Category Archives: Politics

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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Public Debt Debates Under Federal Nepal

In May 2018, immediately after taking the oath for the seventh Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had announced to take measures to control his country’s escalating public debt. Few days later, his government announced to reducing Ministers’ remuneration by ten percent, canceling the Kuala Lumpur – Singapore high-speed train and requesting citizens to voluntarily donate money; all targeted at helping government to deal with country’s public debt. At the same time, the Government of Uganda, which was enlisted as one of the thirty-nine heavily indebted poor countries by the World Bank in 2012, had amended the existing Excise Duty Bill to tax citizens for using major Social Media platforms and collect necessary resources to finance nation’s debt. Continue reading

Jaya Jung Mahat

About Jaya Jung Mahat

Jaya is a researcher at Samriddhi where he leads a research on public debt management in Nepal. He has an MPP from Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore and is also an alumnus of Evidence for Policy Design, Harvard Kennedy School's BCURE Program.

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‘Tis the season to be RED – The government’s contribution to NEPSE’s perennial fall

For the past year, the bearish sweeping red flooding the secondary market in Nepal has wreaked havoc on millions of investor portfolios. The declining trend has been caused by a number socio-political factors including political instability and liquidity crunch in the banking sector as well as BFIs being forced to give out large numbers of bonus and rights shares as a result of increased paid up capital requirement. In addition to the supply demand mismatch, a recent directive released by the Inland Revenue Department further triggered a drastic reaction from investors plummeting the market by 76.02 points to a closing at 1231.64 points yesterday (10th June 2018) . This nosedive tailed the first of its kind boycott by Nepalese investors protesting an increase in the capital gains tax on bonus and right shares at the companies’ market value. Continue reading

Sneha Pradhan

About Sneha Pradhan

Sneha Pradhan is a Researcher at Samriddhi Foundation with an interest in good governance. She is a graduate student at Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pursuing a Master of Science degree in Public Policy and Management. She also has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics and Statistics with a minor in Complex Organizations from Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts.

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How to improve business environment in Biratnagar?

Read more here.

Sneha Pradhan

About Sneha Pradhan

Sneha Pradhan is a Researcher at Samriddhi Foundation with an interest in good governance. She is a graduate student at Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pursuing a Master of Science degree in Public Policy and Management. She also has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics and Statistics with a minor in Complex Organizations from Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts.

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Why ‘profit’ is not a bad word

Veetil, Vijayalakshmi and Bose present a case on how competition fostered through for-profit ventures can bolster efficiency in the Indian Education Sector. This article sourced from Center for Civil Society’s, Spontaneous Order was originally published in Hindustan Times on 26th March 2014. 

There are few areas where the difference between what Indians want for themselves and what the government of India wants for them is more alarming than in higher education. Six to eight hundred thousand Indians leave for foreign universities every year. Yet foreign universities are not allowed to set shop in India. In September 2013 the government announced that it may soon open doors to foreign varsities. However, foreign universities will not be allowed to repatriate profits. Behind this policy lies a deeply flawed view of the consequences of profitmotive. Continue reading

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