In a path-breaking measure to improve its functioning, the A.P. Legislature has decided to usher in the system existing in Parliament of constituting Standing Committees for a thorough debate of different issues before they are placed in the Houses for further consideration.
Initially, two Standing Committees will be constituted, one to deal with Government Bills and the other with the annual budget. They will be extended to other departments and subjects, once members are convinced about the efficacy of the new system.
The ball was set rolling by the Rules Committee at a meeting chaired by the Assembly Speaker Nadendla Manohar and Council chairman A. Chakrapani here on Monday. It was attended by Minister for Legislative Affairs D. Sridhar Babu, Finance Minister A. Ramanarayana Reddy and representatives of all political parties. Members of the Rules Committee were unanimous in their view on the need to constitute Standing Committees since political debates were taking precedence over other agenda and there was virtually no debate on the budgetary demands of various departments since the past few years.
Mr. Manohar sought to allay apprehensions that the committees would overshadow the functioning of the Legislature. Describing it as “a misplaced conception”, he said they would, in fact, enhance the image of the Houses by ensuring a meaningful debate on major issues.
“This is a historic step and the panels will ensure transparency and accountability in the functioning of the House. The guidelines will be finalised soon and, hopefully, the standing committees will become a reality by the winter session,” he added.
It will be preceded by training of the staff in Parliament and orientation to the members. About 15 research officers would be recruited to assist the members in studying key areas of public interest as “we cannot expect the members to be experts in all subjects,” the Speaker added.
Members of the TDP and other Opposition parties favoured standing panels on the lines of those in Parliament, unlike those in vogue in States like Kerala where the Ministers concerned were heading them. R. Ravula Chandrasekhar Reddy (TDP), however, cautioned against reducing the duration of the regular sessions in the name of the committees.