Bangla Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Nepal govt appoints Khatiwada as special economic advisor to PM Oli

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Yubaraj Khatiwada (right) had resigned as minister for finance and minister for communication and information technology September 4 after he completed his six months in the Oli Cabinet after his reappointment on March 4. 

Days after Yubaraj Khatiwada resigned as finance and communication minister, the government appointed him as a special economic advisor to the prime minister.

“The government has decided to appoint Yubaraja Khatiwada as the prime minister’s special economic advisor with benefits on par with a minister,” Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali, also the government spokesperson, said during a press briefing organised to make public Monday’s Cabinet decisions.

Khatiwada resigned as a minister on September 4 after he completed his six months in the Oli Cabinet after his reappointment on March 4, as his two-year tenure as the National Assembly member ended on March 3.

Amid changing internal dynamics in his party, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli decided not to nominate Khatiwada again for the National Assembly as he was under pressure to appoint party vice-chair Bamdev Gautam for the lone seat available.

Monday’s Cabinet decided to recommend Gautam to the President for nominating him as a member of the National Assembly, as per the September 3 party Secretariat’s decision.

Speculations were there since the Secretariat decision that Oli could continue to seek Khatiwada’s advice in a different capacity like an economic advisor.

Both the finance and communication ministries held by Khatiwada are currently with Oli.

Many say Khatiwada’s appointment as the special economic advisor to the prime minister could be part of Oli’s larger plan not to give the finance ministry to any other leader anytime soon.

Former finance minister Ram Sharan Mahat said the prime minister could have appointed Khatiwada as his economic advisor with an intention to keep the finance ministry with himself.

“The prime minister can appoint someone as an economic advisor though,” Mahat, a Nepali Congress leader, told the Post. “I don’t want to comment on any party’s internal politics and if the move to appoint Khatiwada is guided by that. In principle, it, however, is always better to have a separate finance minister.”

According to Mahat, the only concerning thing is the Oli government has a habit of talking big and failing on delivery.

“With Khatiwada as the economic advisor and prime minister holding the finance ministry portfolio himself, there are chances the same policies introduced by Khatiwada may get continuation despite them failing to achieve desired results,” said Mahat.

Khatiwada’s two-and-a-half-year-long tenure as the finance minister received mixed reactions, with many pointing at his uncanny contempt for the private sector, keenness to impose state control and bureaucratic style of functioning.

Leaders close to Oli, however, say appointing Khatiwada does not mean the prime minister won’t have a finance minister in his Cabinet.

“The finance ministry will run in the way it has to, so there will be a minister sooner or later,” Gyawali told the Post. “Khatiwada will basically support the prime minister, as he needs a team of advisors with expertise in various fields.”