EDITORIAL: Bring new Bill

The Bill drafted by the home ministry regarding facilities to former dignitaries should be scrapped and a fresh one should be tabled in Parliament

The Parliamentary Good Governance and Monitoring Committee has recommended that only five former dignitaries – former president, former vice-president, former prime minister, former chief justice and former speaker – deserve certain facilities including office staffers, driver, health services and fuel.

Others who served as home ministers should be provided security only after assessing security threats, that too, only for three years after their retirement from office.

A parliamentary sub-panel headed by Janak Raj Joshi had conducted a thorough study on it and came to the conclusion that only the five former dignitaries deserve such facilities for their contribution to the high offices.

The Good Governance and Monitoring Committee will forward the report to the government to implement it at the earliest. Earlier, there was no clear criteria based on which the said facilities and security had been provided to VIPs after they leave offices.

The committee has also asked the government to review the facilities and security made available to the former royals. As of now, as many as 155 personnel of the APF have been deployed to their security.

If the recommendation is sincerely implemented former home ministers and others will be deprived of such facilities.

Due to the absence of a law regarding the facilities and security to former dignitaries, even the former secretaries, chief and members of constitutional bodies and chiefs of security bodies used to enjoy unlimited benefits, facilities and security worth millions of rupees for life.

All these facilities used to be provided to those people by the Home Ministry using its discretionary power. In a sense, it was a gross misuse of power and authority and taxpayers’ money.

There had been a call for a law to regulate facilities and security to be extended to the former dignitaries. But the Legislature-Parliament never took up this issue as there was a conflict of interest involved about the facilities and security showing high status in society.

We must also learn lessons from other advanced democracies about the facilities and security to be provided to the former dignitaries. Recently, the US Senate has passed a law about the facilities and security a former US president is entitled to.

According to the law, a former US president would get $200,000 per annum. The Senate fixed this amount arguing that a former president would also be earning millions of dollars from speeches, royalty from sales of his/her books and other forms of consultancies.

Nepal’s parliament should also enact law on this issue so that no former dignitaries will get free lunch, accommodation, health services, travel expenses and security benefits for life simply because they had served offices for some years.

Nobody should be above law and the powers that be should not be allowed to misuse the discretionary power. Not a single penny should be spent or invested to anyone else unlawfully.

The Home Ministry has drafted a Bill to this effect proposing to provide all kinds of facilities to all former dignitaries. This Bill should be scrapped and a fresh one should be tabled in Parliament in line with the parliamentary committee’s recommendation.

Empower teen girls

This year’s theme for the World Population Day celebrated today is very relevant as it calls to invest on young people, particularly teenage girls.

This would enable Nepal to become a middle-income country to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Nepal has a large proportion of young people and it should make the most of this resource.

The present demographic structure shows that there are more than six million teenagers in Nepal and about half of them are girls. This is one-fourth of the population of the country.

Teenage girls particularly in the remote areas face more challenges than boys. In order to ameliorate the lot of the teenage girls it would be fitting to make appropriate policies and adequate investments on them.

For this it is necessary to empower the teenage girls and also to create conditions which enable them to get decent jobs and make better earnings so that they may reach their full potential. The present demographic dividends should be realized by helping combat the existing poverty.

Therefore, the needed investments should be made for the empowerment, education and skills as well as the health and well-being of the teenage girls.