Local concern

February 6, 2018 08:26 AM Republica

Federalism and local units

With the provincial assembly meetings of Province 1 and 4 held on Monday, all seven provinces have begun their long anticipated federal exercise. The assemblies have vowed to fight against extreme poverty and carry aspiration of millions in their respective provinces. While they have huge challenges ahead, it is upon everyone to lend a hand in ensuring the success of the system we have chosen to govern ourselves. As provincial assemblies spring into action, we are reporting stories of poor to non-existent infrastructures in the newly-created rural municipalities and municipalities across the country. This is a huge challenge to the new local units for they have been entrusted with almost all the responsibility to handle local affairs. 

The federal government’s focus has to be in strengthening the local units and not weakening their constitutional rights under any pretext. The local units must be provided with adequate infrastructures and needed human resources to run the system. Compared to prior municipalities and village development committees (VDCs), these units are much bigger and some of the areas are painfully remote. In the absence of sufficient manpower and resources, the newly-elected representatives won’t be able to deliver on their campaign promises. The Constitution of Nepal 2015 has envisioned powerful and fairly independent local units that can generate their own resources in the long run. The local units have a wide range of responsibilities, ranging from issuing citizenship cards to issuing permits to setting up schools to designing the curriculums for those schools. Delivering these services require the same level of managerial and structural investments by the federal government. The government in Kathmandu will have to look into these issues seriously and support local units in carrying out their responsibilities smoothly. 

It is supremely important that the current system thrives if we are serious about real devolution of power from Kathmandu to local towns and villages. And for this to happen, Singha Durbar must also change its mindset in the way it deals with the local units. These are constitutionally empowered bodies to handle the local issues and their rights must be protected and nurtured with proper resources and support. If we take the units as mere extension of the old we will then fail the people and the system we fought so hard to bring about in the first place. Let us lend our full hearted support to the local units so that people feel Singha Durbar is actually on their doorstep to help and expedite their works on a daily basis. Let there be no illusion in the minds of leaders in Kathmandu and those in provincial capitals, the local units should be welcomed to chart their own course. And all other state and non-state organs must stand ready to support in their endeavor to create wealth, happiness and wellbeing of the people. 

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