Oli-led Cabinet balloons

  • Expansion flayed n Experts point at wrong timing, say constitutional provision breached
- BHADRA SHARMA, Post Report, Kathmandu

Dec 25, 2015-

Prime Minister KP Oli on Thursday expanded his Cabinet, fourth time since he was elected the prime minister, making it the third largest in the history.

Prime Minister  Oli on Thursday inducted Rastriya Prajatantra Party leader Deepak Bohara as Minister for Labour and Employment, Samajbadi Party leader Prem Bahadur Singh as Minister for Drinking Water and Sanitation, Janamukti Party’s Shiva Lal Thapa as Minister for Science and Technology and Pariwar Dal’s Chairman Eknath Dhakal as Minister without Portfolio.They were administered oath of office and secrecy on Thursday itself.  Similarly, Prime Minister Oli inducted six more UML leaders as state ministers on Thursday evening.  

With the latest expansion, Prime Minister Oli’s Cabinet strength has reached 40, with six deputy prime minister, 21 ministers, nine state ministers and two assistant ministers.

According to Prime Minister Oli’s Press Adviser Pramod Dahal, UML leaders Damodar Bhandari, Manju Kumari Chaudhary, Dinesh Chandra Yadav, Nardevi Pun Magar, Bal Bahadur Mahat  and Dip Narayan Sah were inducted in the Cabinet as state ministers.Earlier on Thursday, a Cabinet meeting decided to add two new ministries in an attempt to balance the power-sharing arrangement.

The number of ministries now has reached 28.

 Oli, who was elected prime minister on October 11 with the support of 15 political parties in Parliament, however, has drawn flak for forming such a jumbo Cabinet.

“This is utter misuse of state coffers,” said administration expert Shreekant Regmi. “There is no valid logic for splitting the ministries.”Legal eagles have also

criticised the government for breaching the constitutional provision and expanding

the Cabinet and ministries at random.The new constitution has set 25 as the maximum number of ministers.However, this is not the first time the government has neglected past recommendations of limiting the number of ministries.

The Administrative Reform Commission 1992 and Public Expenditure Review Commission 2000 had suggested that number of ministries should be

limited to 18.

In April, Administrative Reform Recommendation Committee headed by Administrative Court Chairman Kashi Raj Dahal had recommended that the government limit the numbers of central ministries to 12 in the federal set up. “Ministries have been split unscientifically and the move is not practical,” Regmi, who is also former home secretary, said.The addition of two new ministries, according to finance ministry officials, will add financial burden of at least Rs 3 billion on the state coffers.

UCPN (M) objects to decision

 The UCPN (Maoist), the coalition partner in the incumbent CPN-UML-led government, has objected to Prime Minister KP Oli’s decision to expand the Cabinet, saying the move was not necessary at a time when the country was going through a grave crisis. On Thursday morning, UCPN (M) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal had spoken with Oli over phone and requested him to shelve the Cabinet expansion plan, sources said, adding the prime minister, however, told Dahal in reply that he was “under pressure” and was not in a position to shelve the plan.

The party’s Standing Committee meeting later in the day decided that there was no need for such a jumbo Cabinet. According to Maoist Spokesman Dina Nath Sharma, Dahal also conveyed a message to the UML that his party was rather ready to vacate some ministries.

The Maoist meeting also concluded that increasing ministries and adding ministers do not send a positive message at a time when people are suffering from multiple problems. The party has also urged its ministers to take up the issue with PM Oli. “Wewill hold serious discussion in the party and talk to Oli [on the matter]. However, we have not thought of withdrawing support for the government,” said Sharma.

Published: 25-12-2015 09:02

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