House of Representatives' Finance Committee Draws Criticism for Pre-Budget Talks with NGO

House of Representatives' Finance Committee Draws Criticism for Pre-Budget Talks with NGO

The Finance Committee in the House of Representatives is conducting simultaneous pre-budget talks with the assistance of a non-governmental organization (NGO) named NDI, even though both chambers of the Federal Parliament have already concluded the formal pre-budget discussions during the winter session.

The committee held a two-day residential program at the Mystic Mountain Hotel in Nagarkot, Bhaktapur, on 5th and 6thof May, where they discussed the pre-budget process, importance, and preparation of survey questionnaires with the involvement of experts and NGO representatives.

This move has drawn criticism from committee member Gyan Bahadur Shahi, who objected to the committee holding meetings in hotels with the assistance of donor agencies. Shahi argued that it is inappropriate for the sovereign Parliament to allow NGOs to participate in policymaking processes, as it undermines the authority of the Members of Parliament.

Despite the completion of the official pre-budget discussions by both Houses during the winter session, the Finance Committee has scheduled two more pre-budget discussion programs on 8th and 9th of May at Hotel Himalayan and Hotel Solti, respectively, with the continued support of the same NGO.

The Parliament Secretariat, however, remains unaware of these parallel programs being conducted by the Finance Committee. Spokesperson Ekram Giri confirmed that the pre-budget discussions were concluded during the previous session, and the related reports have been sent to the relevant agencies, including the Ministry of Finance.

While the Federal Parliament Operating Rules require prior approval from the Speaker for committee meetings held outside the Parliament building, the Secretariat seems to be unaware of the Finance Committee's hotel programs.

Rekha Upadhyay (Khanal), the Secretary of the Finance Committee, defended the committee's actions, stating that it is a continuation of their past practice of conducting such discussions and submitting reports to the government.

The Parliament Secretariat allocates a fixed budget for pre-budget discussions annually, but committees have been taking the assistance of NGOs in these discussions, raising concerns about the potential influence of non-governmental entities on sovereign policymaking processes.

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