the above mentioned, it should be highlighted one more time that, the Ministry of Economy infringed the right of the Institute to access public information held in the administrative body. Hence the ombudsmen directed the Ministry to provide IDFI with the complete information requested on January 27th 2014.
The recommendation of the Ombudsmen on the case is crucial for the Institute, as the later has unambiguously highlighted that the right of IDFI enshrined by art icicle 41 of the Constitution was indeed violated. We hope that the recommendation of the Ombudsmen will be taken into consideration, and full information requested will be publicized in the nearest future.
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