We enter Nepali New Year of 2075 with hopes and expectations. The year 2074 offered us a lot in terms of laying the foundations for institutionalizing federal system. This time last year, we were on the run up to the first round of local elections in the hills. The second phase polls—including elections of provincial and federal parliament—were uncertain. Polls were to be held across the southern plains but nobody knew whether it will happen. The then Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal made way for Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba. There was a doubt as to whether he will be able to complete remaining local polls and provincial and federal parliament elections. Despite all doubts and uncertainty, Deuba’s government successfully held all three levels of elections—paving the way for forming 753 local governments, seven provincial governments and the central government. The year 2074 therefore will be remembered as election year in Nepal’s history.
The New Year offers both challenges and opportunities. Challenges because we have stepped on untested territory of federal set up—the first such experiment in Nepal’s political history. And as such, creating infrastructures and managing funds for sustaining this system will undoubtedly become the most pressing issue for the first federal government led by UML Chairman K P Sharma Oli. On economic front, we are in a disappointing situation with the finance minister raising the alarm that the state coffer is almost ‘empty.’ Equitable and just distribution of powers and resources among the three levels of government is going to be tricky. These challenges aside, this year we have the historic opportunity to take the country forward to prosperity and development if governments in all three levels do not deviate from this goal and work sincerely toward achieving it. We now have the government with over a two-thirds majority support in the parliament making it easier for it to enact necessary laws to run federal setup smoothly and to chart a new course.
Be that as it may, we have also inherited hordes of irregularities from 2074. The report of Office of the Auditor General (OAG), for example, has revealed that Election Commission (EC) spent millions of rupees from foreign donors without any audit. The EC officials abused their authority in providing additional incentives to election commissioners and staff. More egregiously, the EC has not settled Rs 190.71 millions either. This is only one case of abuse of state funds. We saw multiple such scams: Nepal Oil Corporation’s land buying scam, corruption case relating to Director General of Inland Revenue Department Chuda Mani Sharma and cases of malpractices at the courts, to mention a few. The New Year should make a sharp departure from this state of abuse of authority. The year 2074 remained successful in terms of ending decade-long political transition—during which misrule, bad governance, corruption and utter insensitivity to much-needed development thrived and every such act was justified in the name of transitional politics. We have no such excuse from now on. New Year offers a great opportunity for the ruling parties to do a host of things—from resetting our ties with neighboring countries to rooting out corruption to reviving our fledgling economy and scores of other tasks. The ruling and opposition parties should work together to right the wrongs of the past and take the country toward new direction. The journey will be long, but given the political will it won’t be difficult either. On that cautious note, we wish everyone a very happy New Year 2075.