KATHMANDU, Sep 16: Just a month ahead of the expiry of their terms, Constituent Assembly (CA) members turned parliamentarians are engaged in the eleventh-hour lobbying to include a provision in a pending bill to confer state honors and perks on them.
Lawmakers are lobbying for inserting a provision in the bill, which is under discussion in a parliamentary committee, for a state hierarchy, medical and transportation allowances and a permanent logo for the 601 CA members who were involved in promulgating the new constitution in 2015. This provision, however, will not apply for the members of the first CA (2008-2012) that was dissolved without delivering a constitution.
Registering amendments to the Bill on Provision of Perks for Former Office Bearers, some lawmakers have also demanded 'other perks' from the state for the former lawmakers. Ruling Nepali Congress (NC) lawmakers Tapta Bahadur Bista, Sanjay Gautam, Nar Bahadur Chand, Rajib Bikram Shah and Nepal Loktantrik Forum lawmaker Kalpana Chaudhary have registered amendments to the bill demanding medical and transportation allowances and other perks for the former MPs and CA members. The proposal of the lawmakers has drawn public criticism for trying to formulate laws to benefit themselves while remaining apathetic to issues concerning the general public.
The State Affairs Committee (SAC) which is reviewing the bill is likely to reject the demands for 'other perks' for not being specific, a member of the committee said. “But we are discussing about including a provision for state recognition or honor to the lawmakers involved in promulgating the new constitution of the country, which will not add any financial burden to the state,” said UML lawmaker Shyam Prasad Dhakal,a SAC member who is also in the sub-committee tasked to review the bill.
But, according to Dhakal, the demands for other lucrative perks for the former MPs is unlikely to be endorsed by the committee as the bill itself includes only top five former office bearers in the state beneficiary list. The sub-committee's meeting is scheduled for Sunday to finalize the bill.
The incumbent lawmakers' term is set to expire from October due to the constitutional provision. Article 296 (1) of the new statute states that the term of the lawmakers will expire a day before the nomination for the election to the federal parliament. The Election Commission has set October 22 as the date for nominations for the federal parliament and provincial assembly elections. Parliament is set to endorse the bill before the term of the existing parliament expires.
The bill proposes upping state perks for the former office bearers which includes former presidents, vice presidents, prime ministers, speakers, chairmen of the National Assembly and chief justices. The bill proposes monthly allowances of Rs 50,000 and 40,000 for former presidents and vice-presidents, respectively. Likewise the bill has proposed Rs 200,000 for former presidents and Rs 75,000 for various other former top officials as house rent allowances.