x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

FNC calls on the experts for advice

Committee members are inviting experts outside the Government to offer insight to country's problems.

ABU DHABI //FNC committees are calling in independent experts to advise them before they respond to proposed government legislation and ministry decisions.

Members have already met specialists from shelters in Sharjah and Al Ain to discuss a Cabinet bill on abandoned children.

Academics and other environmental experts met members this week to advise on air and sea pollution.

Ministry officials have also been invited to talk about their strategies, and how they plan to tackle challenges facing the Government.

"Of course we need to gather this information to start with a base to move from," said Faisal Al Tunaiji (elected, Ras al Khaimah), a member of the Health, Labour and Social Affairs committee. "We need to have basic knowledge. We will be with the FNC for four years."

Mr Al Tunaiji said it was impossible to know every aspect of every subject, and the main goal of FNC members should be to know the constitution and the laws.

Then they could find the right experts to consult when tackling an issue or a bill in the committees, he said.

Sultan Al Sammahi (elected, Fujairah), secretary of the committee, said experts were asked to give their opinions on the abandoned children bill, and to note what might be missing.

The committee was then able to make detailed amendments to the proposed legislation, originally drafted by the Ministry of Social Affairs.

"We wouldn't have known a lot of the detail unless we spoke to the experts," Mr Al Sammahi said.

The Foreign Affairs, Urban Planning, Petroleum, Mineral Resources, Agriculture and Fisheries committee, chaired by Rashid Mohammed Al Shuraiqi (appointed, Ras Al Khaimah), is discussing environmental issues.

"This week we met professors from Unired Arab Emirates University and Sharjah University, as well as other experts," he said. "We are discussing to what extent there is pollution in the sea and in the air."

He said the committee was not in a position to say pollution was a problem without consulting more people.

"We are in the phase of collecting data, after that then we will have a clear picture," he said.

The committee has yet to meet officials from the Ministry of Environment and Water to discuss their strategy and ways they plan to tackle environmental problems.

Other committees have planned field visits.

The Interior and Defence Committee is discussing the Ministry of Interior's strategy, particularly on road safety, traffic violations and community shelters.

Members plan to visit police stations, where they hope to discover more about the work of the ministry through interviews with officials.

Rawiya Al Samahi, a former FNC member, said more of the council's work took place in the committees than in full sessions.

"Studying any topic or government policy or anything usually takes time, sometimes up to six months," she said. "By speaking to different stakeholders we get a clearer picture."

As an elected member, Mr Al Tunaiji said he had a responsibility to the people who voted for him to become an expert for them to rely on.

"But that burden is on all members as well, not just the elected ones," he said.

All committee meetings take place in Dubai, and are closed to the public. The next full FNC session is on Tuesday, beginning at 9am at FNC headquarters in Abu Dhabi, and is open to the public.

osalem@thenational.ae