13th December 04:46 AM
Parliament approves sitting dates for next year despite reservations from Opposition to have more sitting days
By Naveel Krishant
Tuesday 19/11/2019
[Photo: Parliament of the Republic of Fiji]

Parliament has approved the sitting dates for next year despite reservations from the opposition.

The first sitting will be held from the 17th to the 21st February, 16th to 20th of March, 27th April to 1st May, 25th to 29th May, 31st August to 4th September and 7th to 11th December.

While moving the motion, the Leader of Government in Parliament and the Minister for Defence and National Security Inia Seruiratu says budget dates will be confirmed in due course and is expected to be in June or July.

Seruiratu says the motion does not propose a reduction in sittings in comparison to this year’s sitting calendar.

He says people may view this as limiting debates on questions and motions, limiting people’s access to members of parliament, limiting accountability to the people of Fiji, on the contrary, it does not take away the role of the parliament which is to make and pass laws.

He says it does not take away the role of the members of parliament which is to represent the Fijian people.

Leader of Opposition, Sitiveni Rabuka says the business committee has agreed with the sitting dates but it is done on a vote basis.

Rabuka says they still express their reservations on the number of days that are allocated for them to debate national matters adding he believes that more time should be given for their deliberations on the various important bills in front of them. 

SODELPA President and MP, Ro Filipe Tuisawau say they acknowledge that some of their requests have been approved however they are concerned with the reduced sittings.

The Attorney General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says that parliament sitting dates is not the only means where people’s views are represented, as they also have committees.

SODELPA MP, Viliame Gavoka says that he had asked the government to follow the example of SDL and SVT where they have a legislative committee which was tasked to bring two bills in every parliament sitting.

Sayed-Khaiyum says that Gavoka is misleading parliament when he says that the previous government used to have a bill every time they sat.

He says SDL ran a minority government.

Meanwhile Opposition Whip, Lynda Tabuya says that more time is needed to debate on the bills that are before the house, and government needs to share the work of the Standing Committees.

The Attorney General says that the government has many matters to attend to.

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