House session to be prorogued without endorsing crucial billsParliament secretariat is for immediate end to the session, citing an increasing threat of Covid-19 to continuation of House meetings.
The government is preparing to recommend the prorogation of the ongoing session of the federal parliament, pushing the endorsement of several important bills to the next session.
The parliament secretariat is for immediate prorogation of the session, citing an increasing threat of Covid-19 to the continuation of the House meetings. The ongoing session commenced on May 8 to meet the constitutional obligation of presenting the national budget on May 28 (Jestha 15), amid a lockdown enforced as a measure to contain the pandemic.
According to Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe, running the House has become riskier with a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections.
“The ongoing session will end very soon though we are yet to fix the date,” she told the Post. “We cannot take further risk.”
The Covid contagion is growing by 400 to 500 new cases daily. The total number of confirmed cases reached 13,258 on Monday.
The President, on the recommendation of the government, summons and prorogues the session of Parliament. Officials at the parliament secretariat say the House of Representatives and the National Assembly have performed their constitutional duties for a month and a half despite the risk of transmission of the disease.
“Presentation, discussion and endorsement of the national budget is the main duty of the current session and that has been accomplished,” Gopal Nath Yogi, secretary at the House, told the Post. The federal budget has passed both the chambers and was sent to the president’s office for authentication.
An aide to Speaker Agni Sapkota said the risk of spread has increased as many lawmakers have been travelling to their home districts after the lockdown was eased. The aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said lawmakers have been requesting the Speaker not to run the House any longer. The next meeting of both the House and the Assembly has been scheduled for Wednesday.
Along with the endorsement of half a dozen bills related to the budget, the federal parliament unanimously passed the second amendment to the Constitution of Nepal to incorporate Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani into Nepal’s political map by revising the national emblem.
Parliament, however, has yet to endorse crucial bills like an amendment to the Citizenship Act, the Federal Civil Service Act, Federal Education Act and Forest Act. Federal laws are necessary for both the federal and provincial governments to fully implement federalism as envisioned by the constitution. Provincial laws, including on civil service, should be in line with federal Acts. Provincial governments thus cannot draft their own laws without related federal acts in place.
Parliament has also yet to start deliberation on the multi-billion-rupee Millennium Challenge Corporation compact that needs to be endorsed by June 30. The House too has not elected its deputy speaker, the post that has been vacant for over five months. The long delay in the election process has led the Supreme Court to intervene in the matter. A show-cause notice has been issued against the government and the Speaker’s secretariat.
Tumbahangphe said it is unlikely that crucial bills including on citizenship and federal civil service will get through the current session. The winter session of Parliament, also called the bill session, prorogued on April 6 too proved unproductive as it approved only four bills in 120 days.
Differences between Nepal Communist Party (NCP) chairs KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal over the selection of the Speaker candidate had led to the postponement of the House for 36 days last year.