Timeline of the important events in May
|May 2||Lumbini Chief Minister Sankar Pokharel resigned and was reappointed as CM.|
|May 3||Gandaki Pradesh Chief Minister Shankar Pokharel reshuffled his cabinet.|
|May 3||President Bidya Devi Bhandari appointed Sita Paudel and Ganga Prasad Yadav as governors of Gandaki and Sudurpaschim Pradesh.|
|May 9||Opposition parties filed another no-confidence motion against Lumbini Chief Minister Sankar Pokharel.|
|May 9||Gandaki Chief Minister Prithvi Subba Gurung resigned from his post.|
|May 12||Prithvi Subba Gurung reappointed as Chief Minister of Gandaki Pradesh.|
|May 16||Karnali Chief Minister Mahendra Bahadur Shahi reshuffled his cabinet.|
|May 22||President Bidya Devi Bhandari dissolved the parliament.|
|May 29||Finance Minister Bishnu Paudel presented the annual budget for the next fiscal year.|
The past month, coronavirus, budget and politics have majorly made headlines. The Supreme Court is hearing on whether or not the parliament is reinstated, which had been dissolved by President Bidya Devi Bhandari on May 22. Coronavirus cases and death rates continue to increase, leading to uncertainty and a dire situation. Despite criticisms, the federal government presented the budget on May 29 for the next fiscal year 2021/22 through ordinance.
Criticism of Budgets and its Performance
For the first time after the promulgation of the Constitution of Nepal, 2015, despite several criticisms and reactions, the federal government presented budget of Rs 1.647 trillion on May 29 for the next fiscal year 2021/22 through ordinance. Not only opposition parties, including nine former chairpersons of the National Planning Commission (NPC) and four former Finance Ministers issued press statements on May 27 and suggested stopping the full-fledged budget arguing that such budget is likely to influence the upcoming election. As president Bhandari has already announced midterm elections for November 12 and 19. In the statement, “there is no compulsion to bring the budget at a time when the House of Representatives (HoR) is dissolved”. But the government ignored it and presented a full-fledged budget.
Similarly, despite opposition parties’ dissatisfaction in the coming budget, Province 1 is preparing to bring its budget through ordinance like the federal government. As the mandatory provision that the provincial governments should hold a pre-budget discussion in the Provincial Assembly, 15 days before the deadline of the submission. But, Province 1 has not summoned for the discussion. Similarly, Gandaki Pradesh is also preparing to bring the budget through ordinance. Such budget through ordinance, more likely to affect the prioritizing sectors. Because the ruling party is likely to bring the budget in their favor.
Most of the construction projects (roads and bridges) complete at the end of the fiscal year (from mid-April to mid-June). But, 6,000 projects under construction have been halted over the country during the lockdown. While only two months are left for the current fiscal year 2020/21 to end but the government has spent 33.64% of the capital budget. Apart from that, in such a difficult situation, Sudurpaschim Pradesh is busy distributing plans. This does not mean, that the government should stop the distribution of plans, but it should prioritize coronavirus control.
Center and Provincial Politics
It has become a trend to resign and reappoint from center to province. On May 12, Prithvi Subba Gurung was reappointed as Chief Minister (CM) of Gandaki Pradesh after three days of his resignation, which is a danger to democracy. As it seems that the politicians are prioritizing self-interest over general publics.
While, on May 2, Sankar Pokharel did the same: he resigned and was reappointed as Lumbini CM. Again, the opposition filed a no-confidence motion against CM Pokharel for the second time on May 9. Likewise, opposition parties have demanded the documents such as lawmakers’ signatures, which were submitted by the CM Pokharel. However, the opposition claimed that CM Pokharel used fake documents during his reappointment.
Poor Performance in COVID-19 response
People are not safe from Coronavirus, and the death rate and cases are increasing day by day mean the governments’ response is not on track. The public has followed the prohibition order imposed by the government. The government has not been able to make proper arrangements for the fight with COVID-19.
It is not suitable to say that the government has not allocated the budget. The federal government, provincial governments including local governments have allocated a large budget for COVID-19 response. For example, Karnali Pradesh allocated Rs 100 million while other provinces also allocated billions. But, every provincial government face shortage of oxygen, quarantines, and isolations.
Due to the unresolved current political phenomena, the control of the COVID-19 pandemic has been affected. Now, the joint hands must necessarily fight against the virus. This is wrong that the government is playing politics to hold power and people are living in the home by leaving their job, business, etc. The government doesn’t have any proper plan as lockdown hits harder, while livelihoods and millions of people are jobless due to the pandemic. People are suffering from economic problems, but the government has not taken any concrete steps/plans for relief packages. The government is not interested while people lose their lives due to oxygen shortages and other necessities. If the government does not clean up its act, it may have to pay a high value in the future for this carelessness.