Supremacy of the House

Published On: September 18, 2019 02:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Days before the country is set to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the Constitution of Nepal 2015, Speaker of the House of Representatives Krishna Bahadur Mahara warned parliamentary committees from issuing directives that obstruct the functioning of the government. This is troubling on many fronts. A parliamentary system works effectively only because the parliament and its committees constantly keep the government on its toes through directives. It is absolutely unacceptable for the prime minister to see the committees as obstructing the government’s workings. Moreover, the speaker of the House is not PM’s spokesperson. He should not be warning committees to not do their job.

When the parliamentary committees stop working, then the sovereign body stops being people’s voice. It is rather sad to see that the speaker agrees with the prime minister in viewing committees as an obstacle to smooth workings of the government. At a time when the KP Oli government is being accused of introducing laws to weaken the press, civil society and other constitutional bodies, speaker’s directives to the lawmakers only affirms increasingly general perception that this government is displaying authoritarian tendencies. We wholeheartedly disagree with the speaker’s directive and urge him to respect the parliament’s function in a vibrant democracy. We can only imagine a mature, powerful democracy when the parliament does its job of checking those in power.

This daily reported that the prime minister has been complaining to the speaker of the difficulty of governing due to parliamentary committees directives. This is a rather unfortunate situation where the prime minister that derives his power from the House sees the body hindering the functioning of his government. Only two committees- Public Accounts Committee and the Committee on Sustainable Development- are headed by the main opposition, Nepali Congress. All the other committees are led by the ruling party leaders. If directives issued by the committees are headache to the government then the lawmakers of the ruling party are also not happy with the performance of the government. The government should take the committee directives as an opportunity to right the wrong.

Governing under parliamentary system is not an easy task. The party in power must show the highest regard to the law of the land and the system under which we, the people, choose to govern ourselves. It does not suit PM Oli, and the country, to show blatant disregard to the system that he and his party fought hard for years to establish. We want our new republic to succeed, and we expect those in power to champion the difficulty of making things happen under our current system.

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