NCP lawmakers flay PMO for ‘trying to foil federalism’

Kathmandu, October 4

The ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmakers and former ministers Janardan Sharma and Pampha Bhusal rebuked top bureaucrats of the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, and the chief secretary ‘for attempting to foil federalism’.

At a meeting of the State Affairs and Good Governance Committee of the House of Representatives today, Sharma and Bhusal rued that the central government was not serious about implementing federalism.

Sharma told the committee that Chief Secretary Lok Darshan Regmi and his team at the Prime Minister’s Office was ‘working to foil federalism instead of implementing it.’

“Why do you want to foil federalism? If someone else, especially politicians, are attempting to foil federalism then tell us who they are,” a visibly angry Sharma told Regmi.

In a volley of questions directed at the chief secretary and his team, Sharma wanted to know why the central administration was indifferent towards federalism.

Former minister Sharma also said that he had talked to all seven chief ministers who told him that they had not been able to work properly due to the central government’s interference in their affairs, absence of required laws and shortage of human resources.

“The central government  has allocated budget for the provinces, but that is not enough for them,” he said and added that the provinces did not have financial regulation to spend the budget.

“Why don’t you help the chief ministers and the provincial governments?” Sharma asked.

Stating that federalism was not an achievement that came easily, Sharma wondered why the Prime Minister’s Office could not send secretaries to provincial ministries.

“At the centre, we can see four to five secretaries in one ministry, but you have not sent secretaries to provincial ministries. There should be secretaries in the provinces if they are to function properly,” he said.

“The government has increased the number of departments to 53. Why do you have to increase the departments?” he asked, adding that this showed that the central government was trying to fail federalism.

Sharma also expressed dissatisfaction with the transfer of employees at the provincial assemblies and local levels.

Lawmaker Bhusal said federalism was a consequence of big sacrifice and revolution and yet it was not being implemented honestly by the central government.

“The ministers want to hold those ministries that have maximum number of departments and secretaries also want to work in the ministries which have maximum number of departments, so no employee wants to go to the provinces,” she said.

In response to the lawmakers’ queries, Chief Secretary Regmi said Nepali employees were among the best employees in the world and his team was capable of doing its job properly. He said his team would work against all adversities.

Later, the committee directed the government to formulate required laws to run the provincial governments properly.