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Is developing Nepal possible?

By PR Pradhan

pushpa-columnWe see horrible pictures of our economy. There is corruption and it is difficult to find out any leader or government official who is not corrupt. Prime minister, ministers, leaders of the political parties are so corrupt that they have formulated corruption friendly laws to indulge in high-level corruption. We can see many odd things taking place in this country, such as the CIAA chief and the chief justice facing impeachment as they tried to catch “big fishes” involved in corruption. Our law states that any decision taken by the Cabinet cannot be investigated by the CIAA. Therefore, the CIAA, although it catches the “small fishes”, it is unable to take action against the big fishes. Just recently, the Nepal Oil Corporation was found purchasing land by paying even six times double than the actual price. This episode was disclosed when a land-mafia who is running broad-sheet dailies – the Gyawali group, had also competed in the tender process, but was unable to win the bid. Thus they made the land purchase episode as a scoop news and revealed the details. In this regard, there is mafia setting everywhere and all of them are ready to squeeze the nation’s wealth or individual people. One becomes prime minister or minister just to earn money and not to do anything for the development of the nation. Furthermore, those MPs, to become the minister, spends money on their party leaders. The other thing is that they become minister or prime minister with the blessings of foreign powers and they are always loyal to the foreign powers and thus serve the foreign interests. Just an example, the KP Sharma Oli led government inked several important agreements with China. Immediately after signing such agreements, the Oli government was ousted and Pushpakamal Dahal became the new prime minister. He tried to avoid the agreements signed by Oli with China. It took more than one year for Nepal to join the OBOR club even after the Oli cabinet’s decision to join the OBOR club. Chinese President Xi Jinping had initiated the OBOR project four years ago but due to the fear of India, the Dahal cabinet delayed in signing on the agreement. China is ready to support Nepal in all sectors but our leaders in the government are afraid to accept such support from China. After signing on the OBOR agreement, Nepal and China should have signed protocols of the agreements and also many bilateral agreements have to be signed to implement the OBOR project. There are many projects included in the OBOR from which Nepal can benefit in all areas but we are missing the bus.

During the 90s, this scribe had an opportunity to visit China. During that time, China had concentrated all her efforts for infrastructural development. In Beijing, we met a World Bank officer, who happened to be a Nepali citizen. He informed that China, without any special condition from her side, used to accept the World Bank Funds and utilization of the World Bank fund was above 95 percent, highest ever utilization compared to the utilization ratio in other countries. Within three decades, the Chinese investment on infrastructure has shown results. By taking lessons from China, Nepal should not delay in development of infrastructure. But we don’t have any effective plan to develop our infrastructures. We make big talks for hydropower development but the reality is that we are ending load-shedding by importing electricity from India. Big projects are being occupied by the foreign powers and we are facing acute shortage of hydropower. Even a schoolboy talks about huge potentiality of hydropower in the country. He also believes that Nepal can produce such a huge stock of hydropower and Nepal can become a rich country by exporting electricity in the neighbouring countries. I have been dreaming such a sweet dream since my school days but this dream never came true. Therefore, these days, I believe, we have to totally wipe-out the idea of exporting our electricity but developing big plants consuming our excessive electricity within the country. By introducing railways, ropeways, cable car e-vehicles, electricity consuming industries, we can utilize electricity generated through water within our country. This is not the time to construct petrol-pumps but establishing battery recharge stations around the Highways. Contrary to that, we are importing petrol/diesel consuming vehicles more than the capacity of the roads. Revenue received by the government from such vehicles is so attractive that the government cannot take a decision to stop import of the vehicles. Just recently, the Nepal Rastra Bank had tried to curtail import of such vehicles by reducing the commercial banks’ investment in vehicles, but due to pressure, the Bank had to change its policy.

Nepal is a country which is solely dependent on import of petro-products. We spend huge amount of foreign currency to import petro-products. As our exports have declined, we are dependent on the remittance money as the major source of earning foreign currency. No idea, why we are encouraging import of petro-products by importing vehicles! London, France, Germany and many countries have decided to totally replace petrol/diesel consuming vehicles by e-vehicles within 40 years. We have not developed any such plan on this.

Japan, China, South Korea are found making a 50-year plan and conducting research works to compete in the market 50 years later, but we don’t have any research work in any sector. Why we don’t learn from the experiences of the developed countries! As we know, we have no other option to reduce our expenditure on petro-products, we have to give full concentration on constructing hydropower projects at a war footing level. Unfortunately, all are engaged in water-mafia’s conspiracy. Sometimes, this scribe is frustrated to know the political leaders’ attitude of discouraging the process of making Nepal!

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