The governments of the past seven decades have largely worked for their own survival, by pleasing powerful elites
On the day of its formal announcement on June 12, 2015, Naya Shakti Nepal unveiled its vision for economic growth with the slogan “prosperity is possible in our own life time.” We hope to end poverty, bad governance, corruption and socio-economic inequality. In fact, the party has been established to materialize the dream of prosperity.
Existing parties have made prosperity only a slogan. The governments in past seven decades have worked only for their survival, pleasing powerful elites, and allocating the country’s scare resources unequally. As a result, they failed to bring any positive impact on livelihoods of common citizens. Bad governance, corruption, centralization of resources, inefficiency and negligence marked our governance. Government incompetence and bureaucratic hurdles discouraged private investors. Ineffective service delivery made people suffer. In this condition, what should Naya Shakti do to achieve its goal of prosperity?
It should, when it comes to power, work to uproot corruption, end bad governance as well as the state of centralization of resources in order to expedite economic growth and inclusive development. It should end Asare bikas—the current trend of hastening construction only at the end of fiscal year. This practice drains 40 to 60 percent of the budget, and contributes to poor-quality work and corruption.
We need to start with timely procurement and fund disbursement. Timely implementation and completion of projects and programs within stipulated time should be another priority. A strong monitoring and supervisory system should be in place, along with strict rewards and punishments.
Then we must end bureaucratic hurdles to encourage private investors, while we also work to ensure efficient and effective service delivery. Enhancement of knowledge, skill and expertise of youths and getting them involved in nation building should also be our concern.
Naya Shakti should aim to identify priority areas of development with tangible outcomes and economic benefits for the public. Likewise, it should set aside substantial budget in those priority sectors. The emphasis should be attracting both domestic and international private sector partners in big projects. For this we need to create conducive business climate and a one-window policy.
Rapid development of infrastructures such as highways, roads, railways, and cable cars should be another priority. This will help enhance accessibility, which in turn will contribute to rapid economic growth. We need to develop more domestic and international airports to attract foreign tourists.
Equally important is harnessing our hydro potential. Electricity is a major requirement, in running households to setting up big industries to modernizing farming with the use of latest technology. Development of both physical infrastructure and hydropower will create enormous job opportunities for the youth, boosting both agricultural and industrial productivity and reviving rural as well as urban markets.
If we can develop electric-power-run transport systems, railways, and cable cars, our dependency on imported fuel will drastically decrease, saving hard currency which can be used for other development purposes. Extra electricity can then be sold to neighboring countries.
Simultaneously, our focus should be rapid development of agriculture with maximum use of advanced technology. This will help us achieve food self-sufficiency in next five to seven years. While fertile lands of Tarai plains should be used for food production, the mountain and hill lands should be used for producing and marketing high-value products of comparative advantages such as herbs.
Tourism can be a great source of prosperity for Nepal. If we can attract three million tourists a year, it can have multiplier effects in all development sectors such as services, agriculture, transport and youth employment. Three to five million youths will then find jobs in tourism sector. Service sectors associated with tourism such as transport, hotels/restaurants and travel agencies and other entertainment services will accommodate more millions of youths.
With increasing demand for high-value food, vegetables, fruits and meat, eggs and dairy products by an expanded tourism sector, our agriculture will also get a boost.
ICT should be used for promoting agriculture, education and health sectors. We will have to build pollution-free smart cities and smart markets as well.
We need to provide quality education and practical knowledge, skill and expertise to youths to prepare competent employees and enable them to be self-employed entrepreneurs. Health and sanitation and safe drinking water services should be made easily accessible, which in turn can considerably reduce current health hazards and diseases.
Naya Shakti has a visionary leadership with the ability to change the country’s development course. It should put the youth force at the centre stage of its economic prosperity agenda and develop plans accordingly. No party has done this. Naya Shakti should.
The author is the Chief of Labor, Cooperative and Self-employment Department, Naya Shakti Nepal. He holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics from Cornell University, US