Parliament Secretariat adopting e-attendance to make MPs give more time in House

Himalaya Times
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The Parliament Secretariat is preparing to put in place an electric attendance system in a bid to discourage the trend of lawmakers leaving the parliament shortly after arrival.

According to Secretariat Spokesperson Dr Rojnath Pandey, the preparations are on for introducing the electric attendance aimed to make lawmakers procedurally bound for spending required hours in the parliament and meetings of its committees.

The formal announcement of the vanishing of coronavirus risk has not been made yet and in this context, the Secretariat has planned to go for the e-attendance.

The members in the parliament, the venue for exercising the people’s sovereignty, are expected to play dedicated and active roles in each of its business so as to deliver effectively.

National Assembly Chair Ganesh Prasad Timilsina has already, being based on the suggestion of the Business Advisory Committee, directed the Secretariat to manage the electric attendance.

It is highly believed that the first parliament formed in 2016 in Nepal was much vibrant and lively and no other subsequent Houses could follow the trend of it. It is said the trend of lawmakers leaving the parliament shortly after the arrival has been further cultivated lately.

A lack of quorum at the meeting of the parliament and the parliamentary committee has often taken place, resulting in the postponement of the meeting. Responsibilities and duties of people's representatives have been questioned due to their frequent non-participation in the parliamentary meetings due to various reasons.

Laws and decisions taken without an in-depth discussion on any bills and proposals by people's representations would be without quality, argued experts.

There has taken place the postponement of the parliamentary meeting due to a lack of quorum, but their spontaneous participation in any programme launched by any non-governmental organisation was not normal in the democratic system, they said.

"Participation of parliamentarians in programmes hosted by any non-governmental organisation is an old persisting problem. This is a matter of consciousness and dutifulness. The issue of which meeting lacked a quorum, who parliamentarians were absent, and on what bill a deliberation was underway should be made public," commented Ram Narayan Bidari, former member of the National Assembly.

Electronic attendance system for people's representatives may track their activities, thus helping sort out these problems, suggested the experts.

It is expected that such new tools would be significant in making the parliament activities more effective and efficient.

Whether it is the parliamentary committee meetings or the parliament sessions, the top leaders of the major political parties themselves are found not attending the meetings, marring the parliamentary debates. There is problem reaching conclusion on some important topics or delay in this due to such tendency of the top leaders.

The data shared by the parliamentary committees shows that except former PMs Madhav Kumar Nepal, Dr Baburam Bhattarai and Jhalanath Khanal, other top leaders' parliamentary attendance is not so encouraging.

"The scant presence of lawmakers in the parliament and parliament committee meetings is a problem. In many instances the meetings had to be suspended due to the lack of the required quorum," said Bishal Bhattarai, CPN (UML)'s former chief whip Bishal Bhattarai. He added that the people and civil society have been criticizing the parliament on this ground and this needs to be corrected in the coming days.

All people have been appreciating the role of the Nepal Workers and Peasants' Party in parliament as this party's lone lawmaker has been actively participating in the meetings raising pertinent issues in the deliberations.

There is a legal provision that an MP loses his/her post failing to attend the House meetings for 10 times in a row.
It is the main responsibility of the people's representatives to actively take part in the parliament's meetings and deliberations. The parliamentary debates, question and answer sessions, discussions, meetings and advocacy contribute to making democracy richer.

Nepal has a bicameral federal parliament comprising of the 275-member House of Representatives (HoR) and the 59-member National Assembly. The HoR is the lower house and the NA the upper house. The lower house has 33 percent women members.

There are 10 thematic committees in the HoR, four in the NA and two joint committees where rich discussions are held on the bills and proposals.

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