Windhoek-Speaker of the National Assembly, Professor Peter Katjavivi has reiterated his call for closer collaboration between the Namibian and Finnish parliaments.
Katjavivi made the remarks on Wednesday when he received his Finnish counterpart, Maria Lohela who is on a week-long visit of Namibia together with fellow lawmakers, Pekka Puska and Olli Poika Parviainen.
The reciprocal visit, seeks to deepen already existing ties between the two legislative bodies. Katjavivi visited the Finnish parliament in October last year where he met the political leadership of that country including President of Finland Sauli Niinistö and former president and revered elder statesman, Martti Ahtisaari.
Potential areas of cooperation between the two parliaments have been identified as Finnish help in combating gender-based violence in Namibia and transforming the Namibian parliament into a paperless institution colloquially referred to as e-parliament. Katjavivi appealed for urgent support while imploring parliamentary friendship groups created by the two countries to be at the forefront of accelerating this cooperation.
“I am hoping that as envisaged and briefly shared during my recent visit to Finland, our two parliaments can partner on a number of issues of common interest, these being the urgent need to combat gender-based violence in Namibia and the desire to have a paperless parliament drawing on the experience and technical knowhow of Finland. I am hopeful that our parliamentary friendship groups could help us achieve this objective,” he said.
Katjavivi further appealed for concerted efforts by both parliaments to end the humanitarian crisis facing the Rohingya people of Myanmar, who continue to flee their homes and are now cramped in deplorable refugee camps in neighbouring Bangladesh for fear of persecution.
“Both our parliaments are active members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and as you may recall, the issue of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar has featured prominently in recent IPU deliberations, especially during our meeting in Russia. It is my appeal that both our parliaments tirelessly continue to encourage the key players in this matter to resolve this crisis,” implored Katjavivi.
At a meeting for the Namibia - Finnish parliamentary friendship group that followed, Katjavivi revealed some of the priority focus areas for the newly created grouping. These include the assessment of legislation, ICT enhancement in parliamentary work, cooperation with civic society organisations, improving resource material for the parliament library, strengthening the effectiveness of the youth parliament and promoting tourism between Namibia and Finland.
Finnish Speaker, Lohela noted that the Finnish parliament has started to embrace ICT and invited the technical staff of parliament for a benchmark visit that could help kick start the transformation of the Namibian parliament.
“It is easy for us to start to work together as two parliaments. ICT is something that I have advocated for since my appointment as Speaker and we have transformed the Finnish parliament. ICT staff as professionals and people that are well placed in this whole e-parliament concept should be encouraged in this endeavour and perhaps they could embark on a visit of Finland as a learning experience,” noted Lohela.
According to Parviainen, another Finnish lawmaker accompanying the Speaker, members of parliament in that country have started to fully embrace ICT. “Digital equipment is being used more often in parliament now. We see them as a companion rather than an annoyance and they often make our work much easier,” related Parviainen.
What seems to be of concern to Lohela, who is visiting Namibia for the first time, has been the issue of double taxation she sees as a hindrance to efforts that seek to promote Finnish investment in Namibia. However, it was revealed during the meeting by the ambassador of Finland to Namibia, Pirkko-Liisa Kyöstilä that Finland had handed over its updated policy on double taxation that would serve as a yardstick for discussions on the matter soon.The Finnish delegation further visited the Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Doreen Sioka who bemoaned the escalation of gender-based violence and street kids in Namibia and further appealed for Finnish help.
A technical team together with the Namibian Speaker that will include officials from the Ministry of Gender is expected to expound on the issue today. The Finnish Speaker who is expected to pay a courtesy call on President Hage Geingob, will further hold consultations with the ministries of higher education and poverty reduction.
* George Sanzila works as Chief Information Officer in the Division: Research, Information, Publications and Editorial Services at the National Assembly New Era Reporter
2018-01-26 09:03:58 | 2 years ago