EDITORIAL: Give priority

Nepalese economic reforms are driven by the guiding principles, policies and priorities of mainly multilateral aid agencies

It is true that many of the economic reforms in the country are either stalling or being abandoned because of frequent changes of government, on average, hardly of more than one year’s duration. Experts and even politicians agree with this assessment. But this is true not only in recent years but of the several decades after the overthrow of the Rana regime in 1950. To take an example from the current period, the legal and administrative reforms announced through the fiscal budget of 2014-15 aimed at providing a boost to the national economy seem to be hanging in the air, with only some of the three dozen laws, policies and regulations so far amended, such as the Industrial Enterprise Act, Special Economic Zone Act, and Bank and Financial Institution Act. Other highly important economic and financial bills are yet to be tabled and endorsed by Parliament. The reform agenda has not received high priority as political parties and lawmakers seem to have been involved too deeply in political and other issues and frequent changes of government have largely disturbed the focus on economic reforms.

Government instability is responsible not only for failure to complete economic reforms but also many other reforms. With a change of government, priorities change as various political parties have different priorities for development and other issues; partisan and personal egos and the tendency to claim credit for oneself also lead government and their leaders to move in different directions not only on economic matters but on political, foreign policy, and other matters as well. If we study the national budgets of a number of years and look for what policies and programmes have been continued or implemented or abandoned, we will get a clear picture of the lack of singleness of purpose. Moreover, Nepalese economic reforms are driven by the guiding principles and policies and priorities of mainly multilateral aid agencies such as the World Bank and the IMF. Their priorities have also changed over the years and these changes are heavily reflected in our economic reform programmes. It will be clear if we also study their changing policies and programmes over the decades and the changes in the economic policies and priorities of the Government of Nepal as a result.

But we have not been able to carry out such policies in an effective and efficient manner. That has compounded our economic problems, along with its unpleasant consequences for other sectors of national life. This failure has made it very difficult to maintain or speed up the economic momentum gained by the implementation of some policies. The lack of coordination or collaborative efforts between various ministries has created problems for the implementation of government’s policies and programmes. While such coordination is necessary, a broad agreement between the major political parties on some of the most important issues and agendas of the country is even more important, such as on certain major economic issues, foreign policy, defence policy, matters of national sovereignty and other vital national interests. On these, our political parties and their leaders have miserably failed so far, which does not bode well for Nepal and Nepalese.

Seasonal diseases

Those with diseases like influenza, diarrhea, common cold and allergy have surged in the capital city as they are mostly seasonal and occur during the summer. Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital at Teku has reported an increase of such cases coming to the hospital. Health experts advice among other things to drink safe water which have been boiled and filtered as this and contaminated food are responsible for diarrhea. It is also advised to wash one’s hands with soap and water before eating. The Kathmandu Valley witnesses many cases of influenza and cholera due to the lack of hygiene.

Staying away from crowds, dust and smoke would also help protect one from various communicable diseases. Medical attention should be sought when there are certain symptoms of the diseases at the initial stages. It is always advisable to take preventive measures rather than curative in health matters.

This would go a long way in the prevention of various diseases which is possible if all the necessary precautions are taken.  It is high time that proper actions were taken to see to it that hygiene is maintained and for this awareness among the people should be generated.