KATHMANDU, March 16: The winter session of the federal parliament is also known as the bills session because it focuses solely on lawmaking unlike the budget session, which is just round the corner.
Ironically, the bills session which is nearing prorogation has managed to endorse just two bills in three months.
The government plans to prorogue the winter session within the next three weeks, a sitting minister told Republica requesting anonymity.
A single session of parliament generally endorses at least a dozen bills, according to the parliament secretariat. The last session had endorsed 18 bills, while the earlier two sessions had endorsed 13 and 16 bills respectively.
The first session of the federal parliament was prorogued after 11 meetings, endorsing four ordinances and electing office bearers.
Although 44 bills are awaiting parliamentary approval, the lower house has failed to expedite lawmaking process due to a row over picking the new speaker, lack of quorum and the coronavirus fear.
“This session of the House has managed to forward just two bills for authentication to the president so far while a few other bills are in the pipeline,” acting general secretary at the parliament secretariat Gopal Nath Yogi told Republica.
Although the bills session commenced on December 20 last year, the House couldn’t carry out any business for over a month in the absence of speaker. The position of speaker was lying vacant after the resignation of Krishna Bahadur Mahara in early October 2019 following accusation of attempted rape by an employee at his own office. He was acquitted of the charge last month.
Differences within the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) over a new candidate for the post of lower house speaker affected the lawmaking process of the parliament since the beginning of the winter session.
The House of Representatives accelerated its business after electing Agni Prasad Sapkota of NCP as the new speaker on January 26, ending the month-long stalemate.
Less than a month later, three consecutive meetings of the lower house were adjourned due to the lack of quorum. After coronavirus started spreading around the world, parties decided to maintain a gap of at least a week between House meetings from earlier this month to avoid mass gatherings.
The next meeting of lower house will be on Friday.
“Firstly, the House couldn’t expedite its job due to the delay in electing a new speaker,” Yogi said. “Secondly, the meetings of the lower house are being held in a gap of a week due to the coronavirus issue.”
According to the records at the parliament secretariat, just two bills – Revenue Leakage Bill and Industrial Enterprise Development Institute Bill – have been endorsed by the bills session so far. A bill on nuclear materials is awaiting final approval from the lower house after endorsement from the upper house Sunday. Similarly, five other bills are under discussion in the upper house after being endorsed by the lower house.
Interestingly, the federal parliament has failed to endorse some bills since over a year and a half. The Insurance Bill is still under discussion in parliament since July 2018 while the Citizenship Bill (amendment) is awaiting House approval since August of the same year.