Deep pocketsLawmakers have earned notoriety for being unethical and shameless
Published at : December 20, 2018
Updated at : December 20, 2018 08:26
Ideally, Members of Parliament (MPs) must stand as icons of the country’s consciousness. Elected by the mandate of the people, they need to best represent the interest of the public and show respect for their positions. As lawmakers and watchdogs of public resources, they have the responsibility to advocate for change and transparency in different pockets of the government. But in an utterly embarrassing revelation, it has been found that MPs maybe less interested in bringing change and more interested in pocketing it.
An investigation led by Kantipur recently revealed that MPs and other officials of the Parliament secretariat had been channelling the salaries of their personal assistants into their own accounts. Going against the law, the MPs have once again earned notoriety for being unethical and shameless to the core. Among those who have received the highest remuneration on behalf of their personal assistants are Krishna Bahadur Mahara, the present speaker of the House of Representatives; and Ganesh Prasad Timilsina, the chairman of the National Assembly.
The Parliament secretariat has been disbursing more than Rs10 million annually as emolument to secretariat officials and personal assistants of the MPs. According to the Parliament Secretariat Office Bearers and Members Remuneration and Services Act, the salaries must be deposited in their respective bank accounts. Yet, it has been found that the amount is being deposited in the personal accounts of the speaker and the chairman. What’s more, the offenders are not just these two. Four-time prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, Deputy Speaker Shiva Maya Tumbahamphe, and the vice-chair of the National Assembly Shashi Kala Dahal along with a dozen others have been found doing the same: Sacrificing their conscience at the altar of personal gain.
To make their pocketing easier, MPs have been appointing relatives as their personal staff. The rampant nepotism makes it easier for them to direct the money to be paid to the personal staff and staff of the Parliament secretariat into their personal accounts. No doubt, such acts will raise questions about ethics and propriety. To stop this misconduct, an updated list detailing who works for whom, including a clear list of the number of personal assistants, needs to be made and released to the public. Furthermore, nepotism needs to be addressed at all governmental levels as it breeds further corruption and monopolises opportunities from other deserving candidates. It is absurd that indiscipline of this kind has gone unchecked for so long. The dire situation has only led to the dismal conclusion: It doesn’t matter who represents the ruling party and who is from the opposition—everyone is equally corrupt. And woefully disappointing too.
The MPs must reclaim their dignity, regain waning public faith and shun this degrading behaviour. It goes without saying that they must be guided by principle and conscience.
If the very people elected to serve as ‘watchdogs’ of the country are the ones using their position for personal accumulation and self-aggrandisement, then ‘New Nepal’ is undoubtedly headed towards a bleak, corrupt-ridden future.