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News Digest – Democracy & Governance (November 12 – 18)

Democracy & Governance, News Digest 0 Comments

Democracy

Nepal Communist Party (NCP): The ruling NCP entered a serious crisis, when PM Oli threatened that a secretariat meeting called by the majority will lead to a drastic measure from him and an eventual party split. On the same account, NCP’s central committee member Surendra Pandey pointed that the party will not continue to listen to and bear the bullies; at one point, it will make a decision.

Through a briefing to youth and student groups from his NCP-Maoist Centre, Dahal indicated that the Oli-Dahal tussle has reached an unprecedented height and that an agreement is not easy to forge.

In a written letter to Dahal, Oli stated that the root of the ongoing intra-party crisis is the unfulfilled political ambitions of some leaders. He also posed some serious accusatory questions to Dahal. Dahal responded with a long political document with 12 serious accusations against PM Oli, which ranged from his ‘fake’ nationalism to a failed governance and a series of corruption and irregularities. These letters with accusations and counter-accusations were presented at the secretariat meeting on November 13, 2020.

Lumbini’s chief minister and NCP’s central committee member Shankar Pokharel acknowledged that Dahal’s report has taken the party unity to a critical juncture. While leaders from the Nepal-Dahal faction want to discuss the raised issues in a standing committee meeting, Oli-backed leaders want the political document returned from the secretariat meeting itself.

The party’s secretariat meeting was scheduled to continue on November 18; however, PM Oli called a cabinet meeting at the same time (1 pm), only to later postpone it to 2 pm. In a bid to call off the secretariat meeting, PM Oli had sent his confidante Bishnu Poudel to talk to Dahal on November 17. On the same night, the Chinese ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi made a visit to PM Oli, who had then paid a visit to President Bidya Devi Bhandari. Similarly, Dahal had met the president before Oli’s visit to Shital Niwas.

In a meeting with PM Oli, Bamdev Gautam told the prime minister to improve his working methods; in a consultation where Oli supposedly sought ways to solve the intra-party crisis, Gautam stated that there was no alternative to Oli admitting his mistakes and changing himself for good. In the same meeting, Oli also maintained that he would not respond to Dahal’s political document.

NCP’s vice chair and secretariat member Bamdev Gautam has been cleared to be a minister or assume any other constitutional position after the Supreme Court refused to issue an interim order.

Others: The opposition Nepali Congress condemned China’s accusation of the party as pro-India force falsely sensationalizing Nepal’s border dispute with China. The party’s central committee meeting on November 13 slammed the article published in the Global Times, the Chinese government’s mouthpiece.

While the NCP and Nepali Congress lawmakers have returned their Dashain allowances, Janata Samajwadi Party Nepal (JSPN) lawmakers have not done so yet. After a widespread protest and criticism against lawmakers for receiving allowance at a time when the state is struggling to keep up with COVID-19 related expenses, political parties had collectively decided to return the distributed Dashain bonuses.

In Chainpur, Sankhuwasabha, the outlawed Netra Bikram Chand-led cadres clashed with police on November 16, 2020. There were no casualties reported.

Governance

The construction of Nijgadh International Airport seems to have been pushed out of the government’s priority list; the late meeting of the National Investment Board, which is supposed to finalize the model, did not even discuss about the project.

In a discussion with the COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre (CCMC), the mayor forum of Kathmandu valley recommended the enforcement of a strong lockdown in the valley after Tihar-Chhath festivals. 

Within four months of the current fiscal year, the government successfully collected its target NRs. 57 billion internal loan. Of the 57 billion, Rs 50 billion was collected under development loan, whereas Rs 7 billion was collected under treasure bills.

With the successes of new COVID-19 vaccines, Nepal government has begun its preparation to secure the vaccines right after they are available in the market. As a member of the COVAX facility, Nepal should have access to the vaccines when they are available, but it will cost around NRs. 60 billion total expense to procure vaccines for 21 million Nepalis. The government is also set to introduce a vaccine ordinance to ease the process.

A decline in imports led to a sluggish revenue collection, and if the same continues, the government will fail to meet its target and will have to borrow internally and externally.

The Minister of Energy, Water Resources, and Irrigation Barsha Man Pun ensured that there would be no power cuts on Deepawali, the festival of lights where the electricity consumption is at its peak.

Despite the Health Ministry’s NRs. 20 billion expenditure to contain the virus, COVID-19 cases continue to surge. According to experts, Nepal’s poor performance in this regard should be attributed to a lack of coordination among different state mechanisms.

Against local governments’ reservations, the cabinet endorsed the School Resumption Working Guidelines, which allows schools to reopen through the coordination with local representatives and other concerned authorities/parties. The government’s move is yet another example of a lack of coordination among different tiers of government.

In his Tihar address, prime minister KP Sharma Oli mentioned that the ongoing COVID-19 crisis acted as an impediment to the country’s path to prosperity. He wrote that despite the government’s effective actions, the pandemic obstructed the country’s social and economic progress.

The Minister of Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation Yogesh Bhattarai expressed his hopefulness, mentioning that Nepal’s tourism is regaining momentum. His statement came during the visit of Qatari prince Sheikh Muhammad Bin Abdullah.

Arguably due to the heightened intra-party struggle, PM Oli canceled his trip to Taplejung’s Ghunsa and Olangchungola.

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