The main opposition Nepali Congress party on Monday obstructed four consecutive meetings of the Legislature Parliament, demanding probe into leaking of vital facts and figures of budget to media before the fiscal budget was presented in the House by Finance Minister Bishnu Paudel on Saturday.
Attempts of Speaker Onsari Gharti Magar to forge consensus between the ruling parties and the main opposition party failed, as the CPN-UML refused any probe into the leaks, while NC stuck to its demand, according to Speaker’s Press Adviser Babin Sharma.
The Speaker held four House meetings at an interval of half an hour to one hour, holding informal meetings with leaders of parties during the intervals. She postponed the House meeting till 11:00am tomorrow after her attempts to forge consensus failed.
During informal meetings, the NC proposed to form a parliamentary probe panel to investigate the leaks while the UML pleaded to let the House run after finance minister’s clarification on the leaks, said NC Chief Whip Chin Kaji Shrestha.
Before obstructing the House, NC lawmakers recalled the leaking of vital information of fiscal budget 2011/12 when CPN-UML’s Bharat Mohan Adhikari was finance minister.
As soon as the Speaker began the meeting, the NC leaders demanded special time to speak. After the Speaker provided time to NC leader and former finance minister Ram Sharan Mahat to speak, he showed the newspaper that published the facts and figures of the budget before it was presented in the Parliament.
He said the Parliament had the prerogative of knowing the budget first and the leaks damaged the established norms and values of the parliamentary system.
The disclosure of the budget before presenting it in the Parliament affected several business transactions, including insurance business, said Mahat.
He added that the Parliament had formed a special parliamentary panel to probe into the leaks in 2011. In the second meeting, NC leader Ramesh Lekhak said the leaking of vital information of the budget should be taken seriously.
He said the House would not function until the probe panel was formed. “The probe panel formed in 2011 had stated that the leaks were serious and the government should ensure that they did not occur in future.
However, by coincidence the leaks occurred when the same party led the finance ministry,” Lekhak said.
NC leader and former finance minister Mahesh Acharya said during the third meeting, “All parties should be serious about the leaks, as it may cause serious consequence even in future. All parties should help maintain the dignity of the Parliament.”
In the fourth meeting, NC lawmaker Ishwori Neupane recalled how the then finance minister had to resign after the budget was leaked just 20 minutes before it was presented in the Parliament of United Kingdom.