Role of Parliament needs to be justified, says Maharaj

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Opposition members Rinesh Sharma left, Virendra Lal, Ioane Naivalurua and Alvick Maharaj make their way of Parliament on Monday, November 20, 2023. Picture: ATU RASEA

We need to maintain and ensure that Parliament is always independent, says Opposition Member of Parliament Alvick Maharaj.

He also suggested induction programs be held for those MPs holding ministerial portfolios for the first time. In Parliament last week, Mr Maharaj gave his contribution towards the 2017/2018 Review of Parliament of the Republic of Fiji report.

“The induction program happened after nine months. We hear these rumours about ministers interfering with the judiciary — interference here, interference there,” he said.

“While we had the induction program for the MPs, we need to understand that there are members on the other side who are ministers for the first time, they need to be made aware what their roles and responsibilities are as ministers.

“Some of them think that they can do anything to everything if they are the minister.”

Falling back on his nine years of experience, Mr Maharaj said it was important to understand the role of the legislature.

“The role of the Parliament as a legislator needs to be justified and whether we are justifying by reducing the number of weeks by four weeks of Parliament sitting this year,” he said.

“Again, something that can be questioned because that can actually reduce the performance of the Parliament and us being the scrutinisers as Members of Parliament.”

He also called for MPs to be equipped with better resources such as laptops. Mr Maharaj said they were offered laptops which “crashed within weeks”.

“These were new laptops, who procured it, what kind of quality assurance was there. It did not just happen to one member, it happened to a couple of members.

“Most of the members refused to use these new bulky laptops. Is it okay for us to carry the bulky stuff with us?”

He also said that some members were yet to receive their business cards.

“We are still waiting for the issue that we have raised with regards to the membership of the committees. We are still waiting for a response.

“It is almost a year now that we have requested for a clarification, and I do not know why the Secretary-General to Parliament’s Office is not giving a legal opinion on what we had requested to your office so that you can give a written report back to us.”