Anna-Lisa Paul and Bobie-Lee Dixon
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House Speaker aims for paperless Parliament
House Speaker Wade Mark says Government is working with the United Nations and Canadian experts to create an electronic paperless Parliament before 2015. He was speaking to reporters at San Fernando Hill, as he escorted the Commonwealth delegation of House Speakers and presiding officers on an islandwide tour yesterday. Mark said 190 delegates from 44 countries attended the 21st conference of Speakers and Presiding officers of the Commonwealth, which ended on Tuesday. Out of this, 98 of the visitors toured Tobago. He described the conference as profoundly informative and said key objectives were set, one of which was to begin creating a paperless Parliament.
“We have set ourselves certain goals. We will be striving for greater Parliamentary improvement at the end of 2015. We want to overhaul and revise the Standing Orders and make Parliament independent of finance, administration and institution,” Mark said. “We want to have an electronic parliament and create a paperless environment. We also want to move towards engaging in a more full time Parliamentary arrangement in T&T. “The paperless Parliament will be a work in progress, we are working with the United Nations and we are looking for help from Canada to start this programme sometime at the end of this year. It is a long term programme, it will be in phases so that by end of 2015, it will be ready for the next elections.”
Mark said from March he and President of the Senate Timothy Hamel-Smith, as well as other presiding officers, will be touring schools to promote understanding of the importance of Parliamentary democracy. “We want to go out to the country from March. We will be going throughout T&T to primary schools, secondary schools, universities and the labour sector to promote Parliament and Parliamentary democracy,” he said. He added that the new changes to Parliamentary process will be revolutionary. Among the issues discussed at the conference were Parliamentary diplomacy in an era of globalisation, executive accountability in Parliament, challenges facing Speakers in multi-party chambers, minority and coalition governments and reconnecting parliament with the public.