State 1 making high-power mechanism to control corruption
Chief Minister of State 1 Sher Dhan Rai is an influential leader of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP). He also served as Information and Communications Minister in the centre four years ago. Chief Minister Rai Spoke on various issues, including the implementation of federalism, his experiences as Chief Minister of State 1 and his plan for the prosperity of the State during the weekly Gorkhapatra Sambad on Sunday.
In the new federal structure of the country, you are the first Chief Minister of State 1. How is the implementation status of federalism?
The federal structure implemented by Nepal is very unique and original one designed to address the aspirations of diverse geographies, cultures, ethnicity and languages. The federal system was introduced with the expectation of creating a strong bond among geographies of mountain, hills and the Terai to assure the access and participation of 125 ethnicities and 123 languages to the government. Abolition of different types of discriminations, making the people feel the presence of the government in the villages and driving the country towards the path prosperity and making people happy were other objectives.
With the establishment of three tiers of the governments following the 2017 elections, implementation of federal system is taking a pace rapidly. Attraction of general people towards the federal system was on the rise after getting the presence of government in their doorsteps. People have local government in their own villages and the state government a little farther. Anti-federalism voices are gradually becoming weaker. The Constitution has made its people their masters. Implementation of the federal system has instilled the hope of making the country strong and prosperous in near future.
Implementation of federalism is not getting the desired pace. In your experience, what are the major problems and challenges faced by this new structure?
I had handled the post of Chief Minister with the objective of implementing the federal system. I had taken the implementation of federalism as an easy task. But it is not taking the desired speed as per my assumption for some reasons.
Firstly, federalism is the first practice in Nepal. Among the three levels of government, the State government was completely a new structure while the federal and local government had their foundation in earlier structures. At the meantime, we made a mistake. The elections of three levels of government should have taken place only after making legal and structural infrastructure. Due to holding of election without making legal and structural infrastructure, we are compelled to work standing in the open space, which also reduced our speed.
Secondly, the longer time taking to change the mentality of bureaucracy and the political parties as per the spirit the new federal Constitution is also creating friction in the implementation of federalism. Besides, we have to make many laws to implement federalism which we should complete this fiscal year.
Leaders from the ruling parties have started raising questions over the seriousness of the federal government to implement the federalism. Is it the real case?
As I know, the Prime Minister and party chair KP Sharma Oli is serious about implementing federalism. The questions may have been raised over the delay in implementing the 29-point federalism implementation facilitation action plan suggested by a task force headed by Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa. The implementation of this action plan is related not only to the Prime Minister, the responsibility of its implementation also goes to chief secretary, concerned ministers and secretaries. Implementation of the action plan has been delayed due to reluctance and indifference from the ministers and secretaries.
What are the major projects that the government of State 1 has forwarded for the prosperity of the State?
The government of State 1 has already prepared a concept paper of periodic plan with the slogan of ‘Clean, Happy and Prosperous State’ and the final document of the plan will be made public in a short period.
Our government has completed the sticker pasting campaign in the State to strengthen the security condition by cementing ties between public and police. Under this campaign, stickers having security related information have been pasted in 1 million households of the State. To launch the campaign, 200 units of motorcycles and some vehicles have also been provided to Nepal Police to increase the access of security service to the public in a short time. Road good governance campaign is another programme implemented by the State government to ensure road safety. Under this, 10 kilometer road section in each six districts- Morang, Sunsari, Jhapa, Dhankuta, Ilam and Udayapur has been selected to implement the road good governance campaign. These roads would be made safe and protest-free.
Similarly, we have started the ‘I Go Ahead’ campaign in 2,000 schools of the State by mobilising 200,000 students under ‘Sagarmatha Teen Club’ to promote clean, healthy, civilised and free of social evils. Establishment of refreshment Centre in Sunsari Koshi Rural Municipality, Chief Minister Dash Board with a room to control corruption are other ongoing projects. Besides, I am planning to make a high power mechanism to control corruption.
Similarly, the government is preparing a master plan for state road networks under which 62 strategic roads have been registered as multi-year project and 81 others have been designed to link different local levels of the State. Broader Birat Area Project for the development of smart cities, green campaign to develop agriculture, upgrading of the Biratnagar Airport, Himalayan Trail and Tourism Circuit to promote tourism are other major projects proposed by the State government for the development in the State.
In addition to this, we are planning to hold State level investment summit by identifying major potential projects in the State to attract domestic and foreign capital for the prosperity of the State. We are preparing project bank listing various potential investment projects in the State level.
Resource mobilisation is crucial to finance the development endeavor. What are the plans of the State government to increase its own resources?
Currently, the State government is depending on the resources shared by the federal government as per the constitutional provision. We are conducting studies to find out the major areas of revenue that the State itself can collect as per the constitutional right. Besides, we are planning to invest in some hydropower, cable cars, agriculture and tourism projects under public private partnership (PPP) model. We are also searching other areas of investments as the sources of revenue to the State government.
What are the plans of to promote employment and entrepreneurship in the State?
The State government is planning to attract youth in self-employment in various sectors. We are planning to collect data of the youth, who return from foreign employment taking skills and other youths who seek to be entrepreneurs through self-employment. This data will be utilised for the implementation of Chief Minister Entrepreneurship Development Programme introduced by the State government through its budgetary programme. The State government has allocated Rs. 200 million budget for the programme which will be invested after finalising the project model to promote entrepreneurship in the State. We are planning to create a situation in which youth need not to go abroad for basic employment in next 10 years. Besides, the campaign ‘I Go Ahead’ will also help guide youth to tread the right track.
How is the State government addressing the bottleneck on skilled human resources as per its need?
Performance of the State government has been affected in lack of efficient human resources as per our requirement. In the long term, the deficient of human resources will be fulfilled by recruiting through Public Service Commission, but for a short term, we are planning to recruit skilled human resources as per the provision of recruiting manpower on the contract basis. Besides, we are planning to organise training and workshop to enhance the capacity of available human resources as per the requirement.
What is your plan to complete the development projects in time and control irregularities in project implementation?
I have realised that there used to be a setting of commission in development projects even from the time of project design. To control this, I am planning to form a experts’ team which will make attempt end corruption and the practice of sharing commission from the time of preparing the detailed project report (DPR). I have declared that both taking and giving bribes are punished.
(Prepared by C. K Khanal and Ranju Kafle. Photographs by Sagar Basnet)