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By Colin Taimbari

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (August 27, 2002 – National)---Members of Parliament who are members of parliamentary committees will not receive any allowances unless they perform, according to Parliament Speaker Bill Skate.

Mr. Skate issued the blunt ultimatum yesterday, following meetings with Clerk of Parliament Ano Pala and the management of the parliamentary services unit.

Mr. Skate stressed that this was part of the government's moves to cut down on the huge government deficit, which is clogging the delivery of goods and services nationwide.

He said a more effective secretariat would be set up with competent staff who have executive abilities and management and experience.

"Most of these committees are non-existent. They have never held any meetings. I will ensue this practice will come to an end," said Mr Skate.

The Speaker said while staff reduction would be a priority, a number of parliamentary services -- including transport, security, catering, printing, cleaning and all maintenance services -- will either be privatized or corporatized to improve efficiency in Parliament.

"Some of these facilities, if privatized or corporatized, should be more profitable and as a result be open to the general public -- for instance, the kiosk and the function rooms," he said.

"The size of the Parliamentary Service has to be re-looked at. There are too many casual employees. If need be, we have to lay them off and retain only those that are considered useful and their services are required."

Mr. Skate said he has been advised that the cost of maintaining parliamentary services is quite exorbitant.

The Speaker also called on parliamentary staff to be more responsible in their approach to MPs and the general public by portraying themselves as professionals with a high degree of discipline and competence.

"Your role is to provide quality advice to all members regardless of where they come from or what status they hold. You must be fair. This is the only way Parliamentary Service can progress," he said.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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