THE National Assembly has shelved the number of Members of Parliament entering this year’s budget session to a maximum of 150 legislators in fresh measures seeking to protect the lawmaking body from the coronavirus pandemic.
Other drastic measures include reducing the number of seating time from nine to four hours daily and banning all direct questions and answers session.
National Assembly Speaker, Mr Job Ndugai said here yesterday, members of the press will also be affected by the new measures.
However, the speaker said his office has alternatively considered a telecast in different parts of the parliament grounds to allow MPs and reporters to monitor the proceedings.
“This is the common procedure in a number of commonwealth parliaments. It will be the first time but very crucial especially as we are all facing the health threat challenge,” he said.
At least 393 parliamentarians were expected to directly take a seat in the lawmaking organ. On maximum full house—capacity the house also receives a portion of learning visitors and parliamentary officials that make up a total of 700 people.
Mr Ndugai said all visitations including officials from ministries have all been suspended and that the legislature has developed a computerised system that will help integrate ministry officials—to—ministers and parliamentarians.
He detailed that there are expected to be some 325 questions from MPs to the government. No usual direct question to the Prime Minister, he said.
The government will be reacting to each question by sending the answers to MPs through a special system available in every MP’s tablet.
“The answers will be availed every morning and an MP with a principle question who would need additional clarification will have to send an inquiry into a system that will then be accessed by the ministerial team for response. All the feedback will be released at least during or before 1pm on each day,” he said.
Except today, the speaker announced that the parliamentary sessions that are required to be conducted from 9:00am through 8:00pm will now be scheduled from 2:00 pm to 6:00pm.
The speaker said the reason for the plan was to lower the exposure time of MPs seating to debate the budget session.
Apparently MPs are required to vote for each budget proposed by the ministry, but with the new measures announced here MPs will have to vote online.
The only live voting will be on the state budget in which each legislator will be called upon to cast their vote as per the constitution.
The budget session marathon, the final for the first term of President John Magufuli administration opens up today and is scheduled to run for 92-days.
The National Assembly speaker insisted the session will go as planned but he will resolve into numerous interventions that respond to the progress of the coronavirus spread in the country.
So far the parliament has installed sanitizers in its all entry points in addition to body temperature scanners as part of efforts to prevent the public and officials from the novel virus.