Lower house endorses budget amid UML protestThe bill now will be sent to the upper house. The government shutdown would be lifted once the bill gets through.
The House of Representatives on Monday endorsed the appropriation bill amid obstructions by the CPN-UML, the main opposition.
As soon as the House meeting started, UML lawmakers resorted to sloganeering, demanding Speaker Agni Sapkota’s resignation.
Sapkota, however, allowed Finance Minister Janardan Sharma to present the proposal for putting the bill to vote. The bill was then passed by a majority of voice votes, just as UML lawmakers continued chatting slogans.
“Today’s meeting of the House of Representatives has endorsed the appropriation bill through majority votes,” said Gopal Nath Yogi, secretary of the House of Representatives. “Now we will send it to the National Assembly.”
The next meeting of the National Assembly is scheduled for Tuesday. Once the bill is endorsed from the upper house and sent back to the lower house, the bill will be sent to the Office of the President for authentication, following which the current government shutdown will be lifted.
Sharma on September 10 had presented the replacement bill for the budget ordinance that was brought by the erstwhile KP Sharma Oli government on May 29. Since the ordinance was registered in the lower house on July 16, it must have been passed by September 15 as per the 60-day constitutional deadline. But the September 15 meeting of the House was adjourned until September 20 without passing the bill, thereby leading to a government shutdown, a situation in which the government cannot spend money from the state coffers.
Though the bill has sailed through the lower house, the government shutdown will continue until it is passed by the upper house.
It will take at least three days for the National Assembly to pass the bill once it is presented, as 72 hours must be given to the members to register amendment proposals.
The lower house, however, managed to pass the bill in just one day, as there was only one lawmaker who had sought to put forth views on the bill.
“Last year, it had taken three days to endorse the bill due to Covid-19, but this year there was only one lawmaker to air views on the bill, so it got endorsed today itself,” said Yogi.
Prem Suwal of the Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party was the only lawmaker to present his views on the bill when it was put for discussion, as UML continued sloganeering.