EDITORIAL: Revamp policy

The wide gap of understanding between the government agencies and locals often lead to delays in constructing the national priority projects

The government, policymakers and development experts always find it difficult to complete national priority projects, be it a hydropower project, road, irrigation canal or transmission line, on time due to fierce opposition or obstruction from the locals.

It takes a lot of time and energy to prepare a detailed project report (DPR) and financing modality of any project.

When the necessary legal and ground works are completed the given project faces adversities at the sites and local level because of the demands not earlier conceived by the experts and policymakers.

The wide gap of understanding between the government’s implementing agencies and local communities often lead to delay in constructing the national priority projects on time.

It is one of the reasons why the government seems to be weak in spending capital. There are several factors that need to be taken into account before launching development projects.

The 456-megawatts Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Ltd., 132 kV Thankot-Chapagaon-Bhaktapur and 220 kV Khimti-Dhalkebar transmission line projects and conversion of single circuit Hetauda-Kulekhani-II-Siuchatar transmission line into a double circuit transmission line have been delayed by years due to obstructions from the locals.

The locals often demand huge amount as compensation for their land to be acquired by the concerned project.

The project, on the other hand, hardly holds discussions with the locals, and whatever budget the project keeps aside for land acquisition is barely enough to meet local expectations.

This has led to the poor spending of capital of the development budget. Financial Comptroller General Office has revealed that the government was able to spend only 77 percent of funds allocated for capital spending which stands at 5.51 percent of the gross domestic product.

However, the purchase of vehicles and other logistics supports seem to have reached as high as 94 percent. It is the civil works that is lagging behind at around 64 percent.

A sorry state of affairs is that the Ministry of Finance allocates full amount of budget on time. But the line ministries do not provide the allocated budget to the implementing agencies of the project.

The frequent delay in releasing the budget creates resource crunch to the project.

This kind of bureaucratic hassle and red tape hampers all kinds of development works and the private sector and public are always deprived of reaping maximum benefits from the government’s capital spending.

The most disturbing scenario is that there is no clear carrot-and-stick policy for timely execution of any government-funded project that may stimulate the economy and generate employment opportunity at the national and local level.

A National Planning Commission (NPC) finding shows that only seven percent of the civil servants perform their duty sincerely.

The rest only create bureaucratic hurdles to the project. The NPC finding must be implemented to end such anomalies. The existing trend of treating all civil servants equally needs to be changed if priority projects are to be completed on time.

Civil servants with a sound track record of performing well must be given the responsibility to handle the project, and they must be given additional incentives and promotion for the job well done.

Drug racket

The police succeeded in busting an international drug smuggling racket Wednesday including foreigners and Nepalese.

The police have also managed to seize a huge quantity of drugs worth around Rs. 53.6 million in the illegal drug market. The drug traffickers were attempting to smuggle the contraband to China from Kathmandu.

The Narcotics Control Bureau of the Nepal Police made the seizure. The racket had its origin in Venezuela.

It is generally believed that these days Nepal is becoming a hub for the drug traffickers because of its relatively poor security. The smuggling of drugs knows no boundaries these days.

Nepal should tighten up its security at the Tribhuvan International Airport and also at the border check points in order to foil the nefarious racket of dealing with the illicit drug. Some of the drug traffickers arrested were in the world’s list of the most-wanted drug smugglers.

Efforts must be made worldwide to deal with the menace of drug trafficking.