PM cancels meeting with province CMs

Kathmandu, September 9

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli cancelled his meeting with the chief ministers scheduled for today.

The PM was supposed to chair the inter-province council meeting, in which the CMs had hoped to raise their concerns, including staff crunch, lack of laws on concurrent list of powers and lack of power to run their own administrations and recruit provincial police personnel.

A source close to one of the chief ministers  said on condition of anonymity that the PM informed the CMs on Friday evening about his decision to cancel inter-province council meeting. He added that the PM wanted to make his discomfiture known, albeit indirectly,  against the  nine-point declaration issued by the Pokhara summit of the chief ministers on Friday.

The source said the PM viewed the meetings of the advocate generals of provinces and the chief ministers that were held last week in Pokhara as the provinces’ attempt to unite with their cause against the federal government.

“The PM should not have cancelled this meeting, as some of the CMs had already made preparations to leave for Kathmandu,” the source added. The PM’s Press Adviser Kundan Aryal, however, claimed that the PM cancelled the meeting to make additional preparations for the event.

Chief Minister of Province 7 Trilochan Bhatta said he learnt that today’s meeting was cancelled, but he didn’t know when it would be held. “We have been saying that provinces should be able to do what had been guaranteed by the constitution. We want sufficient staff in our provinces and enactment of laws on concurrent powers of the central and provincial governments,” he added.

Gandaki province CM Prithvi Subba Gurung claimed that their meeting with the PM was not cancelled because of their Pokhara summit. “Our meeting was aimed at assisting the federal government and the federal government need not worry about it,” he said. He agreed that the federal government might have cancelled the meeting to make additional preparations for the event.

Province 2 CM Lalbabu Raut, who is in Kathmandu, said he did not know when the CMs’ meeting with the PM would be held now. “Provinces are facing lots of problems running their administration and we want to discuss these problems with the PM,” he added.

Karnali Chief Minister Mahendra Bahadur Shahi had not attended the Pokhara summit of the CMs, citing ill health.

The Pokhara summit of the CMs had issued a nine-point declaration on Friday seeking  to form  a high-level political mechanism under the PM  to institutionalise federalism and also to set up a temporary secretariat of the inter-province coordination council.

The CMs also stressed on the need to formulate necessary laws for effective functioning of the provincial government.

The CMs added that structures for central and local levels were already in place, but the provinces were new, and therefore, they needed new laws, physical infrastructure, manpower and other sources for effective functioning of provincial governments.

They said the staff sent by the federal government to the provinces had yet to reach there.

Moreover, those sent are on deputation or on temporary basis which was not conducive for effective functioning of provincial governments, the CMs added. They have also sought implementation of a provision that will allow for provincial police.