Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli addressed the nation on Tuesday. But frankly, his address does not inspire optimism, confidence, and hope among the people who have been struggling to keep going during these hard days of lockdown. The PM has touched on all aspects. He talked about the deaths of Nepalis abroad, spoke of how many are infected across the world and in Nepal, how suspected people are being put in quarantine, what is the situation of Nepalis returning home from India stuck at the border due to lockdown, how the government is providing additional facilities to the health professionals working from the frontline, how it is coordinating and working together with provincial and local governments in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, so on and so forth. He urged all to stay home to remain safe and asked to maintain physical distancing, asked foreign returnees to stay in quarantine for at least 14 days and also informed that he had started holding talks with the head of states/governments to take stock of Nepali nationals in various countries. Appreciating the role played by media, he urged them to disseminate positive news and information to encourage people to be strong enough to cope up with adversity.
Most of what he said sounds like the contents of the daily brief by the health ministry. The country expects concrete work plans during such times rather than assurances. The PM has given a lot of assurances but he has to have plans for some of the vital things. What is the plan for the recovery of the economy? It was expected that he would announce some actions against those who are found involved in corruption in the procurement of medical logistics. Various media reports have shown that individuals working with the PM’s office, including his advisors and consultants, are into this immoral game. Some of the people working with him are even said to be involved in hacking an online news portal. All that he had to say about this was that he would take action if anyone has committed irregularities at this hour of national crisis.
Honestly, the PM stated the problems we all are familiar with and updated us about the happenings across the country and beyond, which, again, we already know about. He did not announce any concrete plans. The economy is suffering. All businesses have been shut down. What is the plan to revive them? Agriculture can provide a cushion for our recovery. But what is the plan for reviving rural agriculture? People would like to know from their PM where they have to go if they encounter problems, how those problems can be solved and what the government will do. For example, a number of wage laborers and those working in the informal sector have lost their income. If the lockdown continues they will be hit hardest. What is the plan to address their problems? PM’s address sounded like a mere formality. The PM said the next two weeks can be critical in Nepal’s fight against the pandemic. The next two weeks are also extremely critical for the government to address the problems the pandemic has created.