The Office of the President, on recommendation of the Government of Nepal, ended the winter session of the House of Representative on 19 April 2021. This sudden and unexpected end of the winter session made it appear that the House reinstatement has become irrelevant. The situation also shows how the government itself is not much willing to see the House succeed.
As many as six Bills, already passed by the Upper House, remain stuck. Many other Bills could have been introduced, many other issues could have been brought forward for discussion. This did not happen.
The government claims that the winter session has been ended for the preparation of the upcoming budget session. Even so, the government should have consulted and discussed the matter with the Speaker of the House and Parliament Secretariat before ending the session. Because the decision to end the session came suddenly and unexpectedly, it had added to the suspicion of people.
It is also said that the decision was made to avert the possible scenario of vote of no-confidence, that was about to be filed against Prime Minister KP Oli. Ending the session does not end the possibility of no-confidence motion. But it has made it easier for the PM to buy time, at the cost of political confusion. Oli showed no confidence to face the no-confidence. He ended the session just to secure his survival.
The major business of the House of Representatives is to raise the issues of the people, make necessary laws and pass the budget and ensure its implementation. In other words, the major duty of parliament is to speak for the wellbeing of people. The most important task of parliament is to make the executive of the country accountable to people.
It has been seen that the House has mostly become a platform to endorse the Bills serve the vested interest groups close to the government. Most representatives tend to serve the interest groups rather than serving the people. The pressing issues of the people have often been ignored. The law-making process should be participatory but this is not happening. Even if some of the lawmakers raise the pressing issues of the people, the government does not take them seriously. This has become a major source of frustration among the people.
The House has failed to connect to the people and raise their issues. If the House ran effectively, and with accountability, many public issues would have been identified and discussed. It is getting late to make Parliament vibrant, running the regular sessions.
The House should have been able to give alternative government with a new prime minister immediately after the Supreme Court reinstated it on February 23. Failure to do so has rendered the very reinstatement irrelevant. Parliament could not remove the PM who had taken unconstitutional moves of dissolving the House of Representatives. Parliament is a failure in that sense.
The House has also failed to give justice to budget discipline. The major structural problem in our Constitutional approach is that it cannot amend the budget. The draft of the budget gets approved without any amendment.
Our representatives should amend the budget in line with the needs of people. As things, they have neither been able to make budget nor monitor the expenditure. In a real parliamentary democracy, the House must have the power to make and amend the budget, which is the taxpayer’s money. Our parliament has failed in this respect too.
People’s trust in parliament is fast eroding, as it has turned into the PM’s puppet.
(Based on a conversation with Nishan Khatiwada)