PM Oli's address to nation: A recap of promises unfulfilled

Published On: February 15, 2019 07:25 AM NPT By: Roshan Sedhai

KATHMANDU, Feb 15: Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli's televised address to the nation was supposed to be the left government's annual progress report on meeting its poll promise of 'Prosperous Nepal Happy Nepali'. Expect, it was not.

As PM Oli wrapped up his nearly hour-long speech on Thursday afternoon, it felt more like a recap, in more condensed form, of several speeches he delivered over the past year.

The address---Oli's forth since assuming office on this day last year--- began with a candid admission, urging the nation to accept it as a continuation from where he had left off , instead of mistaking it for 'things already said or heard '.

Spending the initial few minutes criticizing the Nepali Congress for its delay in handing over power, Oli then ticked off the things that the government was able to accomplish in spite of adverse circumstances. The biggest highlight of the address was the government's unprecedented success in the institutionalization of federalism. He went into extended detail describing how the government had steered the country along the federal road despite an acute crunch in resources lack of enabling laws.

“...there was a provincial capital but no office space, there was parliament but no halls of parliament, there was a provincial assembly but no assembly building. There was a lot of work to do but there wasn't the required human resources or the laws in place,” he said.

Oli then went on to take credit for the progress made in construction of Bhairahawa International Airport, Pokhara International Airport and the launching of a series of new schemes in social welfare, foreign employment and youth employment. Like always, Oli reiterated his commitment to turn his dream of waterways and railways into reality. He also took credit for reforms in other sectors including tourism and hydro-power.

Oli downplayed or avoided entirely the delays in completion of other big projects including Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower and Melamchi Drinking Water . He didn't explain the sudden lull in interactions with India and China, nor clarify what was holding back the government from fast-tracking big hydro works like Budhi Gandaki.

The premier promised wide-ranging reforms with a focus on safeguarding Nepal's resources and redistributing from the rich to the poor.

He said that relations with neighboring countries have gotten warmer since his coming to office.

"Nepal has improved its ties with neighboring countries during the period of one year," said Oli, adding, “ It has fostered diplomatic ties with as many as 163 countries so far.” Notwithstanding Oli's claims, experts say India's reluctance to allow Nepal to use its airspace and its refusal to own up the report of the Eminent Persons Group signaled underlying tensions.

He went on to say that the government has already constructed 490 km of roads and 417 suspension bridges and registered 499 industries in the one-year period. He didn't dwell on the quality of the roads or the health of the industries in question.

The prime minister then talked about what the government had done to attract foreign investment and promote trade and industry. But he failed to explain the recent slide in foreign direct investment.

The most important point in the address came when Oli admitted the need for time to build from scratch. He dubbed the past one year the 'foundation year'. He said people would get to see marked changes in the days to come.

“It's been a year since I took the helm of the country. We have initiated various programs, signed deals and contracts with various parties, laying a foundation for the remaining term of the government. The programs initiated will be completed in the remaining term ,” he said.

Here is the full text of Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli's address on the occasion of the completion of one year of the incumbent government:

Respected Sisters and Brothers
Distinguished Guests

- On 26 May 2018, on the occasion of completion of one hundred days of the Government under my leadership, I reiterated that while taking oath of office of the Prime Minsiter on 15 February 2018 I was thinking about nobody else but you all – my fellow citizens. I had taken oath in your name to serve you as I was assuming the position of the Prime Minister because of your affection, faith and trust.

- Today, the present Government has completed 365 days. I, once again, extend my warm greetings to you all, sisters and brothers, for entrusting me with the responsibility of leading the task of nation building.

- During this period, on three different occasions namely the completion of 100 days of the Government, its first five months as well as the first six months of budget implementation, I made public statements on the overall condition of the country and performance of the Government under my leadership.

- Therefore, what I am sharing with you today might sound familiar to you since it is the continuity of my previous views and experiences.

- Let me recall the same day of the last year. It had been 3 months following the completion of general elections. Those who were rejected by the people were still running the Government. They were hesitating to hand over legitimate power to the coaliation under my leadership, which was prepared to take the mantle of governance with almost two-thirds popular mandate. For those three months, our democracy had been repeatedly jeopardised under the pretext of ‘legal clarity’. General public opinion was reaching the level of frustration that the coalition with popular mandate was willing to take the responsibiity but those supposed to hand over the responsibility seemed baffled and confused deeming election results as a disaster. They were looking for an excuse to cling to the power.

- Indicating to this very situation, I had emphatically said then, "It is not a disaster – it is a new popular mandate. It has come to stay. Please realise that it has already come and please accept it accordingly."

- People then had a general perception that due to the complex electoral system we had adopted, no single party would obtain a clear majority and a hung parliament was a must. The Nepali people, who were fed up with years of ‘messy and unpredictable coalition’ and the resultant care-taker type of governance based on parochial and short-term planning, voted for our coalition with overwhelming support. Our complex electoral system produced even such electoral outcomes, astonishing the world.

- I remember today – while assuming this responsibility a year ago, though we had the constitutional provisions of Federation, Provinces and Local Level, there were no structures as such. Let me summarize the situation then. The provincial capitals were designated, but there were no offices for Chiefs of the Provinces. Provincial Parliaments were formed, but they lacked buildings and other physical facilities for their operation. Ministers had been appointed but they did not have offices. There were piles of work ahead but there was no human resource, no legislation, no established procedures, no financial procedures and arrangements. ​

- Our past should not be self-erasing our footprints. Let us think once, what the situation was when we took the responsibility of governance and where we stand now. Despite having a complex electoral system, a single party Government has been formed with a strong mandate after two and half decades. Vicious circle of political transition has ended and stability has been achieved. This has formed a strong platfrom for us to focus on long-term development planning instead of focusing only on works with short-term benefits. Should not we be encouraged by this situation rather than ramaindisspirited?

- Addressing the House of Representatives on 6 January, I had said, "Today we are not just running a government that displaced the previous one, rather we are in a historic situation after a colossal change. Similar situation was created in 1959 following the first general elections after the end of Rana regime. Similar situation was created in 2091 following the elections after the end of Panchayat system. The current change leads us to to a new system – from unitary system of governance to federalism, from just ‘a formal democracy’ to participatory democracy, and from monarchy to the republican system. Today the country is a federal democratic republic."

- A political change took place in 1951. In 1957, the foundation was laid for developing democratic intitutions. But the regressive move of 1960 reversed the gains. Now, we are in the phase of implementing an entirely new system, new governance and new Constitution. This new system incorporates the values of participation and inclusion apart from adoption of federalism, three tiers of governments and separation of power. Our democracy is not limited to the political rights for speaking freely and writing freely, ours is a ‘comprehensive democracy’ with social justice, equality and dignity. But some individuals appear to be holding ideological biases. In order to divert attention from our mission of making people sovereign by all means and empowering them, rumours are being spread that democracy has started shrinking and authoritarianism has emerged. Seeing an ever-flourishing comprehensive democracy as a shrinking one is a worrying illusion. I want to reiterate that democracy for us is an ideal. It is a rule-based, coherent and refined system – not just a business for livelihood. Neither is this established by the grace of anyone nor is it a system meant only for enjoying benefits and privileges. Rather, it is an ideal established through our conscious and well-thought out struggles which were full of sacrifices.

- Therefore, the current government has referred to its first year in office as the year for structural management of the country and the foundation year for prosperity. This is the reason why I termed this year as the foundation not only for upcoming 5 years but also for the future. What we do today creates the base for the future. And, I believe that political stability is a citadel for the journey towards prosperity.

- While digging foundation for a building, we also consider the design for the floors and the roof. But what if someone asks for the details about the floors and the roof merely at the sight of the foundation? We are facing similar questions about the building of the complete house by those who themselves have obstructed the levellingof the ground and laying of its foundation.

- I often consider why I should react to such questions.

- Now, federalism has come into operation. On its foundation, participatory system of governance has been created. State power has been transferred to the local level. We all have understood that the exercise of federalism and power transfer is not easy. It is not unusual for our political cadres who were conventionally running the erstwhile VDCs and muncipalities to lack the practical knowledge of running the newly established municipalities that are local governments in true sense. It is not abnormal for the people's representatives who had the experience of parliament under unitary system to have confusions about practices under federal set up. Province-level structure is totally a new experience for us and we are working hard to set it in a system.

- Therefore, the Inter-Province Coordination Council under my leadership has brought the federalism implementation facilitation workplan into operation. The task of implementing fiscal federalism is a more technical matter. But it has already been implemented during this period.

- Detailed basis and structure of revenue allocation has been determined with the provision of providing 15 percent each of the value added tax and excise duties to the Provices and Local level. Arrangements have been made for the Provinces and Local level to receive the revenue allocation amounts within the first 15 days of every month.

- Financial equalization grant of 3.8 percent of total budget to the Provinces and 6.5 percent of total budget to the Local level has been made available from the federal consolidated fund, following the formulation of an indicator on the basis of the expenditure needs and revenue generating capacity of Provinces and Local level.

- The Government of Nepal has formulated provisions relating to transfer of the conditional grants to Provincial and Local Governments. The Federal Government has transferred 4.8 percent of the total budget to the Provinces and 8.2 percent to the Local level for the implementation of programmes/projects in the fiscal year 2018-19.

- The Guidelines for distribution of complementary grants and special grants to the Provincial and Local level have been approved. Twenty billion rupees has been released to the Provincial and Local level on the basis of specified criteria.

- For the management of budget deficits in Provinces and Local level, the ceiling for domestic debt mobilization has been set to a maximum of 10 per cent of the total sum of their inland revenue and the funds transferred through revenue sharing mechanism.

- The consolidated fund of Provinces and Local Governments and the divisible fund for the revenue sharing among the Federation, Provinces and Local level have come into operation.

- In order to simplify the management of public expenditure, arrangements have been made for the submission to the Federal Line Ministries the physical and financial reports of the programmes and projects, which are sanctioned by such Ministries and run by Provinces. Similarly, arrangements have been made for the submission to the Provincial Ministries the physical and financial reports of the programmes and projects, which are sanctioned by Provincial Ministries and run by Federal Offices in those Provinces.

- Inter-Provincial Financial Commission has been facilitating the resolution of problems related to implementation of fiscal federalism.

- In order to enable and strengthen Province and Local level as per the spirit of federalism and maintain uniformity and functional coordination among them, seventeen sample Guidelines and Directives have been prepared and sent to the Provinces and twenty-one similar documents have been prepared and sent to Local level. 51,465 representatives and officials from the Local level have been trained on subjects such as planning and budgeting, integrated property tax, functioning of judicial committee, procurement and public finance.

- A total of 1,081 offices have been maintained at the Federal level including 22 Ministries, 12 Constitutional Bodies, 54 Departments and Department level Offices and four other Commission Secretariats. In each Province, seven Ministries, a Provincial Assembly Secretariat, a Provincial Financial Comptroller General’s Office, 63 Directorates, 717 Divisions and Offices have been set up. The Local Levels have been classified into ten categories. Organization structures for all 753 Local Levels have been approved.

- For the required human resource management at the Federal, Provincial and Local level, a total of 137,371 bureaucratic positions have been maintained. This includes 47,920 positions at the Federal level, 22,685 at the Provincial level and 66,766 at the Local level. Adjustment of civil servants in the federal set-up, which was considered a tough task, has now been almost completed. Compared to experiences of other countries converted into federal system, our achievement is highly encouraging.

- Formulation of necessary legislations was another milestone for us this year. Constitution is our fundamental law. It is the obligation of the Government to translate the words of the Constitution into action. I became Prime Minister for the first time after the promulgation of the Constitution but had to step down in nine months. The successive Governments also knew that the new national codes needed to be implemented from 17 August 2018 and the necessary laws for the implementation of fundamental rights as stipulated in Articles 16 to 48 of the Constitution had to be introduced before 18 September 2018. When I assumed the office again last year, the country was awaiting a Government that could implement these tasks. I had the responsibility to reinstate belief in people that the provisions of the Constitution should not be there to ‘….just say for the sake of saying’, as the popular Nepali song goes; rather they should be translated into action. The present Government fulfilled this obligation by drafting one Bill every five days on an average.

- Sixteen laws related to fundamental rights have been introduced and are put into operation.

- Over the last one year, the Federal Parliament has passed twenty-five Acts. Five Ordinances have been proclaimed. Twenty-three Bills are under consideration at the Federal Parliament. Preparations are at the final stage for tabling 24 bills to the Parliament.

- 47 Regulations and 7 Formation Orders have been issued. A total of 33 Directives and Guidelines have been formulated in the past one year.

- Among the 339 existing laws, some laws are being aligned with the provisions of the Constitution. Some new laws are being formulated as per the Constitution and the process of amendments to 165 laws, which were inconsistent with the Constitution, is underway.

- Nepal has become party to 95 various bilateral and multilateral treaties and agreements. 108 draft texts for bilateral and multilateral treaties, and loan and grant agreements with donor agencies are under consideration.

- Issues relating to political rights have been basically resolved and now the aspirations for prosperity remain to be fulfilled. That is why I have been reiterating that the motto of the present Government is ‘Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali’.

- Investment climate has now become more conducive than ever before. Along with the amendments to Labour Law, thirteen relevant Acts, Rules and Directives deemed instrumental for creating investment friendly environment are also being formulated / amended.

- The long-overdue Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Bill will be tabled in the Federal Parliament soon.

- The process of making amendments to legislations such as Public-Private Partnership and Investment Act, Industrial Enterprise Act, Foreign Exchange (Regulation) Act are at the final stage with a view to ensuring more investment friendly environment. The model agreement on Bilateral Investment Protection has been prepared.

- The Government is effortful in creating conducive environment for investment through development of mega energy and transmission-line projects, expansion of industrial area and establishment of Special Economic Zones.

- Preparations have been completed for establishing and operationalization of ‘One Stop Service Centre’ that provides all investment related services starting from registration of a company to its exit.

- The Government has been calling for domestic, foreign and inter-state investment. Invitation to Nepal’s Prime Minister to participate in the Annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland for the first time since its establishment 50 years ago can be considered as a recognition of the increasing business profile of Nepal.

- The 'Industry-Commerce Promotion Dialogue Council' has been constituted under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister. Participation of private sector in the economic and infrastructure development has been encouraged through this Council. Preparations have almost been completed for holding the International Investment Summit in March 2019.

- A ‘Policy Research Academy’ has been established as an autonomous think tank.

- During my address to the House of Representatives on 6 January 2019, I had presented some statistics and figures. Those who liked to find ‘sheer emotions’ in my statement questioned why I cited those facts and figures. Those who felt averse to the progress made by this Government mistook the data as ‘false statistics’. They seemed to be assuming that Nepal is the country where its people are destined to hear only about damages, destruction and degradation. “Is it sensible in such a country to present statistics of progress? It is not statistics; it is false statistics”, they seemed to contend.

- I am aware of the problems. I am also aware that whatever we have been doing is not enough. I am fully conscious that the gap between people’s thirst for development and our delivery must be bridged. People want the vehicle of development to run in the highest gear. But, I humbly appeal that the gear can only be changed step by step. Let me briefly mention some aspects of the progress we made during this year.

- Tribhuvan International Airport has started operating 22 hours a day. During this period domestic air services have been started in the nights from 6 airports including those in Dhangadhi and Chandragadhi. Construction works of Gautam Buddha International Airport are ongoing rapidly with the objective of conducting test flights in June 2019 and operating regular flights in September 2019. The construction work of the Pokhara International Airport has gained momentum with a view to completing it by 2020 prior to the stipulated schedule. Of the required 110 bigahas of land, 65 bigahas have already been acquired for construction of Nijgadh International Airport.

- In energy sector, decisions and agreements, which have far reaching implications including in energy banking, have been made. During this period, the new consumers who will consume 300 thousand units of electricity have been added. Per capita consumption of electricity has increased from 177-kilowatt hours to 200 kilowatt hours. The construction of Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower project has reached the final stage of completion. Construction works of Arun III Hydropower Project has commenced. During this year, the construction of 8 km of the tunnel of BheriBabai Diversion Multipurpose Project has been completed.

- 497 kilometers of new roads has been constructed during the year. 589 km of rural roads has been upgraded out of which 221 km has been black-topped. 7,500 km of roads have been repaired. 87 motorable bridges have been constructed. 417 suspension bridges have been installed. Encouraging progress has been achieved on Kathmandu-Terai Fast Track. The Construction work of Dhalkebar-Simara section under Mechi-Mahakali railways has been expeditiously advanced. Jayanagar-Kurta railway has been completed and we have reached the point of operating Nepal’s own train.

- The campaign I had launched to replace the wire bridges (tuins) is nearing success. This year only, a wire bridge has been replaced every three days on an average.

- These facts demonstrate that the capacity of our development administration is getting stronger and an investment-friendly environment has been created for private sector. The Integrated Customs Check Post has been operationalized in Birgunj since 7 April 2018.

- Few cynics ask: where is investment and where are the industries? I simply want to tell them that 499 industries have been registered during the year with the commitment of the capital totaling around US dollars 1.8 billion (equivalent to NRs. 198 billion). Similarly, 416 enterprises with foreign investment have been approved during the same period with the commitment of the total capital of more than US dollars 460 million (equivalent to NRs. 51.8 billion).

- I have frequently referred to the ingenuity of our ancestors and the biological diversity of our landscape. As I referred to the vast storage of minerals that we possess, a friend quoted the famous Nepali proverb rather satirically, ‘the gold in Lhasa is useless for my ears’. He meant to say that speeches are not enough.

- Of course, mere speeches are not enough. We need to act. We need to be ready to act. There is nothing for those who do not act. For an innovative and active person, even the invisible air can be a source of income.

- Yesterday on 13 February, I inaugurated a world-class bioscience company. It will produce ‘virus’ out of the air, convert it into vaccines and export them to foreign countries. It employs graduates of bioscience fields.

- A huge deposit of around 100 million metric tons of iron ore has been identified in Dhaubadi, Nawalparasi. People might ask what this will do. How does it contribute to our progress? I humbly inform you that, as per the metallurgical test carried out in China, sponge iron can be produced from this iron ore. I do not think it is necessary to explain more of its benefits.

- To ease the exports and imports from Vishakhapatnam Port, electronic cargo tracking system has been put in place for clearance of goods directly at Birgunj. Electronic cargo tracking system is also being introduced from this month for transactions of goods via railways from Kolkata and Haldia Ports.

- Security locking system has been installed in petroleum tankers in all entry points to control leakage of petroleum products while being transported from India. The task of laying of petroleum pipelines has gained momentum.

- On 17 January 2019, the foundation stone for the construction of Inland Clearance Depot was laid in Chobhar. ‘Nepal’s Water, People’s Investment’ program has just been launched today with an objective of making every Nepali national a shareholder in electricity projects.

- During my address to the House of Representatives, I had stated that inaugurations and laying of foundation stones of few dozens of projects would be completed by mid-February 2019. I am not going to repeat today the details I presented then.

- I recall a comment from a well-wisher that, while listening to me, he could feel that some progress was being achieved. But he inquired rather innocently why the others would not trust what I was saying.

- It was a serious question. I did not ask him who the ‘others’ were. I just stated, “I have filled half an empty pot. If those people are calling the pot ‘half empty’ when I see it ‘half full’, how should I respond to them?”

- We have a strange habit. We want to see new Governments every nine months. We keep quiet for the first three months, we question its performance in the next three months, and we overthrow the government in the 9th month. I can guess how surprised those people are to see this government functioning well over a year. Sometimes I feel that the questions I am facing are in essence the manifestation of our experiences of such 9-month governments. If it is so, I humbly request all to change the habit. Let’s adopt new habits.

- Our consciousness is based on the physical matters. Only a few people may be able to guess the shape of an object without seeing it. I doubt, for this very reason, questions are raised when we talk of ships, water transports and railway services in Nepal.

- Aeroplanes have been circling the globe. Ships have been navigating the seas and meandering the river courses. Why is it considered a mirage when we plan developing these means of transports?

- Are these visions and plans mere daydreams? Just like in the famous song of Narayan Gopal and Aruna Lama where the singer promises of bringing the moon along with the stars down to the earth for his beloved?

- This morning only I inaugurated the Ship Office. This is not for fun. This is to ensure that we have ships for transportation. Some might want to make fun of it. They might say, “Now that a new office has been established, should we buy tickets from this office?” I would advise them not to go there to buy the tickets now. That office is not for buying tickets. There will be a day when people will get to buy tickets and board the ships. I myself will inform you then.

- This one-year has seen tremendous progress in our relations with neighbours and on broad foreign policy front. Media have also reported on this. Nepal has improved its foreign relations in the spirit of ‘amity with all, enmity with none’. Nepal has demonstrated balanced foreign policy while maintaining visible presence in global affairs. It is a matter of satisfaction Nepal’s voice is being heard in regional and international forums. Attraction, appreciation and confidence of the global community towards Nepal has grown.

- During the year, the Rt. Hon. President paid a visit to Qatar and Poland. Nepal’s investment potentials were discussed on those occasions. The Rt. Hon. Vice President participated in the 17th Western China International Exhibition.

- My official visit to India and the official visit of Indian Prime Minister to Nepal two times elevated the relations between our two countries to newer heights. Few pending irritants between the two countries are being resolved through mutual consent. The implementation of the projects run under development cooperation from India has gained momentum. Apart from the agreements on increasing cooperation in agriculture, railways and cross-border waterways, the scope of development cooperation has been extended.

- During my visit to China and the subsequent meetings with the Chinese President and Premier of the State Council as well as other important high officials, 14 various MoUs and Agreements were signed between the two sides on cooperation in projects related to railways, road and energy sector. With the agreement on the text of the Transport Transit Protocol, door has been opened for Nepal to use roads and ports of China to have access to the sea.

- I addressed the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in September last year. I presented Nepal’s views on world peace, international security, human rights and sustainable development, among others. I also briefed the global community about the unique and nationally led peace process of Nepal. I could feel the global sentiment that this unique and homegrown experience of ours could be an exemplary reference to conflict-ridden countries for establishing peace. I felt that the international community was amazed at the tremendous success of Nepal in conflict management, peace building, implementation of special and unique election system and conclusion of political transition. During my visit to the UN, I met the President of Switzerland and Prime Ministers of UK, Canada and Cambodia and had fruitful discussions on matters of mutual interests.

- Ridiculous comments were made about this visit, that too by learned people who claim themselves to be ‘opinion makers’. It is incomprehensible to know what kind of psychological disorder some of us suffer from to markdown the independence and progress of Nepal and take pleasure in disseminating the message that the country is ‘going down’ and is dependent on others.

- Nepal’s relationship with with Costa Rica has achieved a new height following my official visit to that country. Nepal became a party to the International Agreement establishing the UN-mandated University for Peace in San Jose. Addressing a progamme organized by the University, I shared the salient features of Nepal’s peace process with the international community. The University also conferred on me an honorary doctorate.

- This year, the President of Sri Lanka and Myanmar, the Prime Ministers of Bangladesh, Pakistan, Cambodia and Thailand, and State Councilor of Myanmar visited Nepal. The visits of Minister for Foreign Affairs to India, China, Portugal, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria, Japan and United States of America have helped enhance Nepal’s relations with these countries.

- The Fourth Summit of Heads of State and Government of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) was held in Kathmandu.

- I do not want to go into the details of these visits. But, I want to reiterate that, through them, Nepal has made clear its interests and concerns to the international community.

- Nepal has been elected as the coordinator of Asia-Pacific group in the Human Rights Council and as a member of the UN Peace Building Commission. We have presented our membership bids in various elections of UN bodies.

- During this period, Nepal established diplomatic relations with Saint Kitts and Nevis, Rwanda, Madagascar and Suriname. With this the number of countries with which Nepal has diplomatic relations has reached 163.

Dear sisters and brothers,

- Macro-economic condition of the country is mostly in positive direction. I do not want to dwell on data but as facts have been twisted, I deem it relevant to discuss some matters that were also mentioned in the past.

- Looking at the expansion of economic activities of the current fiscal year, we can confident of achieving overall economic growth closer to the target. The average inflation rate of the current fiscal year is also under control.

- I want to draw the attention of those who argue that, “Market prices have risen extremely. Was it to see this day that we brought democracy?” Of course, I am not saying that the goods are cheap and that our wages can buy the whole universe. But, comparison has to be made between the realities of yesterday and today. Please tell me, now the average inflation is around 4.25 percent, what was the inflation rate last year? Is the current rate not realistic?

- The number of companies registered has increased by 26.7 percent. Industrial capacity has increased. The investment of banks and financial institutions in the industrial sector has increased by 28.3 percent. Industrial activities have expanded.

- The import of industrial goods, construction materials and goods that support capital formation has increased by 32.1 percent. Improvement in labour relations has led to innovation in the development and enhancement of industrial activities.

- Loans and investments from banks and financial institutions have gone up by 20.3 percent. The loan-flow to the private sector has also increased by 24.1 percent.

- Nepal had aspired to welcome one million tourists long back in 1998. That aspiration has now been fulfilled after 21 years. Tourist arrival has increased by 32.5 percent. Even in the month of January, which is considered off-season for tourism in Nepal, the arrival of over 90,000 thousand tourists is an encouraging sign. Service sector continues to expand at the backdrop of enhancement of tourism sector and increment of tourist arrivals.

- Increase in the number of tigers has also helped Nepal get listed as one of the top 15 most-favoured tourist destinations in the world.

- As of mid January 2019, the foreign currency reserve with the banks is sufficient to sustain the imports of goods for 8.9 months and goods and services for 7.8 months. This implies that we have comfortable foreign currency reserve.

- This year, the farmers could get fertilizers on time. Irrigation facilities were expanded to additional two thousand hectares of land. Arrangements have been made for farmers to have easy access to high-quality seeds.

- Compared to the last year, the production of rice has increased by 8.9 percent. Maize production has risen by 3.5 percent and that of vegetables by 16.5 percent.

- The remote areas including the districts such as Dolpa, Mugu and Humla have received 103,145 quintals of food. According to Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, no place in the country had to face food crisis.

- Each educated but unemployed youth and the returnee from foreign countries has been provided with grants of two hundred thousand rupees for agricultural enterprises. Nineteen Custom Hiring Centres have been constructed under the Prime Minister Agriculture Modernization Project in order to advance agricultural mechanization. Additional 25 centers are under construction. Small farmers’ loan worth 1.32 billion rupees has been exempted.

Dear sisters and brothers,

- Seventeen thousand youths have been self-employed under the ‘Youth and Small Entrepreneurs Self-Employment Fund’.

- Over the last six months, the number of people going abroad for foreign employment has declined by 39.1 percent as compared to the same period of the last year. The remittance inflows have, however, gone up by 30.2 percent. The growth in national gross domestic product indicates that employment opportunities have been generated in the country.

- Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security has established eleven ‘Labour and Employment Offices’. Issuance of labour permits and other services concerning foreign employment have begun in all Provinces. This has ended the compulsion to travel to Kathmandu merely for obtaining labour permits. Applications from 20 thousand people, who returned from foreign employment in last three years, have been collected with a view to providing them with loans at minimum interest rates.

- Minimum wages of private sector workers have been increased by 39 percent with the mutual consent of employers and trade unions.

- Contribution-Based Social Security Scheme was launched on 27 November 2018. As of now, 950 enterprises of the employers have been registered in the Scheme and registration still continues.

- The implementation of this Scheme has ensured both the present and future of the workers. Creation of workers-friendly industrial environment has put an end to agitations and strikes.

- I inaugurated the ‘Prime Minister Employment Programme’ yesterday. This will prepare a database of both skilled and unskilled people looking for jobs and will help the Government ensure people’s right-to-employment as stipulated in the Constitution. These initiatives are directly related to our work and employment.

- The government has already started providing concessional loans and grants to those who want to work. The available loans range from three hundred thousand to 50 million rupees in seven different sectors. Arrangements have been made to guarantee a minimum level of employment to the jobless people. In case employment cannot be guaranteed, provisions are made for providing an unemployment allowance based on certain criteria.

- A handful of people who benefit without working and contributing labour will still be there to make noises of some sort.

- 309 drinking water projects have been completed over the last one year. Access to drinking water has been ensured to additional six hundred thousand people. Continuous efforts are being made to resolve problems related to Melamchi Drinking Water project and complete it at the earliest.

- Health insurance scheme has been implemented in 36 districts. The number of people covered by insurance has reached about 15 hundred thousand, which was about 7 hundred thousand before the formation of this government. Nepal is the first country in South Asia to have received a certificate for controlling the disease -Rubella.

- Two hundred and fifty-four thousand additional students were enrolled during the academic session of 2018-19. One hundred and twenty local Governments have declared that no child of school going age is outside the school. All students have been provided with books and stationery on time. This will continue this year too. This is only the second year when students were provided with books and stationery on time.

- While assuming the office one year ago, I had promised to ensure that technical education is provided from all Local Levels within two years of the formation of the present Government. CTEVT has established technical schools at 101 Local Levels this year alone. The CTEVT claims that this is the first time in history that technical schools in such significant number have been established in the country.

- Post-earthquake reconstruction gained momentum this year. 66,875 households received the first installment, 332,455 the second and 314, 502 the third installment of reconstruction grants. Reconstruction of 1,072 schools has been completed.

- As a plan to expand broadband connectivity to all Local Levels, free internet services for two years have been installed in 1,371 ward offices, 1,460 community secondary schools and 1,063 health centers.

- A campaign of incorporating online payment, license, land revenue, pan number, company registrar, social security fund, passport and registration into one single network is underway with a view to making services efficient through consolidation of information. The campaign of ‘Digital Nepal’ has been advanced, together with addressing the public grievances through ‘Hello Sarkar’ and monitoring the public offices through the digital portal. Work to ensure easy access of people to the Government services has been initiated through the “citizens’ rights app”.

- I have said, “Neither will I commit any act of corruption nor allow anyone to indulge in corruption”. It will be a mistake if anyone takes this commitment for granted. I want to make it clear- I have no second thought with regard to corrupt people and corruption.

- The machinery of good governance has been functioning well. Those who were involved in corruption in the past are enraged today. Those willing to indulge in corruption are frightened. Those who look for loopholes for corruption are agitated. What baffles me is that these are the same people who ‘lament’ in the media on the lack of good governance. It is an irony that even those who themselves admitted the act of corruption have now started questioning our integrity. Even those involved in petty business of seeking benefits in the regular transfer of civil servants are teaching us lessons of good governance.

- Still I hear the same complaint: “Where is the action against corruption?” Statistics are self-explanatory: 82 cases, of which 49 are related to revenue leakage and 33 to misuse of foreign exchange have been filed with a total claim amount and penalty of 7 billion 628 million and 252 thousand rupees against 99 individuals including 8 government officials.

- Cases have been filed against 33 individuals with a claim of penalty equal to thrice the claim amount of 5 billion 916 million and 96 thousand and 3 years of imprisonment for illegal transfer of currency through hundi system.

- Remarkable success has been achieved in dismantling the network and decimating criminal tendency of those indulged in gold-smuggling and other organized crimes. Out of 75 defendants, 46 have been arrested, 31 are absconding and 34 are under judicial custody for hearing. Assets and bank accounts of 36 of the accused have been frozen.

- A total of 29 companies, firms and construction houses failing to comply with the terms of the contract, not completing the work on time, and doing sub-optimal work have been black listed.

- Peace and security arrangements have been further strengthened through effective implementation of the security mechanisms. Organized hooliganism has been crushed.

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

- Comments are made against the present Government with the groundless allegations of ‘over-ambition, slow delivery, underdevelopment and counter-democratization’.

- I had a different picture in my heart, while I was living a life of hardship during the struggle against the autocratic regime for the establishment of democracy.

- That picture I had then in my heart has been manifested in the form of the motto of ‘Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali’.

- I have been reiterating time and again that Nepal will develop and we have to develop it. Yes, everything has a deadline. Time is limited, and so are people’s ability and knowledge. However, as I have always highlighted, there is no limit to integrity and no finite lifespan of loyalty. Those who work with integrity and loyalty do not need any additional training.

- After the elections, we have achieved political stability. This is manifest through parliament and other elected bodies. Now we are moving towards achieving economic stability. We know very well both what and who stand as challenges on our path. The stability that we have achieved may have become a curse for some. That is why, they are inclined towards undermining this political stability by fabricating facts and events and, based on that, spreading social unrest. As we march ahead with the historic goal of building a prosperous Nepal, we we have been able, armed with integrity and loyalty, to overcome such obstacles, and we remain steadfast in our commitment to do so.

- Constructive suggestions, comments and criticisms of the people are our guidelines. We always pay high respect to your sovereign rights to warn and caution the Government, which is elected with your trust and confidence, and carries your mandate with responsibility. Likewise, we always welcome the constructive criticisms from the opposition, media and civil society, which are an integral part of democracy. But, it will not be appropriate to attack democratic system, institutions, and social harmony in the name of criticism. It is also not good to disappoint people, portray negative image about the country’s future, and make the people frustrated by ventilating ill feelings with an aim of creating perpetual cycle of instability in society. History has bestowed responsibility on me as Prime Minister and Nepal Communist Party as the ruling party with strong popular mandate to establish a prosperous Nepal. We are merely the agents. This is our common campaign and we all are together in this journey. Happiness will surface in our faces and our heads will be held high only when our country becomes strong, developed and prosperous.

- Integrity is at the heart of Government’s activities. This year we have built a foundation for further work. Years ahead will be the years of achievements and success. On completion of the five-year term, as we go for next elections, we will be able to proudly declare that all the promises we made in the election manifesto have been fulfilled. We will have new and different dreams for Nepal and Nepali people.

Thank You.
14 February 2019


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