Thursday, December 29, 2016

Government seeks clarification from NRA CEO

The government today sought a clarification from National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) chief executive Sushil Gyewali over the delays in carrying out post-earthquake rebuilding works.
Alleging that the authority failed to expedite the overall reconstruction and rehabilitation works as per the expectation of the earthquake victims, the cabinet today has decided to seek clarification from Gyewali over the delay. It has also asked him to furnish a explanation within seven days.
According to minister for Information and Communications Surendra Kumar Karki, who is also the government’s spokesperson, the government has raised four issues in the letter – Gyewali’s failure to coordinate with the government agencies for effective reconstruction works, his inability to mobilise staff efficiently, lack of implementation of the instructions given by the NRA directive committee, and the delay in issuing housing grants to the homeless families.
Even after more than one-and-half-year of the devastating earthquake that floored some 800,000 individual houses part from hundreds of heritage sites, government buildings, health posts, schools and police posts, the authority has been unable to provide the people the proper guidelines and grant to reconstruct their houses, and the people have already spent two winters in the open spaces under the sky.
Sources near to Prime Minister said the move is intended to 'sack' Gyewali as the Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has been expressing dissatisfaction at his works. The premier has been showing his dissatisfaction openly many a times over the way reconstruction works are going on.
Minister Karki said that the government decided to formally seek clarification from Gyewali also because he did not follow the government’s decisions despite repeated instructions by the prime minister.
“The government will first listen to Gyewali’s clarification and then the prime minister will discuss the issue with political parties and we will take initiatives to replace him, if needed,” minister for Law and Justice Ajay Shankar Nayak said. "The government had no other option than to seek clarification as he didn’t cooperate with the government," he said, adding that Gyewali would say one thing in public and do something else.
The PM’s core team is learnt also to have the perception that Gyewali has subtly defied the government’s instructions on the pretext of legal hurdles and donor sensitivity. The Prime Minister's Office has also find Gyewali’s working style incompatible with the requirement of a huge undertaking such as post-disaster reconstruction.
Prime Minister Dahal – who is also the chairman of the NRA steering committee – had earlier called Gyewali to his official residence at Baluwatar and vented his anger at Gyewali for failing to expedite the reconstruction and rehabilitation work. And the PM had earlier too ordered Gyewali to explain in writing as to what has been preventing the NRA from expediting the reconstruction work. But Gyewali reportedly had not been able to furnish satisfactory clarification to him.
Relations between the Dahal government and Gyewali also remained frosty as the latter was seen as 'close' to the CPN-UML. The erstwhile Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had hand-picked Gyewali in December, 2015 despite the controversy over his 'qualification', according to the NRA Act.
The cabinet move follows a long discussion between PM’s administrative adviser Narayan Dahal and Gyewali yesterday and the day before over the activities of the authority. Advisor Dahal has conveyed to Gyewali that the premier was particularly concerned over his failure to address the expectations of the earthquake survivors. Only last week, hundreds of reconstruction engineers submitted their resignation en masse because they find their salary not enough to work under the sever condition in rural Nepal.
According to the minister for Poverty and Cooperatives Hridaya Ram Thani, the issue of seeking clarification from Gyewali was discussed in previous cabinet meetings too.
According to the law, the government can relieve the chief executive of his responsibilities giving him an opportunity to clarify. Clause 4 of Article 11 of an Act to Provide for Reconstruction of the Earthquake Affected Structures 2072 noted, “Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (3), the Government of Nepal may at any time remove the chief executive officer from his or her office if his or her performance is not satisfactory. Provided that, prior to such removal from office, he or she shall be provided with an opportunity to defend himself or herself.”
Meanwhile, immediately reacting – with issuing a statement – after receiving the clarification letter from government, Gyewali said the activities of the NRA done within a year of its establishment were transparent. He would clarify to the government the activities, challenges and problems related to reconstruction within the time. "As the NRA has been carrying out reconstruction and rehabilitation related activities in a planned and organised way, it has started to yield results," the statement reads, adding, "In this context, I believe that the opportunity to submit clarification to the government about the progress made so far by the NRA and its line agencies and also inform about challenges and other problems that have hindered the reconstruction activities will only help us in giving further momentum to our activities."

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