The public does not believe what they have disclosed is true. Their sources of known taxable income are non-transparent and do not tally with their lifestyles
The Office of the Prime Minister on Wednesday made public property details of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal and 30 other cabinet ministers.
Eight other state ministers have yet to make public their property details. The government ministers’ property details were disclosed about four months after they assumed office whereas it was required to do so within 15 days of assuming their respective offices.
It is good news though belated. It is PM Dahal who seems to be the poorest among others as he only has one kattha of land and three tolas of gold in his possession. Other ministers including Bimalendra Nidhi, Arjun Narshing KC and Gagan Thapa seem to be prosperous as per Nepali standard.
Most of the ministers either have possessed land in the Tarai, the Kathmandu Valley and in their respective home districts, gold, silver and cash and shares in bank accounts. None of them seems to have run any businesses or factories on their own or in the name of their closest family members.
Most of the ministers, including PM himself, have not disclosed how much land and homes, cash and shares their family members – wife, sons, daughters, father, mother and in-laws – have in possession.
Land, home, cash, gold and silver and shares in bank accounts are the prime property the politicians cherish as they are the safest and secure means of their livelihood.
These assets do not pose any financial risk. It shows that they have not made any investment in productive and income generating sectors that largely benefit society and stimulate the national economy for growth.
When the politicians do not want to make any investment in the productive sectors they also tend to remain reluctant to formulate appropriate policies stimulating the economic activities which may ultimately lead the nation towards industrialization and modernization.
In developed countries most politicians and businessmen make investment in the productive sector and come out with suitable policies for industrial growth.
However, in Nepal, the politicians do not want to take any financial risk making investment in the productive areas helping generate employment opportunities for working people within the country.
The most disappointing scenario is that, except for a few ministers, the property details of others, for example PM himself, appear to be unconvincing as the property details they have just made will in no way be enough to run their families.
The lifestyle they have been leading since their joining the public life does not match the property they are in possession.
Most of the property details the ministers have disclosed suggest that all of them are holding property that is mostly non-taxable, unproductive and they do not pay any taxes to the national exchequer. The public does not believe what they have disclosed is true.
Their sources of known taxable income are non-transparent and do not tally with their and their family’s lifestyles.
How can the PM himself run his family and his personal life, when not in office, without known sources of taxable income? This is a big question the PM and his ministers have to answer to the public. Financial transparency is what matters the most to the public.
Lack of action
Air and noise pollution are increasing in the country as a whole, particularly in urban areas, and the Kathmandu Valley has much higher levels of pollution than their safety levels.
The situation is getting worse each year as the number of pollutants, such as smoke-emitting vehicles, continue to come into play. At a workshop on National Pollution Control Strategy and Action Plan organized by the Department of Environment in the capital the other day, stakeholders have aired dissatisfaction over government’s inaction.
The instances given of government’s non-action include the free movement of the vehicles emitting high levels of toxic pollutants and of the bikes producing more than 100 decibels of sound levels.
The government needs to collect reliable data on the levels of air and sound pollution in selected urban areas. It is not just a lack of knowledge that has made the government act too weakly to control these kinds of pollution.
It is partly a lack of a sense of its responsibility and of the self-interests of officials who, by allowing the polluters to operate freely, tend to benefit.
A version of this article appears in print on December 16, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.