Pokhara conclave to mull key issuesIn a first, chief ministers have gathered in Pokhara to chart out common agendas for the upcoming Inter-state Council meeting scheduled on Sunday in Kathmandu. The two-day Chief Ministers’ Meeting convened by Gandaki Province Chief Minister Prithvi Subba Gurung will discuss the existing situation of their governments, problems they are facing and ways to resolve them.
In a first, chief ministers have gathered in Pokhara to chart out common agendas for the upcoming Inter-state Council meeting scheduled on Sunday in Kathmandu. The two-day Chief Ministers’ Meeting convened by Gandaki Province Chief Minister Prithvi Subba Gurung will discuss the existing situation of their governments, problems they are facing and ways to resolve them.
The meeting, according to Gurung was organised as the role of chief minister comes after the Prime Minister to address the issues while implementing the federalism as per the constitutional provision. He clarified that the gathering was not intended against anyone.
On Thursday, the majority of the chief ministers were critical of the federal government whom they charged of delaying power devolution to provincial governments, indifferent to their concerns especially on human resources, budget, and laws. The meeting is being attended by all chief ministers except Karnali Province Chief Minister Mahendra Bahadur Shahi.
They claimed that the provinces have failed to deliver to their people and make them feel the existence of separate government because the federal government could not manage human resources and clarify their jurisdiction by drafting necessary laws. “This has led to situation wherein we’ve not been able to send the message to the people that provincial government is at work despite being six months in power,” they said.
They clarified that their governments cannot deliver as expected unless civil servants, local administration, police are brought under the provincial governments.
Stating that they have failed to implement their budget, policy and programmes even six months after the formation of provincial governments, chief ministers asked the federal government to handover physical infrastructure and other properties besides forming the National Natural Resources and Financial Commission at the earliest.
“It’s obvious that questions would be raised against the federal government as the constitution has allocated all the rights to it including that of transition period, civil servants, managing resources, formation of police organisation and right to draft laws regarding the list of common rights,” said Gurung, adding that federalism would fail if provincial governments could not become effective.
“Since the provincial governments would be responsible for the failure of federal system, we have taken the initiative to organise the gathering and play constructive role,” Gurung said.
Province 3 Chief Minister Dormani Poudel said that provincial governments could not let the people feel the change as the authority is still with Baluwatar, Singha Durbar and federal ministers.
“Provinces have brought the budget, but there is no mechanism to implement. Old structures have been removed. The presence of provincial government cannot be felt at all the districts,” said Poudel.
Province 2 Chief Minister Lal Babu Raut stressed on cooperation, coordination and co-existence of three-tier government. Raut claimed that the prime minister had promised to address their woes, but he did not. He expressed discontent over the discriminatory distribution of resources and federal government still holding the larger projects of the provinces.
“Though province’s law and order comes under state government’s jurisdiction, we’ve not been able to form the provincial police,” said Raut.
Referring to an incident of Nepal Rastra Bank’s Janakpur office not honouring a holiday announced by Province 2 government, Raut said, “Provincial government announced holiday, but agencies under federal government do not follow it. Who will take responsibility of this fiasco, Chief District Officer, provincial government or federal government?”
Province 1 CM Sherdhan Rai warned that questions have been raised on the significance of provinces as they failed to gain momentum on their tasks.
Explaining the sufferings of the provinces, he said it was painful as the centre has been reluctant to handover resources while civil servants are guided by centralised mentality.
Defending the central government, a close aide of Prime Minister Oli and CM of Province 5 Shankar Pokhrel said provinces are reeling under the problems due to the lack of constitutional commissions as per the provincial structures.
He was of the view that the federal government should put in place a high-level committee to implement the federalism and laws for the cooperation between different governments should be drafted instead of holding
the meeting of Inter-state Council only.
Pokhrel demanded that the laws to clarify the rights, which are listed in the common rights of two or more governments, be drafted at the earliest.
The Province 5 chief minister also demanded ease in the process of seeking federal government’s permission to receive foreign investment.
“It’s a serious issue. What shall we do if the central government refused to accept when we begin the process after seeking foreign investment ?” he said.