Nepal’s Maoist-led government all set to distribute millions to its cadres as Nepali Congress watches in silence

Maoist have a history of misusing public money. The Maoist-led government, yet again, is set to distribute a huge sum of money to its cadres amid the economic doldrums.

Then Maoist combatants at the proposed rebel cantonment site in Surkhet. Photo: Moti Paudel/United We Blog (2006)

Durga Dulal

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Kathmandu: Nepal’s radical communist force Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Center) has once again been in the spotlight, all for bad reasons. 

On Monday, Maoist chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government took a decision to distribute Rs 200,000 each to former combatants of the then People’s Liberation Army (PLA) who were not eligible for integration into the Nepal Army and other security services.

The decision adds at least Rs 800 million economic burden to the state coffer at the time when the country is going through an economic crisis. 

Earlier, the cabinet had decided to revise the list of martyrs which was published in Nepal Gazette on 13 March. As per the precedent, the government has to provide Rs one million each to the family of martyrs. The Ministry of Home Affairs is now collecting required information to start the process of distributing money to the family members of the ‘martyrs’. 

Opposition parties and civil society members are, however, critical of the government’s decision. The government has published the list aiming at providing facilities to Maoist cadres, according to them. 

Prime Minister Dahal, who has kept 16 ministries including Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Home affairs under him, seems hell bent on misusing his power for the benefit of his cadres and followers while ignoring the glaring economic crisis of the country. 

The economic situation of the country, however, does not justify his distributive approaches. The government’s decision of distributing millions to cadres and Maoist supporters has come at a time when the country is struggling hard to meet the revenue target and bottlenecks are seen in providing salaries of government employees. 

The latest data released by the government shows that the revenue mobilization has sharply declined in the current fiscal year. There is a fear and concern about the looming economic crisis.  Finance secretary Toyam Raya had recently informed the parliament committee that the government is struggling to manage funds to provide salaries to the employees. 

It is worthwhile mentioning here that Nepal’s Supreme Court has prohibited haphazard distribution of money from the state coffer at least on two occasions in the past. In 2013 and 2015, the Supreme Court had issued an order not to distribute money to party cadres on an ad hoc basis.  The government has paid no heed to these precedents. This time, the government has taken an approach of legitimizing its decision by taking the decision to distribute money by formulating a working procedure. 

The ministry has started the process of formulating working procedures since Wednesday, said secretary at the ministry Binod Prakash Singh. “The ministry will complete the relief distribution within this fiscal year.”

According to the United Nations Mission in Nepal, as many as 4,008 combatants were disqualified among the initially registered 19,000 combatants. Out of total combatants, around 1,400 were integrated in Nepal Army while some had opted for volunteer retirement. The government had provided a lucrative package to those who had opted for retirement. 

The government in 2015 had decided to distribute Rs 200,000 each to all disqualified combatants. The decision could not be implemented thanks to the court order. 

Despite the judicial precedent, PM Dahal is finding ways to manage a way to distribute money to his cadres. Advocate Yadunath Khanal, who had pleaded the case against such distribution, said that the move cannot be justified from a legal perspective.