Deputy Mayor of Ganeshman Charnath Municipality of Dhanusha district threw tantrum at an office meeting for not including the decision to buy a vehicle for her mobility. This is only a representative case. It seems elected representatives in all the 753 local units across the country are currently on vehicle-buying spree, all with the taxpayers’ money. Others are reportedly using the vehicles meant for official use for personal purpose. These activities are unacceptable and undermine the integrity of our young federal republic. No doubt, the local representatives need certain facilities to help them with mobility but they must be mindful of the state of economy before demanding lavish facilities. Our administrative expenses have skyrocketed, and it is certainly going to further balloon once we have formed provincial governments and their parliaments. Perks and securities for the provincial ministers, chief ministers, and speakers and so on will be significant. Some are already questioning the economic viability of the current federal system, and the current speed of splurge by the newly-elected representatives is not helpful in quashing doubt over the system.
Local government units have very little source of income and they all have to depend on the federal government in Kathmandu for their annual budgetary and other expenses. Model of revenue distribution is being currently discussed at the Fiscal Commission. Local governments lack the resources and the needed manpower to initiate big projects that have the potential to generate revenue in the long run. Therefore, it is vital that the local governments exercise prudence in administrative expenses. If the people start questioning the economic viability of the system, it will be because of the willful ignorance and stupidity of the newly-elected leaders. This is not the time for local representatives to fight over fancy cars and other perks. It is time to deliver on the promises they made to the people. They will have to go back to the people five years down the road and people will judge then. The time is now to roll up their sleeves and work to make sure that local projects and commitments are in the priority.
We urge the local leaders to not dampen people’s hopes and aspiration of transparent and responsible local governance system. It is rather easy for the newbie representatives to forget the promises made in the campaign trail and keep on enriching and easing their own life. But those decisions will come back to hunt come next election cycle. One does not and should not venture into politics to make life easy and comfortable. The current trend of vehicle buying spree does not bode well for the vision of efficient, lean and people-centric government envisioned by our constitution. Local elections had come as a big promise to revive local developments and people had voted with the same expectation. Elected leaders at the local levels must not allow this expectation to die out fast.