‘Faulty’ provisions may invite power tussle, warn stakeholders

- GAURAV THAPA, Kathmandu
‘Faulty’ provisions may invite power tussle, warn stakeholders

Jul 19, 2015-

The preliminary draft of the constitution has usurped upon the domain of local bodies by taking away some of their legal, judicial and financial powers, stakeholders have complained, questioning the commitment of lawmakers on local autonomy and decentralisation.

Powers related to land management, family laws and preservation of archaeological structures, among others, vested in village development committees, municipalities and district development committees by Local Self-governance Act of 1999 have been stripped in the draft. There are also some conflicting provisions on the delineation of powers between local bodies and provincial authorities like those on registration of birth and death, collection of taxes and environment conservation.

Despite talks on decentralisation of powers from Singha Durbar to local bodies, the provisions threaten to create “eight Singha Durbars” in the country, Chief Executive Officer of Kathmandu Metropolitan City Rudra Singh Tamang told the Post, referring to the proposed restructuring of the state into eight provinces. They should have at least retained the powers provided by the self-governance act, he added terming the draft constitution as regressive.

The preliminary draft of the constitution states that “there shall be rural municipality, municipality and district assembly under the local level” and their executive powers have been listed in Schedule-7 of the draft. But the list is in conflict with Schedules-5 and 6 which list the powers and jurisdiction of provincial government.

For example, Schedule-6 puts vital registrations of birth and death under the jurisdiction of provincial government while Schedule-7 states the registration of individual incidents of birth, marriage and death as the power of local bodies. This duplication could force people to travel to provincial capital for even birth and death certificates which had been issued by ward offices, Tamang warned.

Likewise, conservation of environment and biodiversity fall under the jurisdiction of both local bodies and provincial authorities in the draft constitution as do the power to collect land and house registration fees, vehicle tax, advertisement tax, entertainment tax and tourism fee. These provisions are expected to create a tussle between the two tiers of governance.

Further, executive powers on land management, record-keeping of the land and land revenue collection, preservation of archaeological materials, historical monuments and museums and laws related to family affairs like marriage, property transfer, divorce, endangered, orphaned or adopted child, successors and joint family which were part of local bodies as per the self-governance act have been completely withdrawn.

Municipal Association of Nepal, an umbrella association of municipalities in the country, has also objected to the “faulty” provisions in the draft. The rights and powers of local bodies on resource utilisation and management have been curtailed, and their autonomy has been encroached upon, chairperson of its working committee Dormani Poudel said, questioning the modality of state restructuring into three levels - federal, provincial and local. “We demand that local bodies be provided with powers of autonomy and self-governance in practice and not just in talks,” he said.

Published: 20-07-2015 08:02

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