Final Hour Rush, Or The Asare Bikash
At this time, if one goes around the outskirts of the cities or even in the streets inside a city, he or she can see roads being dug for laying sewerage pipes or maintain them and piles of concrete pieces at the road side for blacktopping of the road. The road is muddy because of the rainfall for the monsoon has already set in but the development works seem to be going in full swing. It looks the concerned authorities are really committed to speed up development works no matter whether it rains or shines.
Such a scenario should make everyone happy. But, the people simply point out at such activities and comment it sarcastically as the Asare Bikash. The Nepali term Asare Bikash has gained momentum for the last few years as many development works, specially road constructions, blacktopping, embankment construction, get dangerously accelerated in the month of Asar (mid-June to mid-July) which is the last month of the Nepali fiscal year, and unfortunately this month falls in the rainy season.
Those construction companies which have won the bid to complete such development project within the given fiscal year may have their own compulsion to finish the works by hook or crook within the timeframe. For them, work completion is the first priority whereas quality works come last. They are to make profit from such project and they may have their own reasons to start road construction, improvement when it starts raining! It is the duty of the concerned authorities to see that the development works have been carried out in a smooth process and in the best standard possible as per the contract with the construction company or any users’ groups.
Maybe, the authorities are also under pressure to complete projects so that they can show their performance. But, quite often, the authorities blame the construction companies for starting the project at the eleventh hour and completing it in haste. On the other hand, construction companies blame the authorities in delaying the release of the fund for construction in time. This blame game goes on, and the road that is black topped in Asar becomes muddy or dusty within a month as the bitumen placed amidst rainfall peels off. The newly built road becomes muddy or dusty with patches and sinkholes strewn here and there within a few months, and the plight of the commuters remains the same.
Thus the misuse of taxpayers’ money is going on for the last many years in the name of development. Even this year, according to a report, about 30 per cent of the capital budget was spent in the last two months of this fiscal year, which ends today. It is estimated only 70 per cent of the total capital/development budget for this fiscal will be spent. And the expenditure pattern is frustrating, in 10 months only 40 per cent was spent while in the last two months 30 per cent. This shows the Asare Bikash is going on as usual despite a new government in place. And this continuity of the past trend has barred the people from sensing a new government in place. This is a big challenge for the government.
Very recently, at a meeting of the standing committee of his party, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, who is also the chairman of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), urged his comrades to defend the government arguing that an attack over government has started from different quarters. It is one thing that some standing committee members did criticise the government in the meeting itself despite the PM’s reasoning. And a couple of days back, another chair of the ruling NCP and former PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ argued that foreign powers are attempting to weaken the communist government. Clearly, two heads of the main ruling party, which in itself has a near two-third majority in the parliament, have felt that attempts to fail the government from achieving its target have already been made.
Obviously, the government is under pressure to deliver as per the commitment the then left alliance made in its election manifesto. But, criticism of the government has started because of its controversial decisions such as national medical education bill. Most news media have come heavily upon the government for this as if only medical education is national priority.
It should be noted here the government was commended by all when it took steps to end syndicate in transport sector. But, now reports say it has sort of stalled the process to lengthen the syndicate system. And the government has lost public confidence in this regard. People also took it very positively when the government started to take actions against dillydallying construction companies so that speed up development works and ensure construction works are carried as per agreement and in time. But, this also seems to have been stopped.
Now, Agriculture Minister Chakra Pani Khanal is reported to have said that the government was preparing to withdraw past decision to stop fragmentation of cultivable land for plots to make houses. If he does so, he will be blamed for working in favour of the people involved in the real estate business. And the government will be critised. The point is if the government cannot come up with new and more attractive decisions which are in the interest of the people, why it should withdraw previous ones which were liked by the people.
Amidst this continuity of Asare Bikash and criticism of the government on various grounds, Prime Minister Oli on Saturday instructed all the ministers and secretaries that the policy and programmes including the budget endorsed for the upcoming fiscal year should be implemented effectively and in time. He emphasised on effective and complete implementation of the budget. He told them the office of the Prime Minister as well as the Council of Ministers will regularly monitor their activities so that the budget is implemented in such a way that it achieves targeted outcome. It is hoped by this time next year, we will not see any instances of Asare Bikash going on here and there.