If the former lawmakers deserve medical facilities why cannot the general public get the same facilities in government hospitals?
There are only 37 days left for the expiry of the four-year term of lawmakers. They are going to retire on October 5 as the filing of nomination for general election has been scheduled for October 6. According to the Constitution, the term of the lawmakers shall expire one day before the date of filing nomination for the House of Representatives. But the lawmakers have intensified lobbying from different quarters to get pay and perks under different heads such as health and transport facilities even after their retirement through a bill prepared to provide facilities to former VIPs. A bill designed to provide facilities to former VIPs who include former president, vice-president, prime minister, chief justice, CA chairman and Speaker and National Assembly chairman. This bill is under consideration at the parliamentary State Affairs Committee. If former lawmakers are also provided with facilities including monthly pay and health and transport facilities there will be a huge financial burden for the state. A club of former MPs and some sitting MPs, mostly representing the ruling NC are strongly lobbying for providing some facilities even for the former lawmakers for life.
It may be recalled that the Supreme Court in 2057 B.S. had issued a ruling against providing any facilities to former lawmakers saying that they are social workers who must not expect any benefit from the state after their term is over. The new bill seeks to provide Rs. 50,000 and Rs. 40,000 monthly allowance for retired president and vice-president, respectively and Rs. 200,000 monthly allowance for former presidents for house rent if s/he and his or her family do not have a house in the capital and Rs. 75,000 monthly allowance for other retirees if they do not have their houses in the Valley. They are also supposed to get other lucrative facilities along with office assistants, vehicles, driver, fuel and other expenses for their offices.
A genuine question can be raised: Why do they need such facilities involving such a large amount of taxpayers’ money? It is well understood that people serve in such high profile positions only for a few years – let’s say for five years on an average. Let alone providing pension and other facilities to former lawmakers, even the amount proposed in the bill for the above-mentioned former VIPs is too much. They have nothing to do after they retire from their offices. Why should they be given such lavish facilities when they do not have any formal role to play in national affairs? Some NC lawmakers, including chief whip Chinkaji Shrestha, has said that the state must bear the cost of medical treatment of former lawmakers. If the former lawmakers deserve medical facilities why cannot the general public get the same facilities in government hospitals? It is a worldwide practice that one gets medical facilities from public health institutions if they have bought a health insurance policy. From now onward, it must be made mandatory for all MPs, Provincial Assembly members and elected representatives of the local level to buy a health insurance policy to get free health services of a certain amount so that the same policy can be applied to the general public.
A campaign ‘No Child in the Street’ had been launched last year but there are still many children seen living in the streets of the capital city. These street children are found in areas like Bhugol Park, Thamel, Pashupatinath, Swoyambhu, Koteteswar, and Kalanki. They beg on the streets and most of them are addicted to drugs. National Centre for Children at Risk says that in fiscal year 2016-17, 652 street children were rescued and kept at rehabilitation centres. Girls constitute 143 of these street children.
The children have mostly run away from their homes due to the lack of a congenial atmosphere, that is, the care and love of parents. Many street children escape from the rehabilitation centres as well. A case is that of a child who has been caught six times as he could not tolerate the disciplined environment in the rehabilitation centres. These children are in dire need for a better atmosphere — for shelter and food, education, and care of guardians. Therefore, they should be rescued from the streets and rehabilitated so that their future may not be dark. The government and the many organizations which call themselves the champions of child rights and welfare should do more in this regard.
A version of this article appears in print on September 15, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.