Not a game of quid pro quo!

A rift of a certain kind between the two Houses – the National Assembly (NA) and National Council (NC) – was apparent since the first Parliament. However, it has only ballooned now, perhaps rampant with the two Houses at loggerhead on almost every trivial issue deliberated in the Parliament. pixx

Take for instance the deliberation on the pay revision. The Lower House endorsed the pay revision despite NC’s recommendation to defer the revision until the economy improves. And while NA has the prerogative on this matter, perhaps it would be befitting to take into consideration the recommendations from NC as well. As such, the whole time and resources that NC spent deliberating and coming out with the recommendations, therefore, become futile if their recommendations were to be simply ignored.

Similarly, NC’s refusal to not deliberate on the Right to Information (RTI) Bill puts to waste the time and resources that NA took to deliberate on the Bill. NC simply rejected the Bill citing that there wasn’t much time to discuss the issues in the Bill. A whole year would, therefore, be wasted if RTI Bill becomes a Dead Bill.

Although debate and discourse are ideal for a fruitful democracy, but it would be, therefore, wrong if the two Houses are entangled in constant disagreements all the time. It will only make law making process more cumbersome. If what NC recommends is rejected by NA, and vise versa, when will be able to enact laws?

The extreme positioning by the two Houses, with both towing the line of in the national interest, is only going to be a problem. Where do we build consensus? Should there be a mechanism where differences are sorted out even outside the Parliament? Or is it just about some sort of a power displaying game or a quest to exhibit the mightier of the two?

It would be wrong if NA rejecting recommendations from NC is a mere retaliation of NC having refused to take up or review Bills for deliberation. Similarly, it even applies to NC – it would be wrong if NC considers showing supremacy or authority the next time when the NA sends a bill for review.

It’s simply not a game of quid pro quo. The least NA and NC members should realize is look at the larger interest of the nation. They have been voted by the people; chosen hoping that they would strive for the interest of the people, their community and nation, and not to lock horns every time on trivial matter. Instead of serving the larger interest of the nation, their present doing is disservice to the nation.

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Filling the gaps

Do communication or coordination entail so much hard work? Instead it should be easier given the scale of the country and its demography. However, the contrary is true going by the events that have had transpired in the recent weeks.

There is no denying the dearth of communication today among different agencies of the legislative and executive. Some events, right from the beginning of the third session of the Second Parliament till now, exhibit that the vital aspect of communication is missing between National Assembly and Council, or even between agencies under the legislative and executive.pixxxxx

Recently, the National Assembly Speaker cancelled the question hour session, maintaining that questions were not received on time from the opposition party, while the latter justified that they were sent before 60 hours instead of the normal 48 hours. Instead arguments then followed on what each party viewed as normal working hours, thus depriving people of the answers to the questions they have asked through their representatives. Not so much so about the interpretation, it’s the people who have lost eventually.

However, such a situation could have been averted if the Lower House had corresponded or reminded the other party that the latter was due for submitting the questions. How much effort is even required to do so? Making a phone call or mailing a letter!

Similarly, the Council dropped deliberation on the Right to Information Bill this session, citing that the Department of Information and Media (DoIM) had failed to make presentation on the Bill despite requesting the ministry well before time.

While DoIM maintained that such request should be routed through the Cabinet Secretary based on a procedure established by the Committee of Secretaries, why should it take so long a time that the Prime Minister should intervene at the last moment? Whose fault is it?  Indubitably, it was a matter of procedure, but that could have been sorted out if there were effective communication between all these agencies and if they were serious about their responsibilities.

These events, therefore, all also indication of what His Majesty the King emphasized during the National Day celebration last year. His Majesty said it had become evident the country’s institutions, latterly were asserting independence and seeking greater autonomy at the expense of the overall harmony. “There is limited communication and coordination among agencies and this invariably leads to lack of coherence,” His Majesty had said.

It’s, therefore, time that we address these gaps or shortcomings that are prevalent today, sooner the better.