Local Level Operation Act: Government agencies spar over rightsAs the federal government works on amending the Local Level Operation Act, differences have appeared between the federal government agencies and the local levels.
As the federal government works on amending the Local Level Operation Act, differences have appeared between the federal government agencies and the local levels.
While agencies under the federal government aim to take back the number of rights enjoyed by the local governments, the local governments want additional rights as per the recommendations they made to the taskforce.
The Local Level Operation Act defines the functions of the local government, and operational procedures.
In a bid to address the practical difficulties to carry out various activities, the central government has formed a taskforce headed by Roop Narayan Bhattarai, joint secretary at the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration. It will prepare a draft of the amendment bill after discussions with the concerned parties.
For example, Industrial Districts Management Limited (IDML), a body under the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supply has demanded that law be amended in a way that no house rent tax would be applied to the house and lands rented by the IDBL.
It seeks amendment to law so that the local government does not impose integrated property tax on industries operated within the industrial estates. As per the current law, local governments enjoy both rights.
The National Association of Rural Municipalities in Nepal President Hom Narayan Shrestha said such a proposal is against the constitution. “Any proposal that goes against the constitution should not be entertained,” he told the Post.
The association seeks changes in number of provisions of the law that it says is against the spirit of the constitution.
For example, the current Act states that local taxes including property tax, house rent tax, land registration fee, vehicle tax, service fee, advertisement tax, and entertainment tax and land revenue are based on federal and provincial laws.
“As the constitution does not mention the controlling role of federal and provincial governments, local government should raise these taxes on their own,” said Shrestha.
Local governments are also not happy with the current provision of the Local Level Operation Act that does not have provision on bringing secondary education
under the purview of the local governments.
As per the constitution, basic and secondary education comes under local governments’ control. Therefore, the rural municipalities association seeks inclusion of secondary education in the law.
In its amendment proposal, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has not listed any proposal to put secondary education under local government. Instead, the Council of Technical Education and Vocational Training under the ministry, seeks scrapping of the current provision that permits local government to plan, operate and monitor such education.
The constitution does not mention which layer of the government should handle technical and vocational education.
Education Ministry Secretary Khagraj Baral told the Post, the ministry prefers provincial governments manage technical education. The reason being local governments do not have resources and expertise to handle it.
The education ministry also seeks amendment that would allow it to prepare national standards on education.
Since local governments handle education up to secondary level, the foreign education board may not accredit certificates issued by the local levels. This would create problems for Nepali students to study abroad, according to the government officials.
“We are discussing the probability of making a provision in the law where the federal government agency will conduct exams and issue certificates while all other work would be done by the local government,” a member of the taskforce said.
Local governments do not have any complaint on working under the national standard set by the federal government, but they insist that such standards should not infringe upon the jurisdiction of local governments.
There is duplication of work between federal and local governments regarding the registration of institutions including that of non-government organisations (NGOs).
The constitution and the law allow local governments to register and monitor them. Nevertheless, as per the Organisation Registration Act, the NGOs are registered at the District Administration Office. This law continues to exist even now.
“Amending the law would give complete authority to local government while Institution Registration Act will be scrapped through the process of Some Act Scrapping Provision,” said the taskforce member.