Prime Minister, tell us the truth

Published On: January 8, 2019 02:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli seems bent on misinforming people to hide inefficiency of his administration which is already failing to live up to its promise on development, prosperity, transparency, rule of law and good governance. This became stark during his briefing in the parliament on Sunday. First, he lied to the parliament about the contract awarded to Huawei’s subsidiary company, China Communications Services (CCS), for a Digital Action Room (DAR) at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). He told the House that Video Conferencing System for DAR was contracted to the said company through a competitive bidding, while the truth is procurement was made without competitive bidding and the public procurement law was violated. Available evidences show the contract was awarded to Huawei through direct negotiations. Even the notice issued by National Information Technology Center (NITC) calling for an open competition to set up the conferencing system was canceled reportedly following the intervention by PM’s chief political adviser Bishnu Rimal and honorary IT consultant at his office, Asgar Ali.

PM Oli also presented wrong picture of the country’s economy either by excluding key information or by manipulating facts. The trade deficit, for example, has widened to Rs 454.48 billion in the first four months of the current fiscal year, and the export-import ratio has slid down to 6.1 percent in the review period from 7.4 percent in the corresponding period of last fiscal year, according to Nepal Rastra Bank report published two weeks ago. But Oli would have us believe trade deficit has increased by only 1.5 percentage points in the first three months of current fiscal. Inflow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has also dwindled by more than 50 percent in the first four months. PM claimed to the contrary: he said the number of foreign investment projects has increased by 25 percent. PM said International Monetary Fund has projected the growth to be above 6.5 percent. Truth is, IMF’s projection has not been higher than five percent. The overall progress in national pride projects is below satisfactory but Oli claimed otherwise. 

This points to troubling signs. What the Prime Minister told the parliament is far removed from reality. Second, lying to the people from the parliament rostrum and by the head of the government is no small mistake. In the developed countries, when the prime ministers or presidents lie to the parliament it results in grave punishment—including possible threats of impeachment and dethronement from power. In the US, several commentators are pitching for President Donald Trump’s impeachment precisely because he is found to be spreading lies and misinformation. In Nepal, people are fast losing trust in the government because prime minister and his cabinet colleagues have started resorting to lies and misinformation to justify their mis/conducts and to present them in a positive light.  But at this age of technology, when nothing can be hidden, government leaders must realize that every claim is tested with facts and data. The prime minister should realize that he is being watched by media and the public alike. He should rectify one after other mistake his administration is making and then at least tell the people truth. 

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