The move is against government’s austerity measures to tackle impending financial crisis
KATHMANDU, March 22: At a time when the government is struggling to tackle the impending financial crisis, the Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government has expedited the process to dole out over Rs 9 billion to the party cadres and their families in the name of providing relief to the martyrs.
Prime Minister Dahal, who also holds the portfolio of the Ministry of Finance, has cleared the way to distribute over Rs 9 billion from the state coffers by publishing a list of those killed in the course of the decade-old Maoist conflict as martyrs. Those receiving state bounty also include the Maoist combatants who were disqualified by the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) for possible integration with the state security agencies.
Prime Minister Dahal holds the portfolio of Finance Ministry as well after the ministers of the CPN-UML who resigned en masse earlier. Both the leaders of the opposition parties and those belonging to the ruling coalition partners have expressed dissatisfaction over the prime minister’s controversial move.
A cabinet meeting held on February 15 had decided to publish the list of martyrs from the period of the start of the Maoist conflict in 1996 to the date of signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) in November 2006. The cabinet meeting declared 8,371 people who were killed during the decade-long Maoist conflict by both sides as national martyrs.
A cabinet meeting held on Monday decided to provide compensation to the families of the martyrs and those declared as ‘disqualified’ combatants on grounds of their age. Sources said the government plans to provide Rs 1 million each to the families of those killed during the Maoist insurgency, taking the cost to provide such relief to all those declared as martyrs to Rs 8.37 billion.
Similarly, the government plans to provide Rs 200,000 each to the disqualified combatants as relief. The UNMIN, which facilitated Nepal’s peace process, had declared 4,009 combatants as disqualified on the basis of being child soldiers. Providing them the relief as decided by the government would cost an additional 801.8 million from the state exchequer.
It may be recalled that Prime Minister Dahal had decided to formulate a procedure and provide relief to the Maoist combatants who were deemed unfit in the course of verification conducted by the UNMIN. The prime minister, according to a senior NC leader, seems to be taking advantage of the fact that NC will not openly criticize his move as the party is obliged to him for breaking the alliance with the CPN-UML and elected NC leader Ram Chandra Poudel as new president.
All the Maoist combatants were kept in seven cantonments and 21 satellite cantonments after the peace process began in Nepal to expedite the process of their integration with the state security agencies including the army. The UNMIN had verified a total of 19,602 Maoist combatants.
Among all the Maoist combatants verified by the UNMIN, a total of 15,630 combatants had opted for 'voluntary retirement' and returned home with cash incentives, while 1,441 including 71 officers were selected for integration into the Nepalese Army. The Maoist combatants choosing a voluntary retirement scheme were given Rs 900,000 each including additional travel expenses, costing more than Rs 1.97 billion from the state coffers.
A senior leader of the ruling NC alleged that Prime Minister Dahal does not seem to have any other thoughts to relieve the pains and suffering of the ordinary people, but to dole out money to the party cadres in all possible ways. “It is not acceptable to see the government distributing the money this way to justify its wrongdoings. This way, we will have to spend all our resources to benefit the Maoist cadres and the Maoist party that waged the senseless war in the country, pushing the country backward for decades,” vented the NC leader, asking not to be named.