7-13 July 2017 #866

Bureaucratic hurdles

Editorial in Baahrakhari, 4 July

Shreejana Shrestha

Nepal is an example of how weak political leaderships result in bureaucratic obstructions. Many government employees create hurdles to influence the government’s program and policies. It is one f the malpractices Nepal has learnt from its southern neighbour, India. Most of the time, employees don’t want to work until it benefits them personally. And it is because of this negative culture that Managing Director of Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) Kulman Ghising is not getting support from the government.

Ghising ended years of load-shedding, a feat deemed almost impossible. NEA has increased electricity imports and internal generation during his tenure. However, these are not the sole reasons for uninterrupted power supply in Kathmandu Valley. Reforms in demand and supply side management, and reduction in power leakage facilitated the process, but credit goes to the incumbent NEA Chief. He publicised a strategy to reduce electricity demand in this winter by replacing incandescent bulbs with efficient light-emitting diode (LEDs). The NEA estimates up to 200MW energy could be saved if 20 million such bulbs were swapped.

The proposal to buy LEDs under the government-to-government deal dragged Ghising into controversy instead of garnering government support. He has said he “longer cares” for the LED replacement scheme.

High ranking government officials might have satisfied their egos by discouraging an utterly honest and competent employee like Ghising, someone who is rare to find in the government mechanism, but the state will have to bear the brunt of this. Employees who are as capable and sincere as Ghising have also fallen prey to such malpractices in the past. People are aware about such conspiracies because of information technology, and awareness. And it is not easy to discourage dutiful staff despite continuous plots to make them fail.

LED bulbs are available in Nepal but they cost double the price of the bulbs NEA wants to import. This means customers can buy an LED bulb for just Rs150 if they are paying Rs300 now. all this also shows that people who are making hefty profit from the LED bulb business are resistant to NEA’s plan. These syndicates must have ganged up with the bureaucracy to foil Ghising’s mission.

Motives of political leaders are tested in situations like these. It is the government’s duty to understand the conspiracies of bureaucracy and help NEA Chief Ghising. If NEA was allowed to import LEDs last month, we could have started replacing them already. If Ghising is found to be involved in corruption, he could be punished when caught. But until there is a proof, he should be allowed to work without any hurdles.