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Editorial: Parliament should not lose relevance

Editorial: Parliament should not lose relevance

Forming governments, formulating laws, overseeing parliamentary functions, conducting hearings and approving annual budgets are the main responsibilities of legislatures. While these functions collectively define the essence of parliamentary duties, the main responsibility remains the formulation of laws.  The winter session of parliament, also known as the bill session, is beginning on Feb 5. The track record of the previous session is not satisfactory when it comes to formulating laws. All the stakeholders, the government, parliament secretariat and political parties, therefore, must be serious about providing sufficient business to the house in this session.

The delay in endorsing crucial bills is impeding the functioning of the federal, provincial, and local governments. Of particular concern is the prolonged delay in endorsing the Amendments to Some Laws relating to AML and Business Promotion Bill which has been gathering dust in the Federal Parliament Secretariat for two years. The failure to promptly endorse this crucial bill is increasing the risk of Nepal being listed by the Financial Action Task Force as a jurisdiction with strategic AML/CFT deficiencies. Political parties must recognize the potential repercussions it could have on Nepal's global financial standing and correspondent banking relationships, and act swiftly to address these concerns. 

Equally pressing is the need for immediate endorsement of crucial bills such as the one related to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Although top party leaders have held numerous discussions on the Bill, key contentious issues still remain unresolved. Despite this, the government is preparing to endorse the bill during the winter session.  The Parliament is losing the trust of the people as it fails to perform its key tasks. The operational costs of Parliament are significant, but the performance of both Parliament and parliamentarians is disheartening. It is important for parliamentarians to collaborate with the government in ensuring the timely fulfillment of their legislative responsibilities. 

To expedite the law-making process, parliamentarians can collectively urge the government to provide the necessary business and work towards a consensus on key bills. The continued sluggish pace threatens to further diminish public faith in Parliament, especially at a time when there is growing discontent with the current constitution and political systems. The failure of Parliament to enact laws in a timely manner is affecting effective functioning of the federal system, thereby raising questions about the relevance of such structures. The government, major political parties, and lawmakers need to address the issue urgently because an ineffective Parliament means there will be more attacks on the system.