National Assembly, UN boost cooperation
Author: Times Reporters
Newspaper section: International Cooperation
Photo: Vientiane Times
National Assembly (NA) members, UN agencies and embassies to Laos yesterday discussed a plan to enhance the work of the legislative body, at an annual review meeting in Vientiane.
Around 50 attendees attended the meeting of the UN Joint Programme on Support to an Effective National Assembly (SELNA) - a project which began in late 2008 and is due to end in 2012 with a budget of US$4.125 million.
The overall objective is to create 'an efficient, effective and accountable parliament supporting development and poverty reduction for the citizens of Laos'.
"The SELNA programme not only helps reviews laws in preparation for the next ordinary session, but it also supplies experts to help us draft laws to international standards," said member of the NA Standing Committee and Chief of NA Cabinet Mr Thongteun Xayasene.
In opening the meeting Mr Thongteun commented that since cooperating with the SELNA programme, the NA has made a significant effort to improve itself such as visiting local areas to collect information, hold meetings and listen to the expectations and opinions of local people. The NA also disseminates laws to people in remote areas.
A telephone hotline has enabled more people to share their view on government policy and laws before approval decisions are made in the national assembly, he added.
Extending the role of the NA will contribute to its role of protecting the rights of citizens by enhancing monitoring of the government and judicial system.
Over the past two years the programme has achieved outcomes of significance to the everyday lives of Lao citizens, said UN Resident Coordinator Mr. Leik Boonwaat.
"The National Assembly is the highest legislative organ of the country and its work affects all sectors of society. Its enhanced role not only provides a greater legislative and oversight role to the government, but also allows the NA to become truly representative of the people." He said.
He said the forthcoming elections in April will be a major event. During its tenth session in December, assembly and adopted a new Election Law.
From now on, assembly members will have full control of their constituency office and representatives' budgets will be independent from the local administration, increasing the provincial and district administrations' accountability to assembly members.
Together with the increase in the number of members, the changes will empower the assembly as the guarantor of the steady advancement towards a state based on democratic values and the rule of law, Mr. Leik Boonwaat added.
He said the SELNA programme supports the assembly in providing better monitoring of state Finances by cooperating with the economy and finance Committee, the Finance Ministry and the State Audit Office to improve budgetary scrutiny by the assembly
UNODC supports the National Assembly (NA) through SELNA, the UN joint programme to support NA.
UNODC participated in annual awareness raising sessions of the Assembly's Security and Defence Committee in 2009 and 2010, presenting threats of transnational organized crime in 2009, and needs to prepare for threats of terrorism by ratifying UN counter-terrorism treaties in 2010.
UNODC also raised awareness of all the Assembly members by presenting UN Convention against Corruption and UN counter-terrorism treaties in the Assembly's inter-session programme in April 2010.