SUVA, Fiji (Feb. 22) - Parliament is the highest authority of the land where important Bills relating to the affairs of the country are passed after vigorous scrutiny and debate.

It is the House where our elected representatives meet occasionally to discuss important issues that affect our daily lives.

Some issues are of such importance that members as well as the Parliament Secretariat work late into the night to get the job done.

But it’s not just about sitting in the House expressing views and working late that justifies their high salaries and perks and allowances.

There are other responsibilities attached and one of them is attending seminars and conferences overseas to deepen their knowledge of such issues.

But in order to achieve all of these, it is critical that sufficient funds are allocated for the functioning of Parliament.

Alarmingly, it has come to light that Parliament does not have sufficient funds to carry on with its operations and carry them out successfully.

Two months into the year and it does not have the money to send eight senators to travel overseas for two separate meetings in Canada and Papua New Guinea.

The question that needs to be asked is where have all the money gone? Were trips taken in the past by members of Parliament not paid for by the host countries?

Parliament’s Secretary General Mary Chapman has blamed the reduction in the Legislature’s overall budget by more than $400,000 for the situation it has landed itself in.

She has even stated that the $70,000 allocated for overseas travel is peanuts compared to the $200,000 received in the past.

If that is the case, then it should be made known why its annual budget was reduced by a large amount.

Surely, with a reduction in budget, one cannot expect this high body to fulfill all of its obligations.

And members cannot expect to be attending all meetings and conferences without any consideration of what the Legislature is going through.

Whatever is the problem, Ms Chapman and her team and the relevant ministries should get their act together and sort it out now.

The members of the House owe it to the people to get the work done.

February 23, 2004

FijiSUN: http://www.sun.com.fj/



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