Oli inducts four more ministers

  • Ex-governor Khatiwada appointed finance minister
  • Pokhrel, Thapa, Yadav take charge after swearing-in
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Feb 27, 2018-Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli inducted four ministers to his Cabinet on Monday. Two of them are from his party CPN-UML and two from the CPN (Maoist Centre)

President Bidya Devi Bhandari had administered the oath to UML General Secretary Ishwor Pokhrel as the defence minister, former Nepal Rastra Bank governor Yubaraj Khatiwada as the finance minister, senior Maoist Centre leader Ram Bahadur Thapa as the home minister and Maoist leader Matrika Yadav as the minister for industry, commerce and supplies before they took charge on Monday evening.

The UML and the Maoist Centre were preparing to give the Cabinet its complete shape on Monday but their plan to bring the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum Nepal (SSF-N) on board seems to be taking time. SSF-N leaders said they would decide to join the government once the left alliance inks a political agreement, especially on constitution amendment, with the Madhes-based party.

Inclusion of the SSF-N, which has 16 seats in the House of Representatives, will give the Oli government more than a two-thirds majority. The Upendra Yadav-led party has demanded two ministries including the foreign affairs portfolio and deputy Speaker of the House.

According to UML leaders, the row over portfolio division had delayed full expansion of the Cabinet. Both PM Oli and Maoist Centre Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal have a large numbers of aspirants in their parties. Oli’s Chief Political Advisor Bishnu Rimal, however, said all the candidates are ready and that the PM would induct them once the SSF-N decides to join the government.

Since Oli wants no deputy prime minister in his Cabinet, Defence Minister Pokhrel ranks second after the PM. Oli’s decision to select former central bank governor Khatiwada has been viewed positively at a time when the country faces a difficult economic situation.

The UML has accused his predecessor Sher Bahadur Deuba of wrecking the country’s economy. While major leaders including Ishwor Pokhrel, Pradeep Gyawali and Surendra Pande wanted to lead the Finance Ministry, Oli pushed for Khatiwada, who has led the National Planning Commission twice. UML Secretary Gyawali said PM Oli was strongly in favour of Khatiwada as he is “best suited to handle the Finance Ministry at the moment”.

Khatiwada is one of the three members nominated to the National Assembly whose oath has been stayed by the Supreme Court. This, however, did not deter his appointment as the finance minister.

Rimal said the apex court could consider the issue since Khatiwada is now the federal finance minister. The court has summoned both the parties for discussion on March 4 on a writ petition against the nomination of the three members. Maoist leader Thapa bagged the Home Ministry despite strong lobbying from other party colleagues. Former finance minister Barsha Man Pun and former home minister Shakti Basnet were also in the race from the Maoist party. With strong backing from Chairman Dahal, Thapa got the position. Thapa had served as the defence minister in the Dahal Cabinet in 2008.

Yadav was the forest minister in the interim government led by the late Girija Prasad Koirala after the reinstatement of parliament in 2006. He became the minister for land management later but on both occasions he had to quit due to disagreements with the PM. When he was appointed the PM on February 3, Oli inducted Lalbabu Pandit as the minister for environment and population and Thammaya Thapa as the minister for women, children and social welfare.

Published: 27-02-2018 07:58

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