Government is moving on right track
Bishnu Prasad Poudel is now general secretary of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP). Elected to the House of Representatives from Rupandehi district in 2017 general elections, Poudel holds an influencing and coordinating position in the party. He also served as finance minister, minister for water resources and minister for youth, sports and culture in the past.
Poudel is also actively working to conclude the unification process of the CPN. However, the unification process is unexpectedly lingering.
The country is going to celebrate the 12th Republic Day on May 29, but voices against the republic system are still being raised.
The government led by NCP has completed 15 months in the office but the performance of the government has been questioned from different fronts. The government is also introducing the budget for the next fiscal year 2019/20 on May 29.
In this context, NCP general secretary Poudel expressed his views on these issues in the weekly Gorkhapatra Sambad. Excerpts:
It has been 12 years since Nepal became a federal republic. But still a small section of the society seems advocating against the new political set-up. Is the country in the right track to institutionalise these epoch-making political achievements? What is your view?
There is no any alternative to the republic system in the modern era. We cannot accept the supremacy of a person and any class. The republic has established the people’s supremacy and it has already been institutionalised. It has become the life process of the people. We have to go further ahead by advancing the system to bring about changes in the life of the people. Though we are yet to fulfill many expectations of the people, the country is moving in the right track as per the essence of republic system.
Yes, we get to hear some responsible leaders of the Nepali Congress raising voice against republic. It is very unfortunate that the leaders of the party that itself was a key part in the political movement launched to establish republic system are raising voices against republic set up. Returning the country to its previous state will be just a day dream for them.
Dissatisfactions being expressed by the people are mainly associated with their expectations. In the past, we made commitment to bringing about changes in life of the people by changing the system. Now after institutionalising the new system, we have to focus on bringing about changes in the lives of the people. This is possible through the broad-based and equitable economic development by increasing the production and production capability. None of the well aware Nepali citizen is unsatisfied from the republic system and the Constitution. The dissatisfaction is only over the implementation of the new system and the gap existing between the expectation and reality
The opposition parties are blaming the current government led by the Nepal Communist Party for moving on the autocratic path. How do you respond to it?
This blame was made for the sake of blame and it does not have any factual base. Our past and present deeds show whether we are democratic forces or not. We are not just the force participated in the democratic revolution but are one which also led the democratic movement. Ours was the party that framed the policy for the democratic movement and mobilises the people for it. Democracy is not just a word for our party; it is our loyalty and faith.
We have understood that democracy of the state and the society should be reflected in the internal democracy of a party. We can strongly claim that our party is the party that has the best democratic practices in its internal party system among all contemporary political parties of Nepal. Policies, decisions and leadership in our party are not made by a person, they are finalised through a democratic process in the participation of a large number of party members.
The opposition may have made this blame considering it as a globally salable word but it will not be that effective. We are a tested democratic force. Therefore, the blame has no meaning.
The delay in unification process of the party has created frustration among the party carders. When will the unification process complete?
The delay in party unification has not created any frustration as said. But we have been unable to mobilise our party in a planned way in lack of division of responsibilities of our party leaders. The unification process has taken longer time due to our efforts to make it more democratic. The unification process is in the right track of internal democracy. We have gone through series of talks and discourses spending sufficient time to forge consensus rather than taking majority-based decisions. We have finalised the major issues on the people’ organisations of the party. Most of the party committees, from the central to local levels, have already been finalised. The remaining tasks are about division of responsibility of the central members and formation of the central departments. The unification process will not take more time. It will complete within a few weeks.
Can the party hold its general convention within the time provisioned in its documents?
We have already spent one year in the unification process. Therefore, we have only one year left to hold the general convention of the party in normal case and additional six months in the special case. I think, one year time is sufficient to hold the general convention of the party. Soon after the completion of the unification process, we will hold the conventions of the peoples’ organisations and lower level party committees. The general convention of the party can be held within next one year. In case the convention cannot be held within a year, we can easily hold it in the next six months as provisioned in the party documents.
Our next convention will be the convention of unification and consensus on both policy and leadership. I have strong belief that there will be no election to decide on the policy and leadership of the party. We have experiences of resolving very difficult tasks of unification in a simple way. There is no difference in the fundamental issues about the political ideology. The name will be finalised on the basis of open discussion in the convention. The party document prepared during the time of unification also provides necessary guidelines to finalise the guiding principles of the party.
The present NCP-led government has completed almost 16 months in the office. As a general secretary of the NCP, how do you evaluate the performance of the government during this period?
The government is moving on the right track. It has become successful. This was the first year of the government formed through the elections held after promulgation of the federal republic Constitution.
The government, in the first year of its formation, had a few challenging and difficult responsibilities in terms of management of the legal, constitutional and structural issues. In the beginning of the formation of the government, we had thought that the first year would be a base year of prosperity. Accordingly, the government focused on the formulation of the required acts, structures and infrastructure, because they are the foundations to drive the country towards the path of prosperity.
If we look through this perspective, the government has succeeded to prepare the foundation of prosperity. We completed the first year not only by formulating important acts and making structural development, but also accomplished some important tasks in the areas of infrastructural development and in addressing the people’s needs. The present growth rate of the country’s economy and national savings also show that the county’s economy has made a significant progress.
Yes, there is still a gap between the people’s expectation and reality. Expectation is always in the front and reality in the back. If we talk about the prosperous society in the world, there is always a gap in the expectation and reality. Reality always follows the expectations. From this year, we will move ahead by changing the gear of development and prosperity.
The issue of the Cabinet reshuffle has been floated after the government completed its first year. Has any discussion regarding this started in the party?
Reshuffle of the cabinet is an insignificant issue. The first thing is that our friends are handling different ministries effectively as per their skill and capability. There is a space to think about it for achieving better performance of the government. But now the attention of the party and the Prime Minister is not towards the reshuffle of the cabinet. The party and the Prime Minister are paying attention to make the performance of the government more effective and result-oriented.
People’s representatives from the local levels have not been able to deliver as per the people’s expectations. What is the plan of the party to enhance the capability of the local levels’ representatives?
Due to delay in the party unification in the local levels, we have been unable to train them. Yet, we are working to enhance the performance of the representatives of the local levels. Local representatives are preparing policies, programmes and budget and implementing them effectively. We will make the performance of the local, state and federal governments further effective in the days to come.
You said that the people’s expectation is high. What programmes are in the forthcoming budget to meet the people’s expectations?
The forthcoming budget will really be good. As the first year of the government, we are preparing the foundation for the development. Our budget last year was focused on this. As a result, the people said that the budget was not as per the expectation of the people. But this year we will introduce a good budget standing on that foundation. Obviously, a good budget will contribute to making the national economy strong, supporting generation of more jobs, industrialisation and modernisation of the country, ensuring social justice and ending the social and other types of discriminations. The upcoming budget will also focus on increasing productivity, reducing the trade deficit, promoting self-employment and ensuring social justice.
I think the new budget will raise hopes and self-confidence among the people.
A big budget is required to meet the people’s expectation. But we have limited resources and poor spending capacity. As such, how will be the size of the new budget?
The size of the budget is flexible like rubber which can be expanded up to a certain limit. I think the finance minister will take that leverage of expanding the budget size to meet the people’s expectation, considering its minimal effects in the national economy.
Like in the past, a debate regarding the allocation of the budget to the Constituency Development Programme is there. What is your view?
The government is allocating the budget in the heading of the Constituency Development Programme. There are 165 constituencies. Some of them are big and others small in terms of their geography and population. The budget is allocated to these constituencies to show the presence of the state there. Now, I see, the concerns are being raised by the people and the media suspecting misuse of such budget by the parliamentarians. We should develop a system for the proper utilisation of the fund, according to which, the parliamentarians cannot allocate the budget, spend it and manage its account in their vested interests. The parliamentarians will be allocated the budget for the projects proposed by the rural municipalities, municipalities and State.
I assure you here that there will not be a provision to allow the lawmakers to allocate the budget, spend it and clear its expenditure record on their own will.
Implementation of the budget, especially the development budget, is weak. What is the government plan to improve it?
Definitely, low capital expenditure has been a problem for many years. Low capital expenditure has its links with the Public Procurement Act, contractors, decision process and procedures, and the working style of our bureaucracy. Due to these, our development budget could not be spent effectively. We are working to resolve these hurdles. We will amend the Public Procurement Act, make the contractors accountable to the work and simplify the decision process. We will intervene in all sectors simultaneously for improving the expenditure of the development budget.
(This interview is jointly prepared by Chola Kanta Khanal, Laxman Kafle and Ranju Kafle)