Nepal | July 14, 2020

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The Himalayan Times
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It is imperative that PM Oli sets the ball rolling at the earliest, first by giving full shape to his Cabinet

CPN-UML Chairman KP Oli was appointed the prime minister exactly a month ago. The Oli government is supported by his key ally CPN-Maoist Centre and, the Federal Social Forum-Nepal (FSF-N), the Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal and some fringe forces. On Sunday, Oli secured votes of 208 lawmakers in the 275-strong House of Representatives, establishing himself as the most powerful prime minister since the restoration of democracy in 1990. Besides, the left alliance of the UML and the CPN-MC has formed governments in six of the seven provinces. The FSF-N, which is leading the government in Province 2, has also thrown its weight behind Oli. While PM Oli is yet to give full shape to his Council of Ministers at the centre, provincial governments are also incomplete. Currently, PM Oli is leading a 7-member Cabinet at the centre.

The parliamentary and provincial elections held on November 26 and December 7 finally capped the long-drawn transition to federal democracy from monarchy. But a new government could not be formed for two long months because the House of Representatives could not take shape, largely due to the delay by the Office of the President in clearing the Bill on the National Assembly election. Lawmakers of the both the Houses were sworn in only on March 4, following which PM Oli won the vote of confidence on Sunday. It seems there is some confusion over distribution of the ministerial portfolios, which is delaying the Cabinet expansion. Earlier, there was an understanding between the left alliance leaders that the UML would get 11 ministries and the CPN-MC seven. But with the SSF-N also into the fold, the two parties have decided to leave one ministry each for the Madhes-based party. If the portfolio distribution is hindering the Cabinet expansion, PM Oli should sort this issue out at the earliest.

Oli’s return to power for a second time was ensured by the left alliances’ promise of “stability for prosperity” that its leaders made from the election hustings. People have voted the left alliance, and Oli, to power with high hopes. But the delay in giving full shape to the Cabinet could inculcate a sense of unease in the general public and make them disenchanted with the government. This could also instill lethargy in the civil servants. People are expecting efficient service delivery to reach their doorsteps and rapid development to start. But development projects have come to a halt while day-to-day administration works have been affected. New laws and regulations required for the proper functioning of the federal and provincial governments are yet to be formulated. Without designated ministers, there could be lethargy in administration. The delay has also created some doubts among people whether inter- and intra-party factional feuds are raising their ugly head. PM Oli must rise above partisan and factional interests. Oli has taken the helm of the government at a time when the country’s economy is not in very good shape. The government has to present the federal budget within May 28. Therefore it is imperative that PM Oli sets the ball rolling at the earliest, first by giving full shape to Council of Ministers.

Outdated law

Market monitoring to be carried out by government agencies has been ineffective due to outdated law designed to protect the consumers’ rights. The Food Act was enacted 51 years ago which cannot address the new challenges seen in markets. As per the Act, anyone involved in production, sale, import and export of sub-standard food items will be fined Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 only. The amount of fine is very low in the present context. Market protection officer Om Narayan Sharma of Market Monitoring Unit, Chitwan has blamed the old Act for ineffective monitoring.

Chitwan CDO Narayan Prasad Bhatta has also stressed the need for timely amendment to the Act in accordance with the changed context. The Market Monitoring Unit, Chitwan does not have its own lab to examine whether sub-standard food has been sold to consumers. Out of the 54 samples collected from various groceries eight food items were found to be sub-standard. They were tested in a Hetauda-based food lab. The local level units which have the right to ensure quality control should set up food labs with enough resources to ensure that all groceries, vendors and roadside hotels sell healthy and hygienic food.

 


A version of this article appears in print on March 16, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.


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