Nepali political parties are unnecessarily delaying much-awaited actions on the fronts of national consolidation, state reforms, stable democracy, sustainable peace and citizensâ€™ security of life and property, thereby prolonging transitional period. Resolution of these concerns will be possible only when a new democratic constitution is enacted. It is, therefore, essential that all political parties represented in CA, and particularly those in the coalition government, realise that their topmost priority should be drafting of new constitution in time and in a democratic manner.
The new government must also realise other important matters such as rehabilitation of displaced families including the ones affected by the recent floods, construction of much needed rural infrastructure, relief from rising prices, reliable and regular availability of basic daily consumption items. Furthermore, critical long-term measures like identification of concrete areas for building national competitive strengths, creating confidence in the minds of private sector entrepreneurs through an investment-friendly atmosphere, public-private partnership, and most importantly, building trust and confidence in state apparatus demand urgent attention.
Rapidly changing regional and global economics calls for measures to meet challenges arising out of the need for integration and interdependency. Nepal canâ€™t remain aloof to global and regional compulsions. In fact, Nepal has a whole gamut of reforms to attend to meet national economic priorities and usher in socio-economic change. Four months after CA election, a new government under CPN-Maoist was finally formed. It is encouraging that the country is on course for institutionalisation of a democratic republic. It is expected that appropriate measures would be devised to make national institutions more inclusive. It must be realised by all concerned that these expectations would materialise only if concerned activities are carried out with mutual trust and respect for each otherâ€™s perceptions and understanding.
While general people feel there should have been a national consensus and leaders and parties should have moved collectively, the frequent unwarranted arguments among leaders and parties leading to unnecessary delays in much required actions is regrettable. Sometimes it would be wise to follow established conventions and procedures. The recent controversy on matters of seniority and protocol among ministers could have been amicably settled if such a procedure was followed.
It needs to be realised that only mutual understanding and cooperation would help avoid â€˜crisis of confidenceâ€™. After all, parties and leaders are expected to work for broader national interests and refrain from projecting petty personal interests or hard-core political philosophies.
The squabbles among coalition parties which led to election of an uncompleted cabinet on Aug. 18 bred suspicions among partners even before the formal functioning of the government. This was indeed the most damaging episode of the whole exercise of government formation and some important achievements of the day, such as the endorsement of the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) and Code of Conduct for ministers were sidelined. Furthermore even the important issues and priorities highlighted by the PM were ignored. It should however be noted that PM Prachanda in his first ever address to the nation categorically expressed commitment to the drafting of a new constitution as the governmentâ€™s top priority for which he emphasised the need for national understanding.
Despite some glitches, the Cabinet is now complete and expected to get on with the business of expediting necessary arrangements to draft a new constitution. The people will be carefully watching the functioning of coalition partners as some of them are new and their performance yet to be seen. At the moment, the people would like the new government to deliver on its promises. People are frustrated with non-functioning governments of the last two years. This must be fully understood by the new PM and his colleagues in the government.
By necessity, a government with many parties was desired and it is now expected to be driven by the spirit of cooperation and understanding on national matters. In this respect, it will be the responsibility of the Prime Minister to mobilise his Cabinet as a cohesive unit and function as the prime usher in expediting urgent matters not only in political front but also in areas of social and economic transformation. The PM has special responsibility of building mutual trust in Cabinet members and cooperating in inter-sectoral matters and not treat individual ministries along party lines. This will ensure efficient delivery of public services and build confidence in the new government. The new government needs to do things differently and command the respect of the people.
Dr Dhungana is an economist