Parliament embarks on virtual committee meetings

Parliament has begun a new initiative this week by conducting virtual meetings for the six Standing Committees.

Adhering to the COVID-19 health directives and social distancing measures in place, the IT team of Parliament begun training and installation of relevant software to allow business continuity for the Committees of Parliament to continue meeting through the use of online platforms.

According to the Acting Secretary-General to Parliament, Mrs Viniana Namosimalua, Committees are a vital part of the parliamentary machinery and it is very important that they continue to deliberate and make recommendations on bills and reports before them.

“We’ve had to ensure that the Committee members are well equipped and more importantly, that the infrastructure required in this arrangement is working well.

“Both Committee members and secretariat have had the opportunity to be trained on the protocols of virtual meetings and of course, we have had to adjust a great deal, while at the same time ensuring that the committee members will continue to effectively fulfil their roles in Parliament,” Mrs Namosimalua said.

Chairperson for the Standing Committee on Justice, Law and Human Rights, Hon. Alvick Maharaj highlighted that some members have the opinion that this allows for more work to be done simultaneously.

“This new initiative has given us the opportunity to carry out our Constitutional role from any place and also attend to other matters, despite the COVID-19 restrictions. It is comfortable to operate and ensure that continuity of work is maintained.”

Members of the Standing Committee on Economic Affairs shared the same sentiments.

“Given that we are adjusting to the ‘new normal’ brought about by COVID-19, virtual meetings enable us to fulfil our mandate as elected MPs while also complying with the physical distancing measures put in place by the Government.”

Members of the various Standing Committees are currently finalising reports that should be tabled in the next sitting of Parliament, scheduled to take place from 25 to 29 May, 2020.