--BY MADAN LAMSAL
The mayor of Biratnagar Metropolis literally crawled for three and a half hours to reach a Chhath Puja spot three kilometres away. The mayor saap went on all fours not only to show his passion for the festival but also to support PM Oli’s prosperity campaign. How did he do it? Simple – he crawled on the road hoping that his ‘suffering’ would please the gods and he would be able to bring prosperity, at least to his metropolis!
However, other mayors and deputy mayors and especially the CMs and ministers of the provinces don’t seem to be that much dedicated to making the PM’s dream come true. But what can the central government really do if the CMs do nothing for development? If it says something, there’s the fear of being accused of interference, and if it doesn’t, the CMs do nothing.
Sometimes, the CMs demand that they be allowed to transfer the police officials. Sometimes, they say they don’t have enough employees. And sometimes, they insist that they be allowed to raise the taxes mentioned in the constitution. What has happened to them? It’s the provincial governments which are not working but the blame is being put on the central government.
As far as the Oli government at the centre is concerned, it has been doing what it is capable of doing. As soon as this government was formed, many big offices were kept under the PM’s Office. And now, all projects with a budget of Rs 25 billion or more are to be kept under the PM.
This government is indeed trying to do many other important things. For example, it is expanding the President’s Office even if that will require relocating the Police Training Centre at Maharajgunj, not to mention the fact that it spent millions to furnish the building where the President currently lives. At the same time, the government is trying to find a new building for the Vice-president. Similarly, after learning that the capital expenditure in the first quarter of the current fiscal year was barely five percent, the government has been doing all it can to spend more – from providing helicopters to the ruling party leaders to travel to buying luxury vehicles for them and sending politicians and bureaucrats to foreign trips and inviting thousands to even simple tea receptions by spending hundreds of thousands of rupees.
And the government continues to explore other new ways to spend more. For example, it is considering having two residences for each of the seven CMs – one in their respective provinces and the other at the centre, preferably in the capital Kathmandu. Similarly, it is seriously thinking, also to promote domestic tourism, to send a number of political bigwigs to bathe in the hot water spring at Tatopani following complaints from some politicians that only Prachanda and Badal comrades were allowed to enjoy the Tatopani trip on an army chopper.
The government is, in reality, carrying out a policy experimentation of sorts to find out which policies will be useful in changing the investment policies. However, the problem is the investors are acting as if the sky has fallen, and are either hiding their money under their pillows or hoarding it in foreign banks. Just because there is a communist government in place, how wise is it to sit on your money instead of investing it or take it abroad at a time when everything from the balance of payment to international trade to foreign exchange reserve is negative? So much so that now even the banks are saying that they don’t have liquidity.
In the meantime, an INGO called the World Bank has published a thing called the ‘Doing Business Report’ in which it has written that doing business in Nepal has become more difficult. It further says that tax rates have been raised, the tax system has become more cumbersome and hurdles to easy access to electricity for industries have increased.
All this must be a conspiracy of someone to pull down this government with a two-thirds majority.
If the teachers don’t teach, the government is blamed. If the police can’t provide security, the government is blamed. So much so that it is blamed even for the trade deficit. It’s not the government that makes investments or does trade and business. It’s the foreigners who should invest and it’s the private sector which should do business.
When they don’t do what they are supposed to do, why is it the government’s fault? In this way, if everyone distrusts the government, how will the many big projects, which PM Oli has said he will build, be built? So, such massive investor distrust in this rock-solid two-thirds majority government and its leader, PM Oli, is just not fair.