“Taking Parliament to the People”

Luganville, Vanuatu - Constituents in Espiritu Santo, the largest island of Vanuatu, where Vanuatu's second-largest town and the provincial capital, Luganville is located, attended public outreach activities conducted by Vanuatu’s National Parliament, enabling citizens to raise their concerns and express their opinions on governance issues including public finance, laws and parliamentary procedures.

A group of parliament staff, who represent four divisions of the Parliamentary Secretariat, Hansard, House Procedures, Committees and Corporate Services, flew to the island of Espiritu Santo, and travelled to three regions; Eastern, Southern and the offshore island of Malo, where they met constituents at 10 locations in and close to the local communities. The purpose of the public outreach was to raise awareness on the roles and responsibilities of Vanuatu Parliament and encourage citizens to meaningfully engage with Parliament.

 “Today’s awareness was an eye-opener for us at Lathie community and also Santo Presbytery. We’ve never had this kind of awareness before. The presentations have clarified many questions in my  mind. I believe this awareness has helped us chiefs and pastors with some answers to the queries of our people. I now have some of the right answers to respond to the queries of my people.”

 Pr. Graham Path
 Acting Moderator of East Santo Presbytery

 

 

Team Leader of the outreach teams Assistant Clerk House Procedures, Mr Maxime Banga said, “The teams of parliament staff were able to interact with over 7,650 people in total from 14 communities. We were able to capture the concerns and opinions of our constituents while we provided detailed information on the function of parliament and how our work matters to them.”

The awareness raising activities in the communities were followed by a budget briefing session for civil society members and a consultation exercise on the new Parliament Bill to address issues concerning the administration of Parliament.

In December 2020, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) coordinated a workshop on independent budget briefs that were developed by the National Parliament and their counterparts from the Solomon Islands, New Zealand and Australian Federal Parliaments as the ‘Floating Budget Office’. The same approach was well received by 50 representatives from Santo-based civil society organisations including youth groups, women’s groups, and churches, as well as provincial government and political party representatives.

 “Most of the things presented at this budget briefing are new to me. I am glad to listen to the presentations, As an Area Administrator, I only have knowledge and information about the budget of my area council and as far as the Department of Local Authorities concerns. Today, I had the opportunity during this workshop to know the breakdown of the whole budget of the government. I know it will help me gauge its impact on the rural communities, especially on us at Santo Rural and Malo.”

Mr. Paul Jamaran, Area Administrator of Big Bay Inland  

 

  This same group of participants were also invited to attend the consultation on Vanuatu Parliament’s new Parliament Bill. The consultation created opportunities for the citizens to deepen their understanding of the importance of the Bill and the procedure, and at the same time for Vanuatu Parliament staff to learn people’s views and obtain comments from the constituents. Holding public consultations is part of Parliament’s role to fulfil the requirements for amending any legislation. Two successful consultations were also conducted for staff in March 2021 and for Members of Parliament in May 2021 supported by UNDP.

“The consultation in Santo was extremely important both for Santo residents and for Parliament because we were able to capture contrasting views from stakeholders based in a more rural setting outside of the main city, Port Vila”, said Stephen Felix, Principal Legal Officer and lead on the consultation exercise.

Vanuatu’s National Parliament is strengthening parliamentary engagement and aiming at a more open and participatory democratic decision-making mechanism. Its efforts have been supported by UNDP with financial support from the Governments of Australia, Japan and New Zealand as part of Pacific regional initiative to strengthen national legislatures.

For media queries, please contact:

Maxime Banga, Assistant Clerk – House Procedures, Parliament of the Republic of Vanuatu; tel.: +678 33060; email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Patricia Kalpokas, Parliament Project Coordinator Consultant-Vanuatu, Parliament of the Republic of Vanuatu; tel. +678 778 7209; email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

[ NEWS SOURCE: UNDP WEBSITE ]

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Speaker of Parliament of the Republic of Vanuatu, Hon. Marcellino Pipite visits the Speaker of Parliament of the Republic of Fiji, Dr. Jiko Luveni

 

Speaker. Hon. Dr. Jiko Luveni of Fiji (L) and Hon. Marcellino Pipite MP (R)

(The Parliament Chambers, Suva, Fiji) The Honorable Speaker of Parliament of Vanuatu Hon. Marcellino Pipite MP today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with his counterpart Speaker. Hon. Dr. Jiko Luveni of Fiji in a historic gesture to foster closer relations with the Fiji Parliament.

On introductions yesterday 6th of August, the Speaker of Parliament for Vanuatu congratulated Dr. Jiko Luveni on her appointment as the Speaker of parliament for the Republic of Fiji and further congratulated her for being a role model figure for women in the pacific region steering politics in this vital role.

The initiative taken by the Vanuatu speaker of parliament envisages a reciprocal regional engagement forum where speakers from within the region can discuss and share ideas and assist each other to develop their respective houses and improve the standard of services to their members.

The Speaker further proposed that regional parliaments should have a charter of all speakers’ to provide a foundation of cooperation to foster democracy and good governance and leadership within the region. The MOU between Vanuatu and Fiji is the beginning of what the speaker of Parliament for Vanuatu believes is a foundation of the partnership he envisages for the pacific region.

The Speaker of parliament for Vanuatu stated that the initial task for Vanuatu is to cater for the MP’s in his house and capacity as the speaker of Parliament where he strongly believes that developing the capacities and continually upgrading this capacities is essential to ensure good governance, transparency and democracy is upheld and administered at all times.

He further reiterated that by learning from each other all members of parliament can benefit from the challenges and developments learned from within the region. Parliamentary standing Committees must be able to function in its highest capacity and continue to learn from regional experiences. In addition all pacific democracies must ensure the separation of powers amongst the Executive branch, Legislative branch, and Judicial Branch work to support each other in upholding democracy in the region. Furthermore parliaments must ensure to uphold their integrity as law makers of their respective governments.

The Speaker believes that by creating an environment of mutual respect in learning and assisting each other pacific parliamentarians through the speaker’s office may uphold the integrity not only of their respective countries but the region as a whole.

  • Proposal to Speaker of Fiji – all speakers should have a charter of all Speakers of all Parliaments throughout the Region. We believe in democracy, it has separation of 3 arms; Government, Judiciary and Parliament. Draft MOU to study….have agreed to sign…for all Speakers to form an organization throughout the Region.

Understanding as follows: 

All speakers to look after all MP’s (Government & Opposition); upgrade skills for all MP’s, Parliamentary Standing Committees in Parliament to work; small parliament within Parliament to work; in the Charter to have understanding in MP’s status all around the Pacific; what right, duty, privilege, MP’s have to understand the Law.

Conclusion:

Globally, the PM’s have meetings…Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Trade have their own Charter. Therefore, Speaker of Fiji and Vanuatu have decided that they have a Charter in the Pacific.

Funding:

Met with UNDP to straighten the project of Parliament in Vanuatu in connection with the work of the Speaker as well as review the Standing Order. UNDP was happy that the Speaker launched the Project again and has agreed to fund a Meeting before November, 2015 (Parliament Sitting).

Finally, end of August, all Speakers to meet in New York.

Negotiations are underway for MPs to access Bills online

Posted on June 4, 2015

By Glenda Willie

Speaker of Parliament (Left) sign contract with GardenCode to develop RAD

The Parliament of Vanuatu has kicked start negotiations to see that in the near future, Members of Parliament will be able to access the Parliament Bills online from their laptops or smartphones. 

The end result of this development will be a plus to the Parliament of Vanuatu, as usually, whenever a Parliament Session convenes, the Speaker always adjourns the Parliament to allow more time for MPs to read and understand the Bills before they can be debated.

The realization of this project also will mean that the MPs will not have to provide lame excuses, such as not knowing what Bills will be discussed during the session.

Currently the distributions of bills are handled by the Parliamentary Secretariat and it's time consuming exercise. It has become a major concern for the Secretariat in terms of preparation towards the calling and sitting of Parliament Session.

The Parliament of Vanuatu requires a Legislative Management Information System which will become the central management of documentation of legislative activity.

The principal areas of concern are the provision, in a form conveniently readable to the Members of Parliament about the Parliamentary Bills, Acts and Orders.

The Legislative management Information System (LMIS) should provide better, faster and reliable management of the distribution of the bills and provide an online service whereby Members of Parliament can view and download copies of the Bills to their laptops of other mobile devices.

Prior to the commencement of development on the system, a comprehensive analysis on requirements needs to be developed.

This requirement analysis document (RAD) will provide a blueprint of the actual system; hence provide guideline for the development of the Legislative Management Information System for the Parliament of Vanuatu.

On Monday this week the Speaker of Parliament signed a contract with GardenCode, the company which will be developing the RAD.

The Business System Analyst, GardenCode will work closely with staff of Parliament of Vanuatu, Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, State Law Office and other identified stakeholders, to review and develop the RAD.

Source: Vanuatu Daily Post

Dialogue on political reform

Posted on February 26, 2015

By Jonas Cullwick

 

A 2-day dialogue on Political Reform for Vanuatu is taking place at the Parliament Chamber in Port Vila today 25th - 26th February.

This first dialogue session, coordinated by the Office of the Speaker of Parliament with the Office of the Prime Minister, is being assisted by the Commonwealth that has agreed to this support following a request from Prime Minister Hon. Joe Natuman.

The Commonwealth Team that is facilitating this Vanuatu initiative is being leb by Albert Mariner, Head of the Caribbean and Pacific Section, Political Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat. Mariner and his Team have been in Port Vila since end of last week preparing for this first dialogue and have met the Prime Minister and the Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Philip Boedoro.

The Commonwealth Team of the three includes three resource persons for support who include Professor Don Patterson, University of the South Pacific, Dr Alphonse Gelu, Registrar of Political Parties in Papua New Guinea and Brian Lenga, former Director of the Commonwealth Pacific Governance Facility. The UNDP is also assisting in this dialogue represented by Dyfan Jones.

The purpose of the dialogue is further debate on Political reform to finding answers to the Political instabilities that are hampering the development of the country.

A paper by Professor Don Patterson produced in  2010 tittled "Policy Framework For Political Party Integrity Legislation" has been included as a resource material for this dialogue session.

Speaker of Parliament Hon. Philip Boedoro says the dialogue will see if there is a need to amend the Constitution through a referendum to "cut down on instabilities caused by Members of Parliament through a Bill for Parliament to enact to prevent MPs from switching parties, providing penalties, limiting the number of motions and may be providing a grace period for governments to be in power before facing motions for removal".

"One of the options for discussion will be the need to maybe register political parties with a certain number of members to prevent all sorts of groups, some even very small, from contesting general elections in the last minutes as a way to stop political instabilities," he said.

Hon. Philip Boedoro said Vanuatu will learn from from experience of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands that have made much advances in these areas of political reform.

He said if there is a need to amend the constitution, this will need to be put to the people in a referendum to be voted on during the next general election in 2016.

It is estimated that up to 60 participants are at the dialogue and comprising of the Members of Parliament and Leaders of Political Parties such as Barak Sope, who is not sitting member of Parliament but a leader of political party.

"This session is part of the process for political reform and is a continuation of the work began by the former Prime Minister Moana Carcasses and now the current Prime Minister Hon. Joe Natuman is taking it further," Hon. Philip Boedoro added.

Last week, another meeting of the leaders of political parties to continue the process was held the Parliament Chamber.

Source: Vanuatu Daily Post