EDITORIAL: Decide soon

The government should not hesitate to do away with any such organization if it proves to be a white elephant

The Sajha Prakashan or Publications is fighting a grim battle for its financial survival.

The sixty-year-old publishing house, which in its earlier years had operated under two other names, was later transformed as cooperatives with a sizeable government stake in it.

As a result, the government’s representatives have a deciding say in its operations. A glance at the composition of its governing body and its top management reflects the dominance of political figures in it.

Of late the publishing house has been spearheading a “Save the Sajha Campaign” and been urging political and government leaders to help save it from drowning. Six decades ago when private publishing houses were virtually non-existent in Nepal, this entity had been established to promote the Nepali language, literature and culture, etc.

Since then several dozens of Nepali publishing houses have come into existence and publishing books as the Sajha does and going strong in the process.

In its most recent move, the Sajha management has issued a 15-day ultimatum to Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli presenting him with three alternatives.

The first seeks the privilege of distributing the textbooks of the community schools and of doing other work as in the past, along with a bailout grant of Rs.300 million to clear its debts or a soft loan of Rs. 400 million.

The second option expects the government to take responsibility for the Sajha’s employees, debts, properties and overall management.

The third course of action proposes downsizing the organization, which includes laying off its employees, and clearing its debts by evaluating its liquid and fixed assets.

With a major government stake in it, it is indeed the government’s responsibility to consider the best course of action and take it soon enough.

Organizations like the Sajha are supposed to generate their own profit and stand on their own feet. Three proposed courses of action should not, however, be treated separately.

An organization in deep financial trouble should first take drastic action to minimize its expenses, including employee cuts. Even if the government decides to bail it out with a grant or a soft loan, will the Sajha start making a profit soon enough so that it will not land itself in the same trouble again?

Retrenchment is the first thing that the government should see that the Sajha does. And it should also find a better way of ensuring that the Sajha management acts professionally and competes with private publishing houses.

It should also consider giving it the job of distributing the government schools’ textbooks if it can do the job reasonably efficiently without additional cost. Or the government can fully take it over bringing it under its relevant department under the education ministry.

While so many private publishing houses have been doing the same job as the Sajha and the government has an academy too which also publishes books on language, literature, culture, etc, is the continued existence of the Sajha essential?

These and other related aspects should be fully discussed and the best option should be taken. But the government should not hesitate to do away with any such organization if it proves to be a white elephant.

Who let them out

Stray cattle in the capital city has proved to be a perennial problem and so far the drive to deal with this has proved to be in vain over the years.

The cattle particularly obstruct traffic on the ring road. Apart from this the cattle has made the city dirty.

The Kathmandu Metropolitan City staff collect these once or twice every week and auction as well as sell them. The KMC has been auctioning around 500 cattle every year. There are around 1,300 cattle in the Kathmandu Valley and these are kept by 125 households.

Each of these households own three to 14 cattle.

The stray cattle comprises around 95 per cent old cows and oxen and five per cent of them are calves. Although the KMC has been auctioning stray for over 10 years yet their population remains the same.

This calls for concrete measures to control their population. The owners of the stray cattle should be penalized. This calls for the cattle owners to be responsible and not let them loose on the streets.

It is a pity that so far the KMC is being plagued by stray cattle posing as traffic hazards in particular. The stray cattle should not be allowed to do so.