PM moots new CDF modality

Kathmandu, May 19

Prime Minister and Nepal Communist Party Chair KP Sharma Oli today floated a new modality of Constituency Development Fund wherein lawmakers of districts could choose their development projects and the central government would provide the fund.

Addressing a joint parliamentary party meeting today, the PM said a new system could be developed in which all lawmakers representing the same districts in the upper and lower houses could select a development project, but the mechanism would be led by lawmakers elected under the first-past-the-post electoral system. “Why should we discriminate between lawmakers of two houses and lawmakers elected under two types of electoral system - FPTP and PR?” The PM wondered.

The new CDF modality is likely to be introduced in the new fiscal budget. The government has not allocated CDF this fiscal despite lobbying by some lawmakers of almost all political parties.

“We will develop infrastructure - road, drinking water facilities, bridges, irrigation and industries - in all 165 FPTP constituencies” Oli told party lawmakers. “It will not be MP Development Fund but Constituency Development Fund,” Oli added. He said there was no contradiction between ruling and opposition parties on the issue. “We are discussing which model will be appropriate.” He further told party lawmakers not to be emotional about the issue.

Most lawmakers from NCP and Nepali Congress are lobbying for giving continuity to the constituency development programme and constituency infrastructure special programmes.

The government had assumed that if members of the federal Parliament got fund for these programmes, Provincial Assembly members could also seek similar fund and also representatives of municipalities and wards. Although, the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration had proposed that the government fund these programmes, PM Oli did not make this a Cabinet agenda. If funds are provided to these programmes, the government will have to spend Rs 6.6 billion this fiscal as there are 334 lawmakers who will get fund for these programmes. In the past, a lawmaker elected under FPTP got Rs 30 million and lawmakers elected under PR system got Rs 5 million.

The PM's remarks will make the job of Finance Minister Yuba Raj Khatiwada easy as he is under pressure from lawmakers.

NCP Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal told the meeting that CDF should be allocated on the basis of practicality and necessity. The government's policy and programmes should be different this time.

The NCP directed its lawmakers to suggest programmes that could be included in the budget.

Oli also told lawmakers they should act like senior advocates while framing new laws and like PhD holders while carrying out development projects. He told them not to protest against the government policy and programmes being presented in the Parliament on Monday. He also told them to monitor the performance of the PM and ministers.

He informed that the Indian Embassy's field office in Biratnagar would be closed soon. The PM also said the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation would be activated.