Useless row

The government is still indecisive on who should fill the imminent vacancy for the post of governor of the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) because Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba is reported to be insisting on a different name from the ones put forth by the three-member recommendation committee headed by deputy prime minister and finance minister Bharat Mohan Adhikari. The committee, including former finance minister Dr Badri Prasad Shrestha and former NRB governor Ganesh Bahadur Thapa, has recommended National Planning Commission member Dr Yuvaraj Khatiwada, NRB deputy governor Vijayanath Bhattarai and professor of economics Dr. Parthiveswar Timilsina. The meeting held on Sunday to sort out the issue between NC (D) and CPN-UML teams led by NC (D) president Deuba and CPN-UML general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal respectively ended inconclusively, agreeing to refer the matter over to the top leaders of the four coalition partners.

Deuba is said to favour Bimal Koirala, the government’s chief secretary, with nearly a year of his tenure remaining. Certain foreign donors are reported to have suggested Koirala’s name with or without Deuba asking for their advice, or are even putting pressure on the government, according to some media reports, to go by their choice. It is sad that a row should have arisen over a matter which should be decided on the basis of professional qualifications and personal integrity. The post is a highly responsible and technical slot the decisions of which affect the whole financial sector and the economy. This is for this reason that in democracies effective legal measures are taken to make the post as independent of the politicians’ control as possible so that political expediency may not distort monetary decisions. The present row, particularly Deuba’s insistence, reflects rather sadly the narrow interests the politicians are capable of pursuing.

The Deuba camp is said to be arguing that the committee should have sought the Prime Minister’s opinion before recommending the candidates. The CPN-UML has stressed that after the cabinet formed the committee for the purpose, there was no need for this. On this, the Deuba side stands on slippery ground. If the panel had to seek Deuba’s prior clearance, then the whole exercise was a farce. Being an established economist, specially a monetary economist, should form the first test of eligibility for the post, accompanied by other considerations like personal integrity. Political affiliation should be a disqualification. Deuba’s candidate is not even an economist, let alone a monetary economist, but just a bureaucrat. The choice should not, therefore, be subjected to petty political interests or to the pressure of any quarters, including that of donors.