Kathmandu, September 13
The term of the Parliament will end soon but lawmakers have intensified efforts to pass a bill relating to pay and perk for former VIPs, with a provision of pay and perks for former members of Parliament as well.
If lawmakers seeking pay and perks for former MPs succeed in their attempt that could substantially increase financial burden on taxpayers.
A sub-committee of the parliamentary State Affairs Committee will discuss the issue tomorrow.
Among lawmakers who have demanded that a provision be incorporated in the bill to treat former PMs as per VIP protocol, provide them treatment cost, travel allowances and other facilities are Sanjay Gautam, Tapta Bahadur Bista, Rajiv Bikram Shah, Nar Bahadur Chand of Nepali Congress and Kalpana Chaudhari of Nepal Democratic Forum.
Bista, who is Minister of State for Information and Communications, however, said he had not registered any such amendment proposal.
Shah said all SAARC countries were providing pay and perks to former MPs and there was no reason why Nepal should not do so.
Lawmaker Kalpana Chaudhari said the state should at least provide treatment cost to former MPs. “All former MPs are not rich. Some sell tea and betel leaves to make ends meet. This is deplorable,” she said.
SAC member Ganga Lal Tuladhar from CPN-UML said some former MPs had intensified attempts to pass the bill with the provision of pay and perks for former MPs but the timing was wrong. “If we pass this bill now, we will be seen selfish,” he added.
Tuladhar said there were some MPs in the SAC that believed that only former presidents and vice-presidents should be treated as former VIPs.
The bill defines former VIPs as former presidents, vice presidents, and prime ministers/chairs of Council of Minister.
CPN-UML Chief Whip Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal said office bearers of Former MPs Forum had requested his party to insert provision in the bill to provide pay and perks to former MPs, but the UML rejected their proposal. “We should be liberal in treating former MPs as per VIP protocol but that does not mean we should go for providing them pension,” Dhakal said, adding that his party lawmakers had not registered any amendment to the bill.
CPN-Maoist Centre Chief Whip Rekha Sharma said her party was yet to come up with an official stance on NC lawmakers’ proposal to list former MPs in former VIP lists but she believed listing former MPs as former VIPs could increase burden on the Nepali taxpayers.
NC Chief Whip Chinkaji Shrestha said his party was not in favour of providing allowances to former MPs. “But we also want to debate whether the state should bear the treatment costs of former MPs who are treated in government hospitals,” he said and added that it might be appropriate to treat former MPs as per the VIP protocol.
A version of this article appears in print on September 14, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.