KATHMANDU, Dec 9: Chief ministers of all seven provinces have arrived in Kathmandu to attend the first inter-provincial council meeting to be held on Sunday at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). The chief ministers have a bundle of complaints against the federal government.
During the meeting which is going to be held nearly a year after they assumed office, the chief ministers, accompanied by the provincial governors, are to share their issues with the prime minister.
Most chief ministers have common grievances with the center, such as lack of staff, federal government ‘prejudice’ in budget allocation to the provinces, delay information of a natural resources commission, and the center’s reluctance to formulate necessary laws, among others.
“We will put forth the issues we are facing in our day-to-day work, including the federal government’s delay in lawmaking, the blocking of provincial laws concerning matters such as police and public service commissions, shortage of staff, inadequate budgets for the provinces, confusion about which projects to oversee and dearth of cooperation and coordination between the center and the provinces,” said Chief Minister of Province 1, Sher Dhan Rai. “We have attached high importance to the meeting and have high hopes it will facilitate the province governments working in full swing.”
Prime Minister KP Oli has convened the meeting of the inter-provincial council nearly a year after the formation of the provincial governments and he has done so only under incessant pressure from the chief ministers of various provinces.
Earlier, in September, the chief ministers gathered in Pokhara, capital of Gandaki Province, and criticized the federal government for lack of cooperation, for not helping implement federalism, delaying the formulation of laws and not distributing adequate resources to the provinces.
Irked by the chief ministers’ move, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli postponed a meeting of the inter-provincial council that was slated for the second week of September.
Tensions between the center and the newly carved provinces resurfaced a few months ago after Province 2 drafted a Provincial Police Act, piling extra pressure on the federal government.
The federal government has directed the provinces not to draft any provincial laws until the federal government first endorses such laws so that there will be uniformity.
“The provinces are reeling under a shortage of civil servants, lack of necessary provincial laws, unnecessary interference from the center and unfair budget distribution. I will raise these issues and also demand the formation of a Natural Resources and Fiscal Commission and the appointment of its chief and members at the earliest,” said Province 2 Chief Minister Lal Babu Raut.
Most of the chief ministers have a common demand for setting up a mechanism for coordination between the center and the provinces.
“The inter-provincial council meeting is set to discuss issues related to policy making, formulation of laws, human resource management, resources distribution and other issues raised by the chief ministers,” said Binod Kunwar, spokesperson at the PMO.
The prime minister, federal ministers, the chief ministers, provincial governors, and federal government secretaries will attend the meeting.
Prime Minister Oli had held a meeting with the chief ministers in March after the formation of the provincial governments.
Provincial governments have been requesting the center to curtail the powers of the CDOs and bring them under the provincial chiefs. Confrontations with CDOs and other bodies under the center have surfaced in various provinces after the former ignored public holidays announced by the provincial governments.
Most provincial governments are understaffed as the central government has delayed the deployment of staff to the provinces. Revenue sharing among the three tiers of government—local, provincial and federal-- is another bone of contention.
Chief ministers have also been pressing for the formation of a Natural Resources and Fiscal Commission to settle the row between the center and provinces on revenue sharing.