PALIKIR, POHNPEI. May 4, 2011 – The Office of the Speaker, in collaboration with the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP), today launched a two-day FSM Congress Orientation Seminar for the elected members of the Seventeenth Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia.
Speaker Isaac V. Figir observed that, “it has long been felt in Congress that something should be done to ease the learning curve of the work of Congress for the new members. It has been my observation throughout the years that it takes a while for new members to become familiar with this institution. The goal of the seminar is to remedy the knowledge gap through a structured orientation and to provide a forum for Members to share their experiences and expertise.”
A first of its kind for the Congress, the FSM Congress Members Orientation Seminar is an initiative of Speaker Isaac V. Figir. The seminar is the culmination of a partnership with UNDP that commenced in 2007, when FSM requested UNDP to undertake a Legislative Needs Assessment (LNA) study for the FSM Congress and the four State Legislatures. Following UNDP’s presentation of the LNA’s findings in 2010, members of the 16th Congress agreed to run an induction seminar and requested UNDP to facilitate.
Brian Lenga, UNDP Governance Analyst, shared that “UNDP regards the role of Congress as absolutely critical to effective democratic governance process and nation-building. The Seminar provides an opportunity for members to share ideas as national leaders and discuss procedural, oversight and legislative processes of the Congress. UNDP supports Parliaments in several Pacific islands countries and FSM Congress is one of them.”
The agenda for the two-day orientation seminar covers a range of topics agreed upon by Congress and UNDP. International facilitators are also supporting the workshop, namely, Dr. Robert Underwood, the President of the University of Guam and former Delegate to the United States Congress; Charmaine Rodrigues, UNDP Regional Legislative Strengthening Advisor and Brian Lenga, UNDP Governance Analyst.
With the FSM Constitution as a guidepost, first day of the seminar covered issues such as the separation of powers between the Congress, Executive Branch and Judiciary, the relationship between the National Congress and the States and leadership and ethics. The Seminar also discussed Members of Congress as leaders of national development, as representatives of communities and as representatives of States in the context of the overall importance of strengthening the sense of nationhood in FSM.
Day two of the Seminar will focus on more technical issues, such as the law making process, the budget process and the effective use of committees for oversight. The seminar will also provide Members with information about support available from UNDP, as well as assistance from other bodies on issues such as population and development.
The FSM Congress Members Orientation Seminar will conclude on May 5, 2011.