Passage of crucial laws on civil aviation deferred in absence of ministerBills on Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal and the Air Service Authority of Nepal that remain pending in parliament since February last year could not be presented in upper house Wednesday.
The National Assembly on Wednesday was supposed to endorse two bills related to the aviation sector.
The Parliament Secretariat after consultations with the ruling and the opposition parties had inducted the two bills into the assembly’s agenda for endorsement. The previous seventh and eighth sessions of the upper house had prorogued without endorsing even a single bill as the erstwhile KP Sharma Oli government was reluctant to provide business to Parliament.
The bills on Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal and the Air Service Authority of Nepal that remain pending in Parliament since February last year, however, were withdrawn at the last hour in the absence of a minister to present them. As the government hasn’t appointed a Minister for Culture and Civil Aviation, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba was supposed to present the bills.
Deuba, however, has designated Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Gyanendra Bahadur Karki to present the bills on his behalf and respond to the concerns of lawmakers. Karki, who had accompanied President Bidya Devi Bhandari to participate in a function in Sindhuli on Wednesday, couldn’t make it to the House leading to the removal of the bills from the House agenda.
“The two bills were included on the agenda in consensus,” Prakash Pantha, a Nepali Congress lawmaker, told the Post. “Karki’s busy schedule led to their removal from the agenda. The next meeting slated for Monday will endorse them.”
The two bills are needed for breaking up the aviation body to comply with the European Union’s requirements so that Nepal can be removed from its Air Safety List.
Nepali airlines are banned from European skies over safety issues, and a prerequisite to getting Nepal back in its good books is splitting the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal into two entities to facilitate stringent enforcement of safety measures.
The government has been working on the proposed legislations for the last 10 years, and they have been held up by the bureaucracy at every step. Following pressure from a number of global aviation watchdog groups, the Cabinet had given the go-ahead to the Civil Aviation Ministry in July 2019 to draft two separate bills to split the Civil Aviation Authority which were registered in parliament on February 23, 2020.
Congress lawmakers say absence of the needed ministers has not just hampered the performance of the government but also that of Parliament.
“The Cabinet has yet to get full shape. Its repercussions have been seen even in Parliament,” Radheshyam Adhikari, a Congress parliamentary party leader at the National Assembly, told the Post. “However, the government is committed to expediting the endorsement of the pending bills.” In addition to deciding the fate of 15 ordinances the Oli government had issued, there are 55 various bills in Parliament that need to be endorsed. Some of the bills have been pending in Parliament since the first session in 2018 and many of them are related to the implementation of federalism.
Cross-party lawmakers in both the houses of Parliament have demanded speedy endorsement of the bills, many of which are related to the implementation of federalism. Pushpa Bhusal, Congress whip in the House of Representatives, said endorsement of the bills is one of the priorities of the incumbent government. “There wouldn’t be a shortage of bills for the house in the upcoming meetings,” she told the Post.