Newly-elected Mayor of Pokhara-Lekhnath Metropolitan City, Man Bahadur GC assumes office on Sunday in Pokhara. Photo: Santosh Pokharel/Republica
POKHARA, May 28: The largest one in terms of area among the four metropolises of the country, Pokhara - Lekhnath Metropolitan City on Sunday welcomed Man Bahadru GC as its new mayor amid a grand function. Right after taking oath from the Chief Election Officer and assuming office he announced that he would hike old age allowance by 10 percent. “This is my respect and care for the elderly people,” said the new mayor. “We are going to provide this additional amount through our internal resources,” he said on the occasion.
Apart from this, GC straight away announced other two priorities. He stated that girls and women would be getting free counseling service in the cases of gender based violence. Secondly, he promised to improve public services by implementing good governance policies and procedures effectively. “These three things will not take time, we can deliver them within a few days,” he said.
GC said that the 10 percent increase in old age allowance would provide additional Rs 200 per month per recipient and asserted managing that fund internally will not be burden for metro.
Presently, 13,107 elderly people are getting Rs 2000 per month as old age allowance from the metropolis. According to staffs at the metropolis, when 10 percent is hiked, the additional amount would be equal to Rs 14.5 million annually.
“Earlier central government had to make such decisions. But now, we are here to plan and implement decision. So we do not need other bodies" permission to hike the allowance,” GC explained.
Ananta Prasad Koirala, spokesperson of the metropolitan said its peak annual income as sub metropolitan city had reached Rs 830 million. This income will scale up further due to rise in price of real estate business, among others, he said. “The new federal set up has even added on taxes so the income of this metropolitan is sure to go up further,” he said.
The main source of income of the city is business tax, parking tax, road, property, hoarding board taxes, advertisement tax and so on. The budget allocated for Pokhara Sub-metropolitan last year was Rs 1.28 billion.
“Now as this city has become a metropolis, its annual budget should be at least Rs 2.5 billion. We have 33 wards and there should not be a crunch of budget for developing those wards,” he said.
Locals have taken the decision of the metropolis to hike old age allowance very positively. Tika Bhandari, president of Pokhara Old Age Home stated that the hike is symbolic that the old people are not going to be neglected by our local government. “The additional amount will be of great help to the old people. Most of these people depend solely on the allowance provided by the government. This is the first decision our new mayor has taken and it delivers a deeper message- he cares for us,” he remarked.
The mayor's announcement that public would be getting very smooth service from public offices has equally elated the people. Poor service delivery in government offices has always been a subject of condemnation.
“I have always heard of this. People are not happy at all when it comes to getting services from public offices. Now, they won't have such complain, I assure you all,” said GC adding that he has already discussed the issue with concerned officials and requested them to improvise the way their offices provide services to the public. “The public will feel the change within a few days,” he said.
“I have also planned to introduce youth focused employment program. I am going to do few things in the first phase without wasting time,” he informed Republica. He expressed confidence that these measures, which he dubbed as "steps towards prosperity," will help in making the metropolis even more prosperous. He called on all political parties and stakeholders to support his initiatives.
Born in 1960, GC became active in politics from a very young age. He was elected president of Kalika VDC twice, in 1992 and 1997. Since local level election did not take place there after, he was not in leadership position during the period. But after 19 years, GC made it to the position of mayor of one of the most popular cities of the country. Before heading for his new office, he received tika from his parents and was cheered by a huge crowd as he took oath.