Plan to cut district offices riles MPs

Kathmandu, July 13

The government’s plan to cut two-thirds of district-based offices is set to face stiff resistance from lawmakers.

The government is planning to cut and merge district technical offices, building offices, irrigation offices, and drinking water and sanitation offices in line with the federal set-up. This means the government wants to merge these offices and establish them in a way that could cater to the needs of two to three districts as per the need. But lawmakers of both the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP)  and the main opposition Nepali Congress have opposed the government’s plan, saying if these offices had to be set up then they should be set up in all the districts and if not then they should not be there at all.

The government is going to reduce these districts offices which were under the federal government before, but now these offices are under infrastructure development ministries of the respective provinces.

An organisation and management survey carried out by the Ministry of Federal Affair and General Administration recommended cutting two-thirds of district-based offices.

“These offices which were under the central government will now be under the jurisdiction of the provincial government.  The three levels of government are working. They will do their respective jobs,” said Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya, secretary at the MoFAGA. He also said that the government was working to ensure that the public was not affected by the federal set-up.

He said it was not about the district but about ensuring easy access to government’s services.

NCP (NCP) lawmaker Yogesh Bhattarai had recently raised the issue in the House of Representatives, opposing the government’s plan to merge district offices.

“Either the government has to remove all development offices from the districts and hand them over to local or provincial governments or they should not remove any of these offices at all,” Bhattarai had said in the HoR.

He said residents of his home district of Taplejung would not like their district offices moved out.

Another NCP (NCP) lawmaker Mohan Baniya told THT that lawmakers would not keep mum if development offices were shifted from one district to another.

NC lawmaker Gagan Kumar Thapa said the government had not done enough study on the issue.

“The government should have held a discussion with people before taking such a decision. The government should hold inter- and intra-ministry discussions,” he said. Thapa also said that the bureaucrats were trying to please their people rather than doing any research-based job.

Spokesperson for the MoFAGA Suresh Adhikari said the government couldn’t run each department in all districts. “For example, we have to choose one central point for an office for Ilam, Panchthar and Taplejung districts,” he said.

Former Chief Secretary Bimal Koirala said this is not the work of the central government. “The provincial government will do all the preparations,” he said, adding, the central government shouldn’t interfere in the affairs of the provincial governments.