Two Parliament Speakers, Members of Parliament who are Committee Chairs and Deputy Chairs and clerks from across the Pacific are converging in Suva this week to attend a Pacific Parliamentary Seminar on Enhancing the Work of Committees.
Speaker Hon. Dr Jiko Luveni, whilst opening the seminar this morning, highlighted that seminars as such allow delegates to come together and explore some of the common challenges they face in Parliaments across the Pacific.
“Our parliaments play a key role in furthering critical development priorities for the people of the Pacific, but they must do so with limited staff and resources.”
“Our MPs are asked to consider policies and papers that tackle everything from NCDs to gender-based violence and climate change, but we often lack the in-house expertise to offer the scrutiny and support they require. “
“In addition, most of the parliaments present here cover huge territories, representing citizens in remote parts of the Pacific. New technologies have improved our connectivity, but they can only take us so far. These are just some of the issues that hinder the important responsibilities our Parliaments hold,” Hon. Dr Luveni said.
Hon. Dr Luveni acknowledged that parliaments pass laws and budgets, represent each and every citizen and hold the government to account for its use of public finances.
“But to exercise those critical functions with the limited means at our disposal, we must get a lot of things right.”
“We need to have suitable rules and procedures, appropriate resources, and a firm commitment on the part of all political actors in support of effective and independent Parliaments,” Speaker added.
She also stressed that committees are increasingly important in parliaments throughout the world including the Pacific and with the assistance of the UNDP Fiji Parliament Support Project, the Fiji Parliament will continue to develop and improve its committee work.
Being in Parliament for 26 years, Tuvalu Parliament Speaker Hon. Otinielu Tausi said an important role that Parliament plays is oversight.
“Over the years, we found that people won’t know what is going on inside Parliament so oversight is a very important part of Parliament.”
“Members of Parliament should realize how important this is and should understand and know how to do it.”
“Tuvalu is not Fiji, not Cook Islands, not Papua New Guinea, although we do the same things but there are differences and we hope to adapt new things we learn from this seminar in our Parliament,” Hon. Tausi added.
The seminar ends on Wednesday, 12th April 2017.