Speaker sees conflict of interests in parliamentary committees

  • Representation of businessmen
- BINOD GHIMIRE, Kathmandu

Oct 7, 2018-

Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara has said that he is concerned over the inclusion of lawmakers in the House committees where they could have a conflict of interests. He was concerned over the representation of three lawmakers, who are involved in the construction business, in the parliamentary Development Committee.

Two lawmakers from the Nepali Congress—Jip Chhiring Lama and Bahadur Singh Lama—and Hari Narayan Rauniyar of the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal are the members of the Development Committee, whose mandate is to watch over development projects. All the three MPs are ‘A’ class

contractors who have bagged government contracts worth billions.

Rauniyar has been suspended as lawmaker after the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority filed a corruption case against him on Friday for building a shaky bridge in Bardiya.

Jip Chhiring is the owner of Lama Construction while Bahadur Singh runs the Himdung and Thokar Company. Pappu Construction is owned by Rauniyar.

Works done by these firms come under the watch of the Development Committee. The three members can influence the decision of the committee when it monitors their works.

“Rauniyar has now been suspended,” Mahara told an interaction in the Capital. “I will enquire about the others as well.”

The Speaker clarified that the lawmakers were assigned to the committees as recommended by the chief whip of their parties. But Mahara hinted that there may be changes. “We didn’t intervene in the recommendations. This doesn’t mean that we can make no changes after evaluating their roles,” he said.

The Education and Health Committee also has representatives who could have a conflict of interests.

Umesh Shrestha, former chairman of the Private and Boarding Schools Association, is a member of the Education and Health Committee. Narayan Marasini, a private school owner in Syangja, is another member of the same committee.

Around a dozen members of the Education Committee of the erstwhile Legislature-Parliament were private school owners who influenced an amendment to the Education Act.

The House of Representatives Regulations- 2018 bars lawmakers having personal interest from joining discussions on related issues at the House committee.

Clause 191 of the regulation states: If any member of a parliamentary committee has a conflict of interests in any issue being discussed at a committee, s/he should be part of the discussion and decision on the subject.

At a meeting of the Development Committee on September 25, lawmakers protested the presence of contractors as its members arguing that it leads to conflicting interests.

The same day, lawmakers at the Parliamentary Finance Committee questioned the plan to award the Nepal Rastra Bank building contract to Pappu Construction despite its poor track record.

Published: 07-10-2018 07:29

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