Former secretary Yubraj Bhusal appointed NRA chief

Published On: October 24, 2017 06:53 AM NPT By: Roshan Sedhai

KATHMANDU, Oct 24: The cabinet on Monday appointed Yubraj Bhusal, a former secretary of the government of Nepal, as the new chief of the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA), replacing Govinda Pokharel. Pokharel has made an unexpected foray into competitive politics, filing is candidacy in parliamentary elections from Pyuthan. 

Bhusal is the third CEO at NRA since its establishment in 2015.  Bhusal, who had earlier also lobbied separately to become head of NRA and of the Nepal Investment Board, is a co-father-in-law with NC senior leader Ram Chandra Paudel. 

Bhusal’s appointment comes at a time when NRA is under intense public scrutiny for the sluggish reconstruction work.  Post-quake reconstruction  has failed to gain momentum even three years after the earthquake.  

Thousands of families rendered homeless in April 2015  are still living in makeshift shelters. 
 Outgoing CEO Pokharel failed to live up to his stated commitment to  do better than his predecessor Sushil Gyewali. If the post-quake work was slow during Gyewali’s term, it became agonizingly slow under Pokhrel.  

A significant number of earthquake victims are yet to receive the second installment of their housing grants.

Pokharel also failed to expedite the reconstruction of physical infrastructure and cultural monuments destroyed by  earthquake. 

Pokharel, who had started campaigning for elections while he was still the CEO, was forced to step down from the post following intense public criticism and repeated warnings from the Election Commission. Soon after the announcement of his candidacy from Pyuthan, many social media users suggested he contest from an earthquake-affected district instead of Pyuthan. 

Regmi appointed chief secretary 
Bhusal’s appointment is one of  several changes made at the top level of the bureaucracy by  the Council of Ministers on Monday, around four weeks ahead of the first phase  parliamentary and provincial elections slated for November 26. 

Lok Darshan Regmi, who currently serves as secretary at the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA), has been appointed  chief secretary, replacing Rajendra Kishore Chhetri who reached the age bar earlier this month. Regmi is the 24th chief secretary of the Nepal government. 

Two other senior secretaries, Ngaindra Prasad Upadhyay and Shanker Prasad Adhikari, were also in the race. 

Regmi, who is known in  bureaucratic circles for his connections to leaders of the major parties, has 23 years of experience. He has a master’s degree in public administration and has served in powerful ministries like Home and  Finance.  

 Mohan Sapkota, who is currently secretary at the Ministry of General Administration, has been transferred to Home, which is considered the most powerful among the ministries. 

Similarly, the government has made other important transfers, ignoring the EC’s election code of conduct.  It is against the code of conduct to make transfers during  elections. 

Reshmi Raj Pandey has been transferred to the Ministry of General Administration, Ngaindra Prasad Upadhyay to the Public Service Commission and Yubak Dhoj Joshi to the Ministry of Forest. Likewise, Madhu Regmi has been transferred to Ministry of Education and Prakash Mathema  to Ministry of Livestock Development.  The cabinet also promoted Joint Secretary Bishnu Om Bade to secretary. 

In a decision that is likely to give some relief to quake victims, the cabinet also decided to waive the registration fee in the  handover of integrated model settlements to quake victims at Giranchaur in Sindhupalchowk.

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