Government working on 109 bills to give more business to ParliamentThe Cabinet has recommended the President summon the winter session of Parliament on February 5.
Amid criticism that successive governments have paid little attention to preparing necessary laws, the Pushpa Kamal Dahal administration is working on over 100 bills, several of which are related to constitution implementation.
Reports from different ministries presented at the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs show they are working on 109 bills which are either for entirely new laws or the amendment of the existing ones. As a liaison ministry to the federal parliament, the law ministry wants a maximum number of bills to be registered in the upcoming session of the parliament.
To put pressure on respective ministries for timely finalisation, the law ministry starting on Sunday held discussions with all the ministries for three days to learn about developments in finalising the bills. It asked respective ministries to present the list of the bills they are working on and prepare their priority list.
During the meeting, Law Minister Dhanraj Gurung had asked all the ministers to set the deadline for the submission of the bills related to respective ministries. “After the consultation, we are expecting around 35 bills to be registered in the Parliament after the commencement of the new House session,” Man Bahadur Aryal, a joint secretary at the ministry, told the Post.
The Cabinet on Tuesday recommended the President to call the winter session on February 5. The President summons House sessions on the government’s recommendation.
Officials who were present in consultation meetings said as Parliament is preparing to have its calendar function more effectively, the law ministry wants to make sure there is no dearth of business for the federal parliament. “Law ministry is seriously coordinating with different ministries for timely finalisation of necessary bills,” Arjun Bhusal, an officer in the ministry, told the Post. “I am sure the consultation meetings will yield positive results.”
Except the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, all other ministries are working on at least one bill. Over eight years since the promulgation of the Constitution of Nepal, different laws needed for full fledged implementation of the federal constitution are yet to be promulgated. Federal Civil Service Bill, Media Council Bill, Bill to Manage Social Media, Mass Media Bill and Police Bill, among others, are in the government’s priority, according to law ministry officials.
A government assessment in 2015 had concluded that 100 laws were necessary for the execution of the statute. However, a study by the Legislation Management Committee of the Assembly in August last year shows only 111 laws among the 151 needed to implement the constitution promulgated in 2015 have so far been enacted. Still, 40 Acts need either significant amendments or replacement with new ones to bring them in sync with the statute.
As per the study, the three tiers of government had to either amend or replace a total of 181 Acts necessary to fully implement the charter. Of them, 151 come under the jurisdiction of the federal government, 24 under the provinces and six under the local level.
The constitution had set two deadlines to prepare laws for its implementation. It was mandatory to pass laws related to fundamental rights within three years of the charter’s promulgation. The federal parliament endorsed the bills related to 31 fundamental rights a day before the constitutional deadline of September 19, 2018.
As per the statute, the Acts that contradict the constitution must have been revised within a year of the first meeting of the federal parliament on March 5, 2018. However, successive governments have failed to abide by the constitutional deadlines.
In the lawmaking process, the respective ministries prepare draft bills. They are also sent to the Ministry of Finance to check if their implementation adds burden to the state coffers and to the law ministry. The bills are presented in the Cabinet for approval after the law ministry gives a green signal.
They are then registered in Parliament. After the bills clear both the Houses of Parliament, they become Acts with the President’s authentication.
More than a year since the first meeting of the lower house elected from the November 2022 elections, the federal parliament has endorsed only one bill in addition to those related to the national budget. The first meeting of the lower house was held on January 9 last year.
Currently, 12 bills are under consideration in different committees under the lower house. Registration of the 35 bills will keep Parliament busy which otherwise didn't have adequate budget, according to the officials at the Parliament Secretariat. The winter session, also called the bill session, primarily focuses on discussing and passing the laws. The upcoming session will last two months before it prorogues for the budget session.