Kathmandu, June 13

Members of the National Assembly said they should not be integrated with the members of House of Representatives in relation to the use of Rs 60 million pork barrel fund, stating they needed alternative way to manage it.

While presenting the budget for the fiscal 2019-20 earlier, the Minister for Finance Yubaraj Khatiwada had announced that a role would be created for NA lawmakers for using the pork barrel fund jointly with HoR lawmakers by amending the Constituency Infrastructure Special Programme.

The government had increased the pork barrel fund, the most criticised fund from Rs 40 million to Rs 60 billion after HoR lawmakers openly lobbied for increased fund.

NA lawmakers are members of the CISP implementing committee. However, they said they didn’t want to work jointly with HoR lawmakers.

They said it would be hard to allocate budget for their constituency because they were elected from provinces. Each province elected eight lawmakers to the NA. So, one lawmaker of the NA should look after more than 10 constituencies.

The NA lawmakers said either the government should allocate separate fund for them or not give them any role in the CISP.

NA lawmaker representing Nepali Congress Radheshyan Adhikari said they were planning to discuss its modality and their role in the CISP with the finance minister soon.  “We don’t also find it appropriate that lawmakers should distribute projects,” he said, adding that they needed a better role.

Ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmaker Balaram Baskota said it would be better if the government scrapped their role in distributing this kind of budget to NA lawmakers. He said their job was to draft laws and serve people. “It will be wrong practice to provide pork barrel funds to lawmakers,” he said.

Another NCP lawmaker and Chair of the Delegated Legislation and Government Assurance Committee of the NA Ram Narayan Bidari, a vocal critic of pork barrel funds allocated by the government even before presentation of the budget, said there might be another modality through which NA lawmakers could be used for monitoring those projects.

Adhikari, Baskota and Bidari said monitoring projects twice in a year would be a better option for NA lawmakers. “If lawmakers focused on distributing projects as if they were government ministries, offices and departments, it would diminish their role in drafting laws,” Bidari said.

Baskota said the finance minister has told them that the government will come up with a new plan on CISP for NA lawmakers. “We will decide after talking with the finance minister,” Baskota said. Bidari said his Delegated Legislation and Government Assurance Committee was going to call on the finance minister and sort out the issue soon.