KATHMANDU: Despite the country’s disappointing economic situation, the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) has provided some hope. However, businessmen still complain that they do not have investment opportunities, even with the data provided by the NRB.
They complain that the political leadership has failed to take any concrete steps toward the development of the country.
The leadership’s actions of obstructing development and construction work have been brought to public attention.
Even after the election, there has been a lack of clarity on the electoral mandate and the speed at which the government should perform.
With the by-election approaching, it seems that both the political party and the government are more focused on it rather than addressing the current situation.
It is concerning that people had not anticipated this situation. With the political leadership appearing to have lost its way, it begs the question of who will lead the way.
Prof. Dr. Jayaraj Acharya talks about the country’s current political and other aspects with Nayan Sapkota. Excerpts:
How do you analyze the current politics and the country’s overall situation?
Frankly speaking, from the perspective of the current political situation, it appears that Nepal is on a path toward becoming a failed state.
Despite the two elections held after the promulgation of the Constitution in 2015, Nepal has not made significant progress toward development and prosperity. What could be the reasons?
The Constitution of 2015 itself has some inherent ambiguities which have led to a state of confusion. Its structure is such that no single party can achieve a simple majority, resulting in coalition governments.
As much effort goes into forming these governments, there is much confusion in sustaining them.
This has also led to a situation where the government’s tenure can be cut short by political games and activities. In fact, even the incumbent government is struggling to take shape.
What is your take on the impact of the facilities being provided to provincial ministers?
If the country had deviated from its track and advanced a short distance, it would have been possible to turn back and correct its course.
However, it seems that the country has strayed significantly from its intended path.
The proposal of having seven provinces has resulted in an excessive number of ministers – even if we were to retain only 15 ministers, there would still be 105 ministers across the seven provinces.
The costs of their salaries and other allowances alone are a burden on the country’s resources, let alone the development expenses.
The situation has become so dire that the government is unable to pay employee salaries from the revenue it generates.
The government has asked for a loan from Asian Development Bank to fulfill its needs. For the first time in Nepal’s history, revenue is decreasing.
What factors do you think led to the political leaders getting votes in the elections? Was it primarily due to the trust people had in them, or were there other reasons?
The votes of elderly people who are still in the country are likely to come in, as voter turnout in the current election has been lower than in the previous one, standing at only 50 percent, according to reports.
In fact, this marks a record-low turnout in the country’s election history. A significant number of people who are either living abroad or within the country did not cast their votes.
Nepal has immense potential for development, but the issue of lack of investment from within the country is not being addressed by political leaders.
It is equally important to note that a political leader or policies alone do not make for a strong political foundation — principles are important.
The country has already witnessed seven constitutions in seven decades, which indicates a lack of constitutional stability. Therefore, it’s crucial for Nepal to abide by the current constitution.
Is it that a situation may come to draft a new constitution in 2082BS?
As I hinted earlier, the Constitution is meant to bring stability, yet in Nepal, it appears that the Constitution may once again be subject to change.
It’s important for a Constitution to be comprehensive, akin to India’s constitution which is recognized as one of the longest in the world.
Following India’s example could encourage Nepal to pursue political stability and economic prosperity.
What provisions are included in the Constitution of Nepal that allows for it to be amended in a short span of time?
When we analyze the country’s current political scenario, it appears that our Constitution has been written on sand.
Talking about trade, our focus seems to be solely on imports. The government has recently announced that it will take nine months to procure foreign goods. How did we end up in this situation?
In fact, we are extremely concerned about the import of foodstuff, and it is troubling to see our vegetables and apples rotting.
The government’s policies and actions need to be scrutinized to understand why Nepal is not able to produce enough food locally.
It is equally important to discuss why the youth are not being encouraged to engage in agriculture and other related sectors.
Do you think that the political leadership in the country is unwilling or unable to fix the current mess?
Unfortunately, the country has yet to witness a leadership with a strong commitment and a burning desire to bring about developments and remarkable changes.
Who do you think will have the chance of winning in the April 23 by-elections?
In fact, the emergence of new political leaders reflects the people’s choices. However, when political parties fail to fulfill their commitments, it results in a loss of trust among the people and the voters.
Unfortunately, the new emerging leaders often appear to be more like movie heroes or clowns rather than serious contenders to lead the country.
The question is whether these newcomers are genuinely capable of making a difference in the country’s development.
The political system, regardless of who wins, has eroded people’s trust, making it difficult to believe in any positive change.
(This interview was prepared in collaboration with Avenues Television)