Development roadmap : Needs long-term vision and planning

Formed as a result of the victory of the recent people’s movement, the new government is historically a powerful one. But it also has unprecedented responsibilities in fulfilling the people’s aspirations. In this context, firstly, the government has to immediately address the political problems based on the 12-point agreement reached between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists with the goal of bringing complete democracy and giving top priority to arms management.

Secondly, since the economy is on the verge of collapse witnessing a deserted path of development growth during the last five years, the government should move ahead with a revolutionary economic package in line with the highly encouraging enthusiasm of donor countries and agencies. For this, it has to set a broad-based geographical development roadmap with rigorous and intensive alternatives in consultation with experts as well as by sharing the experiences of the similarly placed countries. The experts and the civil society members are waiting to offer their help at any time and on any given issue. Let’s hope that the impending economic policy framework in the form of the development roadmap for new Nepal would be a farsighted one.

The government, however, is in a tightrope to manage the day-to-day liquidity problem. Corrupt practices need to be stopped in revenue-generating areas while security and other unproductive expenditures should immediately be curtailed, followed by budgetary allocation in the conflict-hit areas. The government’s liability has to be cleared with the active participation of the local people and institutions. The government has to set its priority around medium and long-term targets with short-term operational framework effective for immediate result-oriented actions in the conflict-hit areas. For this, the government needs to estimate the destroyed infrastructure and rehabilitation cost, along with a rescue plan for local employment generating activities by persuading the donor community to help since the overall environment is now favourable for conducting such activities. Also to convince the donor community, the government has to provide a fillip to economic diplomacy by appointing more competent professional envoys to friendly nations.

As a lesson from past experiences, the major political parties should be cautious of the unethical professionals as well as dubious bureaucrats who might play nefarious games to be in proximity with different power centres. Such elements, which played a significant role in the process of regression, could further boomerang if the selection process does not tightly screen the political appointments. The leaders should keep in mind that the professionally ethical people in general might not show their preference for slavery by influencing the power-centres by any means. The government could easily follow the norms of testing their career path, including their attitude and ideology, professionalism, image, etc. The recent decision of dismissing the political appointees of the autocratic regime has rebuilt peoples’ confidence in the government. The vacuum needs to be filled by professionals. But given the past experience of the practice of favouritism resorted to by the powerful political leaders, it is but natural for the people to doubt their intentions now as well in matter of diplomatic and other appointments.

Similarly, the government should direct all public sector entities to prepare and present publicly the overall activities of the recent past and the present status so that the government can be in a better position to make informed decisions. The government should also set performance criterion, which can be reviewed, at least, on quarterly basis, in which comparable indicators may serve as initial evaluation criteria.

Last but not the least, the recently constituted judicial commission is good news for probing the actions and punishing those involved in suppressing and committing atrocities against the peoples’ movement. But going by the past experiences, the people are not in a position to believe in real implementation of the commission’s report. The people wish to see the Mallik Commission report as the first part and Rayamajhi Commission report as the second part of the investigations so that combined actions against the guilty could be initiated within the legal framework.

Nonetheless, the government should pay due attention for constituting an independent economic commission or a working team to investigate the irregularities committed during the autocratic regime. This commission will technically be a supplementary one for conducting the judicial probe. The democratic governments of the past, while constituting the property investigation commission, offered a clean cheat to various corrupt officials of the pre-democratic regime and thus committed a blunder of providing opportunity for the democrats to take revenge.

Dr Paudel is ex-economic advisor, NRB