News Digest: Federal Affairs (May 13-19)

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Economic and Development 

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) the economic growth rate of all seven provincial governments across the country is above 3.5% in the current fiscal year 2020/21. While CBS had projected to 4.01%. Reportedly, Bagmati Pradesh achieved the highest economic growth rate by 4.7% among the seven provinces. Similarly, Karnali’s economic growth rate is 3.9%, 3.6% of each Province 1, Lumbini, and Karnali Pradesh, and 3.5% of Province 2 and Sudurpaschim Pradesh. Similarly, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Bagmati Pradesh is 37.7% (1.67 trillion) as the highest among seven provinces while Karnali has the lowest GDP by 4% (172 billion) only.

According to the Financial Comptroller General Office (FCGO), the government was able to spend only 35.64% (125.77 billion) of capital expenditure (Development budget) and 66.41% (630.21 billion) of recurrent budget in the first 10 months of the current fiscal year 2020/21, which is only 35.64% of the target capital budget. With just two months left for the fiscal year to end, the government has managed to spend only 55.93% of the total budget.

Karnali Pradesh is preparing its policies and programs for the upcoming fiscal year 2021/22. Through the virtual media, the Karnali Province Planning Commission has received suggestions with experts and concerned bodies related to the policies and programs. Meanwhile, the commission received a suggestion for emphasizing the budget in the health (Coronavirus control), agriculture, education, and infrastructure development related sectors. Furthermore, Karnali is preparing to bring Rs. 30 billion budgets in the upcoming fiscal year. Similarly, Sudurpaschim Pradesh has also estimated to bring Rs 28 billion budget in the upcoming fiscal year 2021/22.

According to the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration (MOFAGA), eight local governments (5 municipalities and 3 rural municipalities) in Province 2 have not brought the budget so far of the current fiscal year 2020/21. However, only two months left for the fiscal year to end.

According to the Nepal Rastra Bank, the commercial bank has set up its branches in 750 local governments so far. Now, only the branches are left to open in three local governments—Rubi Valley Rural Municipality of Dhading, Chunidevi Rural municipality of Jajarkot, and Kanda Rural Municipality of Bajhang. The government has plans to provide financial service and access to all local levels.

Response in COVID-19 

Finance Minister Bishnu Prasad Paudel has informed that the government will emphasize the next year’s maximum budget for fighting with the Coronavirus. Now, Minister Poudel has approved Rs 50.832 million budget to set up oxygen plants in Dadeldhura Hospital, Patan Hospital of Kathmandu, and Bheri Hospital of Nepalgunj.

At the Shankar Oxygen Gas Industry in Balaju Industrial Area, a general public is taking the tank to the hospital after filling them with oxygen. Photo: RSS

On 16 May, in a virtual discussion program on COVID-19 prevention, control, and treatment with Chief District Officer, District Coordination Committee, and Chief of local governments, the Bagmati Pradesh Chief Minister Dormani Paudel directed the concerned bodies to set up oxygen plants in all 13 districts over the province.

On May 16, the cabinet meeting of Karnali Pradesh allocated Rs 138 million budget for the control of the Coronavirus. The government is also preparing to set up an oxygen plant in the Surkhet district.

Nepal Medical Association set up a 100-bed quarantine center in Kathmandu to control the Coronavirus pandemic.

10 Palikas (municipalities and rural municipalities) of Makawanpur have set up isolation centers with an oxygen supply system.

Administrative Issues

Lumbini Provincial Chief Dharma Nath Yadav sent a letter to the provincial speaker and mentioned that the opposition parties cannot file a no-confidence motion against Chief Minister Shankar Pokharel for one year. The four opposition parties—Nepali Congress, CPN-MC (Maoist Center), Janata Samajbadi Party Nepal, and Rashtriya Janamorcha Party are demanding the special session to table the no-confidence motion against CM Pokharel. But Governor Yadav said the opposition parties cannot file the motion against CM Pokharel within a year as per Article 188 (4) of the Constitution. 

On May 16, Karnali Chief Minister Mahendra Bahadur Shahi reshuffled his cabinet.

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