Most MPs in constituencies, House lacks quorum

Published On: April 21, 2017 05:30 AM NPT By: Ashok Dahal  | @ashokpillar

KATHMANDU, April 21: With most of the lawmakers leaving Kathmandu for election preparations in their respective constituencies, Thursday's House meeting was adjourned for three days due to the lack of quorum.
According to the parliament secretariat, out of the 593 MPs, only 192 had their attendance at Thursday's House meeting. The number of MPs present in the House meeting decreased to 90, resulting in the lack of quorum to pass a proposal to allow lawmakers to register amendments to the Electricity Regulation Commission Bill tabled by Energy Minister Janardan Sharma earlier.
According to the parliamentary regulations, at least one-fourth lawmakers (149) must be present in the House meeting to take any decision or pass a motion. Many lawmakers had left the parliament meeting after marking their attendance. Nepal Workers and Peasants Party lawmaker Prem Suwal demanded head count of lawmakers to ensure quorum before House voting on the proposal tabled by Minister Sharma. 

Then, Speaker Onsari Gharti instructed the parliament secretariat to count the number of MPs present in the House meeting. Speaker Gharti adjourned the meeting till Sunday afternoon after only 90 lawmakers were found to be present in the meeting. 

“Many lawmakers had informed the secretariat about their inability to attend the House meeting via telephone citing election activities at the local level,” said Spokesperson for the parliament secretariat Bharat Gautam. According to Gautam, in general above 300 lawmakers usually attend parliament meetings regularly. 

Earlier, speaking in the special hour of the House meeting, some lawmakers demanded proroguing the House session paving them to visit their constituencies for the election campaign. 

“As the local polls are just three weeks away, we should visit our constituencies. I urged parliament not to engage us more in Kathmandu,” said Nepali Congress (NC) lawmaker Sakaldev Sutiyar.

Another NC lawmaker Ramhari Khatiwada also said that lawmakers have been facing trouble to visit their constituencies due to the prolonged House session. “If we don't visit our constituencies, the local people as well as cadres will be angry with us. If we go there, we can't be present in the House,” said Khatiowada.

Longest House session in parliamentary history 
The ongoing parliament session has become the longest House session in the parliamentary history of Nepal, according to the parliament secretariat.

The current session of parliament had commenced on May 3, 20106. 

The previous longest House session took place starting in 2011.  Beginning from May 2, 2011, it had ended on February 21, 2012, thus lasting for a total of 295 days. In 2006 also, a House session had continued for nearly 10 months. But the ongoing House session has crossed 351 days from Thursday.  

Parliament has also witnessed some very brief sessions. The shortest session ran only from January 13 to January 15 in 1999.

Though there is a tradition of proroguing the budget session once the full budget for the fiscal year is endorsed, the ongoing session has continued even after endorsement of the budget for fiscal year 2016-17.

The government has been mulling to prorogue the House session only after putting the constitution amendment bill to vote in the House. After failing to garner a two-thirds majority in favor of the amendment bill, the government has delayed the voting process on the bill. 

“We should prorogue the current House session before commencing the Budget session. There would be few days or hours gap between the two sessions,” Speaker Gharti recently told the media. 

The new constitution has made it mandatory to unveil the budget for new fiscal year by end of May (Jestha 15). “The Budget session must start at least 15 days before unveiling the budget for pre-budget discussion and presenting plans and policies of the government,” said Gharti.

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