EDITORIAL: Strike a balance

It is the duty of the government to take care of the needy but it should also do its service within its capacity and take into account the future implications of any such freebie

In the past quarter of a century, the government has provided allowance of one kind or another to some needy sections of society, including to the elderly people who have completed their seventy years of age. In a country where financial resources are very limited with numerous needs claiming resources, the need to balance the resources and the competing needs is of utmost importance. For the elderly people, those who do not have any income such as pension or enough bank balance and interest income, even a small monthly allowance can mean much. At present, elderly citizens receive two thousand rupees per month. But even this allowance when disbursed to many people comes to a whopping amount for the government. Now the government is planning to provide a monthly financial assistance of Rs. 5,000 to poverty-stricken patients suffering from cancer, kidney or paralysis caused by spinal injury. The proposal is awaiting endorsement at the Cabinet. These kinds of patients already get some financial assistance or subsidized or free treatment services. This additional assistance is apart from the one lakh rupees that the government provides to them.

Any help provided to the needy should be viewed in a positive light. But the need for a balance should always be kept in mind. Among the political parties, the tendency to populism has been increasing in order to capture the imagination and support of the vote banks. Even those parties which were not liberal in the past in doling out such freebies are now seen to be trying not to fall behind other parties in becoming popular. This tendency should be checked. The resources of the government, the competing needs of various sectors and sections of society, and other factors should be weighed to promote a balanced development. And how best to utilize the available resources to serve the needy should also be explored so that optimum use of those resources is ensured and the really needy people get the free services or the government allowances.

Regarding the proposed assistance, the government seeks to generate the money needed through an additional tax called the health security tax on tobacco and alcohol, and the money will be collected in the Health Security Fund. The proposed assistance will involve Rs.78 crore in the current fiscal year. In the fiscal year 2016-17, 4,271 people received subsidized haemodialysis service, 142 people received kidney transplantation, and 198 are under medication after the transplantation. Similarly, 8,643 people have received assistance for cancer treatment so far in this fiscal year. The government has a Poverty Stricken Citizens Fund to help patients suffering from such diseases as cardiovascular ailment, cancer, kidney failure, head and spinal injury, and stroke. More than 17,000 people have benefited from this programme. It is the duty of the government to take care of the needy but it should also do its service within its capacity and take into account the future implications of any such freebies. And the outgoing government should not do such things in a hurry to earn some public credit.

Controlling crimes

The Department of Transport Management is planning to install digitally-enhanced radio frequency identification (RFID) gates at major entry points to the Kathmandu Valley. This system will help the government authorities to track the movement of vehicles after they pass through the RFID gates. The gates will read the chips installed on the vehicles’ number plates and the law enforcement agencies can easily identify the location of any

vehicles through GPS. This system will come into force once all the vehicles are installed with embossed number plates in which details of the vehicles are attached.

The department officials said that the embossed number plates will help the police track the location of those vehicles, curb vehicle theft and also reveal the tax details of such vehicles. The vehicles can be detected only after they pass through those gates. Initially, such RFID gates will be set up in five places namely Nagdhunga, Sanga, Tinpiple and Jorpati. The department is in the process of acquiring land to install the RFID gates. The main objective of setting up those gates is to control criminal activities using vehicles and identify their locations.