Prosperity At Stake
Stability for Prosperity’ was a popular slogan of the Oli-led government that was formed five months ago. More than 100 days have passed but the agenda of prosperity seems to be making no headway. While it is understood that prosperity is a long term phenomenon, no significant policy departure and strategic points have been identified so far. Instead, selling big dreams without standing on the ground reality has been a top focus adding frustration in the lives of the common people who are struggling from everyday life problems.
It is ironical that the left government is assuring people of the rail and water connectivity among other tall promises in few years at a time when the public miseries have been worsened owing to poor governance and delivery mechanisms. For instance, waterlogged streets and muddy roads have literally crippled the lives of people in the monsoon as usual. In the absence of potholes management, roads are prone to accidents and traffic congestion.
Although this problem is trivial for the powerful PM of the country to handle – in fact, he just needs to strongly exercise his authority to direct the concerned offices to fix it, no tangible progress can be observed. On the one hand, people are finding the promises of prosperity repeatedly in the speeches, on the other, their normal lives have come to a standstill. In this scenario, how can the public believe the government’s commitment? As they say, morning shows the day, the working style of the present government which is looking more authoritative in nature, is indicating the dark prospect ahead towards the vision of a prosperous Nepal.
The narrative of a stable government for development and prosperity is also approaching a crisis. The promises made in the election manifestos such as graduating Nepal from the LDC status by 2022, raising the per capita income to $5,000 within a decade look good only on papers for now. How can a country whose per capita income is less than $1,000 at present make such a giant leap without any plausible economic road map? Leading by examples would have been the best way to garner support of the public in the agenda but unfortunately this has not happened.
In addition, apathy on the part of the government to engage in multi-stakeholder consultation in policy decisions have further complicated the situation. The whimsical style of ministers is catching media headlines which clearly depicts the nature of the current government. Providing ample spaces for raising voices and initiating critical policy debates have been deliberately ignored by the present government. Worried by such posture of the government, some sections of people including the opposition parties have publicly shared their fear of the dictatorial rule emerging in the near future. Adding fuel to the fire is the current bizarre incidents of the government detaining a University Vice-Chancellor from the airport, taking a medical doctor in the manner of abduction to the Home Ministry for nagging.
Deviating from the constitutional commitment of embarking towards socialism oriented state system, the government is hell bent on encouraging private sector investment in health and education sector. The sort of posture that government has taken in the case of the ongoing strike of Dr. KC is a recent testimony to this fact. While the agendas raised by Dr. KC should have been the government’s priorities, the government instead is earning hefty criticisms for its recent stance against the demand of the doctor.
Another big problem lies in the PM’s statements. Without weighing the gravity of his position, the PM has been relentless on attacking his opponents through counter speeches. At a time when the PM needs to whole heartedly focus on the prosperity agenda and make consistent efforts towards materialising the same, he has preferred something else.
It would be no exaggeration to say that the PM has adopted a more authoritative style of governance. With the news of the growing dissatisfaction among his party cadres, the PM is already facing a stiff challenge of running the state. However, it will be important for the PM to understand on time that even the public support can take an opposite turn in the future if he continues to operate in the same fashion.
It is high time the government direct all its efforts towards delivering the promises made in the election manifestos. Working until the wee hours thinking about the national prosperity should be accorded due priority by the entire government. Instead of indulging in petty issues and battle of words with its opponents, the government should vigorous pursue its policies of national transformation without pointing out to others. In fact, this is a tailor made situation for a technically powerful government who can make or break the system. No excuses of any sorts will be tolerable this time as the narrative of stability as a precondition for prosperity has long been reiterated in Nepalese politics for a very long time.