KATHMANDU, Aug 11: Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has pledged to forge a common understanding among major political forces on the number of local bodies and criteria for restructuring them, and provide it to the commission formed to fix the number and boundaries of local bodies within a week.
The prime minister's assurance has come at a time when lawmakers from various political parties are criticizing the commission for proposing small number of local units. The commission has proposed creating altogether 565 village councils and municipalities under the new federal setup while lawmakers have called for creation of over 900 local units arguing that government services cannot be delivered at people's doorsteps if local units are fewer in numbers.
“The restructuring of local bodies is not just a technical process but also a political issue. So, the government will hold an all-party meeting immediately to reach a common understanding on the commission's criteria for local bodies restructuring in the new federal setup and provide additional directives to the commission,” Prime Minister Dahal said during a meeting of the ruling parties and the commission at Singha Durbar on Wednesday.
He asked the commission to continue its work so that the government can hold the local bodies' elections by mid-April 2017. “We have to hold elections for all three levels under the new federal setup by February, 2018. So, for now, I ask the commission to continue its work as per the mandate provided by the previous government,” he told the officials of the commission in the meeting.
He said that the government will give additional directives to the commission with regard to restructuring the local bodies after an all-party meeting.
In the meeting, Balananda Poudel, chairman of the commission, briefed the leaders of the ruling political parties on the works being carried out by the commission at the central as well as district levels for restructuring the local bodies.
He said that the commission also informed the political leaders about the possible financial burden and other administrative difficulties the country will have to face if the numbers of the local units are increased significantly.
Nepali Congress senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel however argued that some of the powers given to local units should be transferred to district-level authorities through amendment to the new constitution as the local units have already too much power and they will not be able to exercise all of them effectively.
Leaders including Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba, Maoist Center leader Barsaman Pun, Nepali Congress leader Prakash Man Singh, Rastriya Prajatantra Party Chairman Pashupati Samsher Rana, Minister of Home Affairs Bimalendra Nidhi and Minister of Physical Planning and Infrastructure Ramesh Lekhak were present at the meeting. They also suggested forging politcal consensus for restructuring the local bodies.