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Policies And Programs Of Government For FY 2019

Issue May 2019

Policies And Programs Of Government For FY 2019

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


Prime Minister Oli immediately after the day of the president presenting his policies and programs for the fiscal year 2019 (Vikram Calendar VS 2076) to the federal parliament on May 3, 2019 explained to the public through the news posted on that calling “my government” in other words the president’s is an international practice. This is one of many jokes Mr. Oli tells almost in every public speech he makes. What is international? Anyway even Mr. Oli knowing that nowhere in the democratic and republic country, such thing is never practice, Mr. Oli wants to cover up his first mistake by committing another one. Could Mr. Oli or the president violate the constitution going beyond the constitutional provision in such a nationally sensitive issue, and escape from the penalty for such a grave mistake?


Mr. Oli provoked the widespread outrage letting the president tell the parliament while delivering the policies and programs of the government of Nepal for the fiscal year 2019 calling “my government” not once but several times. Nepalis have been politically so matured that they did not want that the government of Nepal being somebody’s dowry. The government is not of the president or of Mr. Oli not even of his party but the of the Nepalese people who had voted for so many parliamentarians who incidentally happened to belong to the Oli’s party. The next time when the elections would be held the situation might change making those elected folks belonging to some other political parties.


So, the conclusion is “kahi nava-ko Jatra Nepal ma” means the thing, which never happens in other places, happens in Nepal.


Probably, most of the parliamentarians whether they belong to the ruling parties or the opposition must have felt that they had wasted their time listening to the policies and programs for the FY 2019 the president had delivered on May 3, 2019, which had been more like the stories told in the “Panchatantra” but not interesting at all.


The first story probably the most interesting one is the government of Nepal is going to build highways, which could be used for the emergency landing of airplanes. Prime Minister Oli must have thought that such things are required given the country is so plagued with the air accidents. However, the question is whether it is an international practice or not. Certainly not, nowhere in the world the highways are designed and built fit for the airplanes landing. Anyway, the second question is where the resources required for building such highways would come from when the government could not even build the most publicized Kathmandu-Hetauda Fast-track highway even after almost three decades of conceiving the idea of building such highway. Nepalis would be very grateful to Mr. Oli if the government of Nepal incidentally and presently of which he were the prime minister could pave the roads in Kathmandu: the capital of Nepal to free it from the dust and mud, and save the children and youths from the respiratory diseases. However, Mr. Oli had said in the policies and programs that the road in the Kathmandu Valley would be free from dust most probably paving the roads during the monsoon rains because it had been the practice of whoever became a prime minister in the past and even now. How nice at least Mr. Oli has said that the Kathmandu roads would be made dust free but it remains to be seen whether it would be done no matter when.


The next more interesting story than the previous one has been that Mr. has said in the policies and programs the dream of Nepalis traveling on boats would be realized soon. Again it indicates that Mr. Oli does hardly realize how much resources are required for making the Nepalese rivers navigable. Probably, Mr. Oli even does not understand how many dams have to be built to have sufficient water in the rivers to make them navigable, and how deep these rivers have to be so that boats or ships could sail on them. Probably, Mr. Oli seems to not only enjoy telling such a fantastic story but also opening an office for running such boats. Folks would like to travel on such boats but the question is when, Mr. Oli needs to answer definitely, and he needs to convince the folks of, he is really serious about such a nice thing but a high cost one, which the government of Nepal would hardly able to pay for.


The third most interesting story is about building the east-west electric railroads, north-south railroads starting in the coming fiscal year. Is it another joke or a serious story? If it is a serious one again the question is how Mr. Oli is mobilizing the resources required for such mega projects. Nepalis are not the folks that everything Mr. Oli would say or tell, would take it for granted. Many folks have been smart enough to question such basic things as the resources required for building the railroads not a few kilometers of them but thousands of them. It is not a joke but really a serious one, which Mr. Oli wants to laugh at it and make Nepalis laugh but in the end Mr. Oli himself being a laughingstock.


The fourth highly interesting story is that the government would ensure the basic drinking water supply to 92 percent of the population in the coming fiscal year means the fiscal year 2019, and to the one-hundred percent within the next four years. How could the folks believe in such a very nice story but most unlike one when the government of Nepal has been currently (April-May-June) providing the folks in Kathmandu with the water three times a month at the rate of three hours each time, and leaving the folks in the rest of the country particularly in the rural areas have to spend hours to collect a bucketful of water? Most of the folks who could afford buy water from the private suppliers. Others use the traditional stone spouts built for flowing water or wells still available in some areas in Kathmandu.


The fifth story that the Oli’s polices and programs have told is an arrangement the government would make to pay the minimum wages to laborers through banks. Probably, Nepalis have not forgotten the incident that the Oli administration had transferred the second class officer named Prem Sanjel from the Biratnagar Department of Labor to another office violating the rules and regulations of transferring the State officials from one place to another. Mr. Sanjel was transferred because Mr. Sanjel had enforced the labor law and rules recently promulgated forcing the industry owners and the businesspeople in Biratnagar to pay the minimum wages to the laborers. Mr. Sanjel went to the Supreme Court seeking the justice for him. The court ordered the Oli administration to reinstate him to the Biratnagar Department of Labor. Mr. Sanjel got his job back in 35 days. In a press conference held in Kathmandu, Mr. Sanjel bitterly complained that the Oli administration had used someone to report on Mr. Sanjel receiving the remuneration for the 35 days he had been out of the job, forced him to come to Kathmandu to make explanations to the office of the Commission on Investigation into Abuse of Authority (CIAA). That is one unfortunate story, another unfortunate one is that the laborers in the State-run tea gardens in Ilam have not received the minimum wages the Oli administration has set through the Labor Act and rules and regulations. They have gone to protest against the government not enforcing the minimum wage law causing the disruption in their work and loss to the tea gardens, the Nepalese media and social media had brought to light the sufferings of the tea-garden laborers.


The sixth interesting story for hundreds of thousands of the folks who had passed through the driving test and waiting for the licenses and for those who had applied for the renewal of their driving licenses is that the government would set up a security printing press for printing the licenses, banknotes, internal revenue stickers, postal tickets, landownership certificates, and other documents of the public interest. It is nice to hear such a story but the question is the Oli administration would really keep its words. So far, the answer has been hardly positive.


Finally, the serious story has been the repetition of the Oli’s commitment to the zero tolerance of the corruption. Mr. Oli has repeated this commitment how many times has been beyond the possibility of keeping its record. However, the Oli administration has not brought the construction contractors that have defaulted on their work to justice even after more than one year Mr. Oli taking the office. Would Nepalis believe in this story? It is hard to believe in the words not kept for such a long time.


Now, the minor story is that Mr. Oli’s polices and programs have given the idea of two fiscal years writing the fiscal year 2019 and 2020 (VS 2076 and 2077). Writing two years for a single fiscal year has been confusing to the foreigners and even to some Nepalis. Actually, the Nepalese fiscal year starts on July 16 and ends on July 15 next year. So, the next fiscal year really starts on July 16, 2019 and then ends on July 15, 2020. Mr. Oli could call the next fiscal year the fiscal year 2019 or 2020 but if someone were to check the VS calendar then the next fiscal year will be actually FY 2019.


Using the VS calendar for the domestic purpose and the Gregorian calendar for the international purpose has been confusing and sometimes writers often use both the calendars disregarding the readers’ problem of understanding them. So, in the current time of globalization let us use the single calendar of the international use for all the purposes: domestic and international.


Last but not the least one is the economic growth per year. The Oli administration has said that the economic growth would be in two digits in the coming years. Even the State department of statistics published the report on the economic growth stating the current fiscal year means the FY 2018 would have 6.8 percent economic growth. However, the World Bank using the same economic data the government of Nepal has provided, has projected the economic growth for Nepal at 6.1 percent for the next three fiscal years at least.


Prime Minister Oli has sincerely stated the low use of the capital budget in his policies and programs the president delivered to the parliamentarians on May 3, 2019. Without the proper use of the capital budget the economic growth would not be possible because the huge chunk of the budget, which ran to nearly a trillion Nepalese rupees remained ideal. The jobs it had to create and the economic growth it had to fuel did not happen.


Ministers, secretaries to the ministries, and project chiefs consumed the entire administrative budget. They bought cars; they got the salaries, allowances, and other incentives. They rode on cars using the fuels at the cost of the general consumption budget but they did not work to complete the capital projects because completing the projects would not bring them any benefits means commission or under-the-table payments. (Currently, they could give or receive over the table even though the prime minister had the zero toleration for such transactions.)


The Public Procurement Act has the provision for compensating the construction contractors for the rise in the prices of the construction materials. The contractors received the mobilization money. Most of the time the mobilization money they had received from the projects, they used for buying the land. So, they were short of the money, and they did not even start the construction. When they started the projects the prices of the construction materials had already gone up.


However, the ministers including the Prime Minister Oli had been shy to bring the contractors who had defaulted on the work to justice for the obvious reasons. The contractors had been the parliamentarians or colleagues or the political leaders or cadres. Naturally, the ministers had their share in not completing the large projects in time because the cost overrun and time overrun brought them the windfall benefits.


Hundreds of the laws: one of them the most prominent one is the Public Procurement Act had been just beneficial to the ministers including the prime minister, secretaries to the ministries, and project chiefs and contractors because they could use those laws for their personal benefits at the cost of the nationally important projects, and even smaller projects, too extending the time and the cost and then giving the compensation for the price rise in the construction materials. What a splendid Public Procurement Act for those ministers and folks in power to launch the large projects but never completing them, for example, the Melamchi Drinking Water Development project.


Prime Minister Oli needed to amend or dismiss the laws that had hindered the completion of the large projects as scheduled, and craft news laws to expedite the launching of the new projects and then completing them in time. Laws are necessary to punish the ministers, secretaries, and project chiefs that had neglected deliberately to complete the projects on time. However, the prime minister has not awoken to these realities so far.


Prime Minister Oli has correctly said that the first year of his term is the base year, and the year of crafting news laws and so on to set the foundation for the fast track economic development growth. However, Mr. Oli has failed in crafting new laws or even amending the existing laws to lay the foundation for putting the development projects on the fast track and completing them on time.


So, if the Prime Minister were to run his administration, as it had been then his dream of making “Nepal Prosperous and Nepalis Happy” would remain in his sleep, and the economic growth in two digits would be just another joke Mr. Oli liked to tell the people.


May 4, 2019

Updated May 5, 2019

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