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Parliament Plays Key Role in Development: Speaker

In this final segment of the interview with Speaker of Parliament Dr Jiko Luveni, she says that the development of Parliament depends on the laws enacted about national development. These
22 Sep 2017 10:00
Parliament Plays Key Role in Development: Speaker
Speaker of the House Dr Jiko Luveni

In this final segment of the interview with Speaker of Parliament Dr Jiko Luveni, she says that the development of Parliament depends on the laws enacted about national development.

These are the excerpts from the interview:

 

Fiji Sun: What are the factors that drive the development of Parliament?

Dr Luveni: The development of Parliament is really dependent on the laws enacted in Parliament particularly in national development and the budgetary implications. And we have progressed a lot. The Government now has strengthened its development programmes because they have a much larger Budget that has been allocated to them by Parliament for different ministries.

Where they have a much larger budget, there is much more they can achieve. Where does the Government get its Budget from?  From tax revenue and loans.

We can also see that Parliament has approved loans on capital and infrastructure. There has been an increase in loan from local financial institutions.

For instance, Fiji has taken a lot of loans from FNPF. This means the interest for the loans stays in the country, benefits FNPF members and the local economy.

To me, this is a big progress the move away from overseas to local institutions.

Also, through the Minister for Economy, Parliament has approved a lot of reforms that enable the Budget that has been accumulated by Government to be shared and put back to the community. That has been evident in the increase in Social Welfare benefits, and the pensions. Now every single person over the age of 65 is receiving pension.

This had never happened before.

Parliament is now approving billions of dollars rather than millions and it is through the prudent management of our finances by this Government.

Parliament is proud to be talking in billions and sharing the profits to the people in Fiji. That is what Parliament is there for. We represent the people and we ensure that people benefit.

 

Fiji Sun: The utterances that are made in parliament of racist nature, etc, how do you deal with them?

Dr Luveni: The onus is on the MPs to bring it up themselves. When I hear it I can address it. I had already made a ruling in Parliament that when members of Parliament make comments that are abusive, particularly if it is personal in nature that person must bring it out as a point of order and I will make the ruling.

 

Fiji Sun: What are some of the issues that you watch out for?

Dr Luveni: The general rule in Parliament is that the word “liar” directly accusing someone as a “liar” is a no no. When that happens I asked that it be withdrawn.

I just made a ruling the other day if a MP was misleading the House. They were making statements that were incorrect.

Maybe the data was incorrect and I will ask for clarification on that from the relevant minister.

The point of order is only raised if the rules and procedures under the Standing Orders are not followed.

If somebody stands up and raises a point of order because he/she disagrees with what someone else is saying, it is not a point of order. A minister is making a statement and they disagree with what he is saying, they stand up and say point of order. That is not a point of order. Point of order is not on the content of anyone’s speech. Only if he/she breaks any rules.

 

Fiji Sun: The number of sittings, has been reduced and the Opposition complains that not all business would be discussed because there’s not enough sittings. What’s your take?

Dr Luveni: It does not mean Parliament is not sitting that it is closed now. During the next three months, our MPs and communities will be very very busy. There have been lots of Bills that have been tabled in Parliament that need to be reviewed by the various parliamentary standing committees.They need all the time so that by February all consultations and reports are completed and tabled back in Parliament.

 

Fiji Sun: Are the committees up to date with their reports?

Dr Luveni: No it has not been up to date. There are lots of Bills pending in Parliament. We give them three months to complete these bills so that they are ready for enactment by February so that we can start the New Year fresh.

 

Fiji Sun: What was the reason they wanted to have more sittings?

Dr Luveni: They were talking about these Bills under the Standing Order no 51, the emergency Bills. They complain that we are rushing all these things and that we will not be sitting.

For me the Standing Order no. 51 has a provision. They have the opportunity to debate those Bills when they are tabled in Parliament in February.

There is a difference between Fijian Parliament and other parliaments.

In other parliaments when they sit in the morning, they have questions for instance.

The MP will ask the minister a question and as soon as the minister replies…..they both stand up and walk out.

By the afternoon time there are very few people in Parliament. The MPs have gone to work in their committees which run parallel to the Parliament sittings.

They are running the parliament sittings with the committees.

But here when we are having Parliament we have a solid Parliament and no committee works.

That’s why committees have lots on their plates because when there is a sitting they cannot work.

 

Fiji Sun: Would you be prepared to sit for another term if asked to do that? Or do you want to stand in the next elections?

Dr Luveni: I will not be standing in the next elections. I am a person that values my contribution to national development and serving the nation and as long as I am breathing I would like to serve the nation. It has been my passion throughout my career life.

If I am asked to serve the nation, I can never say no in whatever capacity.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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