Contractors’ Concerns

Nepal’s economic sclerosis has been widely attributed to prolonged political transition, dishonest leadership, recalcitrant bureaucracy, irresponsible business sector, rampant corruption and weak civil society. Chronic instability led to the frequent change in the government leadership with negative repercussion on the bureaucracy as well as state-run enterprises. On the one hand, changes of government hit the confidence of employees and on the other it creates policy inconsistency. When the economic policies and regulations remain uncertain, the domestic and foreign investors are unlikely to invest their money in the development projects. There are other two major factors that posed as stumbling blocks to the inclusive economic growth. They are insincere political leadership and corruption that infested the society from top to bottom. As the anti-graft body is not working effectively, cases of corruption are increasing every day. To check them, we need a dynamic civil society and media but our civil society is partisan and lacks the necessary moral wherewithal.
Of late, there has been growing awareness among the people about the government’s role economic development in light of the latter’s priority to attaining enduring stability and prosperity. The media have also focused on the development activities carried out by the government and private companies. But it is the delay and negligence of contractors that has drawn the ire of media and people. They have been constantly carried the news reports exposing the substandard road, bridges and power plants that have either caved in or stood in dilapidated conditions. The government recently nabbed the owner of Pappu Construction Company for building low quality bridges and not completing them in time. The government’s action has received positive response from the public as this will impel the erring contractors to abide by the rule and regulations while building the projects.

At a time when the contractors are under fire for their lapses and fraudulence, their umbrella body, the Federation of Contractors Association of Nepal (FCAN), has pointed out the finger at the government for delay in the construction of projects. It has claimed that the government awards the projects to the contractors that lack capacity to build them. Some contractors are overloaded with construction works. The FCAN also said that the government failed to allocate sufficient budget to the projects, delayed in payment and lacked coordination among the concerned agencies. It sounds sane that the concerned department should start the tender process only after allocating sufficient budget to the projects. According to the Association, the provisions of the classification of contractors are not scientific. As the country is running under federal setup, it is imperative to categorise the local, provincial and national contractors and formulate the business friendly procurement Act. While it is necessary for the government to heed the genuine demands of contractors, it must keep an eye on them. The effective monitoring of the status of development project is the key to their success. Besides, the nefarious nexus between the politics and business must be rooted out so as to end endemic corruption.

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