Parliament has voted in new standing orders that will include the formation of new permanent committees and extended debating time.
The standing orders were amended by a temporary committee instituted for the purpose and open to public comments ahead of Monday’s vote. The new rules were voted in unanimously by 77 votes.
The first amendment to the rules increases debating time by one hour and gives each lawmaker two minutes to debate their point. An hour of debating time is equally divided among the six political parties represented in parliament.
Previously, the rules only allowed three hours of time for debate, which was divided among political parties according to the number of seats they had in parliament.
The second amendment introduced five new permanent committees to parliament, in addition to the 13 committees already established under the standing orders.
The amendment also merged the mandate of the Parliamentary Privileges Committee and the Parliamentary Standards Committee, which is now the Parliamentary Privileges and Standards Committee. Heritage was added to the mandate of the National Development Committee, which is now the National Development and Heritage Committee.
The National Security Committee’s mandate will be expanded to include foreign relations.
The new committees are the judiciary, environment and climate change, decentralisation, human rights and gender, and state-owned enterprises.
With the new additions, the total number of parliamentary permanent committees will be 17. Eleven parliamentarians will sit on each committee.