NC, UML fight over CEO post

  • Govt has not begun reconstruction works seven months after the devastating quake
- Binod Ghimire, Kathmandu

Nov 25, 2015-

With differences surfacing over the appointment Chief Executive Officer (CEO) between the ruling CPN-UML and the main opposition Nepali Congress, it is unlikely that the reconstruction authority will be formed anytime soon. The delay, hence, will add to woes of victims of the April 25 earthquake.

A meeting of the Legislation Committee of the Parliament held on Tuesday, a day before the country marks the seventh month of the devastating earthquake, failed to make any headway as NC lawmakers put forth a rigid stance that Govind Pokhrel should head the authority. 

Pokhrel was earlier appointed the CEO of the reconstruction body which was set up through an ordinance. But the body was later dissolved after Parliament failed to endorse the replacement bill. According to existing legal provisions, ordinances need to be endorsed by Parliament within 60 days of the commencement of the parliamentary session. 

The ruling UML has claimed that the new Bill cannot continue the appointment made through an ordinance, as ‘it does not have any legal status’.

After Minister for Law and Justice Agni Kharel strongly objected to NC’s demand, the Legislation Committee adjourned its meeting sine die. 

During the meeting, Minister Kharel argued that naming a particular person (as the head of the reconstruction authority), as demanded by the NC, is against the legal principles. 

While Kharel said the government was not ready to incorporate NC’s demand in the Bill, NC lawmakers argued that since Pokhrel was appointed with the consent from the UML, he should continue as the CEO of the reconstruction body. 

“The meeting failed to take any decision after major parties refused to budge from their stances,” said Ganga Chaudhary Satgaunwa, chairperson of the Legislation Committee. “The onus to resolve the issue lies with the NC and UML.” 

The devastating earthquake on April 25 killed over 9,000 people, injured 20,000 and destroyed tens of thousands of houses. Hundreds of thousands of people were rendered homeless. Despite several rounds of meetings, the Legislation Committee has failed to arrive at consensus on the bill for forwarding it to Parliament. More than 8,000 people are still living in makeshift arrangements, with no progress made in terms of reconstruction. 

The ruling and opposition parties are eyeing the post of CEO as the reconstruction body can mobilise over Rs 700 billion. 

The NC is also against a House panel decision to revise the structure of the construction authority. A sub-committee under the Bill Committee had proposed a three-tire structure under the reconstruction body - directive committee, advisory council and executive committee. 

The CEO leads the executive committee while the prime minister chairs the directive committee and the advisory council. 

A leader from the main opposition at the recommendation of the leader of the main opposition is proposed for the post of vice-chairman of both the directive committee and the advisory council. The NC has already registered a note of dissent. 

In the absence of the reconstruction authority, the government last week authorised the National Planning Commission to carry out reconstruction works. NPC Vice-Chairman Yubraj Khatiwada said his office has directed all the implementing ministries to formulate reconstruction plans and forward them to the NPC for authentication. 

The Sushil Koirala-led government had allocated Rs 74 billion while donor agencies had pledged over Rs 400 billion for reconstruction works. 

Published: 25-11-2015 09:12

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