BAC agrees to provide fund to fight against virus

Kathmandu, April 15

Business Advisory Committee of the House of Representatives has agreed to make available the Constituency Development Fund in the Coronavirus Control and Treatment Relief Fund.

Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal lawmaker Laxman Lal Karna who attended the Business Advisory Committee meeting yesterday said the committee led by Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota agreed to use the unspent money of the Constituency Development Fund in the government’s fight against COVID-19 pandemic.

A press release issued by the Parliament Secretariat yesterday had stated that the speaker received suggestions from members of the Business Advisory Committee about using the Constituency Development Fund to control the COVID-19 pandemic and treat COVID-19 patients.

Some lawmakers also suggested running virtual meetings of the Parliamentary committees in the face of COVID-19 pandemic so that lawmakers could effectively play their role and make the government accountable even when they could not attend the Parliamentary committee meetings due to risk of COV- ID-19 infection.

Nepali Congress lawmaker Dilendra Prasad Badu said he had submitted a document two weeks ago to the Parliament Secretariat proposing to spend the fund allocated for Constituency Development Fund in the fight against coronavirus pandemic.

Federal lawmakers have the power to spend Rs 60 million in each first-past-the-post Parliamentary constituency while provincial lawmakers have power to spend Rs 30 million in each provincial constituency.

House of Representatives have 165 FPTP constituencies while provincial assemblies have 330 FPTP constituencies.

This means there is a fund of 19.8 billion rupees in these two development programmes which can be used to diagnose and treat COV- ID-19 patients.

Badu said the government should take a decision soon to mobilise the unspent fund of Constituency Development Fund to save people’s lives as there was urgent need to build more quarantine centres, hospitals and to buy protective gear for health professionals.

“If the Constituency Development Fund is inadequate to stem the threat of COVID-19 pandemic, the government can also think of using the development budget for prevention of the pandemic and treatment of COVID-19 patients,” he added.

Spokesperson for the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Narayan Kaji Shrestha said that all parties representing in the Parliament had consented use Constituency Development Fund to stem the COVID-19 threat and to treat COVID-19 patients. “I hope that the government takes a decision soon to use the fund in its fight against COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.

Shrestha said the government could use lawmakers’ fund also to provide relief to poor people. Speaker Sapkota could not be contacted for comments.

Speaker Sapkota’s Press Secretary Shreedhar Neupane said the speaker would convey the messages of lawmakers to the government about using Constituency Development Fund in the fight against COV- ID-19 pandemic.

He said the speaker had also directed the Parliament Secretariat to make provisions for virtual meetings of some Parliamentary committees, particularly those committees that dealt with health and consumer rights issues so that lawmakers could discuss those issues and issue directives to the government.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 16, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.