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Comments On Polices And Program Of Government For FY 2016 (2073)

Issue May 2016

Comments On Polices And Program Of Government For FY 2016 (2073)

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


President of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal Bidhya Devi Bhandari read out the policies and programs of the government headed by KP Oli at the parliament on May 8, 2016. Lawmakers discussed the policies and programs at the parliament. Some political parties have proposed amendments to the document. However, those amendments have to be passed by the parliament otherwise the polices and programs would be effective without amendments; and the government would prepare the budget for the FY 2016 (starts on July 16, 2016 and ends on July 15, 2017) following the document. Prime Minister Oli answered the questions of the lawmakers on the government’s policies and program in the parliament on May 13, 2016, and the parliament passed the policies and program by the majority votes.


The document said in the paragraph two that major achievements such as federal democratic republic, proportional inclusive administrative system, and unity amidst diversity, tolerance, and secularism including social justice have been institutionalized.


Comments: Yeah, those things have been institutionalized but concerning the proportional representations of all ethnic and Madheshi people the government had claimed to institutionalize was hard to believe as the ethnic and Madheshi people had not been satisfied what the new constitution had made the provision for them. So, they had been running the people’s movement for last six months even before the constitution was adopted demanding to reinstate what the interim constitution of 2007 had made the provision for them.


The paragraph eight said that the ‘one-house-one-employment’ program would be implemented in the quake-affected areas gradually introducing it in other areas, too.


Comments: It was nothing but the fodder to the political cadre (most probably) of all the political parties in the coalition. So, only a cadre of political parties would reap the benefit from this so-called social justice program.


The paragraph 12 of the document said that the investment in the agriculture would be increased so that the country would be self-sufficient in the basic food grains within two years, and then the country would achieve the food security.


Comments: Since 1951 every government had been focusing on the agricultural development, and the agriculture had been developed no doubt about that but it had not been what it would have to if the successive government had simply followed the plans and programs on the agriculture they had in the past. That was one thing another was the irrigation that had been dragging the food productions in the country. How could Prime Minister KP Oli and his agricultural minister claim that their government would make sure that the country would be self-sufficient in basic food grains in two years when only the 20 percent of the agricultural land has the irrigation facility, the rest has to depend on the monsoon rains?


The paragraph 14 of the document has it that the supply sources of the petroleum products would be diversified as the single source had caused the country to be vulnerable to the uncertainty of the supplies.


Comments: it had been more than six months since the country had suffered from the chocking of the supply of the petroleum products from India but the coalition government had not been able to do even the basic things for bringing petroleum products from China. Probably, the government had not explored the possibility of bringing petroleum products from Bangladesh or through Bangladesh. What other diversification could be the government needed to tell the public, as the people had the rights to know what the government was doing.


The paragraph 15 has it that development of agriculture, industry and the service sector, and the reconstruction and new construction would create jobs so that Nepalese would not need to depend on the foreign job market for employment.


Comments: No doubt about creation of jobs due to the development of agriculture, industry and the service sector but the government has to do what it has said to do. Currently, 400,000 to 500,000 job seekers entered the job market every year but the government had been able to create only 50,000 jobs, former Finance Minister Surendra Pandey told the anchor of the Radio Nepal morning program called ‘antar-sambad’ on May 12, 2016.


The devastating quakes alone would have been the economic stimulus for the fast economic development and for the creation of large number of jobs had the previous government head by prime Minster Sushil Koirala and then the current government headed by KP Oli done the job any prime minister of any country would do at the time of such a natural disaster but both the prime ministers had missed the opportunity of fast economic development, as they had been reluctant to do anything drastically so that common folks would benefit.


Before leaving office, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala could disburse millions if not billions of NPR (Nepalese Rupees) to his party members and cadre but he could not effectively disburse even the minimum amount quake victims needed to support their lives. Could anybody believe in such prime ministers?


The paragraph 44 said that National Energy Crisis Alleviation and Energy Development Decade Program of 2015 (2072) would be implemented with a priority to produce 10,000 MW power by 2025 (2082).


Comments: Prime Minister Oli is a politician. He could say whatever his tongue allowed but the technical advisors to the prime minister needed to think from where the enormous amount of money required for building hydropower plants in such a scale in the country where even the construction of 10 to 50 MW power plants took not five years but decades. None of the logical thinking people would surely believe it when people had to live without electricity for most part of the day thanks to the incompetent prime ministers, ministers and politicians as a whole.


The major hurdles to the large development projects are the following, according to one of the members of the National Planning Commission:


  1. The problem of acquiring land for the project had been the foremost. The government took years to acquire land for large projects.
  2. The concerned State agency did not do the environmental impact assessment on such large projects on time, and took years to do.
  3. Litigation: The law court took considerable time to settle lawsuits concerning such large projects.
  4. Public Purchase Act had been the cause of delay in awarding contracts for doing the jobs of large projects. The government needed to amend it to suit the current need.
  5. Rapid change in government: After the change of a government, a new government took six to seven months before doing anything for implementing such large projects, according to a study ‘The World Bank” did.


Prime Minister Oli said that his government was elected to a single term. So, how could he anticipate that 10,000 MW power would be generated in 10 years. By that time, probably Oli would be nowhere to be seen in the government and in the party, too. Then, why he did not focus on short-term projects that might be completed during his term of office.


Prime Minister Oli also unveiled the five-year reconstruction program of his government on rehabilitation and reconstruction of the quake-devastated private houses, temples, and public buildings in the parliament. Oli would have been better off having a program on doing anything possible during his term in office particularly disbursing the grants and loans to the quake victims waiting for him to provide them.


Prime Minster Oli had been repeatedly saying in the parliament and in the public that he would take the quake victims to the community buildings before the onset of monsoon but the monsoon has been already set in but Oli was talking and talking doing nothing to build such buildings.


The Radio Nepal in its morning news had aired the public opinions of the quake victims on May 14, 2016. None of the people talking to the Radio Nepal pollster believed that s/he would receive anything in the immediate future, and anything would be built, too. It indicated that the government has lost the public faith.


The paragraph 46 said that a detailed study would be done on the possibility of constructing at least one each hydropower plant with a reservoir at all the naturally well-situated provinces.


Comments: It is in fact the devolution of development projects, and initiation of provincial development is surely a good approach. Even the detailed study on such projects needed to be transferred to provinces. It will expedite the all-round development of provinces. No province will lag behind as of today when such development authority is turned over to the provinces.


The paragraph 48 said that using the cutting-edge technology, different irrigation projects would be implemented to make available year-round irrigation to all the agricultural land within a few years.


Comments: Even if it does not look like funny but it surely is a joke as usual Prime Minister Oli likes to make. Prime Minister Oli knows (if not he needs to consult his technical advisor) that currently only 20 percent of agricultural land has the irrigation facilities, to make available irrigation to another 80 percent land within a few years would be impossible to believe even to the prime minister if he is not telling it sarcastically.


The paragraph 55 said that construction of the tunnel for bringing water from the Melamchi River to the Kathmandu Valley, and water treatment center including the distribution system would be completed.


Comments: it did not say when the construction of those activities would be completed presumably in the fiscal year in question. The Oli government would be the most fortunate one if it were to complete it. From Bijya Gacchedar of MPRF-D, to Hisila Yemi of UCPN-Maoist, Bimlendra Nidhi of NC, Dr Khadka of NC including the current minister had been the responsible elected official for completing this mega project.


One minister after another came and went but none of the ministers had been able to complete the Melamchi Project because the intention of the minister and other people involved in the project had been how to make money out of the project rather than completing it. So, the cost overrun and the time overrun had been incredibly high in this mega project appropriately named the project of the national importance, as it could not dodge from being the victim of the corrupt ministers, bureaucrats and the contractors involved in constructing it.


During this month, some Kathmanduites have been lucky to have once-a-month water supply from the State-run Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited (KUKL); others have no water for months. Did Prime Minister Oli care about it?


Some people could afford to buy water from the private suppliers but most of the Kathmandu residents with plastic buckets and containers in their hands have to run after the KUKL tankers that supply water once a while or go to the public stone water spouts or wells to collect water. Some people said that even the KUKL had been making money, selling water.


The paragraph 59 said that the Kathmandu-Nijgadh fast track highway would be initiated with the investment of the government of Nepal in the coming FY 2016.


NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba said in the parliament that this project was contracted to the foreign contractor; if the government were to build it then the government would need to pay a huge compensation to the contractor builder.


The local print and online media including the wrote that President of NC Deuba had said so because of his vested interest in it, as the previous government of Sushil Koirala had made a decision on awarding the contract for building this fast track highway to the Indian company called Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Service Company. A man called Promod Rana was the local agent that would supposedly receive millions of NPR in commission. He was a distant relation of Deuba. So, Deuba was concerned with the cancellation of the decision made by the previous government on this matter, wrote all the Nepalese print and online media.


However, in a statement issued in Kathmandu on May 11, 2016, Deuba said that the previous government had selected a company through an international bidding following the BOOT Act, and the project was in the process of whether or not to award the contract. A lawsuit on this matter is pending at the Supreme Court of Nepal. Deuba also has shown his concern for the wrong message this project would send to the foreign investors if the government’s decision were to cancel the decision made by the previous cabinet of Prime Minster Sushil Koirala.


A national private company took an initiative to build this fast track highway, and even laid a foundation stone but the previous government’s reluctant to assist the private company in building this highway had made this project to end in fiasco.


The current government in its policies and program document had said elsewhere that the government would adopt the policy on public-private-cooperative partnership. If the government is really true to its commitment then the government needs to cooperate with the private company that has done so much work in the past to build this fast track highway rather than doing it on its own.


The question is whether the life of the Oli government is long enough to complete this mega project involving billions of NPR if not why the government is venturing this project. The answer is probably this project might bring a large commission to the concerned decision makers. Surely, Prime Minster Oli sits on top of all decision makers.


Clearly, politicians competed with each other to take the benefits from such large projects. They could take the benefits completing the projects on time not making the projects cost overrun and time overrun. Unfortunately, they did not think of completing the projects but taking only benefits in the form of commissions and what not.


The paragraph 76 said that ensuring the rights of the people to the basic education, education up to the grade twelve would be gradually made compulsory and free. School education would be made job-oriented.


Comments: No where in the world all the people had the compulsory education up to the 12th grade and free. First, the question is whether the entire population needs the twelve-grade education? The second is whether the State could afford to make such education free for all? Both the questions will have the negative answers. The third question is what the Oli government likes to present itself proposing such an unbelievably unaffordable educational program?


‘School education would be made job-oriented’ is the most appropriate approach to the education. After the eighth grade or so, students could attend vocational schools of their choice. They could enter in the labor market earlier than those continuing the schools and completing 10th or 12th grade before joining the labor market. The former would settle in the family life quite earlier than the later.


The paragraph 79 said that soft student loans would be made available to the intelligent students for studying science, technology and vocational subjects.


Comments: This approach is the most important one for the country to build scientific, technical and vocational manpower. The government needs to be serious about keeping this commitment. Intelligent students of the poor families had to quit the further schooling because their families could not afford to send them to the schools. So, they need some sorts of assistance from the State. Soft loans to them for studying the subjects of their choice would be the one such assistance the State could provide them with.


The paragraph 82 said that interest-free educational loans would be made available to the students for studying high-level scientific, technical and job-oriented professional subjects based on their educational certificates.


Comments: Instead of saying “based on their educational certificates’, the government needs to say specifically what sorts of qualifications students need to possess for being eligible to get the interest-free student loans for studying the specified subject matters. Also is it not the repetition of the soft loans said in the paragraph 79?


The paragraph 95 said that in view of the rights of the people to the minimum shelter, and the State’s duty to provide them with such shelter, a shelter program would be launched targeting the minimum income group. Following this program, 20 thousands houses will be constructed, and will be turned over to dalits, vanishing and needy people in the coming fiscal year.


Comments: What is this? Is it not really a joke or possibility? Could the government build such a large number of houses in one year that could not distribute even the grant money to the quake victims even after a year of the devastating quakes in 2015? What is the intention of this program?


The paragraph 97 said that laborers in the agriculture and informal sector would be provided with the social security.


Comments: What sorts of the social security the document did not specify even then such provision might help to stop the flight of youths from the agricultural sector to foreign or urban jobs.


Concluding comments: The Oli government has declared its intention to hold local body elections in December 2016 but the main opposition leaders particularly of NC have been nervous about the current CPN-UML government holding such important grassroots elections, as they have not forgotten how the then Deputy Prime Minter Bamdev Gautam held the local body elections in the mid 1990s, and won the elections in favor of his party CPN-UML of which current Prime Minster Oli is the chairman.


Even the NC leaders that had been advocating for the local elections had changed their stand and vehemently opposing the Oil government holding elections, as they feared that their party NC would not be able to win the local elections. Sher Bahadur Deuba when he was the prime minister in 1990s did not hold local elections fearing the opposition particularly the CPN-UML would win the elections overwhelmingly.


Comments: On May 13, 2016, Prime Minister Oli stood at the parliament podium and answered the questions of the lawmakers in the parliament.


He said that the country should not delay holding local elections, as delineating the frontiers of the local bodies would take time, and the constitution and other legal provisions did not obstruct it.


Oli also said that the government needed to take up the fast track Kathmandu-Nijgadh highway as directed by the parliament.


He also said that some policies and programs have some new and other old, too giving the continuity of the past especially made for the fast economic development, and anything missed in the document would be captured by the budget.


The majority vote has passed the polices and programs without any amenndment.


May 14, 2016

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