As is customary every year, the Speaker of National Assembly, Peter Katjavivi, yesterday officiated at the opening of a budget review meeting that is intended to scrutinise the responsiveness of the more than N$72 billion national budget that was tabled by Finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi on Wednesday.
What does not seem to be customary, though, is how the meeting was conducted, as it was opened virtually for the first time in response and compliance with the state of emergency regulations due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking to participants through video conferencing and quoting the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Katjavivi noted that parliament was not exempted from observing public health measures put in place despite the institution’s critical role. He, however, added that there was a need to adapt to the new normal.
“Parliaments are currently subject to the same public health and social distancing measures as schools, places of worship or businesses. Yet, in a time of crisis, the role of parliament is more vital than ever to pass emergency laws, allocate resources and scrutinise government action. We have had to adapt to the change,” said Katjavivi while delivering his message online.
The meeting, facilitated by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, involved the participation of economic experts, who also made their presentations virtually under the theme ‘National Budget 2020/21. Does it respond towards mitigating the impact of Covid-19’. Members of parliament were equally given a chance to participate in the online meeting.
Parliament resumed its business on Tuesday, with the Appropriation Bill topping its list of engagements. The first session of the 7th Parliament that began on 24 March this year was halted due to the outbreak of the pandemic. The debate on the second reading of the Appropriation Bill is scheduled to take place next week Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, to be followed by the State of the Nation Address (SONA) next week Thursday by President Hage Geingob. In continuing to adhere to the state of emergency regulations, the National Assembly has further installed hand sanitiser dispensers at strategic places, temperature screenings, as well as wearing of masks. Only 50 members of parliament are currently allowed in the chamber for the proceedings, while other lawmakers will make use of the conference rooms through teleconferencing facilities.
2020-05-29 10:09:12 | 1 months ago