State Practice in regard to Parliamentary Openness – Chile

On February 12th, on the basis of an order of the Chair of the Parliament of Georgia the Inter-Factional Group was created to draw out the Open Parliament Georgia Action Plan. At the same time working group comprised of the representatives of NGOs and International Organizations was created to consult the Inter-Factional Group on the matters regarding the Open Parliament Georgia Action Plan. Three meetings between representatives of the NGOs and the International Organizations were already held for this purpose. As Georgia is in the process of working on Open Parliament Georgia Action Plan at this stage, it’s very important to consider experiences of other countries. As Chile has very interesting experience regarding the Parliamentary Openness, we decided to review it.

Chile joined the Open Government Initiative in September 2011 and in December, officials created a domestic OGP working group to elaborate a proposal for the country’s action plan. The OGP action plan was presented in March, 2012, by the President Sebastián Piñera to the citizens of Chile.

 

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Picture 1: Chile’s appeal to join OGP

Chile has developed separate plans for the Parliamentary Openness and for the Open Government Partnership, the latter includes commitments regarding the openness of the Executive Government.

Given the fact that the issues of the Parliamentary Openness are particularly interesting for Georgia, this blog post will focus on issues related to the Openness of the Parliament of Chile. Now Chile is in the process of implementing its second, 2014-2016, Open Parliament Action Plan. 2014-2016 Open Parliament Chile Action Plan is based on the “Declaration of Santiago about Transparency and Integrity in the Parliaments and in the Political Parties”, which was signed on January 13th, 2012. On the 7th of November 2012, the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies of Chile decided to create a Bicameral Group of Transparency, composed of senators and representatives.

2014-2016 Open Parliament Chile Action Plan underlines three target directions of OGP out of five main directions, particularly: improvement of public services, increase of public integrity and increase the institutional responsibility.

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Picture 2: Website http://www.chileatiende.cl/

First Commitment given in the 2014-2016 Open Parliament Chile Action Plan recognizes the importance of the technology to inform the citizens about the Congress work and to present reports of their work. Open Parliament Chile Action Plan in order to fullfill first commitment is oriented on easing access to Information,  gathering information about the activities of the accountable bodies and ensuring availability of information in different ways.

For this purpose web-page http://www.chileatiende.cl/ is created, which is convenient and easy to use. Citizens do not have to spend time at different web-pages in search of information. All of the information is gathered in one space and in a format which does not require special skills from the interested individual.

The second commitment involves increase of public participation in important decision making process of the country. That is why citizens were encouraged with the possibility of presenting the bill and resumption of the legislation. These way citizens were given the opportunity to raise important issues. As a result three bills were presented to the Parliament within the above mentioned initiative. The bill is linked to the credibility of the public service, which aims to regulate and improve the mechanisms for public service activities. The second bill considers amendments to the legislation in terms of transparency. According to the bill, the obligation to ensure freedom of information by the administrative authorities should be increased. The first two drafts are already in force; the third bill, which is still being discussed in the Parliament, directs to update the law on political parties, so that their activities become more open and transparent On July 30, 2014 the results of study were published. Total of 12 political parties were studied and they received  an average of 2.77 points out ot the 7-point grading system. It would be very interesting to organize similar type of research in Georgia too and in accordance with that determine more transparency requirements to political parties.

2014-2016 Open Parliament Chile Action Plan also considers commitment to  assist all municipalities in Chile , which is striving towards more transparency . Pro-Access Foundation’s Director, Moises Sanchez said : “The municipalities have structural problems related to their financial position, their size, and the precariousness of their human resources, for instance, close to 20 percent of them do not have a web page.” Although in Georgia all the municipalities have their own web-pages, they still need to pay more attention to the frequency of updated information on their pages.

Third commitment in the 2014-2016 Open Parliament Chile Action Plan is considered to establish and ensure an institutional policy that could give continuity to the efforts developing in themes of transparency and probity. The Action Plan provides a mechanism for consultation and involvement of citizens, with the aim to ensure citizen participation at all levels of both houses of the National Congress legislative discussions.

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Picture 3: Chilean Senate Website

In order to implement commitments considered within 2014-2016 Open Parliament Chile Action Plan number of events were performed. Information about activities of the Parliament of Chile is regularly updated on www.opengovpartnership.org.

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Picture 4: Chile Activity Stream

It’s preferable Georgia to be involved actively in the implementation process of the obligations considered within the open parliament framework. Be considered not only Chilean, but also the other successful practices of state in order to achieve the goals more effectively envisaged by the initiative of openness and the successfully introduce those standards, which  will be designed by  inter-factional groups with the co-operation of international organizations and NGOs. .

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