Effective Monitoring For Good Governance
Dr. Narad Bharadwaj
Prime Minister KP Oli’s novel initiative to introduce online monitoring of the performance of ministries has come as a shot on the arm of the flagging public confidence about the capacity of the elected government to extract output from incorrigibly conventional bureaucracy sitting hard in the way of progress. This step, though long overdue, is expected to make a positive contribution in concretizing the concept of e-governance and holding ministers, secretaries and other high public officials accountable for output oriented performances.
The elected left government is at the helm of affairs for about eight months, which is certainly not long enough duration for any government to yield visible outputs. Still, this time is not utterly inadequate either for projecting a credible roadmap or assuring good governance and prosperity. The incumbent left government is negotiating its way through a quagmire. The main opposition party Nepali Congress is leading a chorus of all retrogressive forces to defame this government as an authoritarian communist dictatorship in clear disregard for the popular mandate of a two-third majority which the voters have given to this government.
Another disadvantage for the elected new government is that it is still represented at foreign missions by envoys who were deputed by the previous government and ipso facto do not subscribe to the principle of the new government. They also fail to represent the nuances of foreign policy, the current development model, policies and programmes being pursued by the new government. This may be one of the reasons why some of the friendly countries appear to be harbouring qualms about Nepal government’s commitment to the universal ideals of freedom.
The new government has been encountering uneasiness in the equitable distribution of means and resources after three tiers of federal governments were put in place. The rights and functions of the federal and provincial governments are not yet fully defined. There are problems in evolving mechanism for implementation and monitoring of national pride projects and other mega-structures which fall under inter-provincial jurisdiction. Some of the funds committed by neighbouring countries for infrastructure development have not been received yet. This has perpetuated gap between the ever higher expectations of the people and limited resources.
In addition to this, the conventional style of work, absence of promptness in decision making and foot dragging threatens to tarnish the good image of the government. So far, this government enjoys the overwhelming support of the people. But the people want the end of present situation of stagnation as early as possible. They know that this government is working under state of siege. What people want is the early end of the state of ambiguity about direction of the government. It is time for the government to reveal the actual hindrances it is facing so that the people understand the actual limitation of the government and exercise patience. It is definitely not that the government has failed to do anything in the short span of time since it has assumed office. However, the actions it has taken so far are of more theoretical and political nature than ones which could contribute directly to bringing about change in people’s life.
The present government faces altogether different and complex socio-political context brought about by a new turn of history. It faces the responsibility of fulfilling high popular expectations with limited resources. In spite of being in inhospitable political environment, this government has accomplished many unfinished tasks concerning the implementation of the constitution. The formation of provincial and local government has been completed. The parliament has endorsed more than hundred and fifty different laws having strategic importance for full operationalisation of the federal government at different tiers. Historic agreements have been signed with both the neighbouring countries concerning trade and transit, cross-border road and railway connectivity, opening economic corridors and collaboration in promoting tourism, culture, science and education. These are not small achievements.
Similarly, some of the national pride projects and other mega-ventures like Kathmandu-Nijgadh Fast Track and Kathmandu-Rasuwagadi Highway are making satisfactory progress. The Upper Tamakoshi Hydro-electricity Project and Melamchi Drinking Water Project are on way to early completion. With the completion of these projects, Nepal will have the potential to score a leap on the way to self-sustained economic growth.
To speak or write against the elected government will, therefore, be tantamount to play into the hands of the regressive forces’ aspiration for staging a comeback. Still, it is not that everything is in apple and pie order and that there is no need for monitoring and supervision. This is the government of elected representatives. It must be under constant surveillance of the people. The public grievances on procrastination, misuse of resources, pomposity, lavishness and levity must not be condoned with. It is necessary to transmit the message that the government is moving on the right path though at a sluggish pace.
Prime Minister KP Oli, reputed to be a visionary statesman, has got a unique opportunity to translate his own dreams into reality. People have high hopes on him that he will take the trust of his voters to a new height by successfully leading them in their crusade against poverty and backwardness. In the eyes of independent observers, the shortfalls of the present government are in the field of transparency and capacity for fast decision and public relation. For a government running the affairs of the state in a complex and challenging environment, each steps it takes should be within public expectation, logical, legitimate and justifiable. The people should be able to figure out what the immediate, mid-term and long-term priorities of the government are. This helps them to remain re-enforced with confidence on the government.
Another equally, important factor in a country’s function concerns with how we can win ownership of the stakeholders over the process of development. It is difficult to obtain people’s participation without assuring them their ownership over the process. Development is not the sole responsibility of the government. There is a popular tendency to think that the government has paid the contractors and it is they who should be responsible for building infrastructures.
This mentality alienates people from development process and deprives the government of the opportunity to deduct the value of people’s partnership from the total cost of projects. People’s aloofness forfeits the government of the chance to benefit from people’s capacity to monitor of the quality of development infrastructures helping minimize corruption and embezzlement.
It is, therefore, important to institutionalise monitoring and supervision as an indispensable element of good governance. For this, the whole organisational mechanism should be mobilized as the success and failure of the present government is an existential question for the ruling party. If the on-line monitoring started by Prime Minister KP Oli can be made a normative standard not only for the federal ministries but also for the governments of provincial and local levels, the country will gain momentum on the way of stability and prosperity.