Republica Provincial Assembly session of Province 4 in progress in Pokhara in this recent picture.
DANG, June 12: Assembly member of Province 5, Arjun Kumar Shrestha travelled to and fro Butwal - Dang several times in the last 100 days. From his home situated in Dang to the parliament located in Butwal he had to make frequent trips. Every time he attends the parliament, he is entitled to get certain amount of allowance. Another thing he does actively since after being a parliamentarian is attending formal programs held in his district. When he appears in such programs, normally as chief guest, he does not fail to reassure people of his commitment to do his best for developing the district. He talks about big to small projects to woo people, wherever he goes. However, the irony is that Shrestha himself is not sure about his role in preparing development plans.
"We give them promises. While delivering speech, you have to do that. But to be honest, our role is not influential even that of a ward member," he lamented. The central government has decided to allocate Rs 400,000 for the development of each constituency. However, the parliament could not embrace constituency within its plans and polices. This has robbed provincial parliamentarians of a ground to 'show' something to public and take credit for it.
"We are also people's representatives. People expect from us as well. But in lack of budget allocated for specific constituency, we have become helpless. How can we fulfill the promises we made?” Shrestha shared. "We should be made clear of our role. Either openly state that we partake in meetings in parliament just for allowance or let us know our detailed role and responsibilities," he added.
Central government has immense power. From formulating laws to deciding big developmental projects are in its fold. The local government is given similar powers at the lower level. Amid this, he said that he does not see any space for the provincial government body.
"While the central government oversees things at the central level, the local government takes care of affairs at the local level. Now question rises about the role and authorities of provincial parliamentarians," he remarked.
Another provincial assembly member Dilli Bahadur Chaudhari is no less frustrated. If things go on this way, provincial government might dissolve, he fears.
While the central government oversees things at the central level, the local government takes care of affairs at the local level. Now question rises about the role and authorities of provincial parliamentarians. - Arjun Kumar Shrestha, Assemblymember of Province 5
"We want to know what exactly our role is. For what were we elected, what are we supposed to do? It's not clear to us at all," Chaudhari said.
The Provincial government had earlier come up with some plans and polices. However, those did not get through due to lack of clarity on the role of the provincial government, Chaudhari said.
"Four months ago, provincial government announced its plans and policies. But that has failed miserably. There were demands in excess, but due to the unclear role and authority of the government, it failed to implement them," he shared.
Referring to the plights of flood victims who had been waiting for relief and resettlement since several years, Chaudhari said that provincial government could not help victims either just because of unclear role. "We could not distribute relief to flood victims neither are we able to to take measures that would ease their living conditions. When the government's role and authority is not ear, it happens," he noted.
Parliamentarians had tried to draw attention of the parliament regarding the issues of flood victims in Dang, Banke, Bardiya and other districts. The parliament was urged to plan relief packages for these victims. However, due to lack clarity in the government's authority in preparing such packages, the discussion failed to materialize. "This way, we failed to address a crucial problem," said Chaudhari.
Provincial lawmakers have now tried to draw the attention of the chief minister, governor and speaker of the parliament regarding the problem. Chaudhari said that this has become a hot matter of discussion in the assembly these days. "We are discussing about our role, significance and authority. We are try to get answers on these concerns," he stated.
If central and local governments were enough to run the country, why the provincial body was constituted, Chaudhari asked. "Why have we adopted this structure, when the provincial body does not have clearly outlined roles, responsibilities and authority?" he questioned.
According to Chaudhari, lawmakers in province are becoming impatient and dissatisfied. They have sensed the challenge inherent within the provincial set up. "We now realize that the current governance structure has flaws and these should be fixed," Chaudhari reiterated.