MPs to deliberate law on institute with their stakesParliament has sent Manmohan Academy Bill to its committee where influential CPN-UML leaders with stakes in the proposed academy are the members
Imagine a situation in which your local grocers had the power to draft laws about their business practices and the prices they could charge. The same is happening in Nepal’s Parliament where lawmakers who have shares in the Manmohan Institute will deliberate on a bill which would upgrade the status of the institute into an academy.
Parliament sent the Manmohan Academy Bill to its respective committee on Thursday, where influential CPN-UML leaders, who have stakes in the proposed academy, are the members.
Experts worry that the presence of the parliamentarians in the discussion over the bill creates a conflict of interest while they may influence any amendment decision by the committee.
The government forwarded the Manmohan Bill to the Women, Children, Elderly Citizen and Social Welfare Committee chaired by UML lawmaker Ranju Kumari Jha for review. The committee has influential UML Members of Parliament including Rajendra Pandey, who chairs the Manmohan Institute of Health Sciences, and Dr Bansidhar Mishra, who has shares in the cooperative that runs the institute.
There are a total of 13 UML leaders in the House committee who have made controversial decision in the past to ensure that Manmohan Institute gets affiliation to run MBBS classes. On December 28, 2014, contrary to the government’s decision to stop new affiliations to medical colleges, this committee directed the Ministry of Education to allow the medical colleges that had acquired the letter of intent to operate. The decision was protested by the UCPN (Maoist) saying that it was taken in their absence and revoked later.
Kedar Bhakta Mathema, chairman of the committee that drafted the Health Profession Education Policy, said it is an apparent conflict of interest where the shareholders of the institute decide on the fate of the institute.
“The same persons sitting to decide on their own medical college is a serious moral hazard on part of our parliamentarians,” said Mathema. “They would obviously lobby to ensure that they get to run their institute.”
Hailing the government’s decision to form the
Health Profession Education Commission under Dr Bhagwan Koirala, Mathema, however, said circumventing the rule to run the Manmohan institute was “unfortunate”.
A meeting summoned by the Mathema Commission on Saturday expressed its concerns against the government’s conflicting move. In the meeting, former chief secretary Leela Mani Paudyal expressed his concerns on the move to legitimise the operation of a private organisation through an Act in a way to set a bad precedent.
According to sources, parliamentarians including Pandey and Mishra are lobbying for the bill’s passage from Parliament. A source claimed that the office bearers of the institute have misused and misinterpreted a letter from the University Grants Commission that states that the Manmohan Institute should be granted affiliation if the government takes over its property and converts it into a public institution. In the past, 146 parliamentarians led by Pandey had threatened to disrupt Parliament if the government did not grant affiliation.
The government on December 25 presented the Manmohan Adhikari Academy of Health Sciences-2015 Bill to legitimise the operation of the Manmohan Institute of Health Sciences.