President Bidya Devi Bhandari issued the Health Profession Education (HPE) Ordinance on Friday, more than two weeks after the Cabinet’s recommendation and four days after Dr Govinda KC filed a right to information petition seeking its status and the cause of the delay in its promulgation.
A press statement issued by Kul Prasad Chudal, spokesperson for the Office of President, said President Bhandari promulgated the HPE Ordinance in accordance with Article 114(1) of the Constitution of Nepal. An ordinance promulgated under Article 114 (1), according to the constitution, has the same force and effect as an Act. It, however, has to be endorsed by Parliament within 60 days from the first House meeting.
The ordinance, which was recommended by the government on October 23 after then Parliament, which was dissolved on October 14, failed to endorse the HPE Bill due to opposition from the CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre).
The ordinance has retained the provision of the HPE Bill, which seeks to put a moratorium of 10 years on establishing new medical schools in Kathmandu Valley. Dr KC, who has been fighting for reforms in the medical education sector for long, had been demanding endorsement of the HPE Bill. The HPE Bill was prepared in line with the recommendations by a team of experts led by educationist Kedar Bhakta Mathema.
Since some provisions, including the one that seeks to put a moratorium on establishing new medical colleges in Valley, could have affected a handful of people, especially some leaders from the UML and the CPN (Maoist Centre), the two parties prevented the government from tabling the bill in Parliament.
Dr KC had launched hunger strikes several times demanding immediate endorsement of the bill. Dr KC had called off his 13th hunger strike following the government’s assurance that it would address his demands through an ordinance. With the promulgation of the ordinance, it’s half the battle won for Dr KC, as the rest will depend on the composition of new Parliament which will come into place after elections.