EDITORIAL: Act sincerely

PM must address the issues raised by CMs by enacting umbrella laws which are a must for effective functioning of provinces

One year after elections of the federal Parliament and provincial Assemblies, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Sunday convened the first meeting of the constitutional Inter-Province Council (IPC) where the chief ministers asked the PM to untie the knots with regards to implementation of the rights guaranteed to the provinces in the constitution and its schedule. This was the first such meeting where the chief ministers of all seven provinces and their principal secretaries and federal Cabinet ministers, chief secretary and secretaries of the concerned federal ministries and attorney general discussed the myriad issues related to the rights of the provinces. The chief ministers from Province 1, Province 2, Province 3 and Gandaki Pradesh put forth their views on Sunday. The chief ministers of three other provinces aired their views yesterday. AT Sunday’s meeting, the four chief ministers raised the 13-point agenda with the PM, who chaired the council meeting, saying that they were facing a shortage of human resources, that the National Natural Resources and Fiscal Commission (NNRFC) was yet to be formed and that umbrella laws were yet to be enacted by the federal Parliament. Broadly these were the issues to which the chief ministers drew the PM’s attention and sought unequivocal commitment to address them at the earliest.

The IPC meeting earlier was scheduled for September 9. However, PM Oli abruptly cancelled the meeting indefinitely after the chief ministers held a consultative meeting on September 7 in Pokhara, where they came up with their nine-point common agenda that they wanted to raise with the PM during the council meeting. PM Oli agreed to hold the IPC meeting after he faced criticism. When the council meeting was going on, the chief ministers were informed about the presidential authentication of the civil servant adjustment ordinance that paves the way for deploying employees to provinces and local levels.

During the meeting PM Oli tried to accommodate the concerns raised by the chief ministers, who were particularly concerned about the possible failure in carrying out development works within their jurisdiction due to the absence laws, fiscal commission and crunch of human resources. The PM directed the concerned authorities to address these problems at the earliest. The winter session of the federal Parliament, likely to be convened in mid-January, must enact all umbrella laws to enable the provinces to pass their own laws. The NNRFC needs to be formed at the earliest so that revenue can be shared among three tiers of government as per the constitutional provisions. Since federalism is new for all, it might take time to make it fully functional. But the federal government needs to play a constructive role to institutionalise the federal setup whose main objective is to provide goods and services to people at their doorsteps. Most of problems currently faced by the provinces can be resolved amicably if the PM and bureaucracy in Singha Durbar work in tandem with utmost sincerity. When the chief ministers return home they must feel satisfied with the outcome of the council conclave. PM must act sincerely.

Protect human rights

In its annual report (2017-2018) submitted to President Bidhya Devi Bhandari on Sunday, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has said that the country’s overall situation of human rights is still not satisfactory. The report has drawn the government’s attention to state’s failure to make public the status of forcefully disappeared persons and deliver justice to the kin of persons killed during the decade-long conflict even after more than a decade of the signing of the peace deal. Similarly, it has said the country has failed to make ample progress in the area of economic, social, cultural and human rights.

After a long-drawn transition, Nepal has finally attained political stability and now is the time to strengthen democratic institutions and create a situation where human rights are fully protected. That the rights body has said in its report that culture of impunity prevails in the country and that its recommendations remain unimplemented are a cause for concern. Only by protecting human rights, the country can ensure the rule of law, which is central to democracy. The government also must pay heed to reforms — which  are required to promote and protect human rights—suggested by the NHRC.