November Analysis: Federal Affairs

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Federal and provincial government’s functioning has been compromised by the long shadow of political turmoil. The opposition to the previous KP Oli government, Nepali Congress, is now the main party, but there is no sign of calm as the party is busy with the distribution of power-sharing. The politics brought forth by the party split changed the federal governance, including six provinces except that of Province 2. The political parties’ obstruction has affected the federal and provincial arrangement, inciting blame-game between ruling and opposition parties.

Timeline of major events

DateEvents
1 NovemberProvince 1 Chief Minister (CM) Bhim Acharya resigned from his post.
1 NovemberKarnali Province CM Mahendra Bahadur Shahi resigned from his post.
2 NovemberCPN (Unified Socialist) leader Rajendra Rai was appointed as CM of Province 1.
2 NovemberNepali Congress (NC) leader Jeevan Bahadur Shahi was appointed as CM of Karnali Province.
8 NovemberCM of Bagmati Province Rajendra Pandey won the vote of confidence in the provincial assembly.
9 NovemberThe Federal Cabinet meeting changed the three provincial chiefs of Provinces 1, Karnali, and Sudurpaschim.
10 NovemberProvince 2 Chief Harisankar Mishra issued two ordinances related to the establishment of a Provincial Technical University and Provincial Agriculture Technical University.
16 NovemberProvince 2 CM Lal Babu Raut dismissed the Minister for Industry, Tourism, Forest and Environment, Ram Naresh Raye.
17 NovemberProvince 1 CM Rajendra Rai won the vote of confidence in the provincial assembly.
17 NovemberLumbini Province Chief Amik Sherchan ended the ninth assembly session at midnight without a decision.
21 NovemberTwo members of the CPN (Unified Socialist) joined the cabinet of Province 2 government.

 

Center Politics Makes an Impact on the Provincial Government

Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML)-led by KP Sharma Oli’s four close Chief Ministers in Provinces 1, Bagmati, Gandaki, and Lumbini were stripped of their posts. On November 1, Chief Minister of Province 1, Bhim Acharya resigned after only 68 days of administration. CM Acharya had replaced Sherdhan Rai to save the CPN-UML government in Province 1. However, Acharya obliged to resign as he had been pushed into the minority after senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal withdrew from CPN-UML and formed (Unified Socialist) CPN-US. After Acharya’s resignation, Rajendra Rai, now a CPN-US leader, was again appointed as CM. He won the vote of confidence in the provincial assembly on November 17.

Similarly, on November 8 Rajendra Pandey, who was appointed as the CM of Bagmati Province on October 28, also won the vote of confidence. Pandey had replaced Asta Laxmi Shakya, who was obliged to resign after the split of the CPN-UML government. Rajendra Pandey is expected to leave his post as CM after half of tenure to an NC candidate.

CPN-US and NC have agreed on gentleman’s agreement to hold the post of CM of Bagmati Province for half of a term. Thus, as per the gentleman’s agreement, NC leader and CM Jeevan Bahadur Shahi was appointed on November 3. Such practice is a sign to an unstable government which in turn hampers the administrative work.

Constantly Changing Provincial Government

Since the election beginning from the end of November, Chief Ministers of Provinces 1 and Bagmati have been changed three times whilst two times in Gandaki, Lumbini, and Karnali Provinces. The remaining two Chief Ministers of Sudurpaschim and Province 2 were made to take the vote a confidence after the collapse of the coalition government. The politics in the center impacted in the province, rendering the provincial administration to get sidelined as leaders were busy in the politics of power sharing.

Sindhupalchowk Locals welcoming Minister for Health and Population of Bagmati Province, Nima Lama at the welcome and congratulatory program of the Nepali Congress party office at Melamchi 7. Photo: RSS

Delay Cabinet Expansion

At present, a five-party alliance is governing the seven provinces. There is no sign of stability as coalition government has been trapped in the distribution of power-sharing. It is inevitable that the cabinet formation under his leadership will be delayed as it was in his predecessor, Mahendra Bahadur Shahi’s leadership. So far, CM Jeevan Bahadur Shahi has only appointed least Ministers for his cabinet portfolio. On November 1, Chief Minister of Karnali, Mahendra Bahadur Shahi resigned from his post to be succeeded by Nepali Congress leader, Jeevan Bahadur Shahi as per the gentleman’s agreement.

Almost all the CMs of the provincial governments have reshuffled their cabinet portfolios several times. The governments in Provinces 1 and Bagmati is suffering a blow to their provincial functioning due to a delay in cabinet expansion. CM Rai of Province 1 is preparing to split three ministries for the distribution of power-sharing. Earlier, CM Prithvi Subba Gurung in Gandaki Province had also split the ministries to balance the power-sharing. Such repeated reshuffle in the provincial cabinet has continued to hamper the smooth functioning of provincial and local government, whilst also increasing the financial expense.

Effect in the budget implementation

According to the Finance Comptroller General Office (FCGO), the government has spent the capital budget of 4.5% only during the first quarter. While the government had announced to implement at least 10% by the first three months, and 10% each month following, of the capital budget at any cost. But, the ruling government is spending poorer capital budget than the previous government. While the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration has been able to spend less than 5% of the capital budget during the first quarter of the current fiscal year.

Not only the federal government, but the provincial government has also poor capital budget implementation. For example, Karnali Province has spent 4.83% of the capital budget in the first quarter of the current fiscal year. While other provinces have the same status in the budget implementation.

Moreover, the minister for the Economic Affairs and Planning of Province 1, Indra Bahadur Angboo is preparing to revise the previous budget through the Replacement Bill at the time of implementation. While, Gandaki, and Lumbini Province has already revised their budget when the government changed. The practice might change the practice of manipulating the budget for their leader interest.

The activities of the federal and provincial government in turn affects the citizens. At present, the people are awaiting the election with a hope of a stability in the country’s political scenario. However, with the past and present track record of the leaders and parties, can the citizens hope for a better scenario?

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