Four ministers inducted to Cabinet, former NRB Governor Khatiwada now Finance Minister

KATHMANDU: Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has expanded the Cabinet, inducting four ministers, two each from CPN-UML and CPN Maoist Centre, today.

The cabinet now comprises of Ishwar Pokhrel and Dr Yuvaraj Khatiwada from CPN-UML, and Ram Bahadur Thapa and Matrika Yadav from CPN MC.

Pokhrel, who will lead the UML ministers in the Cabinet, has been given the portfolio of Defense Ministry. The most interesting development has been the appointment of former Governor and Vice-chair of National Planning Commission, Dr Yuvaraj Khatiwada as the Finance Minister.

Likewise, Ram Bahadur Thapa, who will lead the Maoist Centre ministers, has been appointed the Minister of Home Affairs, and Matrika Yadav as Minister of Commerce and Supplies.

Khatiwada's appointment is being viewed with much interest and the news of his appointment has received a lot of positive response from many quarters.

Interestingly, the Supreme Court on Sunday had issued an interim order to the government to hold the oath taking ceremony of the three newly appointed members to National Assembly (NA), including the current Finance Minister Dr Yuvaraj Khatiwada, who was nominated by UML to the Upper House of the Parliament.

The ministers, including the Prime Minister, can serve as Cabinet Ministers for up to six months prior to being sworn in as the members of the Parliament.

Earlier today

CPN MC Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal had submitted the final list of lawmakers that would represent the MC in the government. Meanwhile, the CPN-UML Standing Committee had authorised Party Chair and Prime Minister KP Oli to make the final call on picking the ministers.

FSFN chair Upendra Yadav had joined the duo for talks to find grounds for joining the government.

The newly appointed ministers were administered oath of office by the President amid a ceremony at Shital Niwas at 4:20 pm.

It was expected that the Cabinet would get a full shape today but owing to recent political developments, that being FSFN joining the government, the plan has been deferred by sometime.

Curious case of Khatiwada

  • Article 78 of the constitution has a provision for appointing a person who is not a member of the federal parliament as a minister.
  • The president may, on the recommendation of the prime minister, appoint as deputy prime minister, minister, minister of state or assistant minister a person who is not a member of the Federal Parliament, provided s/he becomes a member of the Federal Parliament within six months of being sworn in as minister.
  • In case s/he fails to get the membership of the Federal Parliament, s/he will not be eligible for reappointment as minister during the tenure of the existing House of Representatives

New inductees

  • Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa is a member of the National Assembly. He was defence minister in the CPN-MC Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led Cabinet formed in 2008. He later joined the Mohan Baidhya-led Communist Party of Nepal before quitting it to join Dahal-led CPN-MC two years ago. Several CPN-MC lawmakers, including Barshaman Pun, were eyeing the home ministry
  • Defence Minister Ishwar Pokhrel was elected to the House of Representatives from Kathmandu-5. He was keen to head finance, foreign affairs or physical infrastructure and transport ministry, but was given the defence portfolio. He was deputy prime minister and minister for industry, commerce and supplies in 2005 and was political adviser to the then PM Manmohan Adhikari in 1995. Pokhrel has been associated with the CPN-UML since 1970
  • Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada was among the three persons nominated to the National Assembly by the government, but the Supreme Court on Sunday stayed their swearing in. According to the constitutional provision, Khatiwada will have to become a member of the Federal Parliament within six months of being sworn in as a minister. He had served as Nepal Rastra Bank governor, holds a PhD degree and is a scholar of monetary economics
  • Industries, Commerce and Supplies Minister Matrika Yadav was elected to the House of Representatives from Dhanusha-1. He was elected to the first Constituent Assembly in 2008 under Proportional Representation electoral system. He was minister of forest and soil conservation under the Girija Prasad Koirala-led interim government in 2007, but resigned from the Cabinet due to differences with Koirala. He also became minister of land reforms in 2008. He later quit the Dahal-led party and formed a new party under his leadership. But he rejoined Dahal’s party two years ago