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Speaker says Lower House becoming more productive, focused

By Khaled Neimat - Jul 10,2014 - Last updated at Jul 10,2014

AMMAN — The Senate endorsed the draft law on councils of non-Muslim religious sects as referred from the Lower House during the last meeting of the Parliament’s extraordinary session on Thursday, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported. 

The Lower House had changed the bill’s name to “Christian councils”, as the only religious sects recognised by the state are Christian.

The bill mandates the establishment of courts for Christian sects and allows the Cabinet, based on a recommendation from the interior minister, to recognise any Christian denomination.

A Royal Decree was issued on Tuesday adjourning the extraordinary session of Parliament as of Friday. 

During this session, the 150-member Lower House completed almost 80 per cent of its agenda, the speaker, Atef Tarawneh, told The Jordan Times.

“We have completed 10 draft laws out of the total 13 included in the Royal Decree that summoned the MPs for an extraordinary session last month,” Tarawneh said.

“The changes we made to the Rules of Procedure facilitated quick and focused deliberations over the draft laws,” he added, noting that further progress in the MPs’ performance will be visible in the next sessions.

The legislature is expected to convene for another extraordinary session after the Eid Al Fitr holiday in early August to endorse the remaining bills.

Tarawneh, who has started preparations to run for the next House speaker elections in the ordinary session slated for October, said Parliament is now more active in its legislative and monitoring capacities.

Agreeing with Tarawneh, MP Mustafa Hamarneh (Madaba, 1st District), who is the general coordinator of the House-based Mubadara (Initiative) reform group, said deputies have created a new method for Lower House performance, increasing productivity while monitoring government performance.

The government has also positively engaged with the House, by entering into a partnership with Mubadara, Hamarneh added.

The government and the MP-led group have reached an agreement over some long-term and short-term policies, he said, drafting them in what he described as agreed upon “policy papers”.

This alliance has contributed to the improvement of the Lower House performance as well as its political roles, Hamarneh told The Jordan Times.

 “Such documents will be the basis for government plans for the next 10 years,” he said.

Mubadara’s  team is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour and his Cabinet next week to announce the official agreement between the two sides, according to the group’s leader, Deputy Saad Hayel Srour (Northern Badia).

The two sides are expected to announce “very important policy papers” at the meeting, said Srour, a former House speaker, adding that the government’s position has been “positive and encouraging”.

“We have shaped the Parliament by building this type of partnership with the government,” he said.

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