The Law on the Parliament to respond to the weaknesses of the law drafting procedure

The lack of impact assessment, financial estimates and appropriate public participation is an alarm for better regulation of the law-making process in the Parliament of Montenegro, especially when initiated by MPs.

In its new analysis “The Parliament passes the decisions, but what is the procedure like?”, Institute Alternative provided an overview of the legislative function of the Parliament and offered a series of recommendations for improvements.

Between September 2020 and 22 September 2021, the share of the proposals for laws introduced to the Parliament by the MPs exceeded 50 per cent, surpassing, for the first time in the past ten years, the share of those introduced by the Government. This trend, however, was not coupled with detailed procedures that would have ensured an adequately informed process of proposing legislation, necessary data and public participation.

The MPs frequently stated that implementation of the proposals they introduced did not require any additional funding, or they implicitly admit that they do not know about it. The MPs did not elaborate the procedures for involving stakeholders and facilitating a broader debate on the proposed arrangements. On the other hand, the contents of the Government opinion to the legislative initiatives introduced by the MPs are not prescribed; hence, a “positive” opinion does not serve as an indicator of the quality of the initiative in question.

The amendments tabled by the MPs are accompanied by sketchy Explanatory Notes. The drastic changes of the spirit of the laws and the amendments to the regulations pertaining to labour and internal affairs, respectively, changed pensionable age and exposed the selection of the Police Director to direct political influence by requiring the Parliament’s affirmative opinion. Those situations warned and exposed the need for better explanations and broader debates on the substance of amendments.

The MPs do not exercise their competences to review and conduct oversight over the regulatory impact analyses developed by the Government and accompanying the proposals for laws introduced by it. The potential of the Parliamentary Budget Office for carrying out more comprehensive financial analyses that should serve as the basis for the legislative role of the Parliament has not been tapped. The Parliamentary Service does not have a more proactive role in conducting the analyses that should precede major decisions made by the MPs.

The procedure for consulting the interested public in the course of discussions on the proposals for laws introduced by the MPs has to be prescribed in order to improve the legislative role of the Parliament. MPs’ proposals should also be accompanied by impact analyses that would cover all major aspects of the relevant public policy, such as problem definition, key objectives, potential impacts and costs, and cost justification. The role of the Parliamentary Service in the development of impact analyses has to be prescribed, in particular the role of the Parliamentary Budget Office in the development of financial estimates related to the legislative proposals and amendments tabled by the MPs.

The entire analyses is available at the link.

Milena Muk

Institute Alternative

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