Powerful entities torn between PMO, ministries

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Jul 2, 2018-

The KP Sharma Oli-led government’s bid to set up an all powerful Prime Minister’s Office by bringing three important entities under it has hit a roadblock in the absence of necessary laws.

As a result, the National Investigation Department (NID), the Department of Revenue Investigation (DRI) and the Department of Money Laundering Investigation (DoMLI), which were brought under the purview of the PMO, are reporting to both the ministry under which they operated and the PMO.

Chiefs of the three entities are taking orders from Kedar Bahadur Adhikari, secretary at the PMO, while also reporting to the Home and Finance secretaries.

“We are aware that they are also reporting to the ministries,” said Binod Bahadur Kuwar, spokesperson for the PMO. Officials said it was difficult for them to bring the entities fully under the PMO in the absence of specific laws. “We need to amend the laws to separate their jurisdictions,” said in official.

Secretary Adhikari reports to Prime Minister’s Chief Adviser Bishnu Rimal and others depending on the kind of information he has to communicate. This has created duplication of work, said officials. Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, after the NID was taken under the PMO, tried to form a taskforce under the ministry to fill the void but he backed off reportedly after reservations from Prime Minister Oli. While bringing them under the PMO’s watch, it was argued that the NID, DRI and DoMLI had failed to serve their purposes. However, four months after Oli’s appointment as PM for a second time, no initiatives have been taken to amend the acts to complete the process.

“We have not seen any changes after we started reporting to the PMO. At the least, our responsibilities and tasks are recorded in the PMO, rather than being confided to a certain ministry,” said one official. There were calls in the past to bring the intelligence department under the PMO.

The rationale behind bringing DoMLI and the DRI under the PMO, according to officials, is to make the bodies “effective”. The DoMLI is beset by frequent changes of its director general while the DRI has failed to control revenue leakages.

“The confusion will remain for some time. Once the Acts are amended, they will be brought wholly under the PMO,” said Adhikari, who looks after the three departments, adding that there were no legal or operational problems so far.

Published: 02-07-2018 07:36

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