HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: How many ministries does Nepal need? The question is moot.
The debate has once again heated up with Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai’s administration tweaking some ministries yesterday, even though he has not increased the number of ministries.
Critics have been quick to offer a dubious honour to Bhattarai though, saying the move was aimed at appeasing government partners rather than making government more efficient in service delivery.
CPN-UML, which has refused to join the government, seized the opportunity to rebuke Bhattarai. UML today said Prime Minister Bhattarai and Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal have ‘admitted to the mistake’. “We will not join the government unless they correct the mistake,” said UML leader Bhim Rawal.
In addition, a huge lapse has been reported: No necessary preparations were made before the ministries were ‘fine tuned’. The Ministry of Local Development has been converted into Ministry of Local Development and Provincial Affairs and the Ministry of Federal Affairs, Constituent Assembly, Parliamentary Affairs and Culture has been divided into Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation and Ministry of Constituent Assembly and Parliamentary Affairs. Interestingly, officials at both the ‘erstwhile’ ministries say they were yet to ‘receive an official notice’ in relation to the changes. “We have no idea about the split and merger of the ministries,” said Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya, Spokesperson for MoLD.
The Madhav Kumar Nepal led-government in 2009 had split 22 ministries to create 26, in a bid to accommodate then coalition partners. Those against such frequent readjustment of ministries argue that
such attempts only burden the state coffers with
Lila Mani Paudel, Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office, argued that the ‘Cabinet can restructure ministries in order to share responsibilities, deliver in prompt and efficient manner and ensure good governance’. “Some of the ministries were given duties that were not even related to them,” said Paudel. “However, a portfolio distribution regulation of the reformed ministries is yet to be made.”
Former vice-chairman of National Planning Commission says the government has mistimed the restructuring of ministries. “When governance through decentralisation is concerned, the central government does not need more than 12 ministries. Why not mention the number of ministries in
the constitution and stick to it, like they do in the United States,” says Pokharel.
“It is high time we started discussing the issues more seriously.”