Good governance, transparency and accountability are the notions which seem to be non-existent for the present caretaker government and its members. Not only in recent times, but since Prime Minister Bhattarai has been running the state affairs, every step has been directed to wreck the semblance of good governance, transparency and accountability. This is playing havoc with the people’s right to the government services with the minimum amount of hassles and red tape. What makes news now is that the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development has dissolved a semi-autonomous watchdog of governance and accountability namely Local Governance and Accountability Facility. The clarification provided by the ministry for the dissolution of the facility is a resource crunch. In fact, some 33 per cent of the annual budget of the facility comes from donors. The facility was involved in ensuring good governance at the local level since the past four years. Its sudden demise will be looked as a government attempt to stifle all bodies that were directed at promoting good governance and accountability. The facility, which had its representatives nominated by the donor agencies, civil society, the government and the local body association, had been active in ensuring transparency in the local bodies, which obviously strengthened good governance and accountability.
Making a body active in bringing about a semblance of good governance and accountability at the local level defunct would obviously mean that the intention of the government is to misuse the development funds to its liking. The recent days have been replete with the government going overboard with the budgetary allocation according to its whims and fancies, that is sans accountability and against the norms of good governance. It is true that the said body had not been able to function to its full extent at the local level as there are reports of the all-party mechanism splitting the fund allocated amongst themselves at the expense of development activities. Now, this one watchdog too has
been removed clearing the way for financial
anomalies and irregularities to increase at the
local level, which has been sans people’s representatives for over a decade. Even with such large scale misuse of development funds, no thoughts have crossed the minds of the political leaders to agree on holding the local elections.
Every action that the government takes is to clear all that stands as hurdles to its aim of making hay while the sun shines, as there is no parliament in place. The logic is all too obvious. The adamancy of the coalition partners to not leave their way is plain. It seems that they have got the caretaker status to go about misusing the budgetary allocations without making any contribution to making the life of the people tolerable. Without the now dissolved watchdog, the government will have a free rein on the local level development funds, which can be channeled to the respective parties represented in the all party mechanism that oversees local development. With no watchdog around, the freedom to misuse the development funds will facilitate development activities to come to a virtual standstill.
Nepal happens to be one of the most earthquake prone countries. Should a major earthquake strike the casualties could reach staggering figures. Yet, little efforts are being made to mitigate the damages that could occur from such quakes. There is every need to be prepared for the earthquakes, which can lead to extensive damages and loss of precious lives. Despite knowing this, many buildings are being built without following the building codes. Such buildings could collapse easily wreaking havoc. It is with a degree of satisfaction that the news that some schools in the capital have been retrofitted against the risk of major earthquakes should be taken.
The school children have been taught what safety measures they should be taking when the earthquakes take place. This is indeed a commendable move for the children will spread this knowledge throughout society as a whole. By retrofitting the schools, the necessary steps have been taken to save the lives of thousands of school children. Ultimately, it is in the interest of all if more public buildings as well as private houses were retrofitted.