Past agendas likely to dominate second Inter-State Council meet

  • The meeting, which is slated to take place in the last week of April, will look to settle the same set of issues concerning devolution of authority.

Apr 5, 2019-

The second meeting of the Inter-State Council is slated to take place in the last week of April and much of the agendas will come inherited from the previous session. The first meeting of the council held in December last year had delved into topics like state laws, staff appointment, formation of commissions and revenue sharing. These same subjects are likely to dominate the upcoming meeting, since the federal government has done little to address the past grievances of the state governments.

“The meeting will be important for settling all unresolved issues regarding implementation of federalism as well as newly arisen disputes,” Province 5 Chief Minister Shankar Pokharel told the Post on Thursday.

The chief ministers of all seven states were in Kathmandu for the meeting of the National Development Council, which is responsible for endorsing the periodic plan of the federal government.

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, during a meeting with the chief ministers on Thursday, had intimated the plan of convening the second Inter-State Council later this month.

“A formal decision regarding the council meeting will be announced shortly,” Oli’s press adviser Kundan Aryal said. During the previous council meeting, the state governments had complained about the Centre’s failure to prepare necessary laws such as the Federal Police Act to pave the way for formation of state police, shortage of staff, delay in transferring projects and resources to the provinces, “unfair” revenue sharing and delay in formation of National Natural Resources and Fiscal Commission and lack of guidelines to set up Province Public Service Commission, among others.

The council had then formed a high level committee, led by Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, to recommend the measures to address these issues.

Based on the committee’s recommendation, the federal and the state governments had agreed to a fresh timeline for completing a number of tasks related to devolution of power to the provincial administrations. They had agreed, among other things, to introduce all necessary laws, form the National Natural Resources and Fiscal Commission, and bring all concerned agencies under the ambit of state governments by mid-March 2019.

But the state governments say that most of these recommendations are yet to be implemented and some of the laws drafted by the Centre seek to curtail the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the provinces.

“The federal government has not yet completed the staff adjustment process at different layers of the government. We are still going through the problem of staff shortage. And since the Centre has not yet come up with the guidelines to form Provincial Public Service Commission, we are unable to recruit our own staff,” said Province 2 Chief Attorney Dipendra Jha told the Post.

The state governments have also been complaining about a provision in the Intergovernmental Fiscal Arrangement Act that has ensured a share of 15 percent from the total value added tax and 25 percent royalty from the natural resources to the provinces. For a fair resources distribution, they have sought early formation of Natural Resources and Fiscal Commission.

The state governments are also displeased with the federal government’s alleged effort to curtail constitutionally guaranteed authority to the provinces. For example, the Bill on Maintaining Law and Order, registered in the federal parliament, states that the central government would mobilise chief district officers (CDO) as its representatives to maintain law and order in districts, and that all security agencies, except for Nepal Army, as well as district courts should work under the CDO. This, according to the state governments, is against the constitution which has given the provinces an exclusive right of maintaining law and order within their state territory.

Likewise, another bill registered in Parliament on the task of Nepal Police and Provincial Police, has stated that the federal government will make appointments in the post of Deputy Superintendent of Police and above under the Provincial Police. The state governments have sought full control over provincial police, including the appointment of police chief. “All these issues will be discussed during the Inter-State Council meeting,” Chief Minister Pokharel said.

Published: 05-04-2019 10:58

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