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Rabuka and Prasad question deferment of parliament

April 24, 2020 4:50 pm
Opposition Leader Sitiveni Rabuka and National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad have released a joint statement criticizing the deferment of the April sitting of the House

The parliament secretariat has confirmed that it has the facilities to conduct virtual meetings via video conferencing.

This comes after Opposition Leader Sitiveni Rabuka and National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad have released a joint statement criticizing the deferment of the April sitting of the House.

The two Leaders claim next week’s sitting from April 27th to May 1st has been deferred after the bulldozed Government majority decision of the Parliamentary Business Committee, was conveyed through Flying Minute.

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Rabuka and Professor Biman say they are disappointed at the last minute decision the despite sitting in March to approve the COVID-19 Supplementary Budget, facilitated by physical distancing measures.

They claim the unilateral decision to defer next week’s sitting was raised via a flying minute, rather than convening of the Business Committee, whose eight (8) members could have easily been called to meet and discuss such a far-reaching decision as they all live in Suva.

The Business Committee approved the deferment by four (4) votes to two (2). While two (2) SODELPA members opposed, two (2) NFP members did not vote.

The statement claims that because the NFP Whip, Pio Tikoduadua who is also a member of the Business Committee, was in police custody and could not vote, while the Party Leader was also busy following the arrest.

However Secretary General to Parliament Viniana Namosimalua has told FBC News that the flying minute is standard procedure which all Members of the House are aware of.

Namosimalua adds that in this instance, they had a deadline to decide on next week’s sitting, and only FijiFirst and SODELPA members of the Business Committee responded within the timeframe.

Rabuka and professor Biman argue that reducing the sittings of parliament is a gross disservice to voters and taxpayers.

They argue that Parliaments around the world continue to sit – some with social distancing, while others hold “virtual sittings” online, and these options could easily be considered in Fiji.

The Parliament Secretariat has confirmed that they do in-fact have plans to introduce virtual meetings in a matter of weeks.

Secretary General Viniana Namosimalua says they are currently training MPs on the use of video conferencing and once complete, all Parliament Committee meetings will be conducted virtually.

Namosimalua adds that many MPs have been impressed with this development and welcomed the initiative by the Secretariat.

The Parliament Secretariat adds that conducting Committee meetings via video conferencing is the first phase, and eventually Parliament sittings could also be done via video conferencing since they have the facilities already.

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