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Machhapuchre Bank

The RA Debacle

Any serious perusal of back copies of these columns since the very inception of this weekly will attest to our repeated insistence that, after 1990, national performance has been deliberately hindered by sabotage designed to dismantle modern Nepal. This weekly has, among other things, chronicled the (Royal) Nepal Airlines shenanigans among other Nepali institutions singled out for paralysis in the process since civil aviation, as was rightly recognized, was a priority sector for this mountainous, landlocked sovereign state. Problems of management in the airline which had actually cropped up after the crass populism since the 1980 Panchayat referendum saw the return of the multi-party system in 1990 take a quirky turn with strange interpretations of privatization and globalization that practically dismantled painfully built economic institutions of import to the country that is today recognized as having contributed to the severe economic chaos of today. Selling off economic institutions in the name of privatization was one thing. We had been saying that such a policy should have been better mooted had government corporations been enthused with a healthy dose of private partnership in management and ownership since these corporations were in crucial economic sectors where performance was key to economic health and, since they were where they were, were actually also limiting investment sectors. Selling them off outright under nefarious circumstances closed down not only investment and employment opportunities but jerked the country back into external dependence allowing the predominance of middle-men and commission agents facilitating the fattening purse of politicians.
Demolishing the RA was a different strategy altogether. It began with an open sky policy that allowed private investments in civil aviation when that investment could have been diverted towards the enrichment of the airline with private partnership in management and coffers. Rumors of private competitors unscrupulously cannibalizing and depleting the airlines of machinery and scarce professionals then ensued. The airline then was made to fall victim to widely publicized and politically controversialized scandals effecting its painfully built sales and service network. Gradually, attention was targeted towards depleting its actual fleet of aircraft, machinery and property. Begun in 1958 by sheer national determination amidst untold foreign geo-strategic impediments targeted towards limiting national reach, the airline had by 1980 been enabled in manpower and equipment with state of the art jets and national manpower to thrive amidst international competition that was enviable in the region and was planning a global aviation policy which had already shown a presence in Europe in the west and Japan in the East and was poised to arrive in the Americas and round the globe. The down turn since 1990 had been so visible that attempts at reviving its sagging presence through the inputs of more jets and destinations has now crashed in yet another scandalous affair that seems to spell final bankruptcy. Two expensive aircraft bought under severe loan are currently sleeping in their hangars when national attention has been diverted to the manner of purchase. The lament this time again is the effect. More than the billions under purview and who should be punished for what, our concern, once again, is that this landlocked mountainous country has been sabotaged in reach. The nefarious strategy, it appears, continues. Having repeatedly delved on the topic of dismantling the state in these columns, we are not surprised and cannot but be sorry.

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