The caretaker government led by Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai has been stressing on double digit growth. The budget preparation is going on full swing and it is, according to the finance minister, supposed to prepare a base for double digit growth.
The idea of double digit growth in itself is not bad but in the absence of policy and political stability coupled with weak law and order situation domestic and foreign investors are losing confidence on the country. The political uncertainty has made the investors flee the country and some of them have already started campaigning for a law to invest abroad.
Not only the investors but also the common people — that the UCPN-Maoist claimed to be fighting for — are confused. The gap between the haves and have-nots is increasing. In the last one decade, the Gini-coefficient — that measures the income inequality among the entire population of the country — has increased from 34 to 47.3 indicating that the gap is widening further.
But, the UCPN-Maoist, instead of creating investment-friendly environment to attract investment that could create job and bridge the gap between the rich and poor, are involved in further lengthening the political transition for their political interest. After a decade-long people’s war — in their own words — that took the lives of thousands of Nepali youths, the UCPN-Maoist are concentrating now on state capturing instead of developing the nation. It took over half a century and thousands of people’s sacrifice for Maoist ideologue Dr Bhattarai to understand that Nepal needs to create jobs that could only reduce the inequalities in income level. It was in 1959 that the Nepali Congress government led by BP Koirala had envisioned increasing national income, bringing about fundamental changes in agriculture, providing adequate social welfare programmes for the people, solving the problem of unemployment and reducing the inequalities in income levels and the distribution of wealth.
But, the incumbent Prime Minister, who is prescribing the double digit growth has nothing different in the budget for the fiscal year 2012-13 to offer to the people from what BP’s government had in 1959, over half century ago.
The budget presented by the then finance minister Suvarna Shamsher on August 9, 1959 had cautioned against excessive dependence on foreign aid for development projects. But, the Bhattarai-led government has planned to get commitment of over Rs 100 billion in foreign aid instead of creating jobs inside the country that is only increasing the country’s dependence on foreign aid.
Though, the Maoist-led government time and again claims to create employment and bring inclusive growth, it was the Nepali Congress government led by BP Koirala in 1959, that had outlined employment creation and inclusive growth as BP Koirala strongly believed that economic disparity would bring friction and tension in the society. He was a visionary and had foreseen conflict in the making that the Maoist led in 1996. After a decade-long armed conflict that was based on the widening gap in the society between the rich and poor, the Maoists came to power, but failed to deliver.
For a decade, youths of this country were forced to go to the jungle and after a decade, with uncertain future, they are forced to search for their destiny in the Gulf countries. Dr Baburam Bhattarai came to power on August 28, 2011 and by the end of the 10th month of the current fiscal year some 413,471 youths have left the country in search of greener pasture, due to the government’s failure in creating jobs for them. Prime Minister BP Koirala on June 26, 1960 — at a press conference of the second five-year plan — had spelt out his goal to create 50,000 new jobs and increasing national income by 30 per cent. BP Koirala knew that the country had twin problems of unemployment and poverty, and without creating employment and more investment in agriculture, the economy could not grow.
If the Maoists are claiming that the country has moved forward, they are wrong. The country is rather moving backwards half a century as the Maoist ideologue Dr Bhattarai is prescribing the same solution for the country that BP Koirala did in 1959. For a decade from 1996 to 2006, the Maoists had destroyed the infrastructure and agriculture forcing the people to leave their farm and shift to the urban areas for security, and after they entered into the peace agreement in 2006 and ascended the power being the largest party in the Constituent Assembly, they destroyed the governance, policies and the hopes of the Nepalis by forcing the industries to shut down thereby increasing unemployment and destroying the economy.
As if it was not enough, instead of promulgating the Constitution, they forced the Constituent Assembly to die on May 27, and send the country to a never-ending political transition. Never in the history of the country, the political parties were so weak and the society so divided.The Maoists have used the power to hijack the economy and captured the state as they have been repeatedly claiming, but the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML never took it seriously, adding to the woes of the people further.