Inter State Council meeting to discuss provincial issuesThe first ever meeting of the Inter State Council will mull contentious issues that provincial governments have often raised in the recent past.
Published at : December 6, 2018
Updated at : December 6, 2018 11:35
The first ever meeting of the Inter State Council will mull contentious issues that provincial governments have often raised in the recent past. Prime Minister’s Office Secretary Laxman Prasad Mainali on Wednesday said, “The meeting will dwell on all issues the provinces have raised, and therefore, the PMO has not listed specific agenda. Still, we are expecting to receive the prime minister’s approval for priority topics for Sunday’s meeting.”
All ministers, state ministers, secretaries, vice-chairman of National Planning Commission, would attend the first meeting of the council besides the prime minister and chief secretary from federal government while chief ministers and provincial chief secretaries would represent the provinces.
During the meeting of secretaries on November 30, Chief Secretary Lokdarshan Regmi had directed all secretaries to present the status of the authorities devolved by their respective ministries to the provinces up to last Tuesday including budget, organisational structures, human resources, projects, infrastructure development and devolution of power.
Currently all seven provincial governments have taken turns to accuse the federal government—especially the prime minister—for being ‘reluctant’ to devolve their rightful constitutional power. In response, the federal government urged them to wait until all necessary legal and infrastructural frameworks are established.
The chief ministers have a long list of grievances to present to the prime minister.
The major concerns of the provinces include clarity on jurisdictions of the three-tier governments. They want this resolved immediately by drafting a law. Their other complaints include a meagre budget for developmental works; central government not handing over infrastructures, properties and documents to provincial governments, and lack of cordial relationship and co-operations between the three tiers of governments.
Some chief ministers have stopped ranting on the unsupportive attitude of Kathmandu. They fear it would further irk the prime minister who had postponed the inter-state council meeting scheduled for September 9 initially. The meeting was cancelled abruptly at the last moment after the Chief Ministers’ Conclave in Pokhara upset the prime minister.
On October 28, the Cabinet issued an executive order allowing the provinces to deploy and transfer police personnel up to sub-inspector level within their respective territories until the necessary federal police act and federal public service commission act were established. However, the order failed to appease the provinces.
The two-day conclave of six chief ministers held on September 7 in Pokhara had issued a nine-point common understanding plan stressing on the need to devolve legislative, financial and administrative powers and formation of a high-level body chaired by the prime minister to effectively implement federalism. The chief ministers were keen for a permanent secretariat of the Inter-state Council that could work as a bridge between federal and provincial governments.
The Pokhara Conclave had urged the centre to make the district administration offices accountable to their respective provincial governments, as the tasks related to issuing citizenship certificates and passports, and border security were under the jurisdiction of chief district officers.
They demanded a system for sharing revenue based on equitable principle, whereby 40 percent of the national resources go to federal government and 60 percent to the provinces and local levels.
Article 234 of the constitution proposes an inter-state council to settle political disputes between federal government and the state government and between the provinces.
“It is true Kathmandu has been slow in devolving power to the provinces, but the newly elected provincial governments also demanded more than what they are actually entitled to,” commented a joint secretary at the PMO. He concluded with the scathing remark, “the centre lacks experience to deal with the provinces”.