The Sudurpaschim Province Assembly members (parliamentarians) have pledged to further adopt and improve open parliamentary practices in cahoots with other stakeholders.

They expressed the commitment to apply the open parliament knowledge to leverage their existing practices and bring further innovations to make people’s representatives accountable and parliament activities more transparent.

At a collaborative dialogue ‘Open Parliament: Concepts and Practices’ organized by Freedom Forum with support from Parliament Support Programme/UNDP at Dhangadhi on September 4, Speaker of the Sudurpaschim Province Assembly Arjun Bahadur Thapa said the event has sensitized the provincial assembly members and broadened the ways of thinking on advancing transparency practices.

Sharing the best practices the province assembly has adopted in a short span of time, the parliamentary authorities have pledged to gradually collaborate with diverse actors and stakeholders including government, media, CSOs and citizens for open parliament and parliamentary reforms.

“Such discussions elevate our thinking and awareness level. We are open for discussion and improvements in practice”, he said, adding the province assembly was adopting measures to institutionalize openness.

The concerned thematic committees of the province assembly have the authority to independently discuss and endorse the bills on their own. “It is one of the best practices which do not have dual structure of legislative committee and thematic committee”. The general practice is it that the legislative committee has the authority to discuss and encores the bills of any subject before sending them to the full house. “It also enables environment for assembly members to discuss and pass the concerned bill in their committee. If the bills of the committee are sent to the legislative committee of the assembly, it shrinks the legislative function of the lawmaker”, he added.

The province assembly is also holding consultations with different actors and stakeholders in the run-up to the framing of laws as per the need, Thapa asserted. He also urged the Civil Society Organizations to remain watchful of the public affairs taking place in the province.

Deputy Speaker Nirmala Badal Joshi said the evolving new mechanism of province assembly is yet to learn many things so such discussion will enable environment for this. “All parliamentarians are not perfect so we should improve our practice and capacity of assembly members”.

Public Accounts Committee President of the Sudurpaschim Province Kumari Nanda Bam however called for adequate consultation and discussion with concerned actors and stakeholders while formulating laws. She pledged to reach out to the general public with the issues of public accounts and finances by upholding the values and principles of open parliament.

“It is intended to improve the performance of PAC to strengthen government accountability and giove people a feeling of good governance”, she added.

Also speaking on the occasion, journalists and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have urged the authorities to facilitate their easy access to assembly deliberations for reporting and observation.

Acknowledging the concept of trust, co-creation and collaboration of the open parliament and open government the assembly authorities have called on different stakeholders to come up with innovative proposals of collaboration for parliamentary reforms.

Among other lawmakers expressing their views on the occasion were Harka Bahadur Kunwar, Akkal Bahadur Rawal, Mahesh Dutta Joshi, Krishna Chaudhary, Nepalu Chaudhary, Devraj Pathak and Govinda Kunwar.

Senior journalists and CSo representatives including Umid Bagchand, Manmohan Swar, Chitrang Thapa, Min Bam, Uttam Joshi, Arjun Shah, Karna Shah and Thakur Kariyapradhan also underlined the need for adhering open parliament principles and practices in effectively carrying out law-making, representation and oversight functions.

Freedom Forum Executive Chief Taranath Dahal and Policy Adviser Krishna Sapkota had delivered their presentations on the concepts and practices of open parliament and open government, respectively.