Parliament to establish committees in next sitting

After the election of the Speaker of Parliament and Prime Minister, Parliament will have to establish its committees in the next sitting.

At this stage no appointment yet is done compared to previous legislatures where the Prime Ministers and Leaders of Opposition appointed their Members of Parliaments to different committees because it contradicts the Constitution of Vanuatu.

Article 23 of the constitution states: “Parliament may establish committees and appoint members to them.”

But in the past it’s not the parliament that established committees but it was made outside parliament until August last year where the Department of Finance was instructed by the Parliament Secretariat to cease the allowance payments of the seven parliamentary standing committees’ chairmen, effective from Friday August 2, at 3pm.

The decision to halt the salaries of the committee chairmen came into effect after the appointments of the committee chairmen and members of the committee were declared unconstitutional.

In that constitutional article, committees such as the Standing Committees are to be established by Parliament, and its members are also to be appointed by Parliament by way of a written motion.

But still in August 2019, State Law Office retracted their advise that the committees’ appointment were unconstitutional.

“We wish to retract our legal opinion referring to the legal opinion on the appointment of members of parliament to the Parliamentary Standing Committees,” Attorney General Arnold Kiel Loughman stated in a letter dated August 8 2019.

“We advise that the motions establishing the Standing Committees and appointing members to them are in compliance with Article 23 of the Constitution and we advise that Parliament has the power to delegate its function to appoint members of the committees, to the Prime Minister and the Leader of Opposition”.

Therefore for this 12th legislature, the next sitting, Parliament will apply Article 23 of the constitution and establish the committees and appoint members to them.

Daily Post understands that the numbers of parliamentary committees will no longer be seven but will be reduced to four committees with two paid positions, Chairman and vice chairman.

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