Voters ‘unaware’ of duties of centre and state govts

- Binod Ghimire, Kathmandu
Experts say political parties and leaders should have done enough homework to make voters understand powers and responsibilities of central and provincial governments

Nov 9, 2017-The country is set to vote to elect a federal government at the centre and provincial (state) governments in seven provinces. 

As the country is holding the elections for the first time in the federal set-up, there 

is confusion among voters about some issues related to powers, functions and duties of the central government and provincial governments. And candidates have added 

to voters’ confusion as they are contesting without differentiating the agendas for central and provincial elections. 

The constitution has categorised powers and responsibilities of all three layers of the government—central, provincial and local. 

But the candidates contesting the elections haven’t been able to educate voters on the differences of the provincial and federal parliaments and governments in their election campaigns and commitments. Political parties in their election manifestos also haven’t been able to make clear what their agendas for the provincial and federal governments are. 

“I didn’t find any difference in the agenda of a mayor candidate or a candidate of provincial and federal parliament. Why do we need three layers [of government] if all of them have same functions?” wondered Kamala Sharma, 55, of Kaushaltar, Bhaktapur. Referring to the “smart city” agenda that everyone is talking about, she said irrespective of the types of elections candidates are contesting, they are raising the same issue. 

The constitution in its Schedule 5 has listed 35 explicit authorities of the federal government. Schedule 6 has stipulated 21 duties and functions of provincial governments. The list of provincial powers includes provincial policing and security, licence to radio and TV, house registration and provincial civil service. Similarly, provincial governments also enjoy the right to conduct irrigation, road and other development projects within the province, health service and provincial university and higher education among others. 

While 25 concurrent powers are shared between the central government and provincial governments, 15 concurrent powers are shared among local, provincial and federal governments.  Experts say political parties are completely at a loss. 

The parties should have done proper homework as the country is set to embrace a completely new system of governance, they said.

“It seems parties themselves are confused. We can’t expect them to make issues clear to voters when they themselves are puzzled,” said Khem Raj Nepal, a former government secretary, with the expertise in regional planning. “As provincial government is totally a new concept in Nepal, parties should have done enough homework to learn the functions, duties, powers and governance system of seven provinces,” he added.

According to Nepal, lack of preparation on the part of political parties and their leaders may delay the functions of the provincial governments, as new officials and agencies will take time to get the hang of the new system of governance. The new constitution envisions the first meeting of the provincial assemblies 20 days after the results of the elections. 

Federal and provincial elections are scheduled for November 26 and December 7. 

Published: 09-11-2017 07:32

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