Sapkota urges PM to call budget session

Kathmandu, April 29

Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota today met Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and urged him to call the budget session of the Parliament.

According to Sapkota’s Press Adviser Shreedhar Neupane, the speaker discussed with the PM three issues — budget session of the Parliament, principles and priorities of the national budget and the government’s policies and programmes.

Sapkota, Oli and Chair of National Assembly Ganesh Prasad Timilsina today went to the Parliament building to observe the preparation for the next session where social distancing rules will have to be applied due to the threat of coronavirus.

Spokesperson for the Parliament Secretariat Dasharath Dhamala told THT that the budget session of the Parliament should be called within a few days as regulations governing proceedings of the House of Representatives and the National Assembly mandated that prebudget discussion should end 15 days before the presentation of the new fiscal budget in the HoR.

The constitution stipulates that the budget shall be presented in the House every year on Jestha 15 (May 28 this year). Dhamala said prebudget discussion would take at least three to four days and, therefore, the government would have to call the new session of the Parliament in a manner that would allow lawmakers to end their prebudget discussion by May 10. Dhamala said the government would also have to give at least a week’s time to lawmakers to gather in Kathmandu, considering the threat of COVID-19 and extended lockdown.

Dhamala said the PM visited the Parliament building to assess the secretariat’s preparation for holding parliamentary meetings and expressed satisfaction. The Parliament Secretariat will ensure that lawmakers sit at a gap of at least two feet from each other in the HoR and maintain a gap of two-and-a-half feet in the National Assembly. “Since the NA hall is more spacious than the HoR hall, we have more space between chairs in the NA,” Dhamala said. He added that the secretariat was also mulling over establishing a disinfectant gate on the Parliament premises.

“Secretariat staff will also screen lawmakers for fever and any other visible signs of infection,” Dhamala said.

A Parliament Secretariat staff said all parties needed to ensure that sick lawmakers did not attend Parliament.

Last year, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari had summoned the budget session of the Parliament on April 29.

The budget session endorses the government’s policies and programmes and fiscal budget.

As per the constitutional provision, the government is required to present the fiscal budget on May 29 every year.

Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe told THT that the government was dwelling on calling the budget session. “We’ll have to take into account the ongoing lockdown, the situation in our neighbourhood and other foreign countries. The government may call the new session around May 7. We still have to shorten the length of pre-budget discussion to meet the legal requirement,” she added.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 30, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.