Infra for provincial assemblies: Govt preparation far from satisfactory

  • Federal parliaments set to commence business from first week of Jan
- Binod Ghimire, Kathmandu
There is still confusion over where the headquarters of the provinces will be, say officials at the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development

Sep 15, 2017-When the country elected its first Constituent Assembly (CA) in 2008, the country had to find a building to seat the 601 elected members. The old Parliament building inside Singha Durbar was too small to accommodate the newly elected CA members. The International Convention Centre in Naya Baneshwor, the biggest facility available for conferences, was then chosen for conducting the historic business of writing a new constitution. Converting a conference hall into the CA was a race against time. 

The elected CA from the same building took the historic decision of abolishing the monarchy, ushering in a new era. Nepal became a federal republic country. The CA gave a new constitution in 2015. 

In line with these historic developments, the country is now set to elect representatives in all seven provinces. In about three months, provincial assemblies will come into existence. But when it comes to infrastructure development and logistics for the seven parliaments, preparations are far from satisfactory. 

Each province will need an assembly building, a secretariat office, one library and Parliamentary Party offices of each political force elected to the assembly. The provincial elections will take place in two phases on November 26 and December 7. The Parliament Secretariat two months ago had prepared a rough cost estimate for the House of Representatives, provincial assemblies and national assembly, but no concrete decision has been taken. 

“Based on our experience, we had recommended the operation cost and the organogram for the Upper House, Lower House and provincial assemblies,” said Bharat Raj Gautam, spokesperson for the Parliament Secretariat and the coordinator of a committee formed to estimate the cost. 

The Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MoFALD) is the concerned government agency to execute the plan, but ministry Spokesperson Rudra Singh Tamang said: “We have not been authorised for the job yet.” 

According to the recommendations made by the Gautam-led committee, the annual cost for the seven provincial assemblies and their secretariats will come to the tune of Rs 2.55 billion. 

The infrastructure development and logistics management cost is likely to come to billions of rupees, according to a rough estimate. 

There will be 550 members in all seven provinces after the elections, with Province 3 having the highest number of members (110). Province 7 will have the lowest number of members of 53. 

There is still confusion over where the headquarters of the provinces will be, said MoFALD officials, adding the process of choosing an area and building construction could begin only after there is clarity on provincial assembly headquarters. 

After voting in the second phase, provincial assembly members must take oath of office and secrecy within 15 days. The first meeting of the assembly must commence within two weeks after the oath, meaning the provincial assemblies must start their businesses from the first week of January. Given the preparations so far, it could be a race against time once again.

Published: 15-09-2017 08:20

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