`The Messenger`: Justice Minister Calls for Creation of Permanent Civil Service
The Messenger, Friday, July 22, 2005, #135 (0909)
Justice minister calls for creation of permanent civil service By Nino Kopaleishvili
Minister of Justice Kote Kemularia has called calls for the creation of a permanent civil service and an end to the current system whereby new ministers bring in whole new teams of officials.
Speaking at a conference on Thursday to discuss regulation of the country's civil service, Kemularia took a stand on behalf of public servants forced to leave their jobs after new directors had arrived in their institutions.
He argued that public servants who are not engaged in politics should not be dismissed merely because political appointees are rotated.
"The concept of the public servant is important," said Kemularia. "Ministers come and go, as do [parliamentary] deputies, since they hold a political position, but other public servants should not change ... Public servants should have a defender. We should bid farewell to those cases when an individual comes to power and brings an entire group of people with him."
"A minister should make some changes, but he should rely on the people already in the ministry, their experience and their knowledge," he added.
Referring to competitions held in state institutions to select new employees, Kemularia commented, "It will be a positive step if we are able to create a united commission and general competition conditions are set."
NGOs attending Thursday's conference on regulation of the civil service complained that Georgia does not have adequate regulating legislation and suggested several measures to develop better regulations. The conference participants, who were brought together to discuss a new concept of public service developed by the United Nation's Association of Georgia, gathered under the auspices of a project to reform public service in Georgia that was begun in October 2004.
"Today, regulation of the law is scattered in different pieces of legislation and it should be gathered into one comprehensive law. We talked about the first version that will be presented and we have agreed on the working rules," said the UNA's Head of Parliamentary Procedural Issues Khatuna Gogorishvili, stressing that the main objective should be to restore public trust in civil servants.
According to UNA Transparency and Governance Programs Director Zviad Devdariani, the group studied the current legislation regulating civil service in Georgia and incorporated the views of different governmental, non-governmental and media representatives before preparing its preliminary draft for comprehensive legislation.
"We were trying to identify what kind of problems exist in the legislation and how the laws could be improved," said Devdariani.
Gogorishvili volunteered to create a united group of NGOs and governmental organizations to engage in further discussions and to present a draft of the proposed legislation by the Autumn Parliamentary Session.
Currently, the sphere of civil service is regulated by three different laws. Despite the fact that Georgia adopted a law on civil service in 1997, which has undergone significant changes since then, the sphere is regulated primarily by the Labor Code and by the law on Unacceptability of Influence and Corruption in Public Service. According to Gogorishvili, this system is inefficient.
According to the head of the Georgian Young Lawyers Association, Ana Dolidze, the civil service code should comprehensively cover issues of salary and conditions of dismissal of public servants by protecting their rights.