Missing Priorities Of The Government
In the middle of the road and just in front of the office of the Vice-President at Kantipath, there are multiple potholes and one of them is notoriously big enough, especially for bikers to give a dangerous jolt if they fail to notice it beforehand. These holes have been there for over four months. As the road is in the downtown, many people ply through it every day and they may have been reflecting on the performance of the new government in the mirror of these dips. They maybe questioning: if the government cannot maintain the road even in front of the office of the Vice-president in time, what can it do?
It may sound like making a mountain out of molehill. But there are similar other instances. The road section from Kalimatimode to Kalanaki is so dilapidated that it looks like a jumble of fissures and potholes rather than a blacktopped road in a metropolitan city that also happens to be the capital city of the country. Moreover, most part of the road section from Kalanki to Nagdhunga, which is a part of the Prithvi Highway, and a lifeline to the capital city has also been a stretch of dust, muds, potholes and pools for the last three years. As it has remained under construction, it has as well been either dusty or muddy.
The question is what stops the concerned authority for so long to fill the potholes and spread the gravel on the entire section so that it is holes-free and it is less dusty or muddy? It is in fact hilarious from one angle to see Raghubir Mahaseth, Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport, who visited the road a couple of days back, to inspect this road section only after almost five months since he assumed the office.
Because of the popular votes the main ruling party gained and its parliamentary strength, main ruling Nepal Communist Party makes up near two-third majority on its own and with its coalition partner, Federal Socialist Forum, the government has two-third majority, and the commitments made during the elections, people have high expectation from the present government. As there are long standing anomalies, the government has rare opportunities to bring changes in people’s everyday life.
As the saying goes, morning shows the day, people make the impression of any new government from its initial steps taken to solve pinching problems of the people. In other words, government’s priorities and execution of those priorities draw the picture of the government in the mind of the people.
Public service delivery, health care services, education fee, maintenance of roads, control of price hike in consumer goods, keeping law and order, smooth supply of daily essentials including fuel and energy are some of the issues which people take as a yard stick to make an instant judgment of the government, particularly in the case of Nepal. However, the government has not been able to make significant improvement in all these issues. As in the past, private schools hiked education fee this year as well. The student unions protested it and there was agreement to slash the hiked fee only after the student unions announced nation-wide education strike. But, due to lack of proper monitoring and other reasons, it is unlikely that the private schools will slash the education fee. In case of health care, it is difficult to find anyone say that services in public health institutions have improved to any point. While the private health and education institutions have been making hefty profit in absence of effective and prompt services in similar public institution, the government has not taken any targeted plan to improve and expand public health and education institution. And this situation is a mockery for a government of the parties which claim to be struggling to bring in socialism.
While the federal government is yet to focus on its priorities, local levels have started to take taxes even on bicycles. A recent report said that Kanepokhari rural municipality of Morang district have endorsed local law to collect local tax even on bicycle at the rate of Rs. 100 per month. To increase their income, most local level governments have increased both tax rate and taxable items, which has given a bad impression to the people about federal structure itself. The federal government is also blamed for all this. And moreover, out of 753, the NCP rules in over 400 local levels. Due to lack of knowledge, most people have already started to express ire over the federal government for increasing the local taxes.
A period of five months is not anything long period for a government elected for five years. Moreover, when the government took steps to end syndicate in public transport sector and take actions against dillydallying construction companies, people took the steps positively, and that made many highly optimistic that the government would do something extraordinary. That optimism has ebbed now, particularly because of the protest over the medical education bill and the lack of result of the government steps to end syndicate in transport and action against defaulting builders.
Despite all this, it is heartening to see that the office of the Prime Minister (PMO) is monitoring performance of different ministries and the cabinet ministers. This could be a good step to make the minister result-oriented. According to a report, Prime Minister Oli has already alerted some of the lowly performing ministers to mend ways. In fact, it is the ministers that have to work extraordinarily in this time before the common people become indifferent to the government.
What is also needed is mobilising local party committees or mechanism to oversee performance of the local level governments at least in places where the NCP has won. The NCP or the government should know that the opposition has been desperately seeking for government mistakes and non-performance so that it can make a mountain out of molehill, and one day the potholes in the capital city will be instances of government, federal or local, failures.