President Tallis Obed Moses has called on all 52 Members of Parliament (MPs) to put God first in all things and stand united with the people for progress.
The Head of State made the call in his official address during the opening of the First Ordinary Session of Parliament yesterday morning.
He reminded the new Members of the 12th Legislature that during the last session of the 11th Legislature he reminded that Vanuatu has travelled a long journey, and experienced many progresses as well as many challenges along the way, thus the leaders and the people must thank God for His faithfulness.
President Moses asked the MPs and the people of Vanuatu to observe one minute of silence for former MPs who have passed away, and also people who died during Tropical Cyclone Harold. He then offered a prayer in which he acknowledged God for His faithfulness and righteousness over the nation of Vanuatu, before continuing with his official opening speech.
He acknowledged the responsibilities placed upon each and every member of parliament to guide the nation with wisdom and discharge their constitutional duties with integrity and statesmanship.
“The future of our beloved country depends on your sound judgment and vision to lead the country forward and into the future,” he said.
“I have this privilege to congratulate Prime Minister Bob Loughman, Deputy Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau, and the state ministers for the responsibilities they shoulder.
“I also wish to express my congratulations to Leader of the Opposition Ralph Regenvanu, Deputy Leader of Opposition Charlot Salwai, and members of the opposition because you also have a big responsibility to carry to in checks and balances of the functions of a vigorous and responsible manner and ethics.
“You all have an important role to ensure the government is kept accountable and transparent in all decision-making processes of the national issues. It is my prayer that you will all continue to advocate towards national interest and discharge your duties without fear and favor.”
The President touched on the challenges faced in the last Legislature in social, economic spheres and also with various disasters, health, domestic violence, instability, corruption, political party interest, and constitutional issues which he said affected the parliamentary system of the democratic principles of a democratic nation.
He pointed out the COVID -19 pandemic still continue to affect the world at large, coupled with TC Harold impact in Vanuatu and the northern and part of central Vanuatu.
“Despite these challenges the last Legislature faced the challenges and initiate discussions, decisions and solutions in parliament,” the President acknowledged.
“There were achievements in the country’s social and economic developments, disaster resilience and preparedness for the country. There was and is stability in the country, repaid loans and many other developments.
“I want to thank former Prime Minister Charlot Salwai with members of the 11th Legislature for the stability and the way in which you managed the business and affairs of the parliament.
He stressed the hope of the nation is with all members of this legislature as national leaders.
“The power to legislate over the land, the sea and airspace of the country is in your hands,” he said.
“You hold the power to shape the destiny of the nation and to translate the dreams of the people into reality, in health care, in education and all developments and to bring these to the doorstep of the communities in a vibrant economy for all.”
He reminded the MPs of their responsibilities to ensure that law and order, and peace must always prevail in the nation and of ethical leadership amongst the members of parliament.
President Moses touched on issues affecting the economy, agriculture, energy, business environment and competition, climate change, employment and productivity, infrastructure development, democracy and good governance.
He directed the MPs to the integrated land management reform, law and order and touched on media, media development and access to information. The president acknowledged the development of media in Vanuatu with increased media outlets, and existent of television and access of information.
He said this is a positive impact on democracy in the nation that assist the people to have more access to information, adding, “however, despite all these, the media must not abuse the freedom to defame other people and not to degrade values that unite the people in the community and country.
The President also touched on the international relations and the importance of building good relationships for economic benefits for all.
He pointed out the importance of promoting peace and security within Vanuatu and with other countries, noting Vanuatu’s pending graduation from the Least Developed Countries (LCD) status.
“Through its international memberships, Vanuatu will continue to play its important roles in mediation, conflict resolution, peace building initiatives,” he said.
The Head of State also touched broadly on the nation’s human capital development, health and call for stricter border control and to ensure Vanuatu maintains Zero Tolerance policy and prevent COVID-19 from entering Vanuatu.
He reiterated his call for the parliament to give priority to the preparations for Vanuatu to graduate from the LDC status and to ensure that all is done for Vanuatu to continue to rise in its development and create a better future for the generations to come.
The President urged the MPs to stand united with the people for progress and success.
All 52 MPs were present during the official opening of the First Ordinary Session of Parliament.