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Is it time to discontinue pork barrel funds for lawmakers?

Economy Politics

Members of the House of Representatives, from both the ruling and opposition parties, have started lobbying for an increase in Local Infrastructure Development Partnership Program (LIDPP). What started with 10 million funds initially has been increased to 60 million for each elected member in the upcoming fiscal year. The scheme was first introduced in the fiscal year 2014-15 in order to propel implementation of development programs. In the absence of elected representatives at the local levels, it seemed justifiable to channel development expenditure through members of the parliament. However, the state and local level elections in 2017 have set federalism in motion in the country. Nepal now has elected bodies that are tasked with the implementation of local infrastructure development. Thus, it is time we question if it is still wise, and more importantly permissible to continue the program.

The newly formed state and local level bodies have taken an enthusiastic lead on development projects. The local governments create an annual development plan for the overall development of the local level, as envisioned by the constitution and the Local Government Operation Act. In this context, federal lawmakers’ direct involvement in executing infrastructure development works may be interpreted as an intervention in the state and local level’s jurisdiction.
It is understandable that MPs want to deliver on promises they made to their constituents during elections. But the direct involvement of lawmakers in implementing infrastructure development may undermine their oversight roles.

On the other hand, the LIDPP procedures give discretionary power to first-past-the-post lawmaker of an electoral constituency to make the last call on projects and these development projects can bypass due procedure. In fact, many lawmakers are found to have funded projects related to their political party’s sister organizations and non-governmental organizations affiliated to political parties. Moreover, there’s no set practice for citizens’ participation in the planning and implementation of such projects. This impedes citizen’s right to demand accountability on where, when and how money is spent. Thus, there’s a significant risk that LIDPP will be used to fund lawmakers’ pork barrel projects. Such projects will only woo voters for the re-election of lawmakers than fulfill the needs of people and meet development priorities.

All these reasons lead one to doubt the relevance of schemes like LIDPP. Instead of doling out large sums of money for schemes like LIDPP, the government should prioritize channeling budget to state and local level bodies through federal grants for development expenditure. The federal government also needs to develop the capacity of the local level for efficient allocation of resources. The local level is better suited to implement development infrastructures, as they are well informed about the needs and priorities of citizens and are also directly answerable to them.

Bidhyalaxmi Maharjan

About Bidhyalaxmi Maharjan

Bidhyalaxmi is an intern at Samriddhi Foundation. She is a Bachelor of Arts student at Madan Bhandari Memorial College, majoring in Sociology and English Literature. She is interested in public policy research and writing.

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Khula Manch Case : Khula challenge to establishing ‘Rule of law’

The historical Khula Manch has shrunk over the years and it faced serious encroachment issue with the recent case of 52 illegal structures constructed on the northern part of Khula Manch.  Manoj Kumar Bhetwal, the owner of Jaleshwor Swachhanda Builders was the one responsible behind this illicit act. The builders were only allowed to construct a temporary structure for traffic police like toilets and canteen. But, around 52 temporary structures were built with shutters in them to rent out to shopkeepers in the busy bus park area.

While the local government representative of ward-28 claimed that no permission for construction was granted, the Metropolitan office also did not have any significant answer to this breach of law. But the overnight built structures couldn’t last long as the protest done by the locals, conservationists, activists, and politicians, put pressure on the metropolitan government and so it demolished the illegal structures built at Khula Manch. Although the case now seems to have been solved, it is still a matter of concern as to on what basis a builder can not just think of, but successfully build 52 shutters to rent on public land. This is a serious threat to the rule of law. If the people carry out such unlawful acts, of this magnitude in public place, and get away with it so easily, how will the state ensure that the rule of law promised by the constitution of Nepal 2015 will be achieved? Further, almost 30 percent of the shutters were already found to be rented and some had even opened the shops already.

Now that the shutters were demolished, the shopkeepers who took loans to rent those shutters with a hope to earn some money are in dismay. They are concerned about their investment, made through loans being gone in such a manner. Will the builder compensate them their loss and if not, who do they complain to, for they have been made a part of this illegal act too. While this case has revealed the influence of the powerful mafia groups and the irresponsibility on part of the government, the brighter side of the case is that with the help of active civil society organizations, the case was dealt with in favor of people and eventually rule of law was restored. However, people need to bear this in mind that Khula Manch is just one example and that several other open spaces and public lands of Kathmandu valley face the threat of encroachment and it is high time to conserve and protect these places of historical, natural and cultural importance. Also, people who dare to challenge the law of the land, like the Jaleshwor Swachhanda Builders in this case, must be brought to the legal jurisdiction and punished according to the rule of law. It is important for every citizen of Nepal to realize that Nepal is a democratic state with the rule of law and while the laws safeguard our rights, no one is above the law.

Janak Pokhrel

About Janak Pokhrel

Janak Pokhrel is a research intern at the Samriddhi Foundation. He is currently pursuing his undergraduate degree of Bachelors in Development Studies from the Kathmandu University. Janak has keen interest in the public policy and law, particularly of that relating to education, health and socio-economic sector of Nepal.

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Reform Agendas for the upcoming Pre-Budget Discussion

The government of Nepal must introduce the following reform agendas in the upcoming pre-budget discussion to achieve the desired economic growth:

Cross-cutting

Starting a Business:

  • Devolve business registration functions to local levels and a functioning one-window for registration
  • Develop a universal database and use compatible softwares at different government institutions to enable real-time inter-department coordination
  • Allowing incorporation of a one-man company based on a one-page AoA; building a model document for more-than-one-man private companies; and allowing nominating agents to handle the entire incorporation process in case of a public company.
  • Make a legal provision to complete industry registration within 36 hours and complete company incorporation within seven days of having filed application

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Ankshita Chaudhary

About Ankshita Chaudhary

Ankshita is working as a Research and Communications Assistant at Samriddhi Foundation.

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Supply Side Restrictions: A source of rent for the sellers

The Ministry of Home Affairs has come up with the new executive order, which if comes into action will have stricter control over the production, distribution and consumption of alcohol. One of the proposed regulations of the government is to limit the number of liquor store to two in each ward of a municipality/sub- metropolitan city/ metropolitan city and one in each ward of a rural municipality. Apart from health damages, the government asserts that alcohol consumption is one of the major reasons behind rising domestic violence, rapes and sexual abuses. In that sense, government’s intention to regulate alcohol is fairly justified. But, the consequences of such action could be completely different from what is initially intended. Continue reading

Ashesh Shrestha

About Ashesh Shrestha

Ashesh Shrestha is an independent researcher. He has an Economics background and is interested in Monetary economics and Public finance.

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Unintended Consequences of Unthoughtful Orders

The executive order that prohibits selling, distributing and drinking alcohol outdoors in hotels, resorts, restaurants, and bars is done with the intention to reduce the consumption of alcohol in Nepal but instead, this will have unintended consequences. There will be a decline in the amusement, entertainment and hospitality industries as most of them profit from selling legal alcohol. Continue reading

Roopali Bista

About Roopali Bista

Roopali is working as an assistant researcher at Samriddhi Foundation.

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Clocking Alcohol Availability?

Nepal, like many other nations, has recently planned to adapt regulations which intend to reduce the alcohol consumption of the whole country through supply side interventions. As per the proposed directive, the hotels, bar and restaurants are likely to be restricted from selling alcoholic beverages prior to 5:00 P.M and after 10:00 P.M, while the liquor stores are allowed to perform transactions related to bottled alcohol between 4:00 P.M to 9:00 P.M. Continue reading

Ayushma Maharjan

About Ayushma Maharjan

Ayushma is working as an assistant researcher at Samriddhi Foundation.

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