With few exceptions, a majority of 550 members of the seven provincial assemblies took an oath of office on Monday. This is a historic day in country’s journey towards new political course following people’s movement of 2006. With this, the implementation of constitution promulgated on September 20, 2015 has gathered momentum. It will now be upon the people’s representatives to take on development issues in their region and get to work immediately. Provincial Assembly will play an important role in facilitating development efforts and in supporting Rural Municipalities and Municipalities in designing and implementing projects on the ground. But this will be possible only through proper coordination and perfect understanding between two tiers of government. Without it, our federalism project could prove to be an only additional hassle to the people. Our hope is that the new government at the provincial and local level will find ways to address people’s pressing concerns from today itself.
In the recent times, elected representatives at the local level have been criticized as they seem more focused on increasing their perks than addressing people’s needs. Provincial assembly members should take note and refrain from abusing their power in passing legislation that only helps the members. Journey ahead is with fraught with difficulties. For one, implementing three levels of government is going to be costly. Early estimates point to heavy expenses to run eight governments and to pay 884 members of provincial and federal parliaments. If we are not able to grow our economy and expand the revenue base, our administrative expenses will only balloon, which means we will have limited resources to devote to development efforts. It is therefore incumbent on our new lawmakers to use the resources in the best possible way. The conduct of the first batch of provincial assembly members will determine the future and longevity of federalism in Nepal. Federalism is a new experiment for us. We will see numerous issues among federal, provincial and local governments in allocating resources and in smooth functioning of governments. Such issues will have to be dealt with maturity and in a transparent manner. Even a minor decision could very easily escalate into a full-fledged conflict.
People have high expectations from the members. We will be watching closely and providing our take on their conduct on a daily basis for the next five years. They will have to deliver on their promises made in the campaign trail. The members will have to be answerable to the people they represent. Regardless of the system, if we can harmonize our development aspirations it won’t take very long for the country to transform. Every political experiment has brought new wave of hopes and optimism among people in Nepal. But such expectations and public trust slowly wane when the political leaders fail to deliver. We now have no other option but to make the federal system successful. With this hope, we extend hearty congratulations to all the provincial lawmakers who took oath on Monday.