KATHMANDU, Aug 16: Speaker Onsari Gharti has decided to bar lawmakers from unnecessary foreign visits in view of the controversy around the misuse of diplomatic passport by more than half a dozen lawmakers from CPN (Maoist Center).
Lawmakers will be permitted to go on a visit abroad only through the official channel, with invitations made at government level.
“If any lawmaker wants to visit abroad through other channel, he/she should get recommendations from the party,” said CPN-UML Chief Whip Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal.
Gharti had held meetings with chief whips of the major political parties before reaching to the decision on Sunday. The new decision will be implemented after August 17.
Earlier, lawmakers used to get official recommendations for any kind of foreign visits from the parliament secretariat.
Eight lawmakers from the CPN (Maoist) party are facing police investigation over taking irrelevant persons along with them on their official Europe visit misusing recommendations from the parliament secretariat.
“Such cases have disgraced our parliamentarians and the parliament. So we should discourage individual foreign visits from the parliament,” one of the chief whips was quoted Gharti as saying.
Food coupons misuse
Similarly, after finding lawmakers and staffs at parliament secretariat misusing food coupons meant for them, Gharti has decided to stop providing such coupons for lawmakers from August 17.
“As many as 3,700 coupons were found to be used for foods in a single day while we have just 575 lawmakers. Some lawmakers were found to be distributing coupons to their drivers, securities personnel and aides as well,” said an official at the parliament secretariat.
Lawmakers used to get food coupons while attending early and late meeting of parliament and its committees since the Panchayat regime.
Speaker Gharti, however, said that she reached a decision to stop distribution of food coupons following requests from some lawmakers.
“We have decided to provide food allowance to lawmakers instead of providing coupons. A lawmaker will get Rs 100 for snacks and another 300 for lunch if they have to attend any parliamentary meeting from early morning,” said Gharti. However, staff at the parliament secretariat will get Rs 600 per meeting as food allowances.
Some lawmakers had also complained about the quality of food served at the parliament canteen. The Speaker has called a joint meeting of committee chairpersons of various parliamentary committees with a view to instruct them on strong implementations of the decision.
Panel to select motions of public importance
Speaker Onsari has also said that she will form a selection committee to study various motions of public importance registered at the parliament and recommend whether they merit a discussion in the parliament.
Parliament had been mostly dumping such proposals in absence of such a committee.
“I will push all such motions for discussion in the House. But I'd also expect lawmakers to register only proposals that are important or urgent,” said Gharti.
She further said that she is holding consultation with leaders of political parties in the parliament about starting question-answer session in the parliament.