Parliament dumping motions of urgent public importance

Published On: June 18, 2016 06:17 AM NPT By: Ashok Dahal  | @ashokpillar

KATHMANDU, June 18: Over 70 motions on matters of urgent public importance were registered at the Parliament Secretariat in the past three years, but only six of these came up for discussion in parliamentary meetings during this period.
Similar is the situation with 30 resolution motions and 30 call attention motions registered during the three years.
Parliament conducted discussions on only four out of the total 30 resolution motions. Similarly, only five motions drawing government attention were discussed in the House during the period.
Lawmakers registered three motions of urgent public importance concerning particularly the reconstruction tasks following the earthquake destruction last year. But none of the proposals were discussed in Parliament.
When quake victims living under tarpaulins started dying due to freezing cold in January, a group of NC lawmakers including Nabindra Raj Joshi, Mohan Basnet and Arjun Narsingh KC registered a motion of urgent public importance demanding immediate discussions over the matter in the House. They demanded discussions saying that immediate distribution of warm clothes in the areas worst hit by the disaster had become urgent.
Earlier, lawmakers from the same party, including Ramhari Khatiwada, registered similar motions demanding immediate release of Rs 50,000 to the quake victims. Similarly, CPN-UML lawmaker Rabindra Adhikari and some others registered a separate urgent motion concerning the management of vulnerable structures damaged by the quake.
Following promulgation of the new Constitution, Madhes-based political parties resorted to protests along the Nepal-India border and, citing security reasons due to the protests, India imposed an economic blockade for nearly five months.The issue was discussed heatedly in the Indian parliament.
That was when lawmakers from Nepal Workers Peasants Party (NWPP) Prem Suwal, Dilliraj Kafle and Anuradha Thapamagar registered a motion of urgent public importance demanding deliberations over the blockade  in Nepal’s parliament as well.
Similarly, lawmakers from various small parties including CPN (Samyukta) lawmaker Jayadev Joshi registered another motion of public importance during the same period demanding discussions over the trade and transit rights of Nepal. But neither the motion registered by NWPP lawmakers nor the one filed by those from Samyukta were discussed in Parliament.
People from various sectors raised the point that the state incurred losses of billions when Telia Sonera sold the telecom service provider Ncell to Axiata earlier this year.
As this became an issue of serious public concern, NC lawmaker Gagan Thapa in May registered a motion of urgent public importance  demanding discussions in the ongoing House session. But no discussions have been held so far.
These are just a few examples of motions registered in Parliament and subsequently neglected there.
In the ongoing session of Parliament, members of parliament have registered just a single motion of  urgent public importance and only one resolution motion so far.
Lawmakers said this was due to the discouraging past record of discussions on such proposals.
According to the Parliament Secretariat, only four out of the total of 32 motions on matters of urgent public importance have been discussed in the first year since the election of this Parliament.
Similarly, three out of the 11 resolution motions registered during the same year were discussion.
And two out of the total nine call attention motions were discussed in the full House during this time.
In 2015 and 2016 so far, only two out of the 29 motions on matters of urgent public importance have been discussed. During this period, only one of the 13 resolution motions and three out of the 13 call attention motions have been discussed in the full House.
If a motion registered in one House session isn’t discussed before the end of the session, it should be renewed and forwarded to the new House session. But in practice, very few such motions are renewed and forwarded to the new session.
A committee was formed under the leadership of Maoist lawmaker Giriraj Mani Pokhrel to select and help in the effective discussion of issues of public concern. But the committee has remained idle ever since Pokhrel became a minister last October.
“Not a single meeting of the committee has been held after its coordinator became a minister. This shows the height of negligence toward issues of public concern in Parliament,” said NC lawmaker Dhanraj Gurung, himself a member of the committee.
Rule 14 of the Parliamentary Regulations allows lawmakers to register such proposals concerning matters of public importance and urgent issues in Parliament. The speaker endorses such proposals for discussion in the full House and the minister of the ministry concerned should answer the House after the discussions.
Asked about Parliament’s failure to hold discussions on such issues, Speaker Onsari Gharti said that she has not been able to pay much attention to those issues as she has concentrated all her attention toward settling the disputes relating to parliamentary regulations. “I will give priority to such motions immediately after endorsing the new parliamentary regulations which have been under discussion for about eight months,” said Gharti.
NWPP lawmaker Prem Suwal accused the major political parties and the speaker of weakening Parliament by not giving importance to such issues. “We tried our best to present our motions for discussions in Parliament, but no one showed any interest,” he said

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