Bill returned to sub-committee due to home minister's opposition

Published On: September 25, 2017 07:42 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Sept 25: The State Affairs Committee (SAC) has backtracked on its decision to endorse the Bill on Provisions for Perks and Incentives for former office bearers by including lawmakers under the definition of former office bearers after Home Minister Janardan Sharma stood against the bill on Sunday.

The bill has been returned to sub-committee under SAC after Minister Sharma refused to move forward the bill defining former lawmakers as former office bearers. The sub-committee under SAC had revised the bill adding lawmakers to the list of former office bearers. The original bill had defined only five former dignitaries including presidents, vice presidents, prime ministers, chief justices and speakers as former office bearers. 

But the sub-committee had added former members of parliament to the list of former office bearers, proposing free medical treatment for them at state-owned hospitals. The decision was criticized as the lawmakers had revised the bill just a month before the expiry of their term. However the sub-committee had declined to include a provision in the bill, as demanded by some lawmakers, to provide transportation allowances to the former MPs. 

The government had withdrawn the same bill two years ago after facing criticism for including former deputy prime ministers, home ministers, among others, in the list of state beneficiaries. 
“The bill is unlikely to be endorsed by the incumbent parliament whose term will expire after three weeks. The government has been successful in protracting the endorsement of this bill,” said SAC member Gangalal Tuladhar. 

However, some influential lawmakers have been pressing SAC Chairman Dil Bahadur Gharti and the home minister to expedite the endorsement of the bill. 

 “The government can change the perks and incentives to the former office bearers issuing notices in Nepal Gazette. So, some lawmakers have been pressing hard for the endorsement of the bill so that they can easily add other state perks when a favourable government is in place in the future,” said a disgruntled lawmaker. 

“We returned the bill to the sub-committee for revision after the home minister requested us to exclude former lawmakers from the list of former office bearers,” said SAC Chairman Gharti. SAC also remained divided over whether the state should provide Rs 200,000 for former presidents and Rs 75,000 for various other former top officials as rent allowance. Likewise some lawmakers including Prem Suwal of Nepal Workers and Peasants Party had opposed the provision of providing one million rupees to former presidents and Rs 300,000 to former vice presidents, prime ministers, chief justices and speakers who don't have their own house inside the Kathmandu Valley for house maintenance. 

Meanwhile, SAC endorsed the bill on Civil Servants Integration proposing retirement benefits of up to seven years' pension at once for civil servants and not halting the regular recruitment of civil servants during the integration period. The original bill had proposed halting new recruitment through the Public Service Commission for a year. But the revised bill has proposed halting recruitment only in newly created vacancies.

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