DRC: Adoption of National Economic and Social Council Law
Adoption of the law on the organization of the National Economic and Social Council
According to the provisions of articles 123, 124, 130, 131, 208 and 210 of the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (“DRC”) of February 18, 2006 as amended to date (“Constitution”), the National Assembly has recently passed the law governing the organization and functioning of the Economic and Social Council which was introduced at its own initiative.
The institution of an Economic and Social Council in the DRC set forth in Article 208 of the country’s Constitution, mainly stemmed from the absence of a well-organized structure regulating the daily life of the population. This constitutes an obstacle to achieving the planned sustainable development program since the Congolese population is supposed to participate in the design of all social and economic programs affecting. The creation of the Economic and Social Council reflects the Government’s desire to see all DRC socio-economic strata share responsibility for the qualitative development of the country and provide answers to issues that are not only complex but also fundamental to the socio-economic sector. The Economic and Social Council will leverage the powers of the legislative and executive bodies are often quick to making decisions based on advice from outside.
Moreover, it is worth recalling that this is not the first time the DRC has created such a structure. This prerogative was previously under specialized bodies such as the economic and social councils like in certain countries, High Judiciary Council, High Education Board, etc.
Such was the case with various economic and social councils provided for in Article 204 of the Fundamental Law of 19 May 1960 on the structures of the Congo (“Fundamental Law”). The councils comprised amongst others councils, general and provincial councils for the economy, the high council of labor, and the high education board. Pursuant to Articles 205 and 207 of the Fundamental Law, these councils had to be imperatively informed, both at national and provincial levels, of Bills concerning on matters under their jurisdiction and submitted by the Government to the two Chambers. These councils also needed to give their opinions on regulatory Bills that the Government submitted to them. They could also be consulted by the Government on any matter falling within their jurisdiction.
Thereafter, the constitution of 1 August 1964, also known as the Luluabourg Constitution, retained only one category of consultative bodies, namely the Economic and Social Council. This council was established at national and provincial levels, while previous councils were converted into subdivisions. Unfortunately, the Economic and Social Council never became operational due to political instability caused by the coup d’état of 24 November 1965. No constitution had since provided for the existence of an economic and social council.
In 1989, President Mobutu, by ordinance No 89-029 of 26 January 1989, established the Permanent Development Advisory Council (“CCPD”). CCPD set with the same objectives as those set forth by the organic law recently passed. Devoid of any legal force, this ordinance was never implemented.
By the same reasoning, Decree 008/01 of February 23rd, 2001 creating and organizing the Permanent Framework for Economic Dialogue (“CPCE”) was taken. CPCE was meant to be a forum for consultation and exchange of views between, on the one hand, the Government and, on the other hand, the groupings of Congolese companies, workers and consumers on guidelines, options, and decisions related to national economic activities. This Decree was never published in the Official Gazette.
The Law recently passed shall determine the organization and functioning of the Economic and Social Council. This Council is meant to be a consultative body composed of people working in all areas that contribute to DRC integral development and boasting proven expertise in economic and social issues.
Under this Law, the Economic and Social Council is an independent institution endowed with legal personality. Its mission is to provide advisory opinions on economic and social issues submitted to the Council by the President of the Republic, the National Assembly, the Senate, and the Government. The Council may also issue opinions at its own initiative. On the other hand, the Council is tasked with promoting democratic dialogue amongst main economic and social actors in order to allow sharing their respective experiences and analyzes.
The Council will also be tasked with:
- analyzing the economic situation and monitoring national, provincial, and international economic and social policies as well as impact of such policies on the lives of the Congolese people informing citizens on the development of the economic and social situation in the DRC;
- providing advice on the general guidelines of the national economy; drafting proposals in various economic, social, cultural and environmental areas;
- fostering cooperation between economic and social partners and contributing to the development of a social charter; and
- publishing quarterly reports on the economic and social situation of the country;
- Composed of three bodies, namely the General Assembly, the Board and the Committees, the Council will be headquartered in Kinshasa, DRC capital.
The Law recently passed provides that members of the Council shall be appointed for a five-year renewable term and will be referred to as Advisors. According to the Law, any non-rehabilitated bankrupt persons or those who filed for bankruptcy cannot become Advisors.
Moreover, the Council shall hold two ordinary meetings a year, respectively from April 15 to May 15 and from October 15 to November 15. Financial resources of the Council will consist of allocations included in the national budget.
The President of the Council shall be the approver of the budget allocations made to the Council and shall apply the rules of management of public accounting. Finally, the Law recently passed provides that the audit of the financial accounts of the Council shall be done by the Office of the Auditor and/or the Finance Inspectorate General.
The Law recently passed includes 31 articles grouped in five chapters namely: Chapter 1 on general provisions, Chapter 2 on the organization and Chapter 3 on operations, Chapter 4 on resources of the Council, and the chapter 5 on the final provisions.
Contemplated several times over the past, the installation of the Economic and Social Council first failed in 1964 because of political instability. The Permanent Consultative Council for the Development of 26 January was a fiasco because no law was taken in determining its organization and its operation. Finally, there was also a Permanent Framework for Economic Dialogue “CPCE” created by the decree of 23 February 2001 as a consultative body for information sharing between the Government, Congolese companies’ groupings, workers and consumers. This body met the same fate, more-so as broad guidelines, options and decisions related to national economic activities were never published in the Official Gazette.
Through this Law, which will undoubtedly be promulgated by the President of the Republic and published in the Official Gazette, the DRC is determined to engage the Congolese population from all walks of life in the development of socio-economic programs which will directly affect them. This is a way to strengthen a participatory democracy.
 Congolese Official Gazette No 21 bis of 27 May 1960, p. 1535, quoted in Les Constitutions de la République
Démocratique du Congo de 1908 à 2011, Juricongo, Collection Juridoc, Kinshasa 2011, p.17.