Legislature-Parliament building (Republica file photo)
Mahara tables the same bills earlier rejected by parliament
KATHMANDU, Sept 30: The government has tabled three bills related to annual budget that were tabled by the previous government and disapproved by the parliament two months ago.
In July, the current ruling coalition partners Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN (Maoist Center) had voted against these bills, which were tabled by the then CPN-UML and Maoist Center coalition government. The decision of the Maoist Center to vote against the bills had resulted in toppling of the K P Oli government.
These bills were pending while other budget-related bills including the appropriation bill was endorsed by the House. The then ruling party CPN (Maoist Center) voted to approve the appropriation bill but later stood against other three bills. As the appropriation bill was already endorsed, the government didn't face any problems with regular expenditures.
Minister for Finance Krishna Bahadur Mahara tabled the Finance Bill, National Debt Recovery Bill, and Debt and Guarantee Bill in the House meeting Thursday for endorsement. As the ruling coalition parties command majority in parliament, the bills are set to be endorsed after brief discussion Friday. Earlier on Thursday, the cabinet had decided to table the bills in parliament for approval.
Some of the procedures required to endorse a bill were skipped by suspending some parliamentary rules on Thursday.
As parliamentary regulations prevent the tabling of the bill that were already rejected by the same House session, the related rules were suspended by majority vote of the House to pave the way for tabling the bills again. The main opposition CPN-UML lawmakers alleged that the ruling parties made a mockery of parliamentary system by endorsing the same bills from the same session without making any changes.
The parliament endorsed the proposal of CPN (Maoist Center) Chief Whip Tek Bahadur Basnet to suspend six rules of the parliamentary regulations through majority votes. The main opposition UML, Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal, and some other fringe parties voted against the proposal.
"We have not changed anything in the bills, which were drafted by the previous government. We expect wider political support for endorsing the bills as they are related to the day-to-day financial activities of the country," said Finanace Minister Mahara.
However, UML lawmakers announced to vote against the bills, accusing the Maoist center of betraying the UML-led government in the previous coalition. "The precedent that was set by the Maoists in parliament is going to invite grave consequences in the future. What are the factors that had forced the Maoists to vote against the same bills despite being a coalition partner in the previous government?" asked UML lawmaker Rajendra Pandey. "The same party has tabled the same bills for approval without making any changes."
Former Finance Minister Bishnu Paudel and UML lawmaker Rabindra Adhikari addressing the House meeting also criticized the government for suspending the parliamentary regulations for endorsing the same bills through fast track. "The government by suspending the rules has adopted a wrong approach in its attempt to endorse the same bills, which had been presented for approval in the past. We hope this will not happen again," said Paudel.
The three bills in and out of parliament
June: Oli led-cabinet endorsed the budget and tabled it in parliament
July 9: House endorsed the appropriation bill
July 12: Maoist Center pulled out of Oli govt
Mid-July: UML-Maoist dispute made approval of three bills uncertain
July 22: House rejected the three bills as Maoists voted against it
Aug 3: Pushpa Kamal Dahal became PM with NC support
Sept 29: Maoist Center tabled the same bills for approval