Monday , October 15 2018
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Messing Management

Parliament’s stock has been so reduced in public eyes that even the cosmetic addition of a section of the Tarai movement into the cabinet matters little. Government’s fiscal policy has passed parliament previously even when a government party has chosen to shift loyalties to the party opposing government on the budget. This time round, K.P. Oli already cushioned in numbers by the successful unity that gave him his two thirds in parliament has only insured his numbers to than two thirds preventing a similar challenge from within his new party. For the lay public, less than the prime minister, the shenanigans of politicians in parliament have become so routine and the flaunting of parliamentary norms so mundane that government tabling a budget and its approval in parliament is merely an annual form of the pretense that is Nepali democracy today. Indeed, regardless of the many promises of government that is the fiscal policy, a measure of realism prevails when the sugar is not a matter of public diversion and when the impact of the budget on public minds is the cost. Predictably, the media can only play on that realism—the budget has added to the cost. Price rises reflected in the market add to the burden. Price rises reflected on tariffs and taxes add to the chagrin especially when the people are aware that there is no sane way out of this. Except, that is, if people are to say that they won’t pay.
There is a twinge of public sympathy towards government and the finance minister though. The minister is right when he says there is no other alternative. What the people are aware of though is that government has unnecessarily backed itself and the people into a corner by having to foot the bill for managing a federalism that in no case was necessary for Nepal and that was forced upon the country through the exigencies of politics. We have been saying and the people are now bearing the costs of three decades of unproductive politics that had mere partisan interests in mind at the cost of the country. The people must thus bear the brunt of the costs and it is this that reflects in government fiscal policy. The ‘experts’ with even a modicum of economic savvy can no longer turn a blind eye to the fact that there is no pretense of a development allotment this year. How we can grow without development expenses is a mystery that even the experts cannot glean from this year’s fiscal policy. They do what they do best thus; ignore it. The public are at best nonchalant about this too. Growth rates expected in government forecasts have long been dismissed merely as tall government claims. This year it may be too unreal. But so what? For the lay public though, much more than market price hikes, the crunch will come when it comes to land dealings. That is where every land owner must go to pay, sell, buy, mortgage his or her meager remnant of property that is his or her depleting capital. Artificially inflated land values, bloated by new federal descriptions of land type beyond economic justification have costs that are real. It will take its toll. It is the public that must pay. This is what the budget says.

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