Govt's priorities questioned as its decisions court controversies

Published On: June 17, 2019 06:30 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, June 17: As the government lands into controversies one after another in recent months, there are growing concerns if the KP Oli administration has been able to set its priorities right to realize its goal of “Happy Nepali and Prosperous Nepal”.

Ordinary public and experts have started questioning the government's priorities since most of the promises made by the government are largely limited to rhetoric even a year and a half since its formation. People's frustration and anger have only been growing as simple and doable tasks are left unattended while the government continues to make big promises one after another.

For instance, the Melamchi Drinking Water Project was on the verge of completion when this government came to power. But since the Italian company abandoned the project halfway through several months ago, the project remains in limbo. Valley denizens, who have been waiting for the completion of the project for decades, are forced to take to the streets demanding its early completion.

The government's failure to expedite work of Nijgadh International Airport and Budhi Gandaki Hydropower Project – two potentially game-changer projects for Nepal's economic transformation -- even a year and a half since its formation are two other glaring cases in point.

Political analyst Krishna Pokharel said the current government was unable to set its priorities straight. “I see problems with the priorities of the government right since the start. While it has made a lofty promise of economic prosperity, it ironically seems to be investing its whole energy in drafting controversial bills,” said Pokharel.

And he said this is not just limited to the government's work on the domestic front.

“There is problem with the priorities of the government even on the foreign front. When we have real issues that need to be resolved with Malaysia, our prime minister, for instance, chose to visit Cambodia and Vietnam,” said Pokharel.

Experts say the government instead of focusing on real issues that matter to the people, is involved in introducing various controversial bills, inviting protests from stakeholders. As if it had no other priorities on hand, the government came with the controversial National Human Rights Commission Bill. This immediately drew criticism from the human rights community. Then, there was the Media Council Bill, which drew protests from the media fraternity.

While there are widespread concerns that the government is bent on curtailing civil liberty, it has lately come up with the Guthi Bill, which stakeholders say, seeks to infringe upon their cultural rights and destroy their cultural heritages.

Besides Guthi Bill, the government has also courted controversy over its decision to announce fresh vacancies for various local and provincial level government positions from the federal Public Service Commission (PSC). “This issue would not have courted any controversy if the federal government had chosen to facilitate early formation of provincial public service commissions and allowed them to fill the vacancies,” argued a retired bureaucrat, who led several ministries in his capacity as a secretary.

Given that there are huge concerns about the transitional justice process from both the victim party and the human rights community within and outside the country, resolving the transitional justice process should have been the government's priority. This has not fallen in priority of the government, lament human rights activists.

Experts maintain that the controversy and dissatisfaction the government has courted one after another is mainly because it has failed to set its priorities right. “To form a government and run government are two completely different things. It is high time the government acknowledged the growing public dissatisfaction before it is too late,” Pokharel further said.

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