SURKHET, Sept 14: At a time when the provincial government and lawmakers should be busy formulating laws and executing the programs of the budget for the implementation of federalism, the provincial ministers and lawmakers seem to be at leisure. The budget and programs approved at the beginning of July are yet to be implemented but the ministers and lawmakers have been staying in Kathmandu for weeks.
Ministers and lawmakers are hardly seen in Birendanagar, the provincial capital of Karnali Province. It is still uncertain when the provincial assembly's meeting postponed on August 10 will resume as almost all the province's ministers including Chief Minister Mahendra Bahadur Shahi are in Kathmandu, the country's federal capital. Most of the members of the provincial parliament are also in Kathmandu. Only a few of them have visited their constituencies.
The budget implementation and law formulation work has moved nowhere. The provincial assembly session has been stalled for more than a month now but the provincial government is unable to create business for it. Provincial Assembly Speaker Raj Bahadur Shahi, too, has not returned to the province from Kathmandu. "We will resume the assembly meeting after the government provides us work," Speaker Shahi told Republica.
In the assembly meeting held on August 10, the political counseling committee recommended to the speaker to end the session but the provincial ministers rejected the idea, insisting the formulation of provincial laws and policies. Speaker Shahi postponed the meeting instead of ending it.
The lawmakers and ministers have gathered in Kathmandu to lobby with the leadership of the party (Nepal Communist Party) for themselves after the unification of the then CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center). Of the seven members of the provincial cabinet, only one member, i.e. minister is in the provincial capital Birendranagar currently.
CM Shahi, financial affairs minister Prakash Jwala, social development minister Dal Rawal, and internal affairs minister Naresh Bhandari are in Kathmandu. Industry, tourism, forest and environment minister Nanda Singh Budha is in Jumla while agriculture and cooperatives minister Bimala KC is in Rukum. Only physical infrastructure and transport minister Khadka Khatri in Birendranagar.
The ministers have proclaimed the year as 'the year of laws' but they have failed to give business to the assembly so that it could make laws. After July 3, the provincial government, which became popular by naming the province and finalizing its capital ahead of all other provinces, has failed to give any work to the assembly.
"We are disappointed by the hollow speeches of the ministers who have done nothing," said a lawmaker. "This has disappointed the people too."
Three ministries have not given a single job to the assembly yet. After the formation of the government, 13 bills have been endorsed while seven bills are pending in provincial assembly committees, according to acting secretary Dinesh Bhatta of provincial assembly secretariat. The Ministry of Financial Affairs and Planning and Ministry of Internal Affairs and Law have registered nine bills each. The Ministries of Land Management, Agriculture and Cooperatives, and Social Development have registered one bill each. Chief Minister and Council of Ministers, Physical Infrastructure and Planning, Industry, Forests and Tourism have not registered even a single bill yet.