Nepal | July 13, 2020

Government actions don’t match its words

Recently concluded budget session a case in point

Ram Kumar Kamat
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Kathmandu, September 20

The government always claims that it is committed to the rule of law and respecting the supremacy of the Parliament, but its actions do not match its commitment.

House of Representatives Regulations stipulate that the prime minister will respond to lawmakers’ questions twice a month in the HoR, but during the budget session that began on April 29 and ended yesterday the prime minister appeared only twice for the question-and-answer session with lawmakers.

Moreover, as per the HoR Regulations, all the ministers are supposed to respond to lawmakers’ questions every week, but most of them failed to do that during the budget session.

Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal lawmaker Laxman Lal Karna said ministers submitted written replies to lawmakers’ questions on the last day of the budget session which defeated the purpose of the provision.

“The government does not respect the Parliament and its committees,” Karna said and added that the State Affairs and Good Governance Committee of the HoR directed the government and the Public Service Commission to halt the process of recruiting over 9,000 staffers in local levels for violating inclusion laws, but they did not honour the panel’s decision. Lal said the government also ignored Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara’s repeated ruling issued to the government to make Girish Chandra Lal Commission’s report public.

Karna said the government’s tendency to ignore directives and orders of the Parliament and its panels highlighted the need for amendment to the HoR Regulations. “HoR Regulations should be amended so that when the government and its bodies do not comply with the panel’s decision, the panel can submit a report about non-compliance in the full House,” he added.

Karna said the speaker should play a proactive role in making the government accountable to the Parliament.

Karna said the government should follow the norms of parliamentary democracy and respond to the questions posed by lawmakers during zero and special hours.

Nepali Congress lawmaker in the National Assembly Radhe Shyam Adhikari and ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmaker Ram Narayan Bidari said the question-and-answer session with the prime minister and other ministers of the Cabinet was not effective during the budget session.

Adhikari said he was told by the NA chair that the PM skipped the question-and-answer session in the Upper House mainly because of his poor health. “If the question-answer session was not effective in the budget session, then the ministers and lawmakers are also responsible for it. Many lawmakers failed to register their questions in the Parliament one week before the ministers were due to reply. Very few lawmakers sought response from concermed ministers, who did not bother to respond even to them,” he added.

Bidari demanded full compliance of National Assembly Regulation that stipulated that ministers should respond to questions posed by members of the House within five days. “Why should a minister, who cannot respond to lawmakers’ queries raised during zero and special hours, remain in the Cabinet?” he wondered.

Adhikari said his party was going to form a committee in the parliamentary party within a week or so to prepare the party’s response to all the bills in both the houses.

NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba recently floated the idea of forming such a committee.

“Once we form this committee, NC, as the main opposition party, will be able to play its role in the House more effectively,” Adhikari said. He added that the committee would regularly consult stakeholders to prepare NC’s response to bills and contemporary issues.

“Some issues are very technical and we need to consult stakeholders before we prepare our comments on bills,” Adhikari said.

A version of this article appears in print on September 21, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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