Suva, Fiji – A workshop conducted in May by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for Congressmen in the Federated States of Micronesia enabled the national legislators to agree to priority areas for strengthening the Congress’ internal capacity.

Based on the specially conducted Legislative Needs Assessment (LNA), UNDP recommended 47 potential priority areas for strengthening the Congress’ ability to consult their voters when making a new bill, the way they endorse new laws and to improve on the resources available from the Congress Secretariat such as setting up a library for members to do their research.

According to the UNDP Governance Analyst, Brian Lenga, out of the 47 recommendations in the LNA report, members of the FSM Congress accepted 37.

“The three most important recommendations accepted were the ones on having an induction/orientation workshop for new and returning congress members following the 2011 elections, and having a Law Making workshop to provide specialized training for Members and staff on preparation drafting and review of bills.

“The third being that the Congressmen accepted  to UNDP conducting a financial oversight workshop, which is aimed at enhancing members awareness of specific legislative aspects including reading and understanding financial documents, making a budget, amending the budget and procedures for considering and passing the budget,” Mr Lenga said.

The validation workshop was facilitated jointly between UNDP and the Speaker and the Clerk of the Congress, with additional support provided by the UN Joint Presence in FSM.

The legislative needs assessment report was produced through a consultative process involving members of the FSM Congress, Government Officials, members the civil society and development partners in FSM.

The long term support by UNDP to the FSM Congress project will focus on developing the technical capacities within the Congress support Offices, such as Office of the Clerk, as well as  specialized training for Members of Congress and strengthening public outreach by the Congress to improve voters’ understanding of how Congress works. In this way, the public is also encouraged to participate and comment on Bills from within Congress and also to be aware of what their elected representatives are doing for the benefit of the country.

“The project welcomes other development partners and UN agencies to join this initiative so as to enhance coordination and strengthen results in FSM Congress,” Mr Lenga said.

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