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JSC to consider whether a board should run Parliament

By By Joel Julien joel.julien@trinidadexpress.com

A JOINT Select Committee (JSC) has been mandated to consider whether the country’s Parliament should be run by a board and given more autonomy.

Minister of Housing and Urban Development Dr Roodal Moonilal laid a motion in the House of Representatives on Friday night, which stated the Legislative Proposal “The Draft Houses of Parliament Service Authority Bill, 2014” should be referred to a JSC for its conside­ration and report no later than May 31.

“A modern Parliament must be administered and managed efficiently and in a manner which ensures the autonomy of the Parliament and its staff,” Moonilal said.

Moonilal said the present Office of the Parliament forms part of the public service and its staff comprises public officers subject to the Public Service Commission.

“There is no supervision of the Office of the Parliament by the Members of the Parliament collectively. There is need for greater financial autonomy and to attract an retain highly competent staff,” he said.

Moonilal said the bill seeks to address the issue of autonomy.

“The bill seeks to achieve efficient and autonomous management and administration of the Parliament by dismantling and replacing the existing public service model with an independent nonpartisan House of Parliament Service Authority, a body corporate, to be managed by a board,” he said.

The ten-member board is expected to include the Speaker of the House as chairman; the President of the Senate as deputy chairman; the Leader in the House and the Leader of the Opposition.

“The authority shall directly employ the Parliament staff other than the holders of the offices of the Clerk of the House and the Clerk of the Senate, both of which are to be given the status of special offices under the Constitution, and appointments are to be made to these offices by the President on the joint advice of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition,” Moonilal said.

The Clerk of the House will be the Chief Executive Officer of the authority and will be responsible to the board.

“In order to achieve a level of financial autonomy, a Houses of Parliament Service Authority Fund is established into which monies approved by the Parliament are paid and which shall be used to pay expenses incurred by the authority,” Moonilal said.

Moonilal said it was “critical” to have this bill passed to “reform, refashion” and “better promote independence and integrity” in the Parliament.

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