KATHMANDU, May 15: Although the performance of local bodies since their election last year has remained dismal, they should be given more time, say experts.With the local polls, the local bodies, which had been running without elected people's representatives for 15 years, finally got their own officials in line with the new federal setup, raising hopes of local development among the general public.
However, there is now widespread complaint that the local units, which have been bestowed with more executive and legislative powers by the new constitution, have not been able to deliver as per expectations.Experts say that the local bodies should be given the benefit of the doubt as they lack not only necessary legislation and clarity in jurisdiction but also the necessary infrastructures, budget resources and, more importantly, adequate personnel for full-fledged operations even after a year of the elections.“The powers exercised earlier by Singha Durbar have formally reached the local levels following the local polls, which in itself is a huge achievement. Each ward of the local bodies is now functioning as a service center for many administrative tasks and the general public has benefited in one way or the other.
But it is true that the local bodies have not been able to perform as per the expectations of the general public,” said Balananda Poudel, who was chief of the Local Bodies Restructuring Commission formed by thegovernment to restructure the local units under the new constitution.He said that the local bodies have not been able to perform in a full-fledged manner for lack of clear demarcations of the roles and responsibilities of all three tiers of government, and the required functionaries.“As there were a series of elections at the provincial and federal levels last year, this also hampered the performance of the local bodies. But importantly, the federal government has not been able to formulate clear laws demarcating roles and responsibilities of the local units.
Similarly, the issue of division of revenues and fund transfers from the federal government to the local are also yet to be settled. Issues such as these have been hampering the performance of local units,” he added.According to him, the government should immediately provide the necessary infrastructures and integrate civil servants into the new federal setup .“Many district bodies, which have become irrelevant with the formation of the new local bodies, are yet to hand over their infrastructures to the new units.
Likewise, local bodies still have a manpower crunch,” he said, adding that it is too early to judge the performance of the local units .Similarly, Khim Lal Devkota, another expert on federalism, also said that if the government formulates the necessary laws, ensures sufficient budgets and deploys required staff, the local bodies can deliver in line with public expectations.