Playing hooky

  • Perpetual absenteeism has severely affected the business in Parliament

Feb 28, 2019-

On Tuesday, there was supposed to be an important discussion on a bill pertaining to health that was presented by MP Khaga Raj Adhikari. Besides this, discussions were supposed to be held on Economic Procedure and Fiscal Responsibility Bill, 2075 and Payment and Settlement Bill, 2075. Parliament was also supposed to send the Technology Related Bill, 2075 to the respective committee so that it can be deliberated upon. Tuesday’s session was supposed to start at 11 but the number of MPs present was dismally low. Even the few who were present were quick to leave as soon as they marked their attendance.

Parliament absenteeism is a recurring problem. And this perpetual feature has severely affected the business of Parliament. This time of the year is supposed to be the busiest session in Parliament. We are one week away from the constitutional deadline to amend the existing acts that contradict with the spirit of the constitution. Yet, our elected MPs seem nonchalant. Before these bills are turned into acts, it is imperative that they are widely deliberated upon. In fact, it is their duty as lawmakers to make sure any bill presented in Parliament is discussed and debated since they are handling issues on behalf of the country. But we see no sign of that. The House is routinely adjourned for the lack of quorum wherein our legislators summarily ignore party whips.

Whips are appointed by parties to ensure smooth and efficient conduct of business on the floor. They are responsible to make sure the maximum number of their MPs attend parliament sessions. No doubt, MPs must be motivated enough to perform their duties sincerely. But it is also partially a failure on the part of the chief whip to make sure members of his party sit through the entire session. Especially when there are important bills to be discussed.

It is common for leaders to make tall promises to woo voters. Based on the things they say they will get done, the public votes for them. Hence, Parliament is the place where the chosen leaders can deliver on their promises. When MPs fail to attend parliamentary sessions, or when they fail to sit throughout and discuss certain issues, it can be seen as a betrayal of the trust bestowed upon them.

Absenteeism by MPs in the House needs to be checked. The general practice is that they mark attendance, receive the allowance but bunk sessions. Their attention is diverted to getting budgets for their constituencies rather than crafting laws. MPs have been elected not to indulge solely in development activities, but to raise issues and make laws. They need to decide on policies, and how much money to give to which ministry to get programmes done. In short, the actions of the MPs will decide how the country will be run. The ones charged with the responsibility of doing so must take their jobs seriously.

Published: 28-02-2019 11:15

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