KATHMANDU, Aug 3: With the main opposition party Nepali Congress (NC) finally submitting a list of its names to the parliamentary committees, the Federal Parliament formed 14 committees on Thursday, six month into the commencement of parliamentary business.
Demanding assurance on allotment of committee heads to the main opposition party, the NC had declined to forward names of its members to any House committee except the Parliamentary Hearings Committee. This has resulted in the delay in the formation of such committees, also known as mini parliaments.
Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara announced the appointment of members of 10 House of Representatives (HoR) committees while National Assembly Chairperson Ganesh Timalsina announced the members of the four upper house committees. Out of the 16 parliamentary pannels, the hearings committee has already been formed with the NC's participation . The Committee on Monitoring Principles and Directives of State will be formed later. These two joint committees will have members from both the upper and lower houses.
Of the 16 committees, NC had demanded the chairmanships of at least four House panels through consensus. But the ruling NCP was ready to allot the chairmanship of only the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to the main opposition.
“Delay in formation of the parliamentary committees constrained the deliberations on government activities. So we decided to forward names of our members for the committees,” said NC Chief Whip Balkrishna Khand. He said their move was also aimed at pressuring the government to introduce urgent legislation for the enforcement of fundamental rights.
The formation of the House committees was stuck in the first instance due to months of delay in the endorsement of parliamentary regulations. The NC's stance then came in the way.
NCP leaders have been maintaining that the heads of the other House committees should be chosen through majority vote in the committees themselves. Given the strength of the ruling NCP in all the panels, the party can elect its own members as committee chiefs in both the lower and upper houses and also in the two joint house committees. The committees will be headed by their seniormost members until the heads are duly elected.
NCP has 16 or 17 members in each lower house committe, while NC has six to seven members. Two other national parties, Rastriya Janata Party Nepal and Federal Socialist Forum Nepal, will together have three members in each lower house panel.
Under the new parliamentary regulations, the lower house will have a Finance Committee, International Relations Committee, Industry, Commerce, Labor and Consumer Rights Committee, Law, Justice and Human Rights Committee, Agriculture, Cooperatives and Natural Resources Committee, Women and Social Committee, State Affairs and Good Governance Committee, Development and Technology Committee, Education and Health Committee, and a Public Accounts Committee .
Likewise, the National Assembly will have Committees for Sustainable Development and Good Governance, Legislation Management, National Concern and Coordination, and Delegated Management .
Most senior lawmakers from the ruling parties including NCP Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal have shown a preference for the State Affairs Committee over the other nine committees of the House of Representatives. Prime Minister K P Oli, the other chairman of the party, will be ex-officio member of the same committee, which has purview over the Prime Minister's Office.
NC president Sher Bahadur Deuba has become a member of the Development Committee while General Secretary Sashank Koirala is on the Finance Committee and another senior leader, Prakash Man Singh, is on the International Relations Committee.
NCP senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal has become a member of the International Relations Committee while another senior leader, Jhalnath Khanal, is on the Development Committee. Former speaker Subas Nembang has been chosen for the Law, Justice and Human Rights Committee and two former deputy speakers, Onsari Gharti and Purna Kumari Subedi, are members of the Agriculture, Cooperatives and Natural Resources Committee.