Proposed integrity policy to bar MPs, local reps from businessesThe National Integrity Policy-2074 proposes barring members of federal and provincial parliaments, office bearers and members of local governments from other jobs and businesses after assuming office.
Tika R Pradhan
The National Integrity Policy-2074 proposes barring members of federal and provincial parliaments, office bearers and members of local governments from other jobs and businesses after assuming office.
The policy under consideration clearly states that lawmakers and officials of local governments should not engage in any businesses, receive any benefits from commercial firms and work for any organisation for regular pay.
The policy drafted by the Prime Minister’s Office during the tenure of Sher Bahadur Deuba to promote good governance has drawn criticism from non-government sectors for its far-reaching consequences on international and domestic NGOs.
It is not clear if the incumbent KP Sharma Oli-led government has taken ownership of the document. If the Oli Cabinet endorses the policy in its present form, lawmakers and officials of local governments will be barred from travelling abroad on visits sponsored by non-government sectors. “They should not travel for more than the specified number of days and sponsors of such visit should only be the government,” says the policy. “They, however, can extend their stay at their own expenses.”
They have to take prior permission from the parliament concerned if they want to engage in teaching. The provision was included as a large number of civil servants who taught at tuition centres/colleges faced heavy criticism.
The policy also intends to manage uncontrolled exchange of gifts. The lawmakers and local representatives should only receive gifts up to permissible limits from organisations and individuals for which they work and also inform about the gifts they receive for family members.
Lawmakers and local representatives should not use their position and confidential information for personal interest and they should not be involved in drafting laws related to the business their family members are engaged in.
The government also seeks to bar any member of the lawmakers’ family from being appointed at their offices without subjecting them to open competition.
Even after retiring from job, they should not represent foreign governments for a specified period of time and they should not go to the office representing a third party soon after retirement.
One of the two drafters of the policy, former secretary Sharada Prasad Trital said they had drafted the policy after studying the practices in other countries. They said lawmakers like Umesh Shrestha and Binod Chaudhary will face conflicts of interest when they sit down to draft laws related to their businesses.
Asked how the government will implement the policy when most of the lawmakers and local representatives are involved in one or the other business, Trital said the Prime Minister’s Office should be made stronger and the National Vigilance Centre upgraded to ensure gradual implementation of the policy.
Secretary Khagaraj Baral, who had called a meeting of stakeholders on April 8 which was cancelled after the secretaries including Baral were transferred, said the PMO will now hold the meeting with stakeholders and submit the paper to the Cabinet for approval.
Baral said the Integrity Promotion and Corruption Monitoring Section of the PMO has already sought views of the finance and law ministries.
“If the government wishes to implement the policy in a true sense, an Act should be drafted,” Baral said, adding that full implementation would only be possible when everyone assimilates the spirit of integrity.