Ending the decades-long practice of spending millions of rupees from the state coffers on treatment of political leaders at foreign health facilities, Parliament on Friday endorsed a law with a provision to stop such funding in the future.
The Public Health Bill comes into effect once President Bidya Devi Bhandari authenticates it ahead of the September 18 constitutional deadline for endorsing it.
The bar on state funding was incorporated in the draft bill at the Parliamentary Committee on Education and Health on Thursday following an amendment registered by Nepali Congress leader Gagan Thapa and Nepal Communist Party leader Khaga Raj Adhikari.
The House committee on Friday forwarded the bill to the federal parliament, where it was endorsed by both the Houses unanimously.
The bill clearly says the government will not bear any expenses for medical treatment of any individual abroad. The Nepal government, once the Act comes into effect, will not be allowed to release funds for government officials, political leaders or retired VIPs in the name of medical care in other parts of the world.
Until now, the government has been providing millions of rupees annually for both sitting and retired presidents, prime ministers, ministers, officials and other eminent personalities for their treatment abroad.
“The Act aims at transforming the health sector while also managing and regulating the health institutions operated by the government, cooperatives and private sectors,” Minister for Health and Population Upendra Yadav said while tabling the bill for endorsement.
Thapa and Adhikari pressed for the provision arguing that it will help improve the country’s health care system while also saving millions of rupees spent abroad for the purpose. During his tenure as the health minister two years ago, Thapa had come up with a directive to check such expenses but it was not implemented.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, former president Ram Baran Yadav, former PM Sushil Koirala are the top recipients of government support for treatment abroad. Former minister Chakra Prasad Bastola, Sujata Koirala, and former justice Ram Kumar Prasad Sah also received millions of rupees from public coffers for care at foreign health facilities.
Drain on the exchequer
Late Sushil Koirala (former NC chief and ex-PM) Rs19.18 million
KP Sharma Oli (PM) Rs12.63 million
Aditya Dahal (known as Google Boy) Rs10.91 million
Ram Baran Yadav (former president) Rs6 million
Ramkumar Prasad Sah (former justice) Rs5.03 million
Chakra Prasad Bastola (former minister) Rs5 million
Late Ramnath Dhakal (lawmaker) Rs3.21 million
Along with the Public Health Bill, the federal parliament on Friday also endorsed six other bills necessary for implementing the fundamental rights of citizens guaranteed by the Constitution of Nepal. The endorsed bills are on:
Safe motherhood and reproductive health
Right to employment
Consumer rights protection
Right to residence
Related to land