Regional exchange benefits Vanuatu Parliamentary Committees

In recognising the significant role of Parliamentary Committees in scrutinising legislation and providing oversight, the Secretariat for the Parliament of Vanuatu benefited from a two-day capacity building exchange programme with the aim to improve its overall Committee system in Parliament.

Parliamentary committees have emerged as vibrant and central forums within democratic parliaments of today’s world, examining specific matters of policy or government administration or performance.

Appropriate staffing, and capacity building for committee staff is essential if parliamentary committees are to function effectively.

The training was attended by 12 staff from different units, including Hansard, Library, Tables, Sergeant at Arms and the Executive’s Office.

Appreciating the value of the exchange, the Acting Clerk of the Vanuatu National Parliament, Leon Teter, was thankful of the support provided to the Secretariat staff as Committees play a significant role in the overall governance of the Parliamentary system.

“We are thankful to our colleagues from the parliaments of Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Queensland for sharing their experiences and knowledge on how committees work in their countries,” said Teter.

“It has been a useful day of learning and discussing strengths and weakness of the Vanuatu committee system. With the Vanuatu Parliament Standing Order review in progress, hopefully some recommendations from participants of this workshop will feed into the review process.”

He added, “We acknowledge that committees play a significant role in the day-to-day work of parliaments and provide an opportunity for Members to use their skills and to nurture their individual interests. Hopefully, in the near future, there will be some positive changes to the Vanuatu Committee system.”

Parliamentary committee systems have emerged as a creative way for parliaments to perform their basic functions such as providing oversight of government policies and programme implementation and scrutiny of bills (proposed laws) in detail so that Parliament is well-informed before making decisions of national significance.

The UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Country Director and Head of Pacific Regional Policy and Programme, Bakhodir Burkhanov, highlighted the value for Pacific parliaments in learning from and exchanging ideas with each other.

“UNDP recognises that sharing skills and knowledge between Pacific countries is one of the most effective ways of building capacity to improve governance and provide for sustainable development. These ‘south-south’ exchanges are a central part of UNDP’s parliamentary development work in the Pacific with the aim of improving legislative scrutiny and oversight of policies,” said Burkhanov.

“Parliament Committees in the Pacific are becoming increasingly important avenues to improve draft laws relating to sustainable development.

“To work effectively, Parliament committees need well capacitated and knowledgeable staff to assist with procedural issues, administrative matters, assist with reviewing bills and provide expert opinions and analyses on major policy issues.”

He added, “I am delighted that UNDP was able to work with the Vanuatu Parliament to implement this important activity and that the Vanuatu Parliament.”

The workshop for Committee staff was made possible through the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji funding through two of its Pacific regional projects under the Effective Governance programme, namely the Strengthening Legislatures in the Pacific Island Countries Project (SLIP) Project funded by the Government of Japan, and the Pacific Parliamentary Effectiveness Initiative (PPEI), funded by the Government of New Zealand.

The two-day capacity building workshop was held from 1 – 2 August, in Port Vila.

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