Children play and pose for photograph.

News Digest (November 15-30, 2019)

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DOMESTIC POLITICS

Nepal Communist Party (NCP): On November 20, PM Oli agreed to entrust the executive role of party chairmanship to Pushpa Kamal Dahal. The party seems to have addressed the concerns of senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal who was voicing that no party should have dual leadership. However, the executive role gives out an unclear message – whether the recent decision was made just to hide the simmering dynamics behind the facade of stability.[1] Dahal was successful to take charge of this role within a year-and-half of the merger. The chairmen duo agreed on power-sharing, with one heading the government and another heading the party. The party head, however, is a joint command responsibility while the premiership is a single command.[2] PM Oli, in a televised interview, confirmed that he is the Senior Chair of the party.[3] He further strengthened his grip in the party through the recent cabinet reshuffle and has plans afoot to pick Bamdev Gautam because of his influence and appoint him to the Upper House.[4] Oli also mentioned party leadership, his health concerns, protests of medical students against the colleges, Kalapani border dispute, division of authority with Dahal, and the role of the President in the cabinet reshuffle.[5]

The Government: As the Constitutional Council (CC) meeting has not taken place since January 2019, various appointments in the constitutional bodies remain pending. The meetings have not taken place due to the absence of the leader of the opposition party, whose presence is mandatory, and who has refused to be present during the meetings.[6]

Cabinet Reshuffle

Following long hours of meeting with the President, NCP co-chairs KP Oli and Dahal agreed to reshuffle the cabinet. The duo confirmed the replacement of six ministers and three state ministers.[7] According to Mani Thapa, a standing committee member, the reshuffle was done to calm the faction leaders and address the intra-party conflict.[8]  

OPPOSITION POLITICS

Nepali Congress: Nepali Congress lambasted the government’s performance once again, highlighting 21 major failures of the Oli government since it came to power 21 months ago.[9]

Sher Bahadur Deuba gave a regressive statement regarding the ongoing Kalapani dispute. Making a remark on his statement, Dinesh Bhattarai, a former diplomat stated that boundary disputes should be handled through the right channels and not via aggressive posturing.[10] 

SP-N: The Samajbadi Party Nepal is facing a serious problem as it is uncertain on the course of action. The party has no clear agenda and is falling in the trap of factional politics.[11] Leader Upendra Yadav is reluctant to leave the government although most of the leaders in the party opted for withdrawal. Leader Yadav has also not agreed for party unity with RJP-N.[12]

Transitional Justice: Political bargain among the mainstream parties, mostly the ruling and the main opposition, has put the appointment of TJ Commission leadership on hold for long. The recommendation committee failed to announce the name of office-bearers of TJ leadership although eight months have passed since the process started.[13] The committee nominated Ganesh Datta Bhatta as the head of the TRC and Lokendra Mallik for the head of the CIEDP.[14]  But as conflict victim groups have strongly criticized the government nominated TJ leadership, the appointment has been stalled.[15] Human rights activists say that since the recommendation committee has become a rubber stamp of the political parties, there are concerns about the entire transitional justice process. The committee has lost its credibility and some of the candidates withdrew their names citing politicization of the nomination process.[16]  

PROVINCIAL AFFAIRS

Trade and Export Promotion Centre prepared profiles of high-potential products of all the seven provinces to identify potential productions by promoting exports to replace imports. The profile recognized production and market in the value chain. The profile also gave details of Nepal’s export-import situation, inter-province exports, import and agriculture details.[17]

Gandaki Province and China’s Yunnan Province have moved towards establishing the sister-relationship to exchange experience and supports. Through this relation, the sister provinces expect to promote bilateral co-operation in tourism, agriculture, energy, trade, and other sectors.[18]  Likewise, in a bid to emphasize development and promote cultural exchange, Chief Minister of Gandaki Province proposed to establish sister-city relations between Washington State of the United States and the province.[19]

Meanwhile, Province 3 has planned to construct ‘A Peace Park’ in each local unit in the memory of the martyrs.[20] 

In the Karnali Province, The Ministry of Industry, Tourism, Forest and Environment is amending the working procedure of the crusher industries as the exploitation of the natural resources was rampant.[21]

Budget expenditure: Although the government reported significant improvement in revenue collection, only 10% of taxpayers are paying tax. According to the Inland Revenue Department (IRD), 2.965 million of the total population who fall under the taxpayer’s regime in the country paid taxes. In the last fiscal year, only 2.1 million citizens paid taxes. The government has made PAN compulsory for every citizen to boost up the revenue collection.[22] The government has, however, been incapable of spending only 6.05% of the capital budget allocated in the first four months of the current fiscal year. According to the Financial Comptroller General Office, the capital expenditure reached Rs 24.71 billion out of Rs 408 billion in the last four months.[23] Province 3 spent 4.20% of the annual budget in the first four months[24] while Karnali Province spent only 1.09% of the budget.[25] The low budget expenditure is an indication of the slow pace of development work going in the provinces.

Conflicts: After a long time, Nepal Communist Party (NCP) co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal expressed concerns to finalize the name and headquarter of Province No. 3 which will be done within a few days.[26] In the current fiscal year, the government of Province 3 has halted fund flow to 17 local governments as a penalty for failing to deposit revenue in the provincial treasury comptroller office (PTCO). The office had frequently requested local governments to deposit the revenue and unused grants. However, the local governments did not comply with it.[27]

GENDER AND SOCIAL INCLUSION

Missing Children: A report published by the Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens revealed that twice as many girls go missing than boys[ES1] . In the last fiscal alone, 2,375 were girls amongst the 3,422 children who went missing. A total of 889 minors (11-16 year olds) were raped by their own family members, close relatives, neighbors, security personnel, and teachers.[28]

Child Labor: The government issued a procedure for the ‘Declaration of Local Levels as Child Labour Free  Zone’. The procedure includes public awareness, psycho-social counseling, and arrangement of alternative income sources for families of child workers to help eliminate child labor at each level. A monitoring and evaluation mechanism will also be in place to check the progress.[29]

Child Soldiers: Disqualified former Maoist child combatants threatened to take a legal measure against the government for their rights during an interaction program. They warned the government earlier that the group will approach the International Criminal Court if the Nepali government fails to give them justice. As Nepal’s decade-long conflict ended in 2007, over 4,008 ex-child soldiers were disqualified by the United Nations, and as a result, they could not participate in the subsequent rehabilitation and reintegration process.[30]

Photo: Pratik Gurung


[1] Tika R. Pradhan. 2019. “After a recent deal, Dahal is setting sights on becoming sole leader of the party.” The Kathmandu Post. <https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2019/11/23/after-a-recent-deal-dahal-is-setting-sights-on-becoming-sole-leader-of-the-party>.

[2] Binod Ghimire. 2019. “Dahal to command party while Oli will remain Prime Minister for the full term.” The Kathmandu Post. <https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2019/11/21/dahal-to-command-party-while-oli-will-remain-prime-minister-for-the-full-term>.

[3] Tika R. Pradhan. 2019. “Oli handed Dahal the party reins—and took it back just as quickly.” The Kathmandu Post. <https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2019/11/28/oli-handed-dahal-the-party-reins-and-took-it-back-just-as-quickly>.

[4] Tika R. Pradhan. 2019. “Prime Minister Oli attempts to get all leaders on his side as Cabinet reshuffle looms.” The Kathmandu Post. <https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2019/11/15/prime-minister-oli-attempts-to-get-all-leaders-on-his-side-as-cabinet-reshuffle-looms>.

[5] Pawan Pandey. 2019. ““I am the one leading the party” and six other newsworthy quotes from Prime Minister Oli’s interview with Kantipur TV.” The Kathmandu Post. <https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2019/11/26/i-am-the-one-leading-the-party-and-six-other-newsworthy-quotes-from-prime-minister-oli-s-interview-with-kantipur-tv>.

[6] Binod Ghimire. 2019. “Constitutional Council meeting postponed yet again without making appointments.” The Kathmandu Post. <https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2019/11/14/constitutional-council-meeting-postponed-yet-again-without-making-appointments>.

[7] Anil Giri. 2019. “After meeting with the President, Oli reshuffles Cabinet.” The Kathmandu Post. <https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2019/11/20/after-meeting-with-president-oli-reshuffles-cabinet>.

[8] Tika R. Pradhan. 2019. “Oli’s Cabinet reshuffle aimed at managing party factions rather than improving results.” The Kathmandu Post. <https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2019/11/22/oli-s-cabinet-reshuffle-aimed-at-managing-party-factions-rather-than-improving-results>.

[9] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/21-govt-failures-in-21-months-nepali-congress/ (accessed 25 November 2019).

[10] Anil Giri. 2019. “Deuba’s statements on Kalapani ‘aggressive and ultra-nationalist’, party leaders say.” The Kathmandu Post. <https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2019/11/29/deuba-s-statements-on-kalapani-aggressive-and-ultra-nationalist-party-leaders-say>.

[11] Tilak R. Pradhan. 2019. “Samajbadi Party fails to decide on pulling out of government as Upendra Yadav appears unwilling.” The Kathmandu Post. <https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2019/11/17/samajbadi-party-fails-to-decide-on-pulling-out-of-government-as-upendra-yadav-appears-unwilling>.

[12] Tilak R. Pradhan. 2019. “Yadav’s U-turn causes confusion among Samajbadi leaders.” The Kathmandu Post. <https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2019/11/26/yadav-s-u-turn-causes-confusion-among-samajbadi-leaders>.

[13] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/recommendation-committee-to-unveil-trc-ciedp-office-bearers-names-on-monday/ (accessed 20 November 2019).

[14] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/panel-proposes-bhatta-for-trc-head-mallick-for-ciedp-chief/ (accessed 20 November 2019).

[15] Binod Ghimire. 2019. “Parties close to consensus on chairperson for Truth and Reconciliation Commission.” The Kathmandu Post. <https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2019/11/15/parties-close-to-consensus-on-chairperson-for-truth-and-reconciliation-commission>.

[16] Binod Ghimire. 2019. “Alleging political intervention, applicants for transitional justice commissions are withdrawing their names.” The Kathmandu Post. <https://kathmandupost.com/national/2019/11/19/alleging-political-intervention-applicants-for-transitional-justice-commissions-are-withdrawing-their-names>.

[17] Laxmi Sapkota. 2019. “सातै प्रदेशमा सम्भावित उत्पादनको प्रोफाइल तयार” Karobar Daily. <https://www.karobardaily.com/news/economy/26123>.

[18] Dinanath Baral. 2019 “गण्डकी प्रदेश र चीनको युनान प्रान्तबीच भगिनी सम्बन्ध” Karobar Daily. <https://www.karobardaily.com/news/development/26452>.

[19] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/sister-city-relations-between-washington-state-and-gandaki-province-proposed/ (accessed 20 November 2019).

[20] Subash Bidari. 2019. “Province 3 plans to construct ‘peace parks’ in all local unit.” The Kathmandu Post. <https://kathmandupost.com/province-no-3/2019/11/18/province-3-government-plans-to-construct-peace-parks-in-all-local-units>.

[21] Nagendra Upadhyaya. 2019. “Karnali Province govt amending working procedure regulating crusher industry.” My Republica. <https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/karnali-province-govt-amending-working-procedure-regulating-crusher-industry/>.

[22] Neeru Aryal. 2019. “१० प्रतिशतले मात्रै तिर्छन् कर” Karobar Daily. <https://www.karobardaily.com/news/economy/26027>.

[23] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/capital-expenditure-only-6-in-first-four-months/ (accessed 22 November 2019).

[24] Keshav Samparn. 2019. “प्रदेशको खर्च अवस्था नाजुक” Karobar Daily. <https://www.karobardaily.com/news/economy/26232>.

[25] Ibid.

[26] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/province-3-name-hq-soon/ (accessed 22 November 2019).

[27] Keshav Samparn. 2019. “स्थानीय तहको अनुदान रोक्का.” Karobar Daily. <https://www.karobardaily.com/news/economy/26492>.

[28] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/number-of-missing-girls-two-times-more-than-boys-report/ (accessed 27 November 2019).

[29] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/govt-takes-big-stride-to-abolish-child-labour-in-local-levels/ (accessed 27 November 2019).

[30] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/disqualified-ex-child-combatants-threaten-to-move-court/ (accessed 1 December 2019).


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