As officials prepare to change local government law, municipalities want jurisdiction clearly defined

As the center prepares to amend the 2017 law on the functioning of local authorities, local authorities have asked the federal government to consolidate their exclusive rights granted by the constitution.

Local governments have long complained that a lack of clarity in the provisions of the Local Government Operation Act has allowed the federal government to encroach on their exclusive jurisdiction set out in Schedule 8 of the constitution.

Ashok Byanju Shrestha, chairman of the Nepal Municipal Association, a grouping of municipalities, said municipalities want clear provisions in the law that ensure their powers are not violated by federal or provincial governments.

“Currently, by taking advantage of the lack of clear provisions in the law, the federal government is encroaching on the competence of local governments,” he said.

The association, which recently wrote to the government with a list of suggestions, called for local governments to have full authority over matters related to the regulation of cooperatives, business registration and education management.

The association pointed out that a municipality was prevented from exercising its authority over education by a court decision due to the lack of clarity of the law.

The municipality of Ghodaghodi, in Kailali, was preparing in 2018 to merge six schools in the municipality to provide better facilities for its students. In accordance with Article 11 (2) of the Law on the Functioning of Local Authorities, local authorities are authorized to merge schools and manage their property.

However, the Dipayal High Court ruled last year that the local government did not follow due process to do so. According to the association, the court ordered the municipality to first develop its own laws to merge the schools. The mayor of Ghodaghodi, Mamata Prasad Chaudhary, said the merger could not take place after the court order.

Likewise, the federal government continued to maintain its presence in local schools by establishing the Education Development and Coordination Unit, which was tasked with keeping teachers’ registers, organizing exams for 10th grade. , Grades 11 and 12 and act as a liaison between federal and local governments. implement the centre’s projects

The unit, which was reduced to small departments under the District Administration Office after the establishment of local governments, has now been reactivated as subordinate bodies to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.

The federal government has also denied local governments their right to recruit teachers in primary and secondary schools, according to the association.

The association also complained that several federal laws contradict each other regarding the competences of local governments.

The provisions of the Forestry Law introduced last year conflict with the provisions of the Local Government Functioning Law, which allowed 10 percent of royalties earned on the sale of forest products to go to communities. local. In addition to the forestry law, the provisions of the laws relating to the registration of companies are also in contradiction with that of the law on the functioning of local communities, according to the association.

Federal officials said the amendment would help reduce ambiguities in the law regarding the jurisdiction of local governments.

“The main objective of the amendment is to clarify ambiguities in existing laws and to make clear provisions on monitoring and reporting,” said Pralhad Kumar Karki, undersecretary at the Ministry of Federal Affairs. and the General Administration.

According to him, the new law will incorporate specific provisions regarding public hearing and social auditing to improve governance at the local level and will propose specific provisions on how local governments are to report to the provincial and federal governments of a number of issues such as their expenses. Another priority for the federal government is to clarify the roles of the district coordinating committees, as their role has remained unclear.

On the issue of education, Karki admitted that there is a need to clarify the role of the federal government in primary and secondary education. “Federal government participation is expected in areas such as courses and exams to standardize the country,” he said. “We must not forget that Annex 9 of the constitution classifies education under the competing powers of the three levels of government.”

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