Outgoing parliament outlines performance record

Outgoing Parliament has attained at least 96.6 per cent of its legislative assignment which has played a significant role in uplifting the country under the four main pillars of the economy, good governance, justice and social welfare.
The Chamber of Deputies sits neat and silent in absence of Members of Parliament yesterday. The New Times/ Timothy Kisambira.
The Chamber of Deputies sits neat and silent in absence of Members of Parliament yesterday. The New Times/ Timothy Kisambira.

Outgoing Parliament has attained at least 96.6 per cent of its legislative assignment which has played a significant role in uplifting the country under the four main pillars of the economy, good governance, justice and social welfare.

Speaker Rose Mukantabana said this Tuesday as she outlined their achievements and failures from October 6, 2008, up to Monday, when the Chamber of Deputies concluded its five-year mandate.

Elections for the next Members of Parliament are scheduled for September 16.

The House received 391 Bills, but MPs were not able to finish work on 13 of the Bills that were still being scrutinised, Mukantabana said.

Speaking at a news conference, the Speaker said there are also 24 Bills whose relevance lawmakers approved but during initial scrutiny, MPs found it necessary to return them to the Executive “for various reasons.”

Lawmakers introduced 14 Bills during this term, while the Executive tabled 353, she said.

According to the Speaker, a total 349 Bills were passed, including 312 which were enacted into laws, and 37 which are yet to come into force.

MPs also passed the land use Bill that had been pending since 2004.

The lawmakers also say the country is now ranked among the best places to do business in the world as laws on doing business became more friendly.

Mukantabana also said there are five new Bills received by Parliament but which had not yet been examined.

The Speaker said there should be no cause for concern due to unfinished business, especially since it is just a parliamentary mandate that has come to an end but not the Assembly itself. She said the new Parliament will carry on and finish what they were not able to.

On their last day of business, on Monday, MPs passed the Bill establishing the general statutes for the country’s public service, the one on genocide ideology, and another determining the powers, mission, organisation and functioning of the national intelligence and security service.

Challenges


Fielding questions from journalists, Mukantabana said they faced challenges, including poorly drafted legislation coming into the House from the law reform commission, low understanding of the population about the work and activities of Parliament, and capacity issues because the House lacks enough and well trained back up staff and equipment.

“Our Parliament is still young, compared to other parliaments in the world, meaning it requires continued capacity building, especially with respect to support staff,” she said.

“When you go to other parliaments, you find that a Member of Parliament has one or two aides to support them in many ways, including research. But here, given our history, a young Parliament, and our country’s capacity, we currently find it hard to request that each deputy and senator be given a staffer,” Mukantabana said.

Bills left behind


The Bills left unfinished by the House include the Bill on persons and family, the Bill repealing the 2007 law on health insurance, the Bill on tourism, the Bill on disaster management, the Bill on abandoned property, and the Bill on pension.

According to the Executive Secretary of the Rwanda Civil Society Platform, Thaddée Karekezi, the legislators have enacted laws that brought more light on land use, circumstances in which abortion is allowed, what happens if  some people are openly gay or lesbian, and the access to information law.

However, the activist, in a previous interview with this paper, said the legislators leave behind a legal environment that still criminalises prostitution, doesn’t make it possible for women working in the private sector to get enough days off for their maternity leave, and nurtures a parliamentary culture that is state-driven .

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