Nepal | June 04, 2020

Budget session scheduled to begin on May 8

Both houses to be sanitised

Ram Kumar Kamat
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Kathmandu, May 3

President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, on recommendation of the Council of Ministers, today summoned the budget session of Parliament at 4:00pm on May 8.

Earlier, a meeting of the Cabinet had decided to summon the new session of the Parliament on May 8.

Spokesperson for the Parliament Secretariat Dasharath Dhamala said the secretariat was trying to have adequate precautionary measures against coronavirus pandemic.

A three-member team of the Ministry of Health and Population, after visiting the Parliament building, told the Parliament Secretariat to adopt additional measures to prevent the risk of COVID-19 infection on the Parliament premises.

Dhamala said the secretariat would try to implement the team’s suggestions to the extent possible.

The ministry’s team has told the Secretariat to have seating arrangement in houses in such a way that two seats remain vacant between two lawmakers, houses are sanitised before meetings, restrooms and handrails are frequently disinfected and the rostrum is disinfected after a speaker uses it.

The team also told the Secretariat to shut the central air conditioning system during debates and to ensure that all lawmakers washed their hands properly before entering the houses.

The team has also told the Secretariat to sanitise microphones after they are used.

The Secretariat will also screen all lawmakers for fever and isolate anyone suffering from fever. During House discussion, all doors will remain open and all members will be requested to use gloves and face masks.

Dhamala said the Secretariat expected political parties to send minimum number of lawmakers for discussion in the House to reduce the risk of infection in the Parliament. The Parliament Secretariat will reduce the length of prebudget discussion as the House of Representatives Regulation stipulates that pre-budget discussion should end 15 days before the budget is presented in the House.

The constitution stipulates that the budget shall be presented in the House on Jestha 15 (May 28 this year).

“We expect very few lawmakers to take part in the discussion and they should discuss issues briefly,” Dhamala said. He added that if parties could forge consensus on issues that could help reduce the time of discussion.

Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota held discussion with the staff of the Parliament Secretariat and the health team on how best precautionary measures could be taken in the Parliament in the face of COVID-19 pandemic.

Dhamala said there were a few bills that could be debated during budget session but that would mainly depend on the parties’ decisions.

“If political parties choose not to discuss anything other than budgetary issues due to COVID-19 threat, other issues might not be discussed during this session of Parliament,” he added.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on May 4, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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