By Dr. Rajendra B. Shrestha
KP Oli led majority government has been in place for the past 5 months. By any international practice, it is still early to assess its performance against its election manifesto and make a judgement on whether it has been successful or not. It has promised that in the next 5 years or so it will lead Nepal towards prosperity so that every Nepali can feel happy. The Nepali electorate has given two-third majority to CPN alliance to govern for the next 5 years as a strong, effective and inclusive government to carry out its mandate.
Against this backdrop,I feel the government has been able to come up with some policy reforms towards good governance (such as downsizing the government in line with constitutional provision), institutional reforms (dismantling cartel and syndicate in the transportand othersectors), pursuing more balanced foreign policy towards nearest neighbors (India and China), some financial sector reform including passing of annual budget etc.
However, the delays in implementation of these policy reforms and lack of institutional capacity, coordination and resources among government agencieshave not resulted in programs that providestangible benefits as expected and desired by thepeople. This has led to growing disenchantment of the people towards the governments they elected at national, regional and local levels.
Government has been slow in addressing and solving immediateproblems faced by people such as price hike, supply of essentials, and disruption of road transportation due to poor quality of construction, flood damages, rehabilitation of earthquake victims, and other basic services. Although these problems perpetuated from the past, people expect timely relief and support from the majority government they elected.
Opposition Party’s Non-cooperation
Opposition political parties are trying to capitalize on these issues to disrupt the effective functioning of the government and thus making excuses for non-cooperation at the parliament as well as from the streets.They claim that the government is becoming authoritarian by the day in the name of two-third majority and do not adhere to opposition views and concerns.
Among the issues, the opposition have raised against the government areprivatization of medical education, inadequate budgetary allocation to local governments for development works (against the spirit of local autonomy), reversal of political appointments made by the previous government which had already lost electoral mandate and contradictconstitutional provisions and election code of conduct.
Dr. KC’s demand for improved quality of medical education and affordable medical services merit support of every one. However, the demands for ten year moratorium and rigid conditions of affiliationrequirements for opening medical colleges (as surfaced in media) do not provide a sound basis and practical solution in achieving the above goals based on social justice and government’s responsibility of ensuring quality and affordable medical services to all. The fact that it is the 15th hunger strike by Dr. KC and the governments in the past (NC, UML and others) were not able to solve clearly indicate that all of the demands of Dr. KC cannot be fulfilled by any government and needs to be reviewed and amended.
The only amicable solution to the stalemate is, all the stakeholders (government, civil society, medical professionals and non-governmental organizations should come together to deliberate on the merits and de-merits of proposed amendment bill to be ratified by the parliament (people’s representatives) at the earliest. The government should make sincere and credible effort towards early negotiations (which is forth coming in recent responses) for a practical solution to the crisis while Dr. KC should end hunger strike and supporters should refrain from being political pawns andcausing disruptions and inconvenience to people at large.Politicizing the issues does not serve the purpose and is not in the interest of any one. Both sides should be responsible, flexible and sincere towards solving the problem amicably before it is too late.Everyone winswhen it happens.
In a true democracy, governmentduly elected by the majority has the authority, responsibility and is accountable to deliver its mandate to the people in an efficient, equitable and timely manner. Likewise the opposition should have the confidence, patience and commitment to safeguard people’s interest and warn the government based on its merits and demerits.
Nepal has just begun the process of implementing constitutional provisions to deliver peace, prosperity and progress to its people as best and timely as possible.
The key challenges to the government are to build the capacity of the institutions (political, social, economic), prioritize resources (domestic and international), identify and implement development projects of national interest/importance and deliver the benefits to all in a more efficient and equitable manner.
In this process all the segments of the society should come together for cooperation and coordination not confrontation. Sustainable development is possible only then. We can learn from the successes of the neighbors and put them to practice. It is not late yet to achieve “Prosperous Nepal and Happy Nepali” if we all synergize our energy and make efforts towards this cause.
Government has the responsibility to create such a conducive environment of cooperation and contribution from all. If the government does not make sincere effort to tap the best talents available (not just rely on party cadre and “aphno manche”) and conduct business as usual,the high rate of growth envisaged to achieve above goals remain only a political slogan not a reality. The consequence is the reprimand from the supreme people.
(The writer is the president, International Center For Sustainable Development and Diplomacy, IPP, Nepal Council of World Affairs.)