Strong reservations from lawmakers over several clauses of the Health Profession Education Bill have led to the legislation being stuck in the parliamentary Committee on Women, Children, Social Welfare and Elderly Citizens for more than seven months.
Lawmakers stand for scrapping provisions like imposing a ten-year moratorium on establishing medical colleges in the Valley and barring universities from granting affiliations to more than one medical college in a district. They are also lobbying for limiting scholarship quotas that each private college has to allocate to five percent of the total number of seats from the existing 10.
The bill tabled in September last year was sent to the committee for finalisation in November. However, the committee has failed to do much except for holding a few consultations with stakeholders.
“I am prioritising the bill despite strong reservations from lawmakers and stakeholders,” Ranju Kumari Jha, chairperson of the committee, told the Post about the delay. She blamed the busy schedule of MPs amid the local elections for the lack of progress.
As many as 54 lawmakers have registered a total of 276 amendments to 51 clauses of the bill but the committee is taking time to incorporate them. Jha said she will expedite discussion on it and try to forward the bill to Parliament for endorsement within the next 10 days. Sources at the committee say many lawmakers who have registered amendments are building pressure against forwarding the bill without incorporating their proposals.
The House committee can directly send the bill to Parliament for a vote, along with the proposed amendments, if it fails to iron out the differences. Lawmakers Rajendra Pandey, Naresh Kharel and Man Kumar Gautam have registered amendments seeking removal of Clause 12 (a) that bars the opening of new medical colleges in the Valley for a decade. Dr Bansidhar Mishra has proposed removal of Clause 12, sub-clause (b), which requires a hospital to run a 300-bed facility to qualify for running a medical school.
Supporters of Dr Govinda KC join a rally from Maitighar Mandala to New Baneshwor in Kathmandu on Saturday. POST PHOTO: KESHAV THAPA
CPN-UML lawmakers including Pandey and Mishra had stakes in the Manmohan Memorial Academy of Health Sciences, which the government decided to acquire following a series of hunger strikes by Dr Govinda KC. The facility was widely criticised for using its political clout to obtain the permission to run MBBS classes in the Capital. The infrastructure will be used by the National Academy of Health Sciences, Bir Hospital. However, the government is yet to acquire the property as there has been no agreement over its valuation.
“I will meet Jha to inquire about the status of the bill on Sunday,” Education Minister Gopalman Shrestha told the Post.
Shrestha said there are so many amendments that the bill cannot be passed overnight. However, officials at the Parliament Secretariat claim that it can be endorsed in a day, if the parties agree, by putting the bill along with the amendments up for a vote.
- Formation of powerful Health Profession Education Commission to regulate all the academic activities of health education through a single entity
- A 10-year moratorium on opening of new medical, dental and nursing colleges in Kathmandu Valley
- Empowering the HPEC to decide on opening of new medical colleges outside Kathmandu Valley
- Foreigners will get admission in medical colleges in Nepal only after they pass a common entrance exam or an exam certified by the HPEC
- Government-run medical colleges should compulsorily allocate 50 percent scholarship seats