Nepal | November 16, 2019

Will the elections pave way for stability, development?

Pushpa Raj Acharya

During election campaign, all political parties have said that the country missed the opportunity to move towards accelerated path of development due to long political transition

Kathmandu, December 5

The parliamentary and provincial assembly elections have been portrayed as the major juncture to embark towards stability and economic development by the political parties. Independent analysts also believe that the elections will finally end the long political transition as it is a critical step for the execution of the new Constitution.

The country has not been able to make any significance progress in the last two decades as it faced decade-long armed conflict followed by long political transition. Conflicts, unstable governments, donation drives, ransom demands, labour unrest and power outages adversely affected the economy, which resulted in soaring unemployment rates and rampant outmigration of youth in the last two decades.

“Inefficiency of the bureaucracy and red tape were also witnessed as major problems during this period,” analysed Yubraj Khatiwada, former vice-chairman of National Planning Commission. “Now we are finally seeing a silver lining in the clouds, as three layers of administration are set to be formed as per the provision of the new Constitution.”

Local units have been provided resources along with autonomy so that they can fulfil their development goals. After the parliamentary and provincial elections, there will be a new government with people’s mandate to execute stable plans, policies and development programmes, according to Khatiwada.

Similarly, former finance secretary Rameshwore Khanal opined that the political parties have been polarised as left versus democrat during the elections. It has signalled political stability in the country because small political forces have aligned either with democrats or left, and in the future, such parties will come under the umbrella of larger parties.

“When a new government with a new political mandate is formed it will drive the country with long-term vision and plans and the government will have time to implement the vision,” Khanal said. “After the elections, there will be a stable government and a strong opposition, which will set the stage for competitive politics and end the complicity witnessed in the past when the country moved through a long political transition.”

During the election campaign, all the political parties have said that the country missed the opportunity to move towards accelerated path of development due to long political transition. “The fundamental rights enshrined by the new constitution like basic education, health care, decent work, food sovereignty and social security, among others, will be achieved after implementation of the constitution and this election is vital for that to happen,” said Khatiwada.

“The Constitution has also talked about prosperity, which is economic development, well being, happiness of the people and being well to prosper in several aspects including political, social, economic and environmental, and most of the political parties have defined their roadmap for the prosperity as envisioned by the Constitution.”

Khatiwada believes that the election manifesto of the parties is their long-term plan to drive the country towards attaining prosperity and people are alert about the promises made by the elected representatives. “The political changes have raised the aspiration of development among people, and the political parties cannot derail from their commitment, they have to deliver.”

To deliver on the promises, generating resources to finance development programmes are of major concern.

As per the cost estimation of implementing sustainable development goals (SDGs), which ensures the well-developed status of the country through its full-fledged implementation by 2030, the country has to invest 49 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) for next 13 years, as per Khatiwada.

As the country’s current revenue collection is around 22 per cent of GDP, while expenditure is 40 per cent of GDP, Khatiwada said that if revenue is raised to 30 per cent (of the GDP) and foreign aid flow increases by another 10 per cent, there will be enough fiscal space to execute the development programmes to move forward.

On the other hand, there will be space for domestic borrowing and also mobilising the foreign loans. Currently, the total sum of domestic and foreign debt is at around five per cent and 24 per cent of the GDP, respectively.

“If the country starts progressing and executing mega projects, it will create synergy for development, for private sector to grow, and in this stage we can easily raise the debt up to 60 per cent of the GDP,” Khatiwada said. “Development will not be constrained by resource crunch and the political parties will be able to translate their words into action in fulfilling the aspirations of people.”

A version of this article appears in print on December 06, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.

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