Nepali Times Asian Paints
Editorial
Fix Nepal first


KIRAN PANDAY
This is the honeymoon period, but the marriage of convenience in the coalition is already rocky.

It took a record five months after the elections to set up this government, so the first thing in everyone's mind should be to make up for lost time and get down to business.

But all we hear are more speeches and a proclivity for for eign junkets. It's Nepal that needs to be fixed first before our jet-setting revolutionaries rush off to the Olympics, India and the UN. There should be a moratorium on inaugurations, launches and foundation-stone layings. Tv channels shouldn't give anymore airtime to sermons from the pulpit.

What the people want to see is action. They want proof that there is a government that places their concerns as a priority. They need to see tangible signs of improvement in their lives.

However, on Wednesday there was the first sign of life with the ceremonial reading of the new government's policies and programs by President Ram Baran Yadav before the Constituent Assembly.

We expected the Maoist-led government to be ambitious in its targets and plans because, more than any other party, they are the ones that need to show that they are different. The programs are indeed grand in scale: generating 10,000 megawatts of power in the next 10 years, investing in massive infrastructure projects to generate hundreds of thousands of new jobs, land reform, 100 per cent literacy in two years and raising the annual handouts for VDCs.

At first glance, these are all do-able. But where is the money going to come from? The pre-requisite is guaranteed political stability. To generate jobs, we need to attract domestic and foreign investment for which stability and rule of law are paramount.

The other big "if" is disagreement within the seriously-delayed constitution-drafting process spilling out into the streets. These debates should be confined to the committees: tyre burning like we saw again on the streets on Thursday is not the way to do it.

Finance Minister Baburam Bhattarai's budget will dot the 'i's and cross the 't's with budgetary allocations. Most of the programs require huge cash inputs and investment at a time when revenue is down. The only saving grace is that remittances from overseas Nepalis are up.

Bhattarai's biggest challenge will be to meet conflicting demands for resources while at the same time "leapfrogging" development, keeping the sound macro-economic parameters that he inherited on track, and giving 29 million people new hope for a better tomorrow.

READ ALSO
Mr Dahal goes to Delhi - FROM ISSUE #417 (12 SEPT 2008 - 18 SEPT 2008)
Eye to eye - FROM ISSUE #417 (12 SEPT 2008 - 18 SEPT 2008)
Welcome to India, Mr Prime Minister - FROM ISSUE #417 (12 SEPT 2008 - 18 SEPT 2008)



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