House session prorogued amid COVID-19 pandemic

Published On: April 7, 2020 10:30 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Bills session passes just three bills in three months

KATHMANDU, April 7: The government has decided to prorogue the winter session of parliament, which was inactive since the last two weeks due to the fear of coronavirus (Covid-19).

A meeting of the Council of Ministers on Monday decided to recommend the president for prorogation of the House session effective from mid-night of the same day, said government spokesperson Yuba Raj Khatiwada.

The winter session, also known as the bills session of parliament, just managed to endorse three bills in more than three months while 43 other bills are still pending.

Amendment to Some Nepal Act on Education, Revenue Leakage Bill and Industrial Enterprise Development Institute Bill were the three bills endorsed by the winter session of parliament.

The federal parliament failed to endorse some crucial legislation including Citizenship Bill (amendment), Federal Civil Service Bill among others even after deliberations on the bills for over a year, mainly due to differences between the lawmakers of various political parties.

Following division within the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), the government didn't even table the $ 500 million US grant agreement under the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) in the parliament. Although Prime Minister K P Oli had promised to make some changes to the agreement from the House in the winter session, not a single deliberation was held on the MCC grant in parliament in more than 10 months since it was registered in the lower House.

The winter session which commenced on December 20 last year, 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 on the charge last month.

Ending a month-long stalemate between two factions of the NCP, the House of Representatives elected Agni Prasad Sapkota of the same party as the new speaker on January 26.

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 consecutive House meetings from early March to avoid mass gathering. The last meeting of the House of Representatives was held on March 12 and the upper house meeting was adjourned through a notice on March 19 due to widespread fear of Covid-19 in the country.

The government usually starts budget session of parliament at the end of April for pre-budget discussions after proroguing the winter session by March end.

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