New Kiribati Parliamentarians discuss National Policy issues at Induction Seminar
(Tarawa, Kiribati) - What are the key roles of a Member of Parliament? How can Members use parliamentary process to more effectively discharge their constitutional roles? What are the critical development challenges facing the country and how can MPs address those challenges through Parliament? These are some of questions discussed at the Kiribati Parliament Induction Seminar, organized for the members of the Tenth Parliament this week in Tarawa.
The seminar provided an initial forum for MPs to explore how to most effectively use parliamentary processes to progress Kiribati national development issues. Speaker of the Kiribati Parliament, Hon Taomati Iuta, welcomed all the Members of the Tenth Parliament, saying: “To become members of Parliament is one of the most challenging jobs. Parliamentarians are not only for their island but for the entire Kiribati. MPs are supposed to make laws for the county or change the existing ones to improve them. MPs are also leaders of their people and supposed to be the role model to the people and to the young generation”.
Mr Knut Ostby, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative responsible for Kiribati, conveyed a message to Members, stating; “I would like to offer my warmest congratulations on your election to the highly responsible positions as Members of Parliament. UNDP shares the hopes and aspirations of the people of Kiribati that you would truly move the nation forward.”
The three-day seminar covered a broad range of topics, including both constitutional and procedural issues, as well as a range of developmental issues, such as violence against women, population challenges, corruption and leadership, climate change, the Millennium Development Goals and HIV/AIDs.
Hon Maere Tekanene, one of the four women elected to the Kiribati Parliament, was highly positive about the usefulness of the Induction Seminar. “It is very informative and it exposes us to our roles as parliamentarians and how we can provide inputs to address issues of national concerns. For example, Parliamentarians can ask public officials and public service providers to address the public’s concerns about service delivery including water shortage and hardship issues facing the communities,” said Ms Tekanene who has just started her first term as a parliamentarian.
The induction seminar was organized by the Office of the Kiribati Speaker, with financial and technical support from UNDP, the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly and the AusAID Pacific Public Sector Linkages Programme. UNDP supports the Parliaments in several Pacific islands countries, including Kiribati.
Reflecting on his time as an MP and the value of the seminar, Hon Ieremia Tabai, a former President of Kiribati and a current sitting senior Member, stated: “it is very useful and I enjoy sitting and listening to all the presentations. The issues were topical and I know the new members will appreciate the information as they start their work as MPs”.
The Seminar concluded on 23 November, but will be followed up with an ongoing programme of parliamentary training and support from UNDP and other partners. The Kiribati Parliament will hold its first sitting today, Friday 25 November 2011, to elect a new Parliamentary Speaker and nominate the Members of Parliament who will run in the Presidential elections scheduled for December 2011.
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