Portfolio division puts ministry on sticky wicket

- NAYAK PAUDEL, Kathmandu

Jan 16, 2019-

The Ministry of Health and Population’s decision to divide its portfolios between its two secretaries to function efficiently will most likely be ineffective, following strong reservations from one of its secretaries Kedar Bahadur Adhikari.

“I will not follow the Minister’s orders. It’s upto the Cabinet to decide my work,” Adhikari told the Post.

Following Minister for Health and Population Upendra Yadav’s decision on January 8, Adhikari has been assigned to look after the department of population and Pushpa Chaudhary the department of health.

As per the new decision, Chaudhary’s portfolio would include health policies and the Department of Health Services, while Adhikari would be supervising both the Department of Drug Administration and the Department of Ayurveda.

“The departments of health and population, if overseen by two different secretaries could help the ministry perform better,” said a high level ministry official on condition of anonymity.

“Nepal has been praised in international forums for its achievements in decreasing mortality rates and expanding health services. If there are two health secretaries, we can perform even better,” said the official, who warned that the ministry’s operations could be affected if the new decision couldn’t be implemented.

While the decision has been welcomed by ministry officials, who believe two health secretaries could actually accelerate the ministry’s work, Adhikari begs to differ. “I will not work at the ministry under pressure from the minister. The decision to divide portfolios is unacceptable. The Cabinet can either order me to work as per the new division or transfer me to another ministry,” said Adhikari, whose decision could leave the responsibilities of the ministry to Chaudhary.

According to sources, the Cabinet had transferred Chaudhary to the Prime Minister’s Office due to her differences with Yadav, and appointed Adhikari as health secretary. But following a Supreme Court’s stay order on the Cabinet decision, Chaudhary returned to the ministry.  

“Chaudhary has been mired in controversies even before she was transferred by the Cabinet. The work at the ministry will be affected if there is only one health secretary and there might be more controversies during her tenure,” said the official.

Published: 16-01-2019 07:49

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