Plans That Look Awesome On the Drawing Board
Nepal is a least developed country. It has, however, made a strategy for graduating into a developing country by 2022. It is great news. To materialise its vision, it has been urgent to formulate plans right from now onwards.
At a time when Nepal was about to make plans for attaining the status of a developing country, the country had to face a powerful earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale followed by umpteen aftershocks. In the meantime, the long-awaited constitution was promulgated, but before heaving a sigh of satisfaction at the promulgation of the constitution, the country was battered by the Madhes agitation and the Indian blockade. The ill effects of these are still haunting the country. As a result, the economic growth of the country has been severely affected.
Now, it has been over five months since the Madhes agitation ended and the Indian blockade was lifted. Now, blaming the Madhes agitation and the Indian blockade will not work at all when it comes to accelerating the momentum of development. The budget for the upcoming fiscal year 2016/17 has been out well ahead in time. The size of the budget is also whopping large.
It has been six decades since Nepal embarked upon planned development by formulating periodic plans. But the country is yet to notch up tangible results. One of the main reasons for the country remaining underdeveloped despite continuous development planning is that after a plan has been made, scant attention is paid to implementation. Further, misuse of funds intended for development projects is also one of the obstacles to development.
For the effective implementation of the budget, it is imperative to release the budget in time. But in our context, the budget is released belatedly due to the cumbersome bureaucracy and red tape, with the result that development works pick up at the tail-end of a fiscal year only. When works are carried out just for the purpose of running through the budget, the quality of the works gets compromised. Initiating such works in haste does not hold any meaning as far as sustainable development works are concerned.
Of late, the government has come up with several plans for development. Developing the hydropower sector with a view to ending loadshedding, building railway, metro and cable-car systems to ease congestion on the streets of Kathmandu and owning a fleet of ships that will sail the Pacific and Indian Oceans are some of the highly ambitious plans floated by the present government.
What has the government done so far to materialise its ambitious plans? This question is very important. In essence, the government has done nothing. So it has turned out that the plans so vauntingly floated are meant for throwing dust in the eyes of the public only and for giving the impression that the government is not sitting with its arms folded. This is the reason the government has been pilloried all around. Such a pillorying has not taken place during the tenure of the previous governments.
Plans are needed to be formulated for any activity. But while formulating plans, it should be kept in mind whether the plans bear any practicality. There is no use in formulating chimerical plans that are drawn up for the heck of it or without seeing to it whether they can be implemented.
The government has many irons in the fire. The plight of the earthquake victims is still there. Even after 15 months of the occurrence of the colossal calamity, most of them are still left high and dry. The government’s assurance of housing them before the onset of the monsoon has turned out to be a farce. Now, a large number of people have fallen victim to floods and landslides. It is the duty of the government to provide relief for such people.
It is necessary for the government to formulate down-to-earth plans for the overall good of the country and the people. The plans floated by the government are not unfeasible, but they seem to be whimsical under the present circumstances. It will be in place for the government to embark upon urgent tasks such as rehabilitation and reconstruction for the earthquake victims, construction of infrastructure such as proposed airports at Nijgadh, Pokhara and Lumbini, completion of ongoing hydel projects, initiation of new hydel projects and so on. Constructing flyovers, railways, metros, monorails and so on will take a long time to materialise. What the people want is immediate relief in the present-day context, not long-long term planning that may or may not materialise.
Going by what the government is announcing, it seems the government is promising the people the moon. Not only the government, the Baburam-led New Force Nepal has also offered the people a dream sweeter than that offered by the government: making the country the richest country in the world in a span of 25 years. Such plans are awesome on the drawing board.
The people have, however, ceased believing in such plans; rather, they are making a mockery of the government for making such plans as they may not be able to get off the ground under the present circumstances. So the need of the hour is for the government to make practical plans and implement them in earnest so that it can make a real difference in the life of the people rather than make tongue-in-cheek announcements that will lead the country nowhere.