The final phase of the learning project was a three day training hosted at Ilia State University on June 28-30, 2016. The training was lead by two main trainers focusing on theory and practical application of various qualitative methodologies. A guest speaker was also invited to present a RIA case and discuss challenges of the assessment process in Georgia. Special time was also allocated to present the findings of a research conducted by participants during the second phase, as well as discuss opportunities and prospects for future cooperation.
The objective of the training seminar was to make participants familiar with the mainstream theoretical concepts and complex quantitative methodologies that are of key importance to RIA process.
In addition, the 3rd phase of the training program aimed to summarize and recapture the knowledge shared during the two previous phases. The seminar program also included practical exercises to further practice skills developed by participants since the learning project started in February 2016.
Throughout the three day training, special emphasis was put on new cases at both international and national levels. The focus was on the quantification aspects of the economic impact assessment. Besides, the program elaborated on the quantitative methodologies in the social, administrative and public finances’ fields.
New cases from the international and national practices were introduced. These presentations have enhanced group’s knowledge and made participants well aware of theoretical and practical knowledge and also technical indicators employed in the field.
Participants also presented outcomes of their research work during the second phase. Impact assessment of new draft law on Tobacco Excise was introduced with discussions on the research methodology, comparative analysis of 3 alternatives and upcoming stakeholder consultations.
During the final session of the training, opportunities for future cooperation between Ilia State University and PBO were discussed. ISU and in particular PPRTC together with two project leaders expressed readiness to provide expertise and public discussion facilitation services upon need. PPRTC will facilitate providing expert consultations on research methodologies for stakeholder analysis and qualitative analysis for fiscal assessment as well as providing manuals, cases, and relevant literature for further consideration. Consultations will be provided to fine-tune the Tobacco Excise report as well as finalize Right-hand Vehicle report (in case the data will be obtained from relevant line ministries) or prepare a new report on other legislative initiative identified by PBO.
By the end of the training participants were awarded with the certificate and 3 ECTS credits as the learning program has been approved by the academic council being absolutely suitable for issuing academic credits for its completion.
Course evaluation forms have unfolded participant’s views on the scope and relevance of the curriculum. They also have made their assessment on appropriateness of objectives and effectiveness of reading materials/presentations prepared and uploaded before the seminar was delivered. Overall, participants gave high estimation to program implementation.
Main achievements of the final phase of the training was improved skills in the quantitative segment of RIA, knowledge of the key analytical and procedural steps, making use of risk management, option values with diverse scenarios, identification of the interested and influential stakeholder, etc.
To sum-up, sessions of a final three-day training helped participants to revise the knowledge acquired during the previous phases and identified the new ways to perform in their duties while carrying out the RIA analysis.
The main challenge for RIA process remains the lack of empirical evidence and insufficient statistical base in Georgia. Under such circumstances it becomes almost impossible to make valuable judgments on the existing trends and make realistic assessments of impacts. This turned out to be an obstacle for the seminar group working over the impact assessment of the regulation on Right-hand Drive vehicles.
Throughout several months of learning process PBO has been overwhelmed with the unprecedented volume of new legislative initiatives. These initiatives had to be analyzed and responded promptly. Because of this unexpected occurrence and increase in the incoming documents not all participants had become able to fully engage in the learning process. Moreover, participation of some of the participants in the final three day training has also been compromised. It was decided that team leaders and key RIA personal in the PBO will attend the seminar. Later on, they would deliver the assignments and lecture notes to office and work together with the ones who were unable to be present at the seminar. By doing so, the attendees maintained the daily communication with the rest of the team and brought their feedback to seminar instructors.
Participants of the seminar expressed their desire to have a manual, hands-on source to refer to in a daily routine. This kind of guideline should serve as a valuable source when suggesting alternative options, making complex quantitative calculations with diverse scenarios in a long time span, risk assessments and sensitivity analysis. Accordingly it is advisable in future to develop a manual/user friendly guidebook in Georgian Language, for application by PBO as well as other state institutions to be responsible for RIA.
In respect to the new legislative initiative to impose RIA for legislative amendments from 2017, need for professional expertise in the field if significantly rising. Need for in house expertise is mainly raising in Parliament of Georgia as well as line ministries. Accordingly it is advisable to offer long terms as well as short term learning programs to staff members of Georgian Parliamentary Committees, Research Department of Parliament of Georgia, departments of line ministries responsible for drafting legislative initiatives, representatives of local self government administrations.
There was a request from the participants’ side to establish post-training collaboration format with the involvement of instructors. In particular need for academic support and coaching has been expressed in the work for finalizing report on new regulation on tobacco excise and right-hand vehicles. It has been agreed that PPRTC and program instructors will provide regular support and coaching in upcoming research activities: stakeholder analysis, data analysis, holding public discussion, etc.