EDITORIAL: Oli under fire

we are in dire need of an amendment to the constitution as regards to electoral system that would ensure a majority federal government that will give delivery to the people

The KP Sharma Oli-led coalition government is drawing a lot of criticism. It has been less than a hundred days since the government formation, and it has little done to be proud about. Instead, the major opposition Nepali Congress and even the ruling CPN-UML and UCPN-M say the days of the downfall of the government   has already begun. The Oli-led government has recently decided to add four new ministries bifurcating the two ministries. Three new ministries – Population and Environment, Water and Sanitation and Livestock Development Ministry have been added and the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies has been split into two ministries and the Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Supplies have been formed. According to those in the know the addition of these four new ministries will be an expensive venture costing the treasury of the country at least Rs. 6 billion or more annually as recurrent expenditure which it can ill-afford not to talk about the risks of overlapping together with the lack of inter-ministry coordination. Most observers see this move as an attempt to stay in power. The present jumbo sized Cabinet needs to be slashed for the addition of four more ministries would be an unnecessary burden. If the government plans to stay in power by appointing new ministers and pacifying the other parties this should not be entertained under any circumstances as the country simply cannot afford to do so. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Oli is quoted to have said that he expanded the cabinet “out of compulsion”.   Others see this as a ploy by PM Oli to hang on to power. At a time when the already large cabinet of ministers needs to be downsized, the present jumbo-cabinet is ridiculous. Oli stands accused of taking the step of increasing the number of cabinet ministers purportedly aimed to appease the lawmakers of fringe parties.

These days more political parties are being formed just so that they can be appointed as ministers. The present step taken by the government reinforces this belief. The country at present certainly does not need a 40-member cabinet. Thus, the creation of the ministries which we could do without will not only be expensive, but it will be difficult for inter-ministerial coordination. The manner in which the administration is being taken by the government has drawn much flak for it is not going by administrative reforms. This is no way to implement the new constitution and can be seen as a backward step.

The blame for the present predicament could be put in the present election system we have with the provision for the First Past the Post (FPtP) and Proportional Representation (PR). With 165 of the parliament members will be elected under the FPtP and 110 from the PR. This will always result in a hung parliament and even those who come to power will not be capable of forming a stable government as we are already seeing now. This anomaly could be dealt with through providing for a certain percentage of threshold. So, we are in dire need of an amendment to the constitution as regards to electoral system that would ensure a majority federal government that will give delivery to the people and work towards development.

Sans doctor

Most of the primary health centres in the remote districts are operating without medical officers for many years. These centres where a large number of people visit for first hand medical treatment are run by junior staffers. Due to the absence of a medical officer, the locals are compelled to visit either the district headquarters or to other well-equipped hospitals even for minor medical treatment that could have been done if there were medical officers in place. A report from the remote district of Jajarkot has stated that as many as 80 heath centres are running without medical officers on duty. The government has a policy of deputing at least one medical officer, other health workers and a lab assistant. But the government has not been able to depute the medical officers as required by its own policy. The Garkhakot Primary Health Centre has also not seen a MMBS doctor for the last 15 year. Even the District Health Office is also helpless to fulfill the quota of a doctor in each of the health centres. This is a very serious issue and the concerned authorities must urgently pay attention to it.