News Digest – Federalism (April 15-21, 2021)

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The Pokhara Metropolitan City organized the National Mayor Conference for the first time on April 13-14 and shared their experience and challenges through a-16 points Pokhara declaration among local representatives. More than 50 Mayors had participated in the conference and exchanged their last four years of experience among them. In the conference, the mayors claimed the federal and provincial governments have interfered in the local governments’ rights and have tried to keep limits.

Political ripple in the provincial level

With the signature of 41 Provincial Assembly members of Lumbini province from the opposition parties, Nepal Congress (NC) and Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) including the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Center) have registered a no-confidence motion against the Lumbini Pradesh Chief Minister (CM) Sankar Pokharel. The parties have proposed Maoist Center leader Kul Prasad KC as the new CM. CM Pokharel belongs to the CPM-UML of Prime Minister Oli’s faction. CM Pokharel appointed four MPs of JSP as ministers, however, the four ministers were signed against the CM. JSP suspended four ministers, who were appointed by CM Pokharel. 

On April 15, as many as 28 Provincial Assembly members of Gandaki Pradesh from the opposition parties, NC, CPN-MC, and the JSP, have submitted a letter to the Provincial Chief and demanded the special session. On 14 April, CM Priththvi Subba Gurung had abruptly ended the ongoing session of the assembly at midnight while the parties were preparing to register a no-confidence motion against him. After the pressure, the provincial chief has called the meeting for April 23.

On April 16, Chief Minister of Karnali Pradesh Mahendra Bahadur Shahi won the vote of confidence in the provincial assembly. As four Member of Parliaments (MPs) from CPN-UML—Ammar Bahadur Thap, Prakash Jwala, Kurmaraj Shahi, and Nanda Sigh Budha cross the floor during the voting. CM Shahi collected a total of 22 votes out of 37.  

Province 1 Speaker Pradeep Kumar Bhandari announced the end of the winter session (seventh session) from (April 18) Sunday midnight. On April 18, CM Sherdhan Rai did not participate in the assembly meeting due to objections from the opposition parties. The opposition parties have been obstructing the provincial assembly meeting time and again. The parties were demanding implementation of the provincial budget of the fiscal year 2020/21. 

Sudurpaschim Pradesh Speaker Arjun Bahadur Thapa announced the end of the winter session (seventh session) from April 20) Tuesday midnight. The provincial assembly had started the Seventh Session on February 8, 2020, and organized 31 meetings during the session. The assembly amended the Provincial Public Service Commission Act, 2076 and Provincial Economic Procedure Act, 2076, and passed the Nation Forest Act during the session.   

Development Issues 

As the recommendation of the National Natural Resource and Fiscal Commission (NNRFC), the federal government will transfer a fiscal equalization grant of Rs 152 billion to provincial and local governments in the upcoming fiscal year 2021/22.  Out of Rs 152 billion, the government has proposed Rs 57.95 billion for the seven provinces and Rs 94.55 billion for the local governments. The commission has made limited that each of the local governments receives a minimum of Rs 65 million fiscal equalization grant in the upcoming fiscal year. Similarly, the distribution of fiscal equalization is based on the Human Development Index, social-economic inequality, the situation of infrastructure development, revenue collection, and expenditure.

The Ministry of Urban Development has spent 39.6% of the capital budget (development budget) in nine months of the current fiscal year. Meanwhile, the ministry claimed that the capital expenditure would reach 90% by the end of the fiscal year. The revised budget of the ministry has Rs. 25.77 billion in the fiscal year. The ministry also informed the budget is the lowest compared to the program. 

Secretariat of Provincial Assembly of Province 2 called the meeting on April 22 to finalize its provincial name and capital city. Previously on 17th March 2020, Provincial Assembly had received four types of provincial names; Madhesh, Madhya-Mahdesh, Mithila-Bhojpura, and Janaki, and three for the capital cities. However, the provincial name and capital city were not finalized due to the lack of consensus among the parties. 

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