MPs influencing parliamentary decisions in clear conflict of interest

Published On: July 11, 2016 07:15 AM NPT By: Ashok Dahal  | @ashokpillar

KATHMANDU, July 10: A complaint against Lazimpat-based Riza Overseas Employment Pvt Ltd was registered at the International Relations and Labor Committee of Parliament last year.

But the committee did nothing about it as the manpower company was owned by lawmaker Kamala Devi Sharma, who is also a member of the same committee.

Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal (RPP-N) lawmaker Sharma is one of the influential members of the committee, which oversees labor related issues, among other things.

The parliamentary committee formed a sub-committee to investigate complaints against manpower agencies charging migrant workers exorbitantly for finding them jobs in the Gulf and other countries. The sub-committee was entrusted with the responsibility of studying the matter thoroughly and making necessary recommendations to the full committee. Lawmaker Sharma was also appointed a member of the sub-committee.

The panel, however, didn’t make any recommendations to the full committee as this would have landed the manpower agencies concerned in legal trouble.

“She was active in stopping the sub-committee from making any recommendation to punish the erring manpower agencies as she was out to save her own manpower agency from possible legal action,” said a committee member who did not want to be named.  

Sharma’s Riza Overseas sends Nepali workers to Turkey and the UAE.

 There are several other cases also showing how lawmakers are involved in the making of policies in the legislature that are directly related to businesses in which they have invested.

A parliamentary committee last month drafted a bill to amend the Education Act, proposing several vital changes in the law. Some lawmakers actively involved in drafting the bill were owners of private schools and they included some provisions that served their own interests. They managed to get the bill endorsed by the full House even though some of the new provisions have been widely criticized.

Umesh Shrestha, Baburam Pokharel and Teju Lal Chaudhari, who are also committee members, have their own private schools and colleges in Kathmandu. The amendment act has made it mandatory for newly opened schools to operate as a guthi [ or trust].

Likewise, lawmakers who have invested in various banks, pressed the Finance Committee of Parliament to revise the Banks and Financial Institutions Act (BAFIA) as per their own interests. But the full House sent the bill back to the committee after the issue came under wide criticism as the businessmen-turned lawmakers had included some objectionable provisions in the bill.

Civil Bank Chairman Ichchha Raj Tamang is a member of the Finance Committee that drafted the bill. Prime Commercial Bank Chairman Umesh Shrestha, Janata Bank Chairman Uday Nepali Shrestha, Reliance Lotus Finance Ltd Board Director Rajeev Bikram Shah and Mega Bank promoter Duman Thapa are also members of Parliament.

There is yet another bill under discussion at Parliament’s Women, Children and Social Welfare Committee. The bill proposes to run the Manmohan Hospital under a cooperative model. Several lawmakers who are also members in the same committee are investors in the hospital.

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