In September of last year, Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli said that despaired people are detrimental to country’s development and prosperity. He was saying in the context that the government has no liberty to make people lose hope on development and governance and that the government will turn no stone unturned to achieve these goals.
One year after he took office, it is unfortunate to observe that, what the prime minister actually pledged to guard against is actually what defines people’s mood now: Despair and frustration. Come to think of it. What has changed fundamentally in the lives of common people? Are they able to enjoy better public transportation facilities? Is the living condition of the poor improving? Has there been any remarkable change in the law and order situation? Have the people got to breathe in clean air in the Valley and elsewhere?
Are there indicators to bring back the country’s economy on the right track? Understandably, these questions may not be the absolute measures to judge the efficacy of the government but the general people evaluate the government based on the answers to these questions. This is what matters to people the most.
The Oli government had generated a lot of hope and expectations and it had solid foundation. For one, Nepal had got the first two-thirds majority government after nearly three decades. Government instability, we were told, had become one of the hurdles to policy reforms and in expediting development works. Besides, frequent change of guard at Singha Darbar (no government served full five years term in post-1990 politics) had frustrated people.
This is why people had thought that the era of bad governance characterized by misrule, instability and corruption was coming to an end. In the initial days, the government had also taken some welcome moves—such as the decision to end the syndicate and cartels in public transport and punishing the underperforming contractors—which gave the feeling that the government was up to something. Those good decisions have not seen the light of the day mainly because of government’s reluctance to execute them.
A year later, our economic indicators present bleak picture. Experts have even warned of serious economic crisis in the months ahead if the present scenario persists. Impunity stares at our faces for the government has not been able to book the rapists and murderers of a teenager Nirmala Panta. Instead, the government became distinct in its attempt to bring policies and laws that could potentially undermine freedom of expression and freedom of press. It gave the impression of being intolerant to media criticism.
Instead of enhancing performance in delivery, government ministers are making tall promises. This is not done. People have waited and watched this government and they are not happy with it. With one year gone, Oli’s administration has only three years to keep its promises and deliver for by the end of the third year, we will again be preparing for the next round of elections.
It is not that the government could not do anything at all. The social welfare scheme, and the prime minister employment program (announced on Wednesday), for example, could well be instrumental in changing people’s lives. But without clear roadmap for their execution and policy clarity they might as well prove to be ineffective. The government has pushed people to the state of despair. It can reignite hope and expectations once again only through tangible delivery.