KATHMANDU, Nov 9: Even three weeks after the term of parliament expired, some senior lawmakers including the speaker and deputy speaker of the parliament have remained reluctant to return the government vehicles they were using to the parliament secretariat.
According to sources, outgoing speaker Onsari Gharti hasn't returned the three vehicles provided to her in the capacity of speaker and she also hasn't vacated the her official residence at Baluwatar. Her aides said that she is yet to shift to her residence as repair work is underway.
The parliamentary term ended on October 28. Many chief whips and chairpersons of parliamentary committees returned the government vehicles immediately after their tenure expired.
But Speaker Gharti herself is still dilly-dallying over returning her three government vehicles. Asked about the delay, Gharti claimed that she had already decided to return them, but they are on her premises just for parking due to lack of safe parking space at the parliament secretariat. “I returned two vehicles immediately after the tenure of parliament ended and I am using one of them in my capacity of former speaker,” Gharti told Republica. “But the returned vehicles are still being parked at my residence just because of unavailability of proper parking space with a roof.”
But according to sources, Gharti has not returned the keys and other documents of the vehicles so far.
Also, former speakers Ram Chandra Paudel and Subas Nembang are still enjoying the use of vehicles from the parliament secretariat. There is no legal ground for providing vehicles to former speakers. “There is a practice at the parliament secretariat of providing vehicles to former speakers, so I have decided to continue using one,” Gharti said. The KP Oli-led government had decided to provide a vehicle to former chairman of the Constituent Assembly (CA) Nembang two years ago.
Also former deputy speaker Ganga Prasad Yadav hasn't returned a vehicle provided him by the parliament secretariat. “Out of three vehicles provided by parliament he has already returned two,” said his aide Sambhu Ghimire. He said that Yadav has already left the official residence and shifted to his personal residence in Saptari.
According to parliament secretariat sources, Nepali Congress (NC) lawmakers Bhisma Raj Angdembe and Yogendra Chaudhary, Sita Nepali of CPN (Maoist Center) and Sushil Kumar Shrestha and Kunti Shahi of Rastriya Prajatantra Party have been using government vehicles for three weeks even after expiry of their tenures.
Asked about not returning the government vehicle, Chairman of the Commerce and Consumer Rights Committee Angdembe said that he is in Panchthar for election campaigning since the last two weeks. “I left for my district asking my driver to return the vehicle. I thought he did so because no one has followed up with me asking for it so far. I am not using it now,” he claimed. Angdembe is a candidate for parliament from Panchthar district.
Though the Bijay Gachchhadar-led Nepal Loktantrik Forum (NLF) merged with NC last month, chief whip of the dissolved party Yogendra Chaudhary is still using the vehicle provided by the parliament secretariat..
Maoist Whip Sita Nepali is also using a government vehicle.
RPP Chief Whip Kunti Shahi has informed the parliament secretariat that she will return her vehicle by coming Sunday. Another RPP lawmaker, Sushil Kumar Shrestha, has not returned the government vehicle provided to him in his capacity of Chairman of parliament's Social Justice and Human Rights Committee.
Chief Whips of NC, CPN-UML, Maoist, Federal Socialist Forum Nepal and Rastriya Janata Party Nepal, Whips of NC and UML, and most of the committee members have already returned the government vehicles provided to them.
Sources at the parliament secretariat said that the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers is dilly-dallying over returning a Scorpio Jeep with registration number Ba 1 Jha 8504 even after repeated requests. With vehicles used by lawmakers being returned, some ministers have been pressing the parliament secretariat to provide those to their secretaries and aides, claimed a senior official at the secretariat.
The parliament secretariat has 109 vehicles, 80 of them 80 in working condition.