Kathmandu, September 10
The Development Committee of the Parliament today endorsed a bill relating to local government that clearly stipulates powers of local levels granted by the constitution, including the power to register land.
Panel member Ganesh Kumar Pahari said local levels were also empowered to call tender for sale of sand and clinkers under their jurisdiction but the revenue would be shared among the local levels, provinces and the centre. “We have clearly defined powers and rights of local levels so that when all 553 local levels make their laws, there is uniformity in their laws,” Pahari added.
He said the panel defined judicial powers of the judicial committees of the local levels to be formed under deputy chiefs of local levels who will settle minor offences, reducing burden on courts of law. “Since judicial committees will be headed by local levels’ deputy chiefs, who are people’s representatives, they should send anybody to jail. So we have recommended that cases of minor offences should be settled through reconciliation committees to be set up in local levels,” Pahari added. The bill also categorised Dhading, Ramechhap, Gorkha and Eastern Rukum as mountainous districts to enable them to get development aid along the lines of mountainous and remote districts and some advantage of representation in the Parliament. As per the law, mountain districts have local levels for population less than the Tarai and hilly districts.
The bill gives local levels rights to award licence for operation of FM radios.
It also has a provision for local levels to approve design of those buildings that were built in the past without approval or to allow change in the original design provided that the new design does not violate the building code.
Pahari said the bill did not state who should succeed a ward chair who dies while still in office.
Therefore, they inserted provisions in the bill stating that if a ward chair dies, there will be by-election while at least one year of his/her term remains.
“But before the by-election is conducted, the other ward members can choose their ward chiefs as an interim arrangement,” Pahari added.
The bill adds that temporary staff of local levels will get a chance to become permanent staff if they take part in internal competition to be conducted by the Public Service Commission and pass the exam. There will be no age bar for temporary teachers for one time. There are over 2,500 temporary teachers.
The bill also states that any other law that contradicts the provision of this bill will be void and the provisions of this bill will prevail.
The bill will be presented in the next meeting of the House, said Adhikari. The House is expected to pass the bill soon.
The panel endorsed all provisions of the bill unanimously other than the provision relating to right to form associations. Nine lawmakers associated with the main opposition CPN-UML and Rastriya Prajtantra Party supported the provision of the bill, while 17 lawmakers associated with the ruling Nepali Congress and the CPN-Maoist Centre voted against the provision.
The bill also proposed to create a fund for the district coordination committees.
The constitution lists 22 powers/jurisdiction of local levels.
Panel Chair Rabindra Adhikari said the bill was an important legal provision, second only to the constitution.
A version of this article appears in print on September 11, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.