EDITORIAL: For quicker pace

This government’s success will depend largely on how effectively it deals with the pressing challenges

After more than one month since it assumed power, the KP Sharma Oli-led coalition government has brought out a white paper on the present economic situation caused by some Madhesi parties’ agitation in central Tarai and the blockade on Nepali imports by land for more than two months. Experts’ assessments have shown that the financial losses caused to the country during these two months have gone well beyond the losses caused to the economy by the April 25 disastrous earthquake and its aftershocks. The white paper, made public by Finance Minister Bishnu Paudel on Tuesday, focuses on two key areas of food and energy security. The government has promised to make the supplies of necessary goods such as petroleum products smooth and to find alternatives. It has repeated its pledge to expedite the reconstruction and rehabilitation works for the earthquake-affected areas and people, to take steps necessary to build new hydroelectric projects and transmission lines and promote alternative energy. It has also pledged to release the promised amount of Rs.200, 000 to those earthquake-affected people who lost their houses in four installments, with the first installment beginning soon, as well as making arrangement for subsidized housing loans for them.

Fears of looming humanitarian crisis have been expressed by a number of people and institutions if the present situation continues. The white paper has sought to assure the public about such worries. The white paper is broadly in harmony with the priorities set by Prime Minister Oli in his recent address to the nation which focused on the difficulties created by the blockade and the agitation and outlined how the government would try to get out of this problem. Towards greater energy safety, the white paper has emphasized incentive packages to promote alternative energy and micro-hydel projects. Under this policy, solar plants will be expanded in urban areas and bio-gas in rural areas and the 1200-MW Budhi Gandaki and the 410-MW Nalsing Gad hydropower projects will be speedily completed. Similarly, to boost food production, several schemes have been outlined, including subsidy and cash grants to landless families and easier loans for small farmers.

The government has received considerable public support for its stance that it will not make any compromises with anybody at the cost of the core interests of the country and the people. Both the government’s stance and the public support are well placed. That said, however, ultimately any government will be judged by its performance. Though some of the list of things that the Prime Minister said the government would do were not mentioned in the white paper, it does not necessarily mean that the government has dropped those things. While the government’s determination expressed in public has inspired many Nepalese with hope, there is still the lurking suspicion among some that the government has not been able to move forward things as fast as the urgency of the situation demands. Any government in such a situation as the present is supposed to work the way it should work in war time. This government’s success will therefore depend largely on how effectively it deals with the pressing challenges.

Nab the culprits

As already suspected many petrol pumps in the country are found fleecing the consumers. The police coordinating with the Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology raided 19 petrol pumps in the capital and nabbed owners of seven petrol pumps and four owners have been fleeing. These raids have been conducted for three days and those arrested face legal action. The petrol pump owners are found to tampering the fuel meters. By this they are able to dispense less fuel than what the consumers are paying for. Remote control devises are used for the purpose fitted with the help of technicians.

Such devises have been used for long and the wrongdoers have so far been able to get away with this nefarious act. They dispense less fuel to the tune of four per cent. This outright cheating should not be tolerated under any circumstances and the so-called technicians involved in this racketeering should be brought to book.