House panel endorses bill on reconstruction authority

Kathmandu, December 9

The Legislation Committee of the Legislature-Parliament today endorsed the Reconstruction Authority Bill that had been lying with the panel for around two months due to the dispute between the government and the main opposition party over the provision of appointment of the authority’s chief executive officer.

After the Nepali Congress agreed to forward the bill to the full House by attaching its different opinion, the panel’s meeting today decided to forward it to the full House.

As per the changes made by the new government to the original bill that was registered by the previous NC-led government, a new CEO can be appointed instead of giving continuity to Govinda Raj Pokharel, who was appointed as CEO by the previous government through an ordinance.

His post was discontinued after the ordinance expired and CPN-UML and Unified CPN-Maoist rejected to pass the bill brought to give continuity to the works of the authority formed as per the ordinance.

The NC wants Pokharel to continue as CEO, while UML and UCPN-M want to appoint new CEO.

“The government could have begun reconstruction work two months ago had the UML and UCPN-M allowed the bill to pass during the NC-led government. However, the two parties registered 73 amendment proposals to obstruct the passage of the bill and insisted on appointing a new CEO,” said NC lawmaker Nabindra Raj Joshi.

Joshi said the NC would put forth its views during discussions in the full House and it hoped the government would forge consensus on it rising above political interests, as it is in the national interest.

The bill will be discussed in the full House before it is put to vote after the ongoing obstruction of the House by Madhes-based parties ends.

Sources said the ruling coalition has provisioned in the bill to make leader of the main opposition party the vice-chairperson of the consultative committee and vice-chairperson of the directive committee of the authority in an attempt to woo the NC.

Relations between coalition partners NC and UML had soured after UML opposed NC’s move to make Pokharel the CEO of the authority.

Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Agni Kharel hoped that the agitating parties would help pass the bill by ending their House obstruction.

The next meeting of the House has been scheduled for 3:00pm tomorrow.

Although Nepal’s development partners have pledged $4.4 billion for the reconstruction work, the work has not begun in the absence of reconstruction authority.

Setting up the authority has been affected even after more than seven months of the April 25 devastating earthquake due to government’s lackadaisical approach and dispute among major political parties over key issues.