Nepal | October 18, 2019

Prime Minister Oli to return on Friday

‘Consults’ ministers via teleconference after remote ‘Cabinet meeting’ drew severe criticism

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, September 3

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli today held ‘consultations’ with ministers remotely after his move to conduct Cabinet meeting from Singapore through video conferencing on August 26 drew flak.

Oli’s health was discussed during the consultations that lasted from 1:00pm to 2:30pm, while the PM took stock of the government’s work, said Minister of Communications and Information Technology Gokul Baskota, who is also the government’s spokesperson, emerging from the consultations at the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Minister.

Oli, who has been undergoing treatment in Singapore since August 22, told ministers that his health was improving and that he would return home on Friday, according to a minister who took part in the consultations.

“After he briefed us about his health, the ministers talked about their work progress. The PM also sought information on issues he was concerned about,” said the minister.

Oli asked about Melamchi Drinking Water Project during the presentation of Minister of Water Supply Bina Magar and sought information about Institute of Medicine entrance examination set for September 8 from Minister of Education, Science and Technology Giriraj Mani Pokharel, according to the minister.

Just before his departure to Singapore, the Cabinet had amended the Cabinet Meeting Operating Procedure, allowing the prime minister or ministers to remotely take part in video conferencing meeting. The main opposition Nepali Congress has termed it ‘misuse of technology’.

Stating that the provision could result in compromising confidentiality, the NC had expressed strong reservations about using video conferencing for conducting Cabinet meetings.

The NC also said Oli conducting the Cabinet meeting remotely at a time when there was an acting prime minister was shocking.

Not only the opposition, even leaders from the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), including Bhim Rawal publicly, criticised Oli’s move.

Following the criticism, the government clarified that teleconference on August 26 was not a Cabinet ‘meeting’ but ‘consultation’.

However, Oli himself had said in a Twitter post that he was thankful to technology that made it possible for him to remotely take part in the Cabinet meeting.

Meanwhile, NCP General Secretary Bishnu Paudel today left for Singapore to see the PM. He is scheduled to return on Friday, along with Oli.


A version of this article appears in print on September 04, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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