Funneling Money Through Mouth
The indiscreet distribution of fund directly from the big mouth of a leader – Supreme or else – while addressing a party rally, an event organised by a fraternal orginsation, or attending events on occasions, can be inspiring at the receiving end, and a proud moment to cash it in time at the other. But assessing its overall impact on the nation's exchequer as well as the remaining half of the society will prove that it could be dangerous. Such a step can only encourage more leaders to open their mouth wider at any point of their speech and enchant the audience temporarily. This is the subject of discussion in this column today.
Is Nepal the only country where high profile ministers and leaders alike pour money in big bills in front of the mass of their kind into their 'projects'? Is there such an extra money stacked somewhere in the government almirah so that the leaders keep encouraging the mass to come forward for the 'grab'? When the 'givers' and 'takers' meet in a rally or other types of mass functions, the verbal extra-judicial-legal transaction takes place in the form of 'declaration' from the stage. There is hardly any consideration on the budgetary limit, due legal and administrative process to apply for such funding and, most importantly, cool consideration of the state of the art of resource at hand under the budgetary titles. And, one situation instantly built when the 'receivers' arrive at the concerned ministry with empty bags and large hopes is briefly noted herein.
This tall, stout and highly 'aggravated and mechanically charged' middle-aged, lone figure enters an office next to the Minister's, first argues for a few minutes and suddenly goes in a state of frenzy with his loud outburst in a matter of seconds and demostrates his rowdy temparament and behaviour in front of visitors and the government staff – all of them gazetted officers working in one unit of the ministry. After a hot monologue, he utters questions in an accusive tone - 'Are you stupid, illiterate, can't even read the alphabet and decipher what is written in the paper? What kind of person are you, eh? You do not know the meaning of human rights that I am not given in this place? I mean the rights to information?' In fact, these are not questions; these are allegations in the guise of insult and humiliation thurst upon the helpless staff.
When a highly charged and near-brawl discussion taken over single-handedly by a service-receiver goes beyond the normal barometer, a very polite and purposely repeated female response goes something like this - Sir, please be calm. You also failed to read the document carefully. We can do only that is within our limit, our capacity and the legal frame. So why don't you go to our superiors and lodge complain against us? They are only a few meters away, and waiting for big and important people like you.'
When all this goes and looks a bit awkward situation developing between the officer and the tall man, a male voice joins the colleagues with a view to protect them and calm down the person – 'In fact, sir, they will tell you and us to do what is needed to be done and how. So why this 'tamasha' (show) here? In this fashion and at our work place filled with noise and outrage you shower on us, it is not easy nor possible for us to function, even to move your papers and files from one desk to the other. We simply can't work now. So, why not try that option than falling into hot arguments here?'
This is more or less the summary reporting of an even eyewitnessed not by a journalist but this scribe just the other day while keeping busy working in a ministry. The tall and well-built figure, who was already hot when he entered the room, didn't spare a moment to listen to the officers' version on his file and the tough demand he had earlier placed and wanted the response to suit his wish. Since this didn't happen, his rage knew no bounds. He lost himself, beyond any mark of civility and normalcy, for quite a few minutes. Similar situation developed in the other ministry located on the groundfloor invited a bunch of security officials expecting some kind of unwanted confrontation of party cadres with the ministry staff.
The question now is: Do these very vocally-oriented and tempted leaders manage such a vast amount of money to come to the government fund on their initiatives from some external sources so they can claim their right to throw money in the crowd? If you don't have any contribution personally, then why do you promise the cadres big sums at a time when the victims of the 2015 quake are still in the dome and under the torn and open tarp roof? The MPs and ministers have multiple budget accesses for their constituency and yet they eye on the central budget through their fraternal associations. The crowd in the rally also has addresses where they belong and can access these funds.
Whatever is happening as a result of 'direct' award of fund is not healthy. It is creating a culture of confusion and vexing experience at the Ministry of Finance where ultimately all the bonus applications will end via the concerned ministries. And, when the staff take time to study the possibilities and processes, it is already late for the awardees and unhealthy brawls erupt like the one mentioned earlier.
Finally, as of now, this country has a very long and growing list of 'martyrs', and/or 'foundations' in the name of public (mostly deceased) figures, special 'events', occasions and local CBOs on the demand side. If the funnelling without counsel and monitoring the 'book' and activities as the product of the fund indiscreetly flowing from the leaders' mouth goes uncounseled and unabated, only problems will increase in the days to come.