Nepali Times
Prime Minister Dahal

Enough is enough. If it takes two months after an election verdict to form a government and three weeks after the declaration of a republic to replace the head of state, we wonder how long it will take to agree on a cabinet. And after that, how much longer for 601 assembly members to draft a new constitution?

Every time we bring up the subject of this endless obsession with politics at the expense of development, our leaders keep telling us to be patient. Once the politics falls into place, they say, everything will be sorted out. Well, we've waited 15 years. Remove the feudal monarchy, we are told, and there will be a golden future.

We understand that bloodless, political evolution in a democracy takes longer than a quick, violent revolution. And it's a blessing that our two-year transition to a republic hasn't been messier and more brutal. But our leaders are so busy running in circles round trees, they can't see the forest.

It's a given that all politics is selfish. But mature politicians know there is a certain point beyond which self-centredness is counterproductive. Their narrow-minded and short-sighted pursuit of political power at the expense of the country's long-term national interest benefits no one, and will come back to haunt those very leaders when they take office in future.

The inability of Nepal's leaders to fathom the level of public disillusionment and the people's overwhelming desire for development and jobs shows a breathtaking lack of accountability. And there is no understanding that only if the pie gets bigger will their share also expand.

As we go to press on Thursday afternoon, talks are still stalled on the question of the presidency. Unless the leaders at Baluwatar exhibit uncommon wisdom and flexibility there will be so much bad blood it will poison relations between the incumbent and the opposition even before the new government starts its work.

It is time for a reality check: the NC and UML lost, and the Maoists didn't win a landslide. That is the people's mandate and the parties have no option but to respect it. They will reach a midnight deal, as they always do, but precious time has been lost.

Time to turn our Magna Carta into a Marshall Plan. The Maoist-led government is rushing headlong into multiple crises: food, fuel, jobs. This country is looking at a hunger pandemic. Soaring food prices will double the number of Nepalis living below the poverty line.

The fuel emergency is here to stay, so there must be a strategy to switch our transportation economy to renewables and immediately announce tax rebates and subsidies for electric buses and cars, recharging stations and cable-cars.
The upcoming budget can be a blueprint for this new paradigm. It must focus on jobs, jobs and more jobs. Not by turning ministries into recruitment centres for the party faithful, but by creating work through investment-friendly policies.

Good luck, Prime Minister Dahal, we hope you can pull it off.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)