Focus of policy document on socialism-oriented economy
The government has announced its Policy and Programmes for the coming Fiscal Year 2019/20 giving top priority to infrastructure development, employment generation and poverty reduction. Government said that the policy will take the economy to the growth path while the main opposition party, Nepali Congress, said that the document was the continuity of the traditional style and had no innovative programmes while experts raised question on its implementation as in the past.
In this backdrop, the Gorkhapatra Corporation organised its regular dialogue (Gorkhapatra Sambad) with Nepal Communist Party Lawmaker Yogesh Bhattarai, Min Bahadur Shahi, Member of National Planning Commission, and Nepali Congress lawmaker Badri Pandey on Sunday. Excerpts:
Drastic changes in administration essential: Bhattarai
The policy and programmes introduced by the government has focused on building socialism-oriented economyas guided by the Constitution of Nepal. Building socialism-oriented economy is not only the guiding principle of the current communist-led government, but also the guiding principle for any other future government as provisioned in the Constitution. The policy and programmes of the left government has mostly focused on building the foundation towards developing a socialistic economy. But the socialism is not attainable in a year or a few years, it is a gradual process and will take some decades to realise this.
There are three distinct economic classes- lower class, middle class and upper class in the country. For directing the economy towards socialism, the government is adopting the policy of protecting the lower class people by the means of various social security schemes and targeted programmes. Similarly, the government is effortful in creating better working opportunities and environment for the middle class people. The upper class people will be facilitated by making them more responsible.Besides, there are also different social classes in the country.The government is focusing on the protection and upliftment of the backward society.
Inthe last one year, the governmentconcentratedits efforts to manage the new federal system due to which it cannot deliver as was expected in the aspect of economic development. For the implementation of the new federal system it was necessary to prepare legal, structural, financial and psychological management. As most of the works relating to logistics management have been completed, the coming year will be the real year of implementation and the country will make a take off towards the rapid economic growth and will take height gradually.
The government is currently focusing to developlarge infrastructure by managing resources from public, private sector and from the foreign countries. The resources thus generated from the increased economic activities will be mobilised and distributed as per the principle of welfare nation for the benefit of the people of all classes.
To achieve the goal of high economic growth, drastic changes in the current administration system is needed. For this, the government is focusing on administrative improvement in its policy and programmes. The government should make the performance contract to all high level government officials to deliver good results. The government officials not performing as per the contract should be sacked. This policy will create a situation in which many officials will be leaving the job and it should be.
The situation has now been changed significantly from which we can be assured that the policy and programmes of the government will be implemented effectively. The current Public Procurement Act was a major obstacle to the development works. The government has started a process for its improvement. Besides, there is a presence of elected people’srepresentatives in local levels. This will support in implementing capital budget as alarge amount of capital budget goes through local bodies.
The role of human resource in economic development is very important. We are in a favourable demographic condition as of now as more than 50 per cent of the total population are economically active. But we have not yet been able to use these human resources for the development of our nation although the remittance earned by our human resources from outside is contributing significantly to the economy. Labour migration is a global trend which we cannot control. But what we can do is to reduce the number of youth going abroad by creating job opportunities in the country and focusing on the export of skillful human resources.
The debate created by the opposition about the term ‘my government’ used by President Bidya Devi Bhandari while introducing the policy and programmes of the government was just a criticism for the sake of criticism. The use of the term ‘my government’ does not relate to democratic and autocratic political system. This term was used by the president as the representative and guardian of the sovereign people.
Good governance top priority: Shahi
The policy and programmes for the next fiscal year are based on the basic principles in the Constitution, and have tried to address the national need from infrastructure development, federalism implementation to social welfare. However, it is equally important to implement it effectively so that every Nepali citizen is benefitted. The government has the liability and responsibility of fulfilling the rights of women, dalits and marginalised people mentioned in the Constitution. Pluralism and multiparty are the tenets of democracy which have been addressed in the policy and programmes and the 15th Plan.
I think we must create a harmony between equality and freedom. Absolute poverty, not the multi-dimensional poverty, will be eradicated within the period of the 15th periodic plan but equality cannot be ensured, a gap of inequality will always exist although the government will try to reduce the gap between the rich and poor. The state has conservational policies in case of social security for poor and marginalised community and class. I would like to inform that the National Planning Commission has consulted the election manifesto of the ruling and opposition parties while preparing the 15th Plan. The manifesto of the main opposition party has also given priority to the social justice and welfare. Though the parties have different stands on political and governance issues, they have almost identical views in terms of social justice.
The policy and programmes and the 15th Plan have tried to change the fundamental development narratives in the changed political scenario in the country. There are development programmes being executed by the federal, provincial and local governments while some of the projects are jointly implemented by the two or three tiers of the government. We have been trying to create development models which can directly benefit people and have positive impact on their everyday life, like economist AmartyaSen said, ‘development is the fundamental right of the people’.
The 15th Plan has received mixed reactions – some say it lacks highly ambitious programmes while others say the opposite. This time our national vision, mission and goals are different. I would like to say that it is unique in the sense that it has to achieve some unique results like graduating the country from the Least Developed Country (LDC) status by 2022, become a middle-income nation by 2030, achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and increase the per capita income (PCI) to 12,000 US dollars by 2044 or by the end of Nepali 21st century. We have also presented the foundations for the next four 5-year periodic plans.
To ensure that only feasible projects are included in the plan and budget, the NPC has established Project Bank and any project out of it won’t be entertained. Similarly, we won’t accept programmes and projects that are not mentioned in the policy and programmes. The government has given high priority to the manufacturing sector to support the high economic growth, employment generation and capital formation. Drivers of economic growth and development have been identified with a focus on good governance.
So far at the implementation model of the development is concerned, we have assumed that all the governments will be more responsible and accountable and they will work in close collaboration with each other and the people. The first year of the government was the year to set the foundation of federalism, the next year will be year of development implementation. Good governance is given top priority. It includes reforms in the bureaucracy and policy.
Public Procurement Act has been termed as the biggest hurdle to the development project, so we are changing the provision to the mid-bidding system which will end the malady of low bidding. Some or our neighbours have already adopted this approach.
The NPC has prepared the draft of the National Human Resources Development Policy which will guide the federal and sub-national governments as well as the private sector in supporting the manpower creation. It is necessary to reap the benefits of the demographic dividend.
Policy, programmes not encouraging: Pandey
The policy and programmes of the government has not been encouraging as was expected from the government with a two-thirds majority. The government has not been able to bring about positive vibes among the people in more than a year after its formation. Rather, it looks suspicious on various aspects. For example, the term ‘complete democracy’ used in the policy and programmes does not have any clear meaning. Democracy itself is complete; it does not need any adjective. The term has spread suspicion about the party that believes in cadre-based democratic system.
There is no ground to feel assured about the effective implementation of policy and programmes. We can clearly see that there are vast differences in saying and doing of the current government. The government is only focusing on taking credits of the development works carried out by the previous government, without doing anything for the progress of other projects. The government has taken the credit of early completion of tunnel works of the BheriBabahi Diversion Project which was realised due to the effort of the previous government.But this government is not making any progress on the Melamchi Water Supply and other projects. The inability of finding weaknesses and the tendency of not accepting weaknesses openly are dangerous for both development and democracy.
Moreover, the government seems tohave taken the state and local governments as problems. The federal government is influencing the smooth functioning of the local and state governments.
Although the policy and programmes aims at generating 500,000 jobs in the next fiscal year, there is no ground to believe this promise as zero per cent achievement has been made in the same type of policy introduced during this fiscal year. The government has failed to introduce effective policy to retain youths in the country.
The issue of ‘my government’ used by the president was raised as per the various suspicious activities of the government and the tradition. We think that the establishment of federal democratic republic is the shift from ‘my’ to ‘our’ but the self central notion of ‘my government’ from the president has created a serious suspect forcing us to raise the issue. The use of ‘my government’ by the president smells rat on reversing the achievements. The intention of the Prime Minister to centralise the power in last one year has also made us more suspicious. We have realised that the term was introduced with the ill intention of diverting the subjects of discussion in the parliament.
We have realised that our party has not been able to play the effective role of the opposition. We will play the role of a creative opposition on the basis of facts and figures.