As Nitijela opened Monday for its final 19 sitting days of the year, the session is getting high visibility from abroad through NTA’s lifestream of the session on its Facebook page.
The opening of Nitijela Monday showed a strong turnout of 28 members of parliament (MPs) at roll call, with four excused and one absent.
Included among those excused was Mili MP Wilbur Heine who is now in his second week of a 21-day quarantine at Kwajalein.
In contrast to the January opening with its drama of an election, Monday’s ceremonial opening was sparsely attended by the public, aside from the several signing groups in attendance.
Tuesday morning, Nitijela’s first business day following the ceremonial opening Monday, saw 25 present, five absent and three excused at roll call. Some of those missing at roll call arrived as the morning session moved into gear.
The number of live viewers following Nitjela on NTA’s Facebook page increased Tuesday, no doubt the result in part of Marshallese citizens living abroad anxious to know the government’s stance on stranded citizens and repatriation.
The number of viewers reached 320 within the first 20 minutes of Tuesday’s session.
Some highlights from Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s sessions:
• Education and Training Minister Kitlang Kabua wants to bring an end to low scores on the annual Marshall Islands Standard Achievement Test (MISAT), adding the ministry is looking into dispatching teams from Majuro to assist teachers and administrators in outer islands. The minister on Tuesday also touched on developments on the hot lunch program: vendors are to prepare food on school grounds, not at home, in hopes of reducing waste and promoting use of reusable products. Vendors are also required to increase local food in the lunch servings. PSS is working to identify vendors, she said.
• Minister Jiba Kabua suggested Tuesday inclusion of ministry secretaries at the beginning of Nitijela sessions to address the public, adding people would trust reports coming from those in charge and not blame parliament members for politicking.
Meantime, in Monday’s state of the nation address, President David Kabua called for Nitijela to set a date for a Committee of the Whole with RMI EPA and other relevant agencies focused in climate change. “It is imperative that the Marshallese people know wand understand what they can do to protect themselves against the harmful effects of global warming and climate change,” said the President.
• People in the outer islands are to receive food baskets, fishing equipment and farming tools as early as next week as part of Covid-19 assistance from the RMI government, according to a statement by Minister in Assistance Christopher Loeak Wednesday. Loeak said the food basket includes rice, flour and baking powder — the ideal table food for Marshallese.
The minister said nine major businesses have received 80 percent payment from Covid relief funds for supplying the food requirements.