EDITORIAL: Shortsighted

It is common knowledge that the root of the controversial ordinance is the bickering between the two co-chairs of the NCP

Just a day after the ordinance to amend the Constitutional Council Act was issued by the President, the Prime Minister has shown his readiness to withdraw the ordinance, making a mockery of Nepal’s governance system.

The withdrawal of the ordinance by the PM comes in exchange for the withdrawal of a petition seeking an extraordinary session of the parliament by a faction of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) led by its co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’. The extraordinary session of parliament would have been devastating for Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli as Prachanda’s faction wants to scrap the ordinance through a majority vote and also register a no-confidence motion against the prime minister.

There was also talk of bringing in a motion to impeach the President for issuing the controversial ordinance on Tuesday and failing to act as the custodian of the constitution. Should the extraordinary session be called, the Prime Minister forfeits the power to dissolve the parliament and call fresh elections.

This is not the first time the ordinance has created such a furore. Seven months ago, the same ordinance was withdrawn just three days after being issued as it drew flak from different quarters.

The PM has deemed the ordinance necessary because he, as the Constitutional Council chair, has been unable to make appointments to more than 45 vacant posts in various constitutional bodies. Under the existing law, only when four of five ex-officio members, namely the Chief Justice, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chairperson of the National Assembly and leader of the main opposition attend the meeting of the Constitutional Council called by the chair can it constitute a quorum.

However, the Deputy Speaker’s post has been lying vacant for almost a year. The Council has been held to ransom by the absence of opposition leader Sher Bahadur Deuba and Speaker Agni Sapkota, whose loyalty lies with Prachanda, in the meetings time and again. Under the amended Act, the majority of the ex-officio members attending the meeting can decide on filling the vacant posts. The first Constitutional Council meeting following the ordinance did take place on Wednesday, but it took no decision.

When the chair of the legislature is absent, any decision taken is likely to raise a lot of legal complications even though the new ordinance sanctions it.

It is common knowledge that the root of the controversial ordinance is the bickering between the two co-chairs of the NCP. The Prime Minister accuses Prachanda of lusting for power while the latter accuses the former of not being able to run the country properly. The growing rift in the ruling party does no one any good, and the ultimate sufferer is the country.

How the two factions patch up their differences is their business, but their feud should not be impacting the country’s political and economic progress. At a time when the coronavirus has impacted every sector of the economy, squabbling in the ruling party for petty personal gains will only distract the government from concentrating on the major issues at hand, such as importing vaccines for COVID-19 and putting the economy on track.

Online work permit

It is good news for Nepali migrant workers that the Department of Foreign Employment is all set to initiate online service for renewal of labour permits.

The department is to introduce the online service for work permit renewal from next week. Prior to this, all the migrant workers had to come to Nepal from foreign countries just to get their work permits renewed.

The migrant workers had to spend a lot of travel time and resources simply to get their work permits renewed.

Once the online service comes into force, thousands of migrant Nepalis will be able to apply for the renewal of their work permits online from their destination countries. The service seekers can pay labour permit renewal fees via payment gateways, such as IME and eSewa. And the service seekers will get their work permit certificate via e-mail.

However, online service has been limited to two times only to make sure that the service seekers return home following the expiry of their last work permits. The online service will also help the migrant workers to get all facilities to be provided by the Foreign Employment Welfare Fund. Prior to this, many workers were unable to get the facilities as they could not renew their labour permits on time.