Oli appoints key officials leaving ministers concerned in dark

Published On: January 10, 2019 07:10 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Jan 10: Prime Minister KP Oli has stepped on the toes of some of his own cabinet ministers over various key appointments, and the ministers are unhappy over his interventions. Three ministers are not happy with at least three such latest appointments—chief of National Investigation Department Ganesh Adhikari, Chairman of Industrial District Management Limited Nanda Bahadur Basnet, and Nepal Telecom Managing Director Dilli Adhikari.

PM Oli started interfering in the appointment of secretaries at key ministries right from the time he assumed office last February. 

In the latest such intervention, Dilip Regmi was replaced as NID chief on Monday and Minister for Home Affairs Ram Bahadur Thapa is unhappy with the decision to shorten Regmi’s four-year term. Experts have also questioned the decision to relieve Regmi of his post through an amendment in the departmental regulations. The government amended the regulations to sack Regmi. 

Likewise, Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies Matrika Prasad Yadav has expressed dissatisfaction over the appointment of Nanda Kishor Basnet as chairman and managing director of the Industrial Districts Management Limited. Yadav’s personal assistant Santosh Bista informed that Yadav has already expressed his dissatisfaction to the prime minister and Oli has agreed to discuss the matter. 

“The appointment was without due process and Basnet is not a qualified candidate,” added Bista. 

Yadav, meanwhile, has instructed Secretary Yam Kumari Khatiwada to put the new appointment on hold. Another recent appointment, that of Managing Director of NOC Surendra Kumar Paudel, was, however, tabled by Yadav himself in a cabinet meeting.

Minister for Communication and Information Gokul Baskota is also unhappy over a decision to appoint Dilli Adhikari as managing director of Nepal Telecom, according to a source at the ministry. Baskota’s press advisor Sujit Mainali, however, said he was not aware of Baskota’s displeasure and referred the matter to Secretary Mahendra Man Gurung. Gurung did not receive the phone calls. Baskota also did not respond to Republica’s attempts to get his response. 

Back in February, many ministers were taken by surprise when Oli transferred secretaries including those of finance, physical infrastructure and transport. They too had expressed their dissatisfaction. 

On several issues, PM Oli has worked directly with the secretaries, bypassing the ministers concerned. Minister Yadav objected when he was not consulted by the prime minister’s office on deciding the sugar import quota in September. The PM himself had proposed the move. 

The quota of 100,000 tons decided for the current fiscal year created a sugar shortage during the festive season and it was Yadav who faced criticism after the price soared. 

Kundan Aryal, the PM’s press adviser, defended the latest key appointments by the PM, saying that was how a PM exercised his powers in a Westminster type system. “Theoretically, the prime minister can decide anything in matters of government appointments and many others, just as Manmohan Adhikari and Girija Prasad Koirala did in the past,” Aryal said.

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