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Manifestoes Of NC and CPN-UML/Maoist-Center

Issue November 2017

Manifestoes Of NC and CPN-UML/Maoist-Center

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


NC and CPN-UML/Maoist-Center: the two opposing political parties have released their manifestos for federal and provincial elections. Both the manifestoes are highly ambitious. The communist manifesto is a number of times ambitious than the NC manifesto. However, both manifestoes have demonstrated the lack of concerns for stating how seriously they would mobilize the huge resources required for implementing their impressive programs and policies and achieve the extraordinarily high targets they have set.


Manifesto of NC


Manifesto of NC must have disappointed all democratic-minded folks including me as it would repulse voters rather than attract in the coming federal and provincial elections because of the immature and unrealistic policies and programs, and not mentioning any past mistakes that have retarded the fast political development taken place in 1950s, and consequently the socio-economic development. However, some of its economic polices might be attractive provided NC leaders are serious about introducing the policies, and amending the outdated laws immediately to make the business environment conducive to the investors.


First of all, democrats needed to apologize to the common folks for the NC carrying on its shoulder the corrupt and the most obstacle to development: the monarchy up until 2008 when under the pressure of the left political parties in general and of the common folks in particular the NC relinquished the monarchy that died forever. Mind it, the monarchy had been always after the NC for killing it if possible.


Next, the NC needed to apologize for not holding the elections to the constituent assembly for crafting a people’s constitution in 1950s when the folks were ready to vote for the NC overwhelmingly, and for not crafting the people’s constitution rather accepting the constitution the then king had bestowed on them in 1958. The constitution had pushed the country backward for 30 years causing severe socio-economic and political disabilities, as it had been the basis for the king to nip democracy in the bud in 1960.


The third and the most important one is the corruption, the NC leaders needed to apologize for producing several corrupt ministers that went to serve the jail term for corruption in 2000s, and finally for attempting to crafting a bill and passing it into law for making the corrupt politicians eligible for running for various offices after a certain period in the immediate past. And the NC needed to promise that it would never ever again allow corrupt politicians in it and prevent all sorts of political social economic and bureaucratic corruption.


Forgetting all these very important issues for the common folks in general and voters in particular, the NC manifesto has dwelt on the political issue of the left alliance taking power and imposing a totalitarian system that even a political child would not believe, as the current national and international situation would never let happen such thing for many years to come if not forever.


Some of the NC leaders including Dr Shashank Koirala have been happy with the left alliance as it would certainly cement all the fractions within the NC and other democratic elements outside of the party to a single strong political party for which the NC needed to be grateful to the left alliance rather than being fearful of it.


Now, the economic development and making Nepal a middle-income country within ten years is surely possible but what have been written in the NC manifesto would probably not make it as most of the stated policies and programs are overblown and imaginary.


For example, the manifesto has stated attracting billions of rupees to invest in the country but it has not stated what have been the obstacles to the fast economic development.


For the information of the writers of the manifesto, the outdated laws the panchayat people had crafted to control rather than to promote the development of industries, businesses, agriculture, education, health and overall development of the people have been the main impediments to all sorts of the socio-economic development. If the NC were serious about putting Nepal on a fast-track economic development, the NC needed to amend all those laws that had obstructed not only the national but also the international investors investing in the country.


The NC manifesto said that the NC would increase the average per capita income to NPR 150,000 in 10 years. It is highly probable on the condition that the yearly GDP (gross domestic product) growth would be kept at not less than seven percent. To this end in addition to the legal environment as already mentioned, infrastructures, highly disciplined labor force, and stable policy environment conducive to investment and development would be required.


However, the average per capita income of NPR 150,000 does not mean that every folk would have the amount in her or his pocket. It is the average of zero to hundreds of millions of rupees folks having in their pockets. So, the NC needs to insure that folks have more or less NPR 150,000 to live for a year. To achieve this goal, the NC needs to spend a lot of money on the social security such as allowances to senior citizens, single women, disabled people, and on the health and education so that folks having less than NPR 150,000 per year could send their kids to schools, and so that they could have affordable medical services.


Then, the manifesto has said that the NC would generate more than 15,000 MW within 10 years, and the surplus energy would be exported. Let us assume that the NC government would generate that much of energy no matter whether from the hydro or other energy sources, and also assume a half of it would be nationally consumed by that time but the remaining surplus energy would be needed to sell to Bangladesh, India, Pakistan or China (Tibet). Bhutan has its own sufficient hydropower so it would not buy energy from Nepal.


Now the question is whether these countries would or could buy energy from Nepal.


Let us start from the most potential customer: India. Would India buy energy from Nepal? Surely, yes but at the price it sets, which would be far less than the production cost as the history of an attempt on selling the Nepalese hydropower to India has indicated.


Bangladesh is willing to buy the energy from Nepal at the commercial price that both countries could agree on. Nepal and Bangladesh both would benefit from the sale and purchase of energy but the question is whether India would let the energy pass through its territory to Bangladesh. The answer is certainly no, as India never wanted Nepal to have a direct road link not to mention the power link with Bangladesh.


Concerning the sale of power to Pakistan is theoretically possible but practically it is not. Again, India is the main barrier to have a direct link with Pakistan. So, selling energy to Pakistan is not possible.


Finally, selling energy to Tibet is possible or not. Surely, it is possible, as nobody is in the way to Tibet to prevent the power going from Nepal to Tibet. So, Nepal could directly sell energy to Tibet. Again the commercial viability is questionable, as the transmission cost would be high for the Chinese to import energy from Nepal.


One final question is whether the NC that has been in power for more than 25 years since 1990, and it did not build a single power station causing a tremendous power shortage in the country would build power stations enough to generate 15,000 MW. Nobody could preclude the NC from building a number of power stations but it remains to be seen whether the NC would actually do it.


Former Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai also had boasted that he would build hydropower stations for generating 40,000 MW within 10 years. Today, the poor guy has bounced away from one political party to another at least to secure a safe constituency for getting elected to the Federal House of Representatives.


NC leaders such as Krishna Prasad Bhattarai and Girija Prasad Koirala had conceived large projects such as Melamchi Drinking Water Project and Kathmandu-Hetauda fast-track highway respectively but none of the NC governments did bother to initiate such projects rather resorted to seeking rent on any decisions they made.


Now, the social sector, the NC manifesto said that it would build shelters for the senior citizens but the NC finance minister had been so stingy that senior citizens could not get a rise in the allowance even after three years of picketing. Why the NC manifesto did not say that it would increase the monthly allowance to the senior citizens from NPR 2,000 to NPR 5,000 that would make them to live the remaining lives comfortably instead of proposing to build shelters possibly only for a limited number of senior citizens.


The elected government of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala opened up the foreign employments to the Nepalese youths in 1991. Nepal has been comfortable with the foreign currencies youths have earned in foreign countries. It has improved the lives of Nepalese and contributed heavily to reduce the poverty but the NC administration had to think of the welfare of the youths working abroad, yet.


When a Nepalese youth working in a foreign country dies, his or her family goes bankrupt, as the family loses not only the earning family member but also the property that has been kept as a collateral for borrowing money or sold for going abroad for an employment.


Any youth that returns in a coffin needs to be treated as a hero not to mention as a martyr but the NC government did never care about it but if any NC cadre died in a road accident or in a police firing the family received NPR 1 million as a compensation for the loss of the loved one, and declared the dead as a martyr.


What the NC cadre has contributed to the nation practically nothing except for supporting the NC leaders most of them happened to be rent seeking and openly corrupt but every youth working in abroad contribute to earning foreign currency for the country, and to the socio-economic development.


The manifesto said that the NC would honor the human rights but so far any NC administration had done nothing but violated the fundamental human rights.


For example, during the last 25 years of the NC administration, not a single hydropower plant was built causing severe power shortage and consequently causing the power outage for more than 18 hours a day during the dry season. The NC administration also did not build the Melamchi Drinking Water Project causing tremendous water shortage. Dust and potholes elsewhere in the Kathmandu roads have been prevalent despite Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba ordering to fill out the potholes. Traffic police on duty on streets have to work in the dusty environment; commuters have to be in the dusty atmosphere; every house has to shield windows to stop the outside air coming in to prevent dust. Are not all these things the violations of the fundamental human rights that denied the common folks to live at ease?


Last but not least, the NC leaders would be well off convincing the voters of what the NC had done and what it could do for them in the coming years rather than concentrating all energy on criticizing other political parties. It needs to convince the people of the NC would surely keep up to its commitment, and launch development activities immediately after forming a new government in the coming months.


Nobody is willing to wait for a long time for the socio-economic development in the coming years, as everybody is enthusiastic to development, and no political obstruction is in the way of the development path. So, the NC leaders have to prepare for forming a new government even now making clear who is going to be the prime minister, and who are having different ministerial portfolios rather than waiting for months to fill up the vacant ministerial jobs as had been in practice for so long.


It is good that the NC has projected its administration for at least 10 years. The NC could change the lives of the common folks during this period provided the NC leaders in power would abstain from the rent seeking and sincerely work for the people, and for the nation without bowing to the foreign interferences no matter what stick and carrot polices were adopted by any foreign nation. The NC needs to keep away the corrupt politicians rather than giving them the crucial positions in the party and trying to bring them back to the mainstream political life.



A Joint Manifesto of CPN-UML/Maoist-Center


It is hard to comment on the freshly released manifesto of the two large communist parties, as the economic development it has projected would be unlikely to achieve if some things hidden they have to exploit and meet the resources required for reaching the targets the manifesto has set, as the Maoist energy minister had shown the available obviously hidden energy is sufficient to end the power outage with a few hundred megawatts import from India in the recent past.


However, the two major things for the common folks mentioned in the manifesto might attract the voters.


The first one is increasing the allowance from NPR 2,000 to NPR 5,000 per month to the senior citizens. It won’t be hard to do so even though it would involve billions of NPR.


Almost all senior citizens no matter in which political party, they have faith might vote for CPN-UML/Maoist-Center, and the soon-to-be senior citizens also might vote for the two communist parties, as they would be lured by the senior citizen allowance.


NPR 5,000 per person would make NPR 10,000 a couple means a husband and a wife to have a comfortable live for some time to come. So, senior citizens and even middle-aged folks might overwhelmingly vote for these two parties.


Another thing that might attract the voters is elimination of corruption. At least the manifesto has said that if these two political parties were given the people’s mandate to govern then they would abolish the corruption. The country has been infested with the corruption for such a long time, and people from all walks of life have suffered from corruption.


Common folks might not go through the long manifesto and they would not understand most of the things stated in the manifesto, too. So, either they would trust those things or simply ignore them.


However, as an economist I have some concerns for the things mentioned in the manifesto.


For example, the manifesto said that the per capita income of Nepalese would be increased to $ 5,000 (NPR 500,000) within 10 year. I won’t say it would be highly unlikely to achieve but I would say that the target of reaching NPR 500,000 per capita income, which is six times the current per capita income requires a huge resources, as it requires the GDP growth at 20 percent per year for at least 10 years. The manifesto did not say how these two ambitious communist parties would mobilize the resources required for achieving the target of per capita income growth.


I cannot believe that the two communist parties could jump to dig the uranium in the Mustang district and petroleum products in other parts of the country in the coming five years when the deposits of these very important minerals are to be proved, yet. The country has to build up the capacity to ascertain the quantity of uranium and petroleum products available in the country.


It is noteworthy that the manifesto has clearly stated the competitive multi-party system and the principles of democracy would be the specialties of the Nepalese socialism; and the two communist parties would adopt the system of receiving fresh mandate from the periodic elections, and of honoring the opposition voices. It is clearly the answer to Prime Minister Deuba that has been fearful of the communist parties if given the people’s mandate would impose a totalitarian system.


November 2, 2017


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