Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Uncaring government

Most of the ministers are not carrying out their duties in the manner that is expected of them. The highly objectionable and irresponsible behaviour of some is raising questions about the entire government performance. Ministers are making no effort to tackle the grave issues we are facing and one can only guess as to what problems these issues will lead to in future. No one has been able to gauge correctly the magnitude of problems that the nation is likely to face in the future, but one thing is for sure?the situation is slowly turning catastrophic.

Everyone thinks a disaster is unlikely, but now one of the main pillars of our economy, the tourism sector, is being completely shut down. The government has made no effort to solve the crisis. The government was informed both verbally and through a written notice that hotel employees were to go on strike from 26 November and that hotel owners were going to pull down their shutters. The tourism minister was not prepared to listen and try to foresee where the problem could lead. Since he had to contest an election in his village, he asked the law ministry to handle the situation and left the capital. The problem just got worse. The employees wanted the government to take a decision, but that did not happen. The situation has now taken such a turn that employers are prepared to keep the shutters down rather than pay the 10 percent service charge demanded by unions, and employees are not prepared to work unless they get the 10 percent service charge.

This has led employers to notify their international agents and clients that they may not be able to provide services for some time in the near future. Hotel owners even informed clients who were using their services that from 11 December there may be disruptions in facilities and services being provided. If no agreement is reached, all hotels are going to be shut for an unlimited period.

In this very week, teachers working in 18 remote districts have stopped work. They are agitating because allowances for working in remote places have been slashed. The government has not taken any steps to resolve the issue. The agitation started by temporarily TU teachers is also on. The government is undecided on this front too. The health sector too has been in turmoil for the past 10 days. People working in X-ray units, clinical labs and other basic but important departments are agitating because the allowances they were being provided have been reduced. The concerned ministry remains silent over the issue. Earlier teachers in government schools went on strike for five days. No decision has been taken concerning their demands. The teachers state that their agitation will enter phase two now.

The price of kerosene was reduced by Rs 4, but this was done only after the opposition threatened to shut down the whole country for two days. It seems that only the mention of shutting down the country activates the concerned ministry and then it tries to resolve the crisis, never realising how that could lead people to lose confidence in the government.

In the last few days, it seems that the PM himself has been unable to control his cabinet members. Ministers have realised that it makes no difference whether they carry out their duties or not. Eight months ago, when this government was formed, the cabinet passed a decision stating that a monthly press conference would be held by each ministry to evaluate progress and make public what work had been done. Only the Local Development Ministry held a press conference after the decision was taken, but only once. Other ministries have not even bothered to do the same. Ministers remain silent even when publicly questioned and criticised by junior officials in their organisations. A recent example of this was when the chief secretary stopped a minister from carrying out any discussion in the cabinet about a secretary of his ministry.

It is also said that none of the ministers have been able to control their respective ministries and agencies. Ministers have publicly accused some chairmen of public corporations of taking wrong decisions or not acting in the best interest of the people. But they have not been able to take action against the concerned chairmen. Some chairmen are rumoured to have taken decisions that have caused high financial losses, but all the ministers have done is to set up investigation commissions, received the recommendations of the commissions and then let the issue pass. No one has been able to comprehend why the PM and his cabinet have become so inefficient.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)