South-South learning to boost secretariat functions of Tonga and Fiji Parliaments

A south-south learning exchange between the staff of the Fale Alea ‘o Tonga (Parliament of Tonga) and the staff of the Parliament of the Republic of Fiji is currently underway with the overall aim to share knowledge that will boost their secretariat roles.

The four-day exchange programme is supported by the Pacific Parliamentary Effectiveness Initiative (PPEI), which is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji with funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) of New Zealand.

Representing the Tonga delegation are Chief Clerk, Mrs. Gloria Guttenbeil Pole’o, Manager Human Resource/Education Officer, Mr Manase Foukimoana, Senior IT Officer, Mr Sioto Fine and Hansard Officer/Editor/Assistant IT Officer, Ms Rhonda Hufanga.

In welcoming the Tongan delegation, Secretary-General to Parliament, Mrs. Viniana Namosimalua said, “It is an honour to host our Tongan counterparts as it will give both, the opportunity to learn from each other and see areas in which we can improve on.”

“The set-up of our Parliament has come a long way since we started with the new constitution and we are very grateful to our development partners and donors for supporting us in this journey,” said Mrs. Namosimalua.

The exchange will cover areas such as information technology, human resource management experiences, management of parliamentary business, effective servicing of standing committees, effective Parliamentary Committees reporting and Fiji’s Parliament education and public outreach programme.

Responding in agreement to the value-add of the south-south exchange programme, Chief Clerk of the Parliament of Tonga, Mrs. Gloria Guttenbeil Pole’o said, “We are very happy to be given this opportunity as we can learn from Fiji the areas in which we can improve on that will allow us to better serve our representatives in Parliament as well as our citizens access to the political system.”

“We have identified specific areas in which we would like to learn from and we’re very excited to see how we can retrofit these lessons into appropriate measures that is relevant to our context.”

The programme includes an opportunity for the participants to observe one of the Committees in session and a community site visit.

“This south-south exchange platform provides an enriching learning experience not only for the Tongan Parliament staff but also for Fiji,” said Deputy Team Leader for the Effective Governance Team and PPEI Programme Manager with UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, Nanise Saune.

“An objective of the PPEI project is to strengthen regional parliaments’ performance in their three core functions of accountability, participation and representation.”

She added, “Through this exchange platform, it provides an invaluable opportunity for Parliament staff to have a bird’s eye view on how these three core functions operate in different contexts.”

“They then use what they have observed or discussed with their counterparts and tailor make specific approaches that fit their country context.”

The four day programme ends on Friday 20 October 2017.