Hon. Speaker of the Fiji Parliament, Dr. Jiko Luveni

Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners

Mr. Paul Belisle of McGill University

Staff of the National Parliaments and Legislatures of Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu

Ladies and gentlemen:

A very good evening to you all.

Firstly, let me say how pleased we are at UNDP to be working with the Fiji Parliament and an internationally renowned university such as McGill, to conduct this training on Corporate Management for nine Pacific Parliaments and Legislatures.

Globally, UNDP provides parliamentary development support to more than 60 Parliaments around the world in the recognition of the central role that they play in democratic governance, peace and development.

Amongst others, UNDP’s programming focuses on building the capacity of Parliamentary administration staff, Parliamentary Committees as well as MPs to effectively carry out the three core roles of Parliaments, namely legislating, representation of citizens, and oversight of the Government.

As a pillar of democratic governance, Parliaments are powerful agents of change. It is by ratifying international agreements, translating the Sustainable Development Goals into enforceable national laws that respond to country-specific development priorities, monitoring their implementation and ensuring Governments are accountable to the people for delivering progress on the SDGs, that Parliaments can drive that change and be effective in their role.

The number and capacity of Parliamentary administration staff are critical to the institution’s effectiveness. Research has shown that a Parliament with too few employees – or where staff lack the training and skills to support Members and Committees – could see the quality of adopted policies and their implementation affected, ultimately impacting people on the ground.

In this regard, parliamentary staff perform two vital functions. First, you provide continuity between elections. Parliament needs to retain and enhance its institutional memory throughout electoral cycles, and the staff help assure this critical service.

Second, many of you are the principal source of independent and authoritative advice for Members on the rules of procedure. This is especially important in fragile political environments where interpretation of the rules can be highly contested and determine who controls Parliament – and how. In short, while elected politicians determine the substance of parliamentary activity, staff exist to support the integrity of the institution and its procedures.

A key focus of the UNDP Pacific Parliamentary Development team is to support capacity building opportunities for staff so that you can effectively carry out your roles. I am pleased to say that all Parliaments and Legislatures represented in this training have benefited from UNDP support in that regard.

I trust that the Corporate Management course has given you a clearer understanding of the roles of corporate units within Parliaments, how they function, and how they are changing with new technology and innovation. UNDP is especially pleased that this has been a regional learning experience where you could share your knowledge and practices with colleagues from across the Pacific, and form lasting friendships and professional networks. Our hope is that this experience would help you as you further develop your own institutions and services.

In closing, I would like to express UNDP’s sincere gratitude to the leadership of the Fiji Parliament for hosting this training workshop and Paul, your course facilitator, for the stimulating and interactive sessions.

This regional training would not have been possible without the generous support from our donors – the Governments of Australia, New Zealand and Japan. I take this opportunity to thank our funding partners for their ongoing support to UNDP’s regional programme in the Pacific.

Tenkyu tumas, Kalahngan, Kommol tata, Meitaki, Faafetai, Malo 'aupito, and Vinaka vakalevu.

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