Nepali Times
Economic Sense
Commitment, and a lot of luck


After intra- and inter-party squabbles, a new government has been formed. Whew. The cabinet has fewer people than expected and more days than it anticipated for the swearing-in. Even so, Nepalis are pinning their hopes on this government. There have been positive moves-the declaration of ceasefire and initial legwork for the initiation of talks with the Maoists bode well for the future.

But the Beed thinks the government has more economic worries than political. The previous government sat through a whole session of parliament without managing to conduct any business. And the state paid the emoluments parliamentarians expected even if they were not doing their job. Hopefully, they will be suddenly overwhelmed by good sense and work overtime this session to clear the backlog that built up as they threw chairs at each other and treated the streets as debating and sparring grounds.

There is important work remaining , many a legislation promised by finance ministers of governments past has been left to languish. They need to be brought up and discussed, and decisions need to be taken. August members of the House need to be gently reminded that they are there to understand and analyse bills, and then they need to act on their understanding and put the question to rest by either passing the bill or throwing it out. That is the only way forward for us as a country.

At the very least, our representatives must be able to admit that most of the technical matters brought to their kind attention goes over their heads. Of course, this might often involve trusting the judgment of their peers on the other side of the political fence, and this, the Beed suspects, is often the problem. We all need to realise that laws don't always need to be individually vetted by MPs, as voting nearly always toes the party line. Once the technical committees of all parties have examined and approved a piece of legislation, the House should adopt it, and not waste time hearing individual cries and whinnies. Democracy provides the right to speak, but not to delay beyond all reasonable limits.

Among the almost one hundred legislative amendments that parliament has delayed acting on, there are some vitally important ones including: the New Income Tax Act, the amendment to Nepal Rastra Bank Act, the VAT Act, the Institute of Chartered Accountants Act, the Foreign Exchange Management Act, the Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Act, the Commercial Bank Act, the Finance Company Act, and the Company Act.

New hydropower policy and related laws have also been left on the backburner for too long, as have laws relating to the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority. We've been promised regulations pertaining to bankruptcy in this year's budget, and laws to strengthen regulatory norms for private schools, nursing homes and hospitals-with any luck, at least one of these will go through. The laundry list includes new Acts designed to shore up the Pension Fund, auditing, the formation of a regulatory board to monitor water supply, a Drinking Water Supply Act, amendments to laws relating to Securities Board and Stock Exchange. Whew again. It is a wonder that the country is managing to stagger along with so many vital matters left in
the balance.

Can our political parties display commitment? They should bear in mind that their survival and growth depends on the growth of the economy. If economic activities dry up, contribution to political parties will also dry up. A vibrant economy means more funds for political parties. Self-interest, if nothing else, ought to spur them on.

These are interesting times in Nepal-it is not just the government that must prove its dedication, but also the opposition. Good, luck, Deuba.

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(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)