Oli Government’s 100 Days Heading In Right Direction
Ritu Raj Subedi
Touted as the most powerful elected government in decades, KP Sharma Oli-led communist dispensation has completed 100 days in office. Of course, its initial moves and performance are encouraging. It has scored some notable gains and shown a sense of direction and focus. It has clearly outlined the priorities and sprung into action to implement them. Given the sweeping popular mandate, it still falls short of people’s soaring expectations but is heading in the right direction.
The government has gained greater confidence with the unification of the CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre, which had jointly contested the two-tier elections and secured nearly two-thirds seats in the federal parliament. The unity has guaranteed the stability of the government for full five-year term in office. Spreading a message of stability in itself is a feat for the nation that had been reeling from tedious and deleterious transition for several decades. A steady government ensures policy certainty and tames the centrifugal elements that tend to trigger chaos and put a spoke in the wheel of government. Now it can assertively move to implement ambitious plans and programmes.
One of the most visible achievements of the present government is the abolition of syndicate system in transport sector. This marks a big start of the government. Even the opposition Nepali Congress has appreciated it. The resolve of PM Oli and Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa has been crucial to end the syndicate. Minister Thapa has well mobilised the security agencies to bust the vast networks of gold smugglers. It is perhaps the toughest action against the nation’s biggest gold scam involving the top police officers, businessmen and other higher-ups. The outspoken minister was the mastermind behind scores of military actions during the decade-long Maoist insurgency. Now it seems, he is translating his ‘militancy trait’ to finish off evil agencies of the society.
Of late, he has announced he has prepared a list of names of notorious dons, goons and smugglers and vowed to bring them to justice. He has also instructed to put fraudulent contractors behind bars. The minister has accused them of not completing work in time or working in collusion with the employees to finish them without meeting set standards. Media have reported that contractors have intensified their works following the instruction of the minister. It is no secret that there is also a syndicate in the field of big projects and infrastructure. There is nefarious nexus between the politicians and contractors. It is the right move of the government to break syndicate in the construction sector. It is prudence the Home Ministry conducts detailed investigation of all types of syndicates before swooping down on the wrongdoers. Making an announcement of action without proper preparation may result in fiasco.
Likewise, Minister for Labour Gokarna Bista has also rolled up his sleeves to dismantle an illegal cartel in manpower agencies. In his previous tenure as the minister for energy, Bista had proved his mettle by drastically reducing load-shedding. Now he has a challenge to retain his image as the reformist and bold minister. Bista needs public support to do away with the anomalies besetting the foreign employment sector that enjoys political protection to exploit the Nepali migrant workers.
PM Oli has taken steps to ensure good governance and austerity in the government expenses. From the very beginning, he has promised to destroy corruption root and branch. He has issued strict directives to secretaries, lawmakers and ministers to maintain zero-tolerance on corruption. The Office of Prime Minister has started monitoring the activities of secretaries and ministers to make sure that they are working in line with the government’s policies. In a bid to stop the unnecessary expenditures, he has cut the size of his own private secretariat and adopted the policies to use the internal workforce instead of recruiting new ones. He has also put a check on the foreign junket of the government employees. In bureaucracy, there has been a tendency to secure sponsorship from INGOs for the foreign trips and pocketing allowances in dollars from the state coffers. Oli has effectively discouraged such bureaucrats, who always seek opportunities for foreign trips.
The Oli administration has sought to balance ties with the neighbours. The visits of Nepali and Indian prime ministers have enabled the two countries to bring the strained ties back on track. During PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Nepal, India has cautiously refrained from speaking on domestic issues of Nepal. Oli has also removed the temporary Indian field office from Biratnagar. Earlier, India had rejected Nepal government’s request to do so. This can be described as diplomatic success of the government. Oli is preparing to visit China next month to push for the implementation of past agreements signed with the northern neighbour.
PM Oli has vowed to break cartel in all spheres of public life. He leads a powerful communist government committed to building a socialist state in the long-run. A socialist government’s first priority is to provide quality education and health services to the citizens. But today it is not the state but the businessmen that dominate these two vital sectors as profit-making venture, and the commoners are forced to pay through the nose to get service from them. Dismantling the syndicate in the education and health sector will be a real challenge for the government.
Oli had led the left alliance to the sweeping victory in the federal and provincial polls largely on the plank of nationalism. Now he must keep his nationalistic image intact while proving himself as a pro-development leader. While briefing the parliament about the outcome of Modi’s visit, Oli said he had not compromised the national interest and asked his critics to pore over all the documents of bilateral agreements, which he said, did not contain any point that hurts the interest of the nation. We should appreciate him for his candid and honest remark. But, at the same time, he should answer to those, who had claimed that the agreement on the Arun III is not in favour of Nepal as all electricity produced from the project should be sold to India according to the Power Development Agreement (PDA). In fact, it is former prime minister Sushil Koirala, not KP Oli, who had signed the PDA on the Arun III project. The interim government of late Girija Prasad Koirala had decided to award the project to an Indian company. But PMs Oli and Modi had jointly laid the foundation stone of the Arun III. Noted water expert Deepak Gyawali has claimed that it is ‘laying the foundation stone of colonisation.’ Now it is up to the nationalist government to debunk Gyawali’s claim.