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Machhapuchre Bank

If Wishes Were Horses

The plethora of public speeches apart, government speaks most accurately to its people through its annual fiscal policy. Our government in the last budget has told us that it intends to consume seventy percent of its budgetary outlay on itself for administrative purposes. Of the remaining thirty percent left for ‘development’, common conclusion is that’s some fifty percent of the development outlay fails audit which means it is misspent. That leaves us fifteen percent of the total budget outlay for development. Of this fifteen percent, common knowledge has it that some fifty percent fails to be spent on time. This leaves us seven percent of the actual amount budgeted for development. The private sector has virtually been denied its contribution to development since government intends to dip into borrowing to enable the seventy percent allotted for administrative expenses and is tight on private sector lending in the absence of surplus these days. Clearly then, the budget outlay denies government the adequate expenses for growth. But it has targeted its growth. This leaves us asking from whence the funds will emanate to invest in growth. And, then, we cannot but look outside the country for funds to fuel growth in Nepal. This is how we must conclude that government is telling the world that they are here to serve the donor’s purpose in Nepal in order to attract their funds into Nepal. The problem though is that international funding sources are increasingly competitive in Nepal since the donors are at odds in competition in the country with their interests here being at variance. Two conclusions must be derived from this. One is that government is risking conflagration in Nepal at the donors’ behest. Two is that government is telling the world that its service to them depends on the extent of development support they provide as donors.
Conflagration at external behest is a trend no longer unreal in the Nepali context. This makes the search for alternatives to the current scheme of things a reasonable exercise. This search is reaching proportions tantamount to obsession going by the volumes of wise interviews in the public and social media these days. Search analyses see the K.P. Oli government failing through splits in its strange alliance and shaky groupism. They even see possibilities of Oli dissolving parliament despite his two thirds majority. These are strange discussions considering that both Oli and his allies are aware of the possible consequences of such seemingly suicidal ventures. On the other hand others see new alignments on the streets with the parliamentary opposition vacating parliament in order to lead the streets. But, again these phenomena seem too remote since the opposition is in parliament as option to donors and the complaint has been that they are actual partners to government in sharing the spoils of the current budgetary excess. There is another section which is targeting their emergence among the public as the public choice in forthcoming elections in lieu of the government excess. This section fails to recognize that the excess is systemic and they will only emerge as yet another partner. There is yet another section that recognizes that the option is systemic. It is not surprising therefore that a forward block is emerging asking that endemic problems be resolved through more constitutional tampering—directly elected president or prime minister, more federalism and the likes. There is another ‘backward and reactionary’ thought gaining ground that the fault is a constitution that leaves the politician more sacrosanct than the competition. These are thoughts being voiced, of course. One awaits what translates the thoughts on the streets and how.

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