Exercise restraint

January 28, 2018 02:00 AM Republica

PM’s profligate spending

Sher Bahadur Deuba’s caretaker government is taking one after another big decision in the last few months. This week’s cabinet decision to provide allowance to citizens 65 and above will cost the taxpayers more than seven billion rupees a year and this will keep increasing over the years. Our social security programs are already costing the state 52 billion rupees annually. Decisions like these will have lasting impact in the overall functioning of the state. While CPN-UML leader KP Sharma Oli has vowed to revoke decisions of caretaker government, reversing populist programs like old age allowance won’t be easy for the next government. Deuba’s government should be focusing on smooth transfer of power, not busy itself in making big decisions at this hour. Reports of ending 30 year service cap in Nepal Police and appointments in other public institutions are being discussed even at this point by the government. The desperation to go all out in making big decisions without consultation with the parties that will now form the government does not bode well for our young republic. At this hour, we should be focused on implementing the constitution and institutionalizing federal democratic republic set up that the country has formally embarked on. 

Nowhere in the world do we see governments in transition work like they will be in power for a long time. It will be important for Nepali Congress to work together with the next government to implement the constitution and to decide on big national projects. Moreover, the new federal parliament will have to draft hundreds of federal laws in the near future. This won’t be possible without meaningful cooperation among the major political parties. One of the beauties of our political system has been continuous engagement at the highest level to sort out the differences and figure out solutions to complex issues. And this will have to be continued even after the next government is formed. The federal government in Kathmandu will have to support and direct provincial governments in multiple fronts. If Kathmandu does not function properly then provincial and local governments will also be in deep confusion. They might go about taking big decisions without weighing their pros and cons and without consultation with concerned stakeholders, inviting conflict among the three tiers of government. We do not want to see this fiasco, especially at this stage of our federal exercise. Provincial and local governments are modeled after federal government. It will be hard for Kathmandu to restrain their conduct if federal government itself is not working within its bounds. 

Therefore, we urge Deuba’s caretaker government to seriously engage with the opposition to smoothly hand over the power. The people have spoken, and they have spoken loud and clear. The Left Alliance has won the people’s mandate for the next five years. Nepali Congress and Sher Bahadur Deuba will be hurt badly if the current government keeps on defying the basic logic of democracy: you make way for the new when the people have spoken.  Going about with this profligate manner in abusing state coffers will surely erode public credibility of Deuba and his party. Do not ignore the writing on the wall.



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