By Madeline Saga
The Registry assisted and organised a meeting for the United National Development Program (UNDP) and five political parties. UNDP is working with the National Parliament of Papua New Guinea (PNG) in conducting a needs assessment for the PNG Parliament.
The overarching outcome of the Needs Analysis and subsequent parliamentary support is to ensure that systems and processes are in place to provide for a Parliament that can efficiently and effectively undertake its legislative, oversight and representative functions, with a view to strengthening good governance and development outcomes in PNG. The Needs Analysis will both identify gaps in current structures, processes and human resource capacity and propose recommendations to strengthen the legislature.
Expected outputs from this assessment is:
- A Needs Assessment Report with practical recommendations on concrete initiatives to implemented under UNDP
- A full-pledged project document for UNDP’s assistance to the National Parliament of PNG.
Two groups were identified in order to conduct this assessment which was A) Parliamentary Leaders and B) Political Parties who had members of Parliament. This is where the Registry came in by identifying parties to take part in the assessment.
Each of the political parties were given an opportunity to share their experiences and understanding of the PNG Parliamentary system and to identify any gaps that are currently a hindrance to Political parties and their connection to Parliament. The political parties present were pleased to have met the team from UNDP as this allowed more discussions on issues they believed was the result of a lack of confidence and communication with political parties and their role with the PNG Parliament. A number of interesting factors were taken into consideration such as;
- Confirming that there was in fact a weak Parliamentary committee system in which funding was the key setback
- There was a break down in relationships between Parliamentary committee and Political Party executives
- There was a need for political parties to have staff employed by parliament to enable parties constant communication with its parliamentary leaders
- Reintroduce this practice more than 20 years ago where each parliamentary leader was given 9 staff of which 4 represented a political party to which they were a member of
- Through the integration of party staff at the parliament the public would be invited for bills that need public scrutiny
- Current committee members most often do not receive their sitting allowance, therefore do not attend most of these meetings when held in parliament
- Political parties to take initiative to educate and train new staff under their parliamentary leader
- Parties to learn from other democratic nations who practice in engaging this practice successfully
Through the Political parties present the officials from UNDP were able to make contact to meet with each of the parties’ parliamentary leaders. This confirmed the importance of why party executives were vital in maintaining productive relationships and accountability between political parties and the National Parliament of Papua New Guinea. A progressive meeting will take place later on in the year.