Centre, provinces agree to adopt fresh timeline

  • Panel, led by Home Minister Thapa, recommends new deadline for realisation of federalism
- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu

Dec 19, 2018-

The federal government and the provinces have agreed to a fresh timeline for completing a number of tasks related to devolution of power to the provincial administrations.

The high-level panel headed by Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa recommended the new deadline for introducing necessary laws, formation of the National Natural Resources and Fiscal Commission, adjustment of civil servants at the three-tier administration and handing over institutions under Centre’s watch to the provinces.

The five-member panel formed after the Inter-state Council meeting last week submitted its report to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Tuesday. “We handed over the report recommending the plan of action with specific deadline to the prime minister today,” said Province 5 Chief Minister Shankar Pokharel, who is also a member of the committee, after the meeting with PM Oli. The panel has two federal government ministers and two chief ministers as members.

According to Pokharel, they have recommended time-bound action plan based on which all the works necessary for implementing federalism must be completed. All the laws required to implement federalism should be prepared by mid-March.

With the government starting the process to adjust civil servants in the three-tier government, the minister-led committee set the mid-January deadline for completing their deployment.

If the provincial governments face a shortage of technical human resource even after completion of the adjustment process, the committee suggests they should be allowed to hire personnel on contract until the vacancies are filled through the provincial Public Service Commission.

The provinces complain that the federal government’s delay to introduce the Federal Police Act, the Federal Civil Service Act and its failure to set the benchmark for the provincial Public Service Commission have prevented the provinces from enacting corresponding laws.

Constitutionally, the provinces are required to follow federal laws while passing the provincial laws. These laws and standards are currently under consideration at the Cabinet. Besides these vital laws, about three dozen laws related to the concurrent powers need to be introduced, according to the Law Ministry.

The federal government has so far mobilised 12,351 employees to the provinces against their requirement of 21,399, according to the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration. At the local level, the federal government has mobilised 29,577 officials while around 10,000 personnel recruited by the erstwhile local bodies are working there.

According to the Organisation and Management Survey, there is the need for over 58,000 staffers at the local level. Provincial governments have said the lack of adequate human resource affected budget execution, which led to just two percent spending by the provinces as of December 5.

In another recommendation, the National Natural Resources and Fiscal Commission should be formed by mid-March. Formation of the constitutional commission is the longstanding demand of the provincial governments. According to Chief Minister Pokharel, the commission will have to complete its task before the budget

for the next fiscal year is presented. Provincial and local governments have reservations over the provision of revenue sharing in the Inter-government Fiscal Arrangement Act as it has given them a just 30 percent share of the value added tax and excise duty.

The sub-national governments are demanding at least 60 percent of the total resources for the provincial and local governments in proportion to the responsibilities assigned to them.

With a lot of government institutions and projects yet to be handed over to the provinces, the high-level committee has suggested completing the process by mid-March, according to Pokharel.

 

Recommended timetable

  • Necessary laws to be introduced by mid-March
  • National Natural Resources and Fiscal Commission to be formed by mid-March
  • Need-based O&M survey of the provinces by mid-April
  • Handover of offices by mid-March

Published: 19-12-2018 07:08

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