A day after a meeting between Kathmandu-based donors and the top leadership of the CPN-M, the World Bank's Nepal Representative, Ken Ohashi, spoke to Navin Singh Khadka of the BBC Nepali Service about the outcome of the meeting. Excerpts:
BBC Nepali: Is there nothing in the CPN-M's economic vision you agree with?
Ken Ohashi: I think many donors would agree with many of their stated objectives, but the means by which they plan to achieve these is still not clear enough. In some cases we feel that there may be inconsistencies in what they are saying.
For instance, they emphasise on the importance of developing a market-based economy, with which we agree, but at the same time Baburam Bhattarai stressed the need for land reform and a land holding ceiling of four hectares. He guessed that perhaps 25 percent of land holdings-a pretty significant amount-would be above that ceiling and would therefore be available for distribution. This may be true, but if the Maoists say they respect the market system they implicitly accept private property rights. The question is how the government will pay for such a large-scale purchase of land. Will they forcibly take the land? I think that this really undermines the investors' confidence. Maybe there is a good explanation for this, but we came away feeling we don't quite understand their plans.
Will donor agencies be reluctant to continue assistance as a result?
The Maoists pointed out that when they join the interim government, it will be an interim government of eight political parties. They will have to compromise with the other constituents of the government. They come with certain ideas, but it is not easy at this point to guess what the interim government will do. Donors will see what the government comes up with.
But the donors do know that the Maoists' ultimate goal is a communist society which does not accept the norms of a market economy?
That's a classic communist program, but they repeatedly emphasise that they are different, that they do respect market systems. I guess we don't fully understand what they mean by that.