THE Public Accounts Committee of the Legislative Assembly has decided to facilitate requests for only MPs from the outer islands to conduct parliamentary constituency visit.
That means their travel expenses including air fare and travel allowance will be financed from the Office of the Legislative Assembly’s vote.
The decision came after the Speaker of Parliament, Lord Tu’ivakano announced the cancellation of parliamentary visit program for this year.
Parliament is now adjourned until August 15. According to Lord Tu’ivakano this is to allow MPs to follow up on implementation of projects needed during their last parliamentary visit.
During the break, MPs will also attend a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Presiding Officers and Clerks’ conference in Nuku’alofa from July 11-July 13, 2016.
Vava’u number two Noble Representative Lord Tu’ilakepa urged the Speaker to continue the annual program where legislators visit and dialogue with their electorates on their most urgent needs and report back to the House.
The Speaker reminded MPs of their duty and responsibility under the Westminster Abbey model to constantly meet with their electorates and report to the House. At the same time they can conduct their own constituency visit while Parliament is not sitting.
The Hon. Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva supported the Speaker’s motion and called on parliamentarians to honour his wish and carry out their own visitation program.
Normally the Office of the Legislative Assembly finances the travel expenses of MPs when undertakes parliamentary constituency visit.
Ha’apai 13 constituency MP, Veivosa Taka reminded Parliament, MPs in Tongatapu are so fortunate for they only drive to their respective destination.
For them in Ha’apai and Vava’u, travelling by boat is their only means of reaching their respective electorates. Taka said the job can be done, but only to Foa and Kauvai and not Lulunga and Otumu’omu’a constituencies.
During the break, MP Mateni Tapueluelu said he and Tongatapu 4 Village Council will finalise and prioritise the development projects needed to be implemented from the last constituency visit.
He also reassured Parliament with no constituency visit this year, it is saving a lot of the Legislative Assembly Office’s money. Both MPs and clerks are given travelling allowance while out in the field.
Tapueluelu is pretty confident, same list of urgent needs from last year will be provided by the electorates if the parliamentary visit goes ahead.
Parliament was announced to be reconvene on August 1st but Ha’apai number one Noble Representative, Lord Tu’iha’angana called for the adjournment of Parliament until August 15 to allow MPs to attend the 2016 Agricultural.