PM Deuba agrees to address Dr KC's demands even without UML's consent

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Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba on Sunday has agreed to pass medical education bill in a way to address demands of Dr Govinda KC in accordance to the Mathema report even if the main opposition CPN-UML were to oppose that.

A team of facilitators talked with PM Deuba on Saturday and Sunday after Dr KC refused to end his 11th fast unto death Friday evening stating that the medical education bill passed by the Women, Children, Elderly and Social Welfare Committee of the parliament earlier on the day does not incorporate the spirit of his nonviolent movement.

PM Deuba has agreed to pass the bill as demanded by Dr KC, and to get the government to buy Manmohan Memorial Institute of Health Sciences if necessary, advocate Om Prakash Aryal who has been facilitating the dialogue told Setopati.

The facilitators have urged CPN (Maoist Center) leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha, who has been involved in negotiations since the last week, to convince his party, and will make efforts to talk with UML Chairman KP Oli to convince him.  

Nepali Congress (NC) leader and former health minister Gagan Thapa, who has been involved in negotiations from the beginning after being assigned the duty to address Dr KC's demands by PM Deuba, said discussions are on to end Dr KC's fast-unto-death that is into the 21st day today.

An amendment bill will be proposed after the next House meeting passes the medical education bill passed on Friday by the Women, Children, Elderly and Social Welfare Committee of the parliament. The amendment proposal will end the chances of opening a new medical college inside Kathmandu Valley for the next 10 years. Even the ones that have already acquired letter of intent will not be provided affiliation.

The bill will then be passed by majority of the House even if UML were to oppose it. The bill can also be sent back to the parliamentary committee asking it to amend the necessary clause as was done in the case of Banks and Financial Institutions Act (BAFIA).

The government will then propose to buy the property of Manmohan Memorial Institute of Health Sciences as agreed by the Oli government to end Dr KC's fast in the past. The institution had later refused to sell its property as agreed earlier.

Dr KC's fast was earlier expected to end on the 19th day Friday evening after the parliamentary committee passed the medical education bill in a way to address his demands. But he refused to end the fast stating that there can be maneuverings in the future if the bill were passed as it is.

The bill passed by the parliamentary committee includes 'there will be no obstruction for providing affiliation to the educational institutions that have already received letter of intent if they meet the standards set after this act comes into force.'

The standards mentioned in the bill will be set by the Medical College Regulation Commission to be formed under the prime minister, in accordance to the act. Dr KC has problem with the provision about the standards, and suspects that such commission will hastily set flexible standards to ensure that all the medical colleges waiting for affiliation after receiving letters of intent will get affiliation.

Dr KC wants that provision to be replaced with 'if they meet the standards set by the Mathema report.' He has claimed that the provision kept by the parliamentary committee is legal chicanery. Having witnessed how medical colleges have tried to use the back door for affiliation, he wants to make sure that no medical college will be opened in the Kathmandu Valley for the next 10 years.  

"I don't want to leave any loophole this time. We are bringing this law after such a long struggle. We should not let it to be used for the benefit of medical mafia instead of the impoverished people's," facilitator Aryal says quoting Dr KC.

The parliamentary committee on Friday passed the medical education bill incorporating the agreement reached during the meeting called by PM Deuba at Baluwatar earlier on the day to address his demands.

PM Deuba instructed the stakeholders concerned to create an environment for Dr KC to end his fast by passing the bill on the basis of new agreement reached to rewrite the clause the subcommittee of the parliamentary committee had added on Thursday to allow affiliation to medical colleges that have already received letter of intent, and have the requisite physical infrastructure.

The medical education bill tabled in the parliament by the KP Oli government to address Dr KC's demands was passed by the subcommittee adding a sentence 'there will, however, be no obstruction in providing affiliation to the educational institutions that have received letter of intent before this act came into force, and meet the requirements for physical infrastructure set by the bodies concerned' to clause 13 of the bill.  

A few medical colleges including Manmohan Memorial Institute of Health Sciences, financed by UML leaders and cadres, Nepal Police Hospital, People's Dental and National in Kathmandu, and B&C of Jhapa that have already received such letters of intent would have been eligible for affiliation as per the changes made by the subcommittee in the bill.

But the bill passed by the parliamentary committee after the Baluwatar agreement had replaced that with 'there will be no obstruction for providing affiliation to the educational institutions that have already received letter of intent if they meet the standards set after this act comes into force' to address Dr KC's demands.

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