New project to strengthen National Assembly
Vientiane – The legislative, oversight and representational role of the National Assembly will receive a boost over the next year through a new support project launched today in Vientiane.
The launch ceremony at the National Assembly for the National Assembly Strategic Support Project (NASSP) was attended by H.E. Hon. Dr. Ounkeo Vouthilath, Chief of Cabinet, National Assembly, Ms. Ruth Huber, Regional Director of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) Program for the Mekong Region and Ms. Kaarina Immonen, Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
In his opening remarks, H.E. Dr. Ounkeo Vouthilath thanked UNDP and SDC for their support and said: “The new project will contribute to strengthening the performance of the National Assembly members and staff”.
The new project is designed to enhance the abilities of the relevant committees of the National Assembly as well as the overall institutional mechanism in realizing its mandate.
Furthermore, the dialogue between the National Assembly and the public will be reinforced through enhanced information sharing opportunities at the national and local level.
“Successful implementation of the National Assembly’s representing role requires strong and committed parliamentarians as well as knowledgeable staff to interact on a regular basis to hear the views of Lao people”, said Kaarina Immonen from UNDP.
“Importance of working with civil society cannot be over-emphasized in the decision-making process. I am very pleased that this project will give us an opportunity to work even more closely with the civil society community,” she added.
Ms. Ruth Huber from SDC confirmed the Swiss contribution of US$420,000 at today’s event. She indicated that this new partnership represents a milestone in SDC program in Lao PDR, and highlighted the importance of the dialogue between the parliamentarians and the people in their constituencies as well as with civil society organizations, in the process of defining laws and policies which respond to the reality and needs of the people. “I highly value the key role of the National Assembly as representative body”, she said.
The project will be implemented by the National Assembly with technical and financial assistance from the United Nations Development Programme and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.
The support project will initially run over one year with potential for an extension, subject to outcome of an evaluation after the first year. The total budget for the first year is US$ 750,000.
The National Assembly is the legislative branch that has the right to make decisions on fundamental issues of the country and to oversee the activities of the executive and judicial organs.
UNDP has been working with the National Assembly for more than ten years, the most recent support programme, Support to an Effective Lao National Assembly (SELNA), ending in 2012. The new project builds on a comprehensive review of this programme which included extensive consultations with various partners.