KATHMANDU, June 29: In yet another dispute over the implementation of federalism, lawmakers have been divided over whether ongoing development projects being implemented by the federal government should be handed over to the local and provincial levels or not.
Differences over the implementation of ongoing development projects surfaced after Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmaker Khagraj Adhilari tabled a motion of public importance in the House of Representatives on Thursday demanding that the federal government implement such development projects on its own rather than hand them over to the provincial and local levels.
Adhikari demanded in the motion that projects related to drinking water, roads, sewerage, irrigation and the like that were introduced by the federal government should be handed over to the provincial and local governments only after their completion. He argued that handing over the projects to the local and provincial governments while they are still being implemented may only lead to delay.
NCP lawmakers Bishal Bhattarai and Dhruba Kumar Shahi seconded the motion. They also claimed that separating the federal government from such works may result in delay and even abandonment of the projects.
However, opposition Nepali Congress (NC) lawmakers stood against the proposal and termed it against the spirit of federalism.
Ruling NCP lawmaker Agni Sapkota and Bhawani Khapung also stood against the idea of allowing the federal government to continue with such projects. “How will federalism materialize if the central government clings on to all the small projects instead of allocating resources to the provinces and local bodies for their execution?” said Khapung. He said handing over the ongoing projects will help accustom the local and provincial bodies to the implementation of such projects.
NC lawmakers Gagan Thapa, Min Bahadur Bishwakarma, Attar Kamal Musalman and Bharat Kumar Shah likewise termed the motion against the spirit of federalism. They also claimed that the motion, coming from a ruling party lawmaker, contradicts the budget introduced by the government.
On the other side, ruling party lawmakers including Ghanashyam Khatiwada, Mahesh Basnet and Yagya Raj Sunuwar stood strongly in favor of the motion.
Finance Minister Yuba Raj Khatiwada, responding to the motion in the House, said the federal government is ready to hand over ongoing development projects to the local and provincial governments if they can guarantee their proper implementation. “If the provincial and local governments fail to implement the development projects handed over to them, the federal government will take over the implementation process,” said Khatiwada, responding to lawmakers’ queries. He also claimed that the federal government is for handing over projects only after enhancing the capacity of the local authorities.
Earlier, a similar dispute surfaced when the central government tried to transfer staff at the local units.