Don’t compete, collaborate

The story I mentioned above is just a consequence of the pervasive rent seeking culture. When people elect representatives, they expect the politicians to work in the larger interest of the society. But once these politicians make it to ministries, they come up with plans that serve a few interest groups. When I was in school, I used to hear from my elders that the Daijee-Bedkot road (in Kanchanpur) would be an alternative to the Bhimdatta Panta Highway to connect the Tarai region to hilly districts of the then far-western region. But later I heard that a handful of people, including some political leaders and businessmen, of Dhangadhi and Attariya (Kailali) obstructed the development of Daijee-Bedkot project. The reason given was: if the Daijee-Bedkot road was developed as an alternative to Bhimdatta Panta Highway, the market would shift to Daijee, leaving Dhangadhi and Attariya high and dry. The Daijee-Bedkot road is in a state of limbo now.

There is an utter lack of coordination and cooperation among ministries and government agencies. I was listening to an interview of Kulman Ghising, executive director of Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), recently in which he was talking about a tussle between the Department of Roads and the NEA over electricity lines and road construction.

If such conflicts continue at the central level, sooner or later we can expect the same at provincial and local levels as well.

It will be awful if provincial and local governments start becoming obstacles to each other’s development projects. The Centre hence should lead by example to ensure that governments at lower levels function in a proper way through the culture of coordination, cooperation and collaboration.

As the country strives for rapid economic growth, governments at all levels must work in tandem, while the Centre should play the role of the facilitator.

Rent seeking culture must come to an end and those who hold power and positions must put the larger interest of the society and the country at the centre, rising above partisan interests. The constitution and laws have clearly identified the powers and jurisdictions of all levels of government. Leaders should comply with rules and regulations. They should not compete to fulfil their petty interests, they should collaborate. Concerted efforts, cooperation and collaboration only can help us achieve development and prosperity.