Lack of quorum delays passing of bills

01 Oct 2016 12:10pm
WINDHOEK, 01 OCT (NAMPA) - The Unit Trusts Control Amendment Bill and Medical Aid Funds Amendment Bill could not sail through the National Assembly (NA) and be passed due to a lack of quorum on Thursday.
The two bills were supposed to be passed in the NA during the committee stage of debate but were not.
This is the first time a session in the NA is interrupted by a lack of quorum since the swearing in of the Sixth Parliament in March 2015.
The standing rules of the house require a quorum of 41 members during a vote to pass or reject a bill, however, the NA only had 31 members present when the bills were discussed and debated. The NA has a total of 104 members of which 96 are elected for a term of five years, while eight are appointed by the president but do not have voting rights.
The Unit Trusts Control Amendment Bill was initially passed on Thursday without any changes but had to be reversed at committee stage after DTA of Namibia Member of Parliament (MP), Jennifer van den Heever raised the issue of a lack of quorum in the house.
The committee stage involves the detailed examination of a bill and is the only opportunity to amend provisions before it is adopted.
The MPs were just about to pass the second Bill when the question of quorum was raised.
The Unit Trusts Control Amendment Bill will amend the Unit Trusts Control Act of 1981, to replace the minister of finance with the board of appeal as the authority to hear appeals against decision of the registrar.
The Medical Aid Funds Amendment Bill will bring the policy supervision and oversight of the Medical Aid Funds Act under the supervision of Minister of Finance instead of the Minister of Health and Social Services. It will also streamline the appeal process in respect of appeals made against the Registrar of Medical Aid Funds and bring this process in line with the appeal provisions set out in the Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority Act, Act 3 of 2001.
Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said during the discussion there was no need to reverse the passing of the first Bill as this was unnecessarily delaying the process. However, the house had to safeguard the integrity of the process.
Deputy Speaker of the NA, Loide Kasingo ruled that the committee stage of the two bills would be relapsed and revisited on Tuesday because of a lack of quorum.
The two bills were tabled in the NA by Deputy Minister of Finance, Natangwe Ithete, on Thursday last week, along with two other bills; the Short-Term Insurance Amendment Bill and Long-Term Insurance Amendment Bill.