--By Madan Lamsal
In Nepal, the government is becoming more and more active over the past few years. Needless to say, such proactiveness becomes more intense when there is a government of the leftists. Government proactiveness has been felt in several sectors and it seems the government wants to create its own market. Because, these days the government has entered the market.
Recently, the government arrested with officials of two major medicine manufacturers for pricing medicines higher than the rate fixed by the government. That the Nepal Rastra Bank, the country’s central bank, has already fixed a ceiling on interest rates to be charged by banks is old news. Some time back, government authorities fixed the price of a shirt for a shop in Bishal Bazaar in the capital. Similarly, government authorities recently fixed the price of coffee and bottled water at Himalayan Java, a popular coffee house in Kathmandu.
It’s not just the market price that the government wants to fix; it’s been a few years since the government fixed how much a public limited company can spend as its administrative cost. So much so, that the Beema Samiti removed the then chief executive of Prime Life Insurance company for spending more than the amount fixed by the government.
On the other hand, the Ministry of Education has fixed the fees to be charged by private schools. What’s more, even these fixed fees have to be endorsed by a two-thirds majority of the guardians.
Very recently, the Ministry of Information and Communications has fixed the minimum salary for journalists and other employees working at media houses. In this way, the government’s proactiveness is growing day by day. There must be a pious purpose behind such proactiveness. The more active the government, the more the country develops!
There is more to it. The government can employ more people to fix the price of the goods and services produced and provided by private companies and the administrative costs of such companies and the salaries and allowances they pay to their employees. This will create more employment opportunities. The government can also create new ministries and ministers to do the new job. And if nothing goes wrong, it can assign one ministry each to the parliamentarians. That will ensure the government’s stability.
Some media operators were heard to protest against the government’s decision to fix the salary of journalists. If the government can fix the wages of workers working in tea estates and farms, why can’t it determine the salary of journalists who, too, are workers? Nepal Rastra Bank has already fixed the salary of workers in the banking industry. Now without delay, the government should fix the salaries of IT professionals, legal practitioners, doctors, engineers and all others who are workers because they work! Because, though these people are professionals, they cannot fix their own salary! In no way should the market be allowed to determine the salary and other benefits of professionals in the name of a free market. Also, the government needs to show its proactiveness everywhere.
The recommendation by the education ministry that school fees be fixed by the students’ guardians is not only very effective but also revolutionary and novel. Sometime back, the news came that a restaurant in a certain country somewhere allowed its customers to fix the menu price. It became very effective, the news added. Or has our government taken its cue from this news?
Now the government should go on fixing the price of each and everything. Five star hotels charge Rs 200 for a cup of tea which is available for Rs 10 at a street shop. The menu price of tea even at star hotels should be brought down to Rs 10 per cup. And the worker working at a street shop should be paid as much as someone doing the same job at a five star. The government’s job ends with fixing the price; it’s the company’s problem not the government’s if it won’t/can’t abide by the government’s decision! Then we should gradually implement the decision to allow customers to fix the price of each and everything sold at shops. Readers should be allowed to fix the price of newspapers and buyers should be allowed to fix the price of everything from slippers to food grains. Then the country will achieve the Communists’ Utopia!