News Digest: Federal Affairs (July 29 – August 4, 2021)

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Provincial politics

On August 1, as many as 41 lawmakers of the main opposition parties—Nepali Congress (NC), Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Center (MC), and Janata Samajwadi Party-Nepal (JSP) in Lumbini Pradesh have handed over signatures to the State Chief, demanding Chief Minister (CM) Shankar Pokharel’s resignation. CM Pokharel is in the minority, the opposition says. Now Lumbini has 80 lawmakers out of 87 – the remaining seven were taken action against by the parties or resigned themselves. After receiving signatures, the State Chief Amik Sherchan said that he would talk with CM Pokharel about the new government.

On August 2, four Karnali Assembly lawmakers of CPN-UML lost their assembly seats to the Supreme Court’s interim order. The four lawmakers — Prakash Jwala, Amar Bahadur Thapa, Nanda Singh Budha, and Kurmaraj Shahi had crossed the floor during the vote of trust sought by CM Mahendra Bahadur Shahi. The Apex Court had passed the interim order to save their seats against his writ. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court quashed the apex court’s interim order and dismissed the post in response to a writ petition filed by the UML President KP Sharma Oli. 

Economy and Development 

As per the Intergovernmental Fiscal Arrangement 2017, the local government has to pass their annual budget within Asadh 10 of the Nepali calendar (June 10). However, 51 local governments have not been able to pass their annual budget so far for the current FY 2021/22. Similarly, 36 out of 51 have not even passed the budget from their village assembly and the municipal assembly. Reportedly, 32 locals in Province 2, six locals in Province 1, four locals in Karnali, and three locals each from provinces—Bagmati, Lumbini, and Sudhurpaschim have not unveiled the budget while all local governments from Gandaki Pradesh have already passed the budget.

According to the District Treasury Comptroller Office (DTCO), more than NPR 1.69 billion capital budget has been frozen in district levels in the last FY 2020/21. Reportedly, more than 1.15 (19.29%) billion of provincial governments’ development budget and 540 (24.45) million of the federal government’s development budget has been frozen by districts.

Under the government’s vision of ensuring high-speed broadband internet connection service, 663 (94.44) locals have got internet access as of mid-July (end of FY 2020/21). The total cost of this project is NPR 5.269 billion while being able to spend NPR 3.388 billion so far. The Nepal Telecommunications Authority is operating this project with the financial support of the Rural Telecommunication Development Fund.

COVID-19 Response 

The Ministry of Social Development of Bagmati Province has pushed the large oxygen plant connection program over the province’s districts. Under the program, the ministry set up eight oxygen plants over districts targeted to control the possible third variants of Coronavirus. Previously, the ministry has already set up oxygen plants and, now preparing to set up in eight districts.

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