Nepal | August 07, 2020

Ministers avoid Q&A in House

Make mockery of regulation, show disregard for democracy

Jagdishor Panday
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Kathmandu, August 3

Ministers have been making a mockery of parliamentary regulation by not showing up at the House of Representatives to attend the question-answer session.

Except for the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, no minister has been present in the question-answer sessions in the Parliament till date in the ongoing budget session, which has held at least 41 meetings since April 29.

As per parliamentary regulation, the speaker shall allocate at least an hour for the Q&A with ministers on issues of public importance in the beginning of each meeting.

Only Minister of Industry, Commerce and Supplies Matrika Yadav participated in the question-answer session on July 9, the record shows.

Former speaker Daman Nath Dhungana has termed the ministers’ refusal to attend the Q&A as a ‘disregard for democracy’.

“As the ministers are elected by the people, they must follow parliamentary regulation and respond to issues of public importance that lawmakers raise,” he said, adding that the speaker should take prompt action to implement the regulation.

A record at the Parliament Secretariat shows that lawmakers from Nepal Communist Party (NCP), Nepali Congress, Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal, Samajwadi Party-Nepal and a few independent lawmakers had registered 178 questions at the secretariat in the last three months. Lawmakers had registered at least 27 questions for the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transportation, 22 for the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, 14 for the Ministry of Home Affairs and 13 for the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation.

“Minister Yadav attended the Q&A once to reply to urgent questions, but the PM and other ministers refused to show up, leaving the questions unanswered,” an official at the Parliament Secretariat said.

Whip of Nepali Congress Puspa Bhusal told THT there was a provision in the regulation, according to which, the ministers had to attend the Q&A session in the House.

The PS has also made a weekly calendar for the ministers to address the House, but the ministers have shown indifference, she added.

As per the weekly calendar, PM KP Sharma Oli, who also looked after the Ministry for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation then, did not attend the Q&A set for Sundays. Similarly, the minister of Communications and Information Technology, minister of Water Supply, minister of Cooperatives and Land Management, and minister of Labour, Employment and Social Security did not attend the Q&A set for Fridays.

RJP-N lawmaker Raj Kishor Yadav said that allocating date was not enough and added that the role of implementing direct question-answer programme belonged to the speaker and the ministers. “We have raised this issue many times, but they have always turned a deaf ear,” he said, adding that such behaviour showed complete failure of Oli’s premiership.

However, PS officials close to Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara told THT that the speaker could not do anything if the ministers refused to attend the Q&A. “Lawmakers register their questions in the PS, which forwards the questions to the related ministries. If the ministries are ready to answer the questions, the speaker will ask the secretariat to add them in the schedule of the house meeting, otherwise, those questions will remain unanswered,” the official added.

A version of this article appears in print on August 04, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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