Coronavirus | Venkaiah Naidu defers decision on parliamentary panels’ meetings via videoconference

Venkaiah Naidu

Venkaiah Naidu  

Several Opposition members have made the demand to oversee govt handling of COVID-19 pandemic and the adverse economic fallout

Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu has deferred a decision on allowing parliamentary panels to hold a meeting via videoconference.

Also read: Coronavirus | Next session of Parliament depends on ground situation, says Venkaiah Naidu

Several Opposition members have asked both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha Secretariats to find a way to hold meetings of the parliamentary panels to oversee the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the adverse economic fallout.

In his first meeting with the House Secretariat officials since the lockdown began on March 25, Mr. Naidu, according to sources, observed that there was need for undivided focus of the Executive on containing COVID-19 and a view on holding meetings of the Department Related Standing Committees and other Committees of the House would be taken later.

Chairman of Parliamentary Panel on Home Affairs Anand Sharma had written to Mr. Naidu asking him to reconsider his decision on allowing the panels to hold a meeting via videoconference. The meeting of his panel, scheduled on April 28, had to be cancelled after the Secretariat declined permission.

Congress leader and head of the Standing committee on Information and Technology Shashi Tharoor had also approached Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla seeking permission to hold a meeting. After initially agreeing, the Lok Sabha Secretariat balked and told Mr. Tharoor that the necessary rules have not been amended to allow the use of videoconference for such meetings.

In Monday’s meeting Mr. Naidu also asked the Secretariat to reduce the expenditure with decline in government revenues and the economic slowdown due to COVID-19. So far, the Secretariat has decided to cut a budget of Rs. 80 crore out of its annual budget of Rs. 423 crore.

A host of austerity measures were approved during the meeting, including deferring the purchase of vehicles, keeping on hold international travel and training of officials, reducingd study visits by committees, putting on hold fellowships and internships under the Rajya Sabha Research Scheme, not undertaking fresh recruitment for this financial year and increasing the use of e-office to save on stationary.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 12:36:30 PM |

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