Sponsored lunch served at a Parliamentary Committee Meeting, MPs voiced alarm

Kathmandu: On Sunday morning, an odd incident occurred in the State Affairs and Good Governance Committee meeting room. The main item on the agenda for the 8:00 a.m. meeting was a "Discussion on the proposed Federal Civil Service Bill." But when the politicians arrived, they were taken aback by an unusual arrangement. Cutlery, specialty snacks, and napkins were put on the table in a restaurant-style configuration.

Home Minister Rabi Lamichhane showed up on time for the session. Pilot pens and diaries were handed to the MPs as they entered the room. Parliamentarians were reportedly surprised by the lunch-like setup, which included napkins, silverware, and spoons.

"What is happening here?" the MPs enquired. In a lighthearted reply, Committee Chairman Ramhari Khatiwada said, "Special arrangements have been made as the meeting today is being attended by the Honorable Home Minister."

Though the incident appeared lighthearted, Congress MP Hridayram Thani voiced alarm, saying it was a serious subject. He pointed out that these kinds of lunch arrangements were unusual and would create an unfavorable precedent.

Hridayram Thani, Ishwari Neupane, Sarita Prasain, and RSP MP Chanda Karki, among other MPs, inquired about the lunch served before the committee.

Home Minister Lamichhane then requested clarification from Chairman Khatiwada. Explaining that the lunch was planned internally, Khatiwada gave the marshals instructions to keep the committee's working room doors closed during lunch.

MPs vehemently opposed, not happy with the special lunch arrangement. Committee member Suraj Dura revealed that the lunch had been sponsored in the midst of the issue. Next, lawmakers inquired about the sponsor.  Amidst the commotion surrounding the lunch, an NGO official got up to meet everyone. He clarified that the meal was sponsored by his organization. He proposed having lunch in legislative committees and conducting conversations there rather than in hotels. Home Minister Lamichhane proposed holding programs in parliamentary committees rather than hotels and questioned why a lunch arrangement was required.

Questions were raised concerning the committee's style of debate regarding state laws following the lunch dispute. Minister Lamichhane made his way out of the committee chamber and into the ministry.

Afterwards, several Members of Parliament expressed similar displeasure with the committee's operations and declared their decision to boycott the meeting.

Ministers and Members of Parliament boycotted the committee meeting citing concerns over the lunch arrangement, and it was adjourned as a result. Committee Secretary Suraj Dura stated that although the committee was responsible for the meeting's organizing, population and development-focused NGO named LXPTD had supplied logistical support.

The MPs asked that outside parties refrain from participating in committee meetings and recommended that, in the event that lunch was given, the Nepalese government provide funding for it through the minister of finance. As a result, the meeting scheduled for today was postponed.

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