New Delhi, Sep 27 (UNI) The ongoing 53rd Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference (CPC) today highlighted how an effective and knowledgeable opposition can build a mature political culture and act as a watchdog over the activities of the government.
The participants said the Opposition being the government in waiting has various constructive roles to play like articulating grievances of the people, consistently compelling the government to improve upon its policies and if need be to promote alternative policies other than those of the government. Therefore, it should have the right to be heard and dissent. It was described as the ''Voice of the voiceless.'' These ideas were thrown up at a workshop at the Conference on 'The role, rights and responsibilities of the Opposition.' Nearly 600 delegates from more than 50 countries are attending the event, which has its theme ' Delivering democracy and sustainable development'.
In the workshop, Mr Mahindra Yapa Abeywardena (Sri Lanka) was the Moderator while Mr Alban Bagbin (Ghana), Mr Alan Ferguson (Australia) and Mr Phenton Nemeour (The Bahamas) were the discussion leaders.
Another workshop at the Conference related to 'Parliamentary Practice and Procedure: Need for Reforms to Secure Greater Executive Accountability.
Mr Edward K Ssekandi (Uganda) acted as the Moderator during the Workshop. Mr K Suresh Reddy (Andhra Pradesh,), Mr. Scott Hubli (Democratic Governance Group, UNDP) and Mr Russ Hiebert (Canada) were the Discussion Leaders.
Mr Reddy was of the view that the efficacy of parliamentary democracy depended on how and to what extent the legislative bodies were exercising the power of overseeing the executive actions.
Observing that several effective devices are put into practice to secure the accountability of the Executive to Legislatures, Mr Reddy felt that the legislative bodies in general were not able to secure the accountability of the Executive to the desired level.
Highlighting the necessity to strengthen the Committee System, Mr Reddy said the Public Accounts Committee was one of the best available devices for the members of all parties in the House to check the wastage of resources and control the misappropriation of public money.
Besides, the legislators should be sensitised to make use of various legislative provisions more effectively depending upon the seriousness of the issues to be raised.
Talking about various norms that guide the UNDP's efforts towards strengthening parliamentary ability to oversee the intent and content of Executive actions, Mr Scott Hubli stated that the institutional capacity and parliamentary oversight mechanism of democratic legislatures needed to be enhanced to enable them to respond to different challenges before them.
Besides, all efforts should be made so that there exists a harmonious relationship among the different organs of State.
Dwelling upon the need for addressing the problem of trust-deficit being faced across the world, he felt that Parliaments should work more seriously to justify the trust reposed in them by the people.
Referring to various initiatives taken by the new Government in Canada after 2006, Mr Hiebert said a number of new legislations had been put in place to create a new culture of accountability and transparency both in the Government and outside it. In this regard, he observed that comprehensive provisions had been made under the Federal Accountability Act to streamline important parliamentary processes like lobbying and financing of elections.
A number of new offices have also been created and rules revised under the new legislations to ensure that standard norms of accountability are adhered to in administrative and political fields.
He stated that under the Public Service Protection Act, specific provisions have been made to provide protection to 'Whistle Blowers', which would encourage people to point out administrative lapses more fearlessly. Further, he said in Canada, public funds were used not only by the Government but also by NGOs and other bodies.