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Federations Magazine Article
Distributing powers in a federal Nepal

epal has chosen a federal system
because it is widely believed that
constitutionally guaranteed shared rule
and self-rule will help alleviate poverty
and promote development.
It is also believed that federalism will help
eradicate discrimination against
oppressed minorities. But if federalism is
to fulfil this promise, members of the
Constituent Assembly (CA) will need to
remember these goals when they decide
how the federation is to be structured,
how much autonomy the constituent
units – Nepal’s future states or provinces
Some powers will go to the central government, others to constituent units
Distributing powers in
a federal Nepal
– will have and how the fiscal side of
federalism will operate. Among the
questions that must be addressed are the
powers of the constituent units and the
nexus between taxing powers and
spending responsibilities at each order of
government. Decisions on these issues are
bound to require difficult negotiations
among the 25 political parties represented
in the 601-member CA.
Attempting decentralization
Nepal has already made some attempts
at decentralization, but progress has
been slow and uneven. While there has
been some decentralization to local and
district bodies, central control and
supervision over such bodies has
remained strong. Many of the efforts at
decentralization thus far have involved
administrative delegation rather than
granting any degree of real autonomy or
devolving power.
When it was adopted in 1999, the Local
Self-Governance Act was hailed as a
landmark for decentralization and
participatory development in Nepal. Under