Fiji Speaker Denies Parliament Trainer Involved In Decision-Making

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Opposition claims UNDP staff member helping curtail debate

By Nasik Swami

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Feb. 17, 2015) – Speaker of Parliament Dr Jiko Luveni has refuted claims by the Opposition that a United Nations Development Programme representative supporting Parliament in matters of procedures and policies was "actively participating in decision making processes".

The Opposition, in a statement authorised by its leader Ro Teimumu Kepa last Friday, claimed the actions of the UNDP representative was "aimed at curtailing debate".

Dr Luveni said the comments were rubbish.

She said the representative was not involved in any decision making process.

"No, he doesn't make any decisions. He is only training the parliamentary staff," Dr Luveni said.

"The decision is not his — he is just from UNDP to train the staff on parliamentary policies and procedures," she said.

Dr Luveni said if the secretary-general to Parliament, Viniana Namosimalua was not sure of anything, she would refer to him.

"He does the training and if the secretary-general is not sure of anything, she asks not only him but other Parliaments as well on what they do in such cases.

"That's how she (secretary-general) will come up with a decision."

The UNDP also conducted an induction program last October for Fijian parliamentarians to look at key issues of how the legislative process will work in the Parliament and which mechanisms will be available to MPs to provide oversight and hold the Government to account.

The organisation also assisted in the provision of $1.6million worth of equipment by donors through the United Nations Development Fund.

Facilities provided through the UNDP include a delegate conference system for members of Parliament to vote electronically and a portable delegate conference system. Since January 2014, UNDP has been working to provide support to Parliament of Fiji through a project funded by the European Union and the governments of New Zealand, Australia and Japan.

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