Nepal | November 15, 2019

PR lawmakers accuse govt of discriminating against them

NC MP Uma Regmi tears manual on pork barrel funds

Rewati Sapkota

Kathmandu, February 20

Nepali Congress lawmaker Uma Regmi, who was elected through the proportional representation electoral system, today tore the operation manual related to Implementation of Local Infrastructure Development Partnership Programmes, also known as pork barrel fund, in the House of Representatives to oppose ‘discrimination’ against lawmakers elected through the PR system.

During the House debate today, lawmakers elected under the PR system said the government treated them as second class lawmakers by giving more powers to lawmakers elected under the first-past-the-post system in matters of local infrastructure development programmes.

As per the manual, lawmakers elected under the FPTP system act as coordinators of the programme consultative and directive committees in the constituency and take final call on matters of selection of development projects when the committee fails to forge consensus. This is the main objection of PR lawmakers.

There are as many consultative and directive committees in the districts as FPTP constituencies.

According to the manual, the committee needs to take decisions unanimously and if there cannot be unanimity in the committee, then the coordinator can take final decision on the projects.

Lawmakers elected under the FPTP system in the HoR, National Assembly and provincial assemblies, chiefs or deputy chief of district coordination committees and chiefs of rural or urban municipalities are members of these consultative and directive committees.

NC lawmaker Laxmi Pariyar, who was also elected under the PR system and spoke before Regmi, said the government discriminated between FPTP and PR lawmakers.

“Either the government should create two houses for lawmakers elected through PR and FPTP systems or it should ensure that all lawmakers have equal rights,” she added.

Another Nepali Congress lawmaker Ram Bahadur Bista compared the situation with the Rana regime when Ranas were categorised into A, B and C-class and their powers varied as per their categories.

“The government is treating ruling parties’ FPTP lawmakers as class A, opposition parties’ FPTP lawmakers as class B and ruling and opposition parties’ PR lawmakers as class C,” claimed Bista.

“What is this Rs 40 million fund for?  Is this for carrying out development projects or for individuals’ personal use?” he asked the House.

“I was encouraged when the finance minister announced the budget and allocating fund for local infrastructure development, but I am disappointed because PR lawmakers have less role in selecting projects and the decision-making process,” he said.

“The constitution has given equal rights to all, but the government is discriminating against us,” he added.

As many as 165 lawmakers are elected under the FPTP system and 110 under the PR electoral system in the House of Representatives.

Ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmaker Mahesh Basnet, who is close to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, was the only lawmaker defending the government.

He opposed the tearing of the manual by Regmi, saying her act was against parliamentary norms and values.

Basnet told the House that provisions of the manual were right.

The PR lawmakers have been lobbying to have equal rights for the last few months.

 


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


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