It is absurd for the Parliament to be adjourned for seven days citing that there is a lack of business. There are reported to be 53 bills under consideration in Parliament. Some of these bills require immediate attention of the House. Out of the 53 bills that are under consideration in the House it is ridiculous that some of them have been pending for three years. Successive governments have failed to pass these bills even when they were given more than ample time to do so. Bills of an urgent nature include those related to the elections of the National Assembly, House of Representatives, provincial assembly and local level as well as the election of president and vice-president. These have been delayed and looking ahead it would be difficult to meet the deadline of holding all the three tiers of election, namely local level, provincial and Parliamentary ahead of January 21 of next year.
These bills are so important that the provincial and parliamentary elections cannot be held without their passage on time. Even more worrying fact is that two phases of the local level election were held without any law governing them. That is why the local level elected representatives have not been able to draw salaries and other benefits that they are entitled to and to perform various official duties assigned by the Constitution. Meanwhile, only seven bills out of 53 bills are all set to be tabled in the House. Bills that have been debated in the House include those referring to social practice reform, civil code, penal code and rights to the disabled; and of these the civil and penal code bills were to be passed about nine months ago. Only the bills related to the social practice reform and cooperatives are on the final stage. The relevant House panel is tasked with finalizing the relevant bills and then they are put to vote in the Parliament. The related parliamentary committees have already finalized 11 bills ready for submission to the House.
A bill relating to social practice reform has not been able to proceed although it was registered in Parliament three years ago by then home minister Bam Dev Gautam. The delays cannot be condoned and it shows that Parliament has done little to get the bills ready to implement, mainly because of the government apathy. Instead Parliament is seen indulging in unnecessary debates achieving little and wasting precious time when they should be dealing with the bills, many of them of important nature. The government is to blame for slow progress in drafting the bills and tabling them in parliament. It is the duty of the government to give business to Parliament. There are six bills which have already been tabled in the House and which can be passed or referred to the concerned committees for further consideration. The need of the hour is to pass the four election related bills so that the constitution can be fully implemented within the deadline set by the constitution. The political parties in parliament must reach consensus to pass these important bills so that elections can be held on time.
Access to health
A new health minister, Giriraj Mani Pokhrel from the CPN-Maoist Centre, has just assumed office, for the third time. He has stressed the need to increase people’s access to healthcare, as well as to identify problems facing the health sector. He has promised to incorporate issues of mental health, non-communicable diseases, and new challenges into the new health policy that he intends to bring out. The good work initiated by the outgoing health minister will also be continued, according to Minister Pokhrel.
Pokhrel’s tenure is just six or seven months if he remains in office for the remaining period of this Legislature-Parliament. Several health ministers before him have served similar short tenures. Therefore, much of a minister’s work, most of which remains uncompleted, is in limbo when he or she goes out. And the total impact of the good work is not felt by the general people. The most important job of any health minister is to make the health administration more efficient and responsive to people’s needs. That should be reflected in well-functioning government hospitals, health centres and health posts and smooth delivery of other health benefits. Pokhrel’s sentiments are good but the big question is: can he make a difference?
The Himalayan Times, July 28, 2017