Nepal learning from Norway's municipal model
A state delegation from the parliament of Nepal and the Nepali Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development visited Norway last week.
The delegation was invited to Norway by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and was led by Mr. Rabindra Adhikari, the leader of the development committee in Nepal's parliament. Two additional members of parliament also took part in the delegation. From the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development the Ministry's Secretary, two joint secretaries and an under secretary took part.
Members of the delegation have central roles in the ongoing political and governing reform process taking place in Nepal.
- Mr. Rabindra Adhikari, Member of Parliament and chair of Development Committee of Parliament
- Mr. Ram Chandra Pokharel, Member of Parliament
- Ms. Tulsha Rana, Member of Parliament
- Mr. Kedar Bahadur Adhikari, Secretary, Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development
- Mr. Chakra Bahadur Buda, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development
- Mr. Purushottam Nepal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development
- Mr. Chhabilal Rijal, Under Secretary, Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development
Studying Norway's municipal model
The delegation came to Norway to study the country's municipal model in relevance to introduction of the new constitution of Nepal. The constitution was voted into law in September of 2015 after being in the works for many years. According to the new constitution, Nepal will have seven provinces. This level of government is new in Nepal, and has raised some controversy. The provinces is an attempt to answer ethnic and regional groups' cry for more autonomy. The number of municipalities will probably be reduced from around 3 000 to 1 000.
The delegation visited the Municipal and governing comittee in Norway's parliament, Stortinget, several ministries and the municipal organization KS. At NIBR they attended presentations on Norway's municipal structure, organization, service delivery, management of natural resources and other related topics.
Nepal has 28 million inhabitants and is situated between India and China. Although Nepal is one of the poorest countries, the country has experienced strong progress in recent years including girls' education and almost all children, both girls and boys, attending at school. The country has over 100 ethnicities and castes. Nepal has never been a colony and the capital Kathmandu has been the center of a centralized governance. First in 1990 did the country a lasting democratic rule and in 1999 adopted new legislation for local self-government that would ensure local elections and decentralization to the municipalities.
Because of the war and a strong focus on the creation of a new constitution local elections has not been held in Nepal since 1997. Nepal was until recently a kingdom, but as a result of the civil war, in response to demands from the Maoist guerrillas, and as a result of a strong popular mobilization, the monarchy was abolished and the country was declared a federal state. Distinguishing between the new provinces and between the new municipalities have been one of the two main contention issues associated with the design of the new constitution. Precisely where the boundaries are drawn is of great importance for the ethnic and castes who receive political power in the new political entities.
The main administrative levels in Nepal today are municipalities, towns and rural areas. The 75 districts in Nepal is responsible for including health and education, while the 3 000 municipalities assigned to contribute to local development and social inclusion of marginalized groups. The current decentralized system is criticized for the central government in Kathmandu has not handed over power and authority to the districts as assumed. Partly because local elections has not been held for long so it created local advisory bodies to ensure that ordinary people participate in local planning processes. These have been created under the auspices of the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development.