Apia, Samoa (Tuesday 21 April 2020) – The Legislative Assembly of Samoa has adopted a new way of working online, using information and communication technology (ICT) to conduct its business.
Members of Parliament and parliamentary staff are now able to continue the crucial work of conducting virtual parliamentary committee meetings with equipment funded by Japan through the UNDPs SLIP project.
ICT equipment to the value of US$105,000 or about $300,000 tala was handed over yesterday under the Strengthening Legislatures in Pacific Island Countries (SLIP) project.
Speaking at the official handover ceremony, Speaker of the House, Hon. Leaupepe Toleafoa Fa’afisi expressed his gratitude.
“This initiative is quite an achievement for the Parliament of Samoa which will enable our Parliamentary Committees to conduct meetings via teleconferencing and to receive online public submissions,” said Leaupepe.
“It has enabled Parliamentarians to be better equipped in carrying out their duties and responsibilities in an advanced and professional way. It will also assist our Parliamentary Committees to engage and collect more feedback from outer districts and communities.”
The Ambassador of Japan to Samoa, H. E. Mr Terasawa Genichi, in his speech, highlighted the important role of Parliaments in national consultations and decision-making.
“It is quite fitting that given the current global health crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic and the Government’s lockdown, this equipment and the use of technology will enable a much easier telework communication and save costs in the future for the Parliament,” said Genichi.
The Ambassador said Japan was confident that UNDP would e sure standards and results in their implementation of the project.
Resident Representative for the UNDP Samoa Office, Jorn Sorensen, highlighted the important role of Parliaments to continue its functions within the safety measures outlined for the prevention of the spread of COVID-19.
“At UNDP, we recognize that the role of Parliament in a time of crisis is more vital than ever to pass and review emergency laws, allocate and scrutinize the use of public resources as well as oversee government’s action,” said Sorensen.
The support provided by UNDP through SLIP focuses on strengthening the Parliaments of six Pacific Island countries to become more effective, efficient, inclusive and transparent. The project is implemented in the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, the Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
The United Nations in the Pacific continues to support countries to set up a multisectoral whole-of-society approach to face the challenges beyond the health sector, to limit the spread of COVID-19 and to mitigate the potentially devastating impact it may have on vulnerable populations and economies.