Bikalpa an Alternative along with the support of Action Aid Nepal organized a Discussion Program on “Federalism: Opportunities and Challenges”. The Program was moderated by Basanta Adhikari and Guest Speaker Advocate Chudamani Acharya delivered his opinion and thoughts on the matter. With promulgation of the new constitution, Nepal has adopted a federal system of governance from unitary system. Here, is a short excerpt from his keynote speech. The current election result gives an indication that there is a National Consensus to bringing a new change. The majority want to see stability and voted for a stable government with aspirations of bringing about the change. But we haven’t displayed the mentality needed to bring that change. The mentality is still the same old Nepotism and favoritism that was seen as rampant in proportional candidate representation. Also, in the recently concluded elections, the central leaders were dominant over provincial leader. Even Manifesto was designed for central election. This all shows that there is no clear commitment to federalism by the major political parties as well. There is no department formed to even make the Provincial assembly member take oath.
Furthermore, even the government has already set a lot of challenges without appointing many constitutional bodies. There are many unanswered and unclear provisions. If each province is capable of self-governance then can one province interfere or deny another province of some of the shared resources? To insure a swift and smooth transition, Good governance is the care aspect we need to work on .The system is still remain on favoritism. There is lack of transparency. If these anomalies of central governance is inherited by the provincial government, it will become disastrous for us.
If we are to exercise federalism, we need to start it from today by making our provincial government accountable. We have to raise issues that they need to work on and make them focus on governance. We need to stop voting “Hamro” (amroHhhhour) people and promote “Ramro” (good) and deserving people. We also need to be open minded and learn to transform our working environment. Along with that we need learn to transform with time. Another key aspect we need to be open to, is to learn to move from one “ism” to another with time. The leaders and citizens shouldn’t forget their social responsibilities.
In the new system, the way provincial governments are going to frame policies for health, education, land reform and so on is going to invite new challenges. This is also going to become opportunity if we utilize it wisely. One of the many opportunities is that now we can experience the governance of Singha Durbar (the central secretariat) in our own village and city councils.
The biggest challenges of all is going to be the sustainability of the provincial government. We must cut our expenses. If the representatives again indulge in securing more luxury from provincial exchequer, thus we will not be able to sustain it.
However, despite the numerous challenges, we must look everything positively. It is indeed a great opportunity if we become responsible.
Following the discourse of Mr. Acharya, the floor was opened for question answers. He answered queries of around 10 participants and finally ended the program.