Not Insoluble Disputes

. If listening to views and agreeing with some of the ideas of the participants (foreigners) by us lacking both capital and market is considered a compromise on national interest, analyst will have hardly anything to say about these misconstrued idea

April 18, 2014, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 07 No. -20 April 18- 2014 (Baishakh 5, 2071)

Although sounding quite disturbing at times, inter and intra-party disputes are bound to happen in a politically fluid and fragile situation like the one we have in Nepal today. It looks like even common Nepalese have begun to understand this bitter reality now. Their only concern it seems, is that these solvable disputes should not take too long a time for resolution because this causes inordinate delay in delivering on time the other promised outputs, mainly the new constitution of Nepal. People have seen disputes over issues such as who should summon the first meeting of the new CA and which party in the coalition government should get home portfolio and seen their successful resolution as well. For example, after wasting about a week fighting over who should authenticate the new constitution, the dispute ended with NC and CPN-UML agreeing to include a clause in the new CA Regulations under which the CA chairman would certify the new statute and the president will unveil it. People are convinced about the ability of our leaders to create disputes and solve them, in most cases taking little more time than expected.Peoplealso have noted that after vacillating quite substantially on matters related to Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Commission on Disappearance, three major political forces finally agreed to charge a task force with the responsibility of drafting the allied bills as per the spirit of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. After intense dispute that stretched over years, the bill on forming the commissions have been registered at the parliament secretariat for endorsement by the current session. The parliament has also formed five thematic committees to look into several pressing needs of the country. People are also hopeful that Koirala’s untarnished image, simplicity and selflessness  could be used as  great strength to clear the intermittently emerging impasses and give the nation a new constitution as stipulated in the CA- approved calendar of operation. Notwithstanding public criticism of indecision on filling many important positions including twenty six members in the CA, it would be unfair to solely blame the head of the coalition government who has the responsibility of making decisions taking full cognizance of inter- party differences  and factionalism in each party. There are signs that the dispensation headed by Koirala is moving slowly but in a concrete fashion towards resolution of important issues.Koirala’s resolve that he would go for a referendum should the CA fail to take timely decisions on the contentious issues has also somewhat  bolstered the waning confidence of people about the new constitution. Hope Koirala succeeds in cementing some gains that have begun to surface on the political front and also does something to provide little bit of relief to the help-seeking commoners of this country.

Nepalese are not too much demanding as far as relief from the state is concerned because they know it would be unwise to expect the government that has the major responsibility of curing the political ailment, to provide economic relief of a meaningful nature overnight. They could be easily made happy if water taps could trickle few liters of drinking water every day and something could be done soon to reduce the hours of power outage. These small things could make Nepalese wait for the government to solve the political problems and then think about curing the economic ailment that this impoverished nation is suffering from since long. Talking of economic illness, one is often reminded of the disappointing performance of the export sector that explains only about 12 percent of our total trade.Disaapointing is also the fact that garments and woolen carpets, with not much value added component, continue to be our major export items. Because of low value addition, any surge in export of these items is not likely to contribute towards correcting the trade imbalance. We are also badly divided on the use and sales of water resources that this country has in abundance. One does not just understand why Nepal can not go ahead with the execution of both small and mega hydro projects in cooperation with outside agencies and countries without compromising national interest and without any intention of keeping Nepal in darkness for long. Let us not forget the bitter fact that we neither have the resources to execute projects nor the market to absorb the power generated. Unilateral imposition of conditions and irrational decisions have on a number of occasions driven away potential investors from this country to other places where they could make good use of their capital, which is in short supply globally. Interesting would be to cite two projects (second international project at Niggad and the express way connecting Kathmandu toTarai), which the government wanted done under BOOT modality by foreigners. Soon after the news about the airport became public, very responsible agencies and people very irresponsibly began airing views about developing international projects at three /four points in the country, not only confusing but scaring the prospective investors away.LMW of Korea completed, in the midst of confusion, detailed project report, expending about 3 million dollars, and `now seems desperate to get the money spent back, let alone wanting to develop the uncertain project. In case of express way, permission granted to a local investor to build a competing tunnel highway on the route drove investors from China and India away.DR. Mahat has publicly condemned the decision regarding tunnel way as a mistake but people would take Mahat’s observations seriously only when he initiates necessary action to build the road, which does not now appear feasible under BOOT as a recent study has downgraded expected traffic from 7000 to 3000 vehicles using the express-way daily. Government has no choice but to obtain concessional loan for this project and it may also wish to bring to book those involved in such irrational decision making, if the idea is to go beyond rhetoric and build this project of so called national priority and pride. We have already killed many important projects in different sectors on one pretext or the other, mostly to safeguard national interest in case of utilization of water resource. If listening to views and agreeing with some of the ideas of the participants (foreigners) by us lacking both capital and market is considered a compromise on national interest, analyst will have hardly anything to say about these misconstrued ideas. Power generation and its export is not synonymous to a crime of national scale, but keeping the people in dark for decades obstructing creation of a favorable environment for harnessing water resources of this Himalayan country is undoubtedly a heinous crime. Let us not forget there are places of strategic importance at many points on the globe where resourceful countries and agencies need to pour resources. Lately, one of such favorite spots has been the poor Ukraine whose Crimea has been taken away by Russia on the strength of a referendum, not recognized by US and EU, that gave ninety-seven percent results in favour of seceding from Ukraine.US, EU and IMF have pledged around US$ 27 billion for Ukraine to salvage its dying economy and to have some political stability there, but it is difficult to say whether this intervention can stop some more parts of the fragile nation, especially on the eastern side, from seceding. Let us, therefore, realize global realities and also our shortcomings and proceed to build this impoverished nation politically and economically under the leadership of Koirala who is also becoming internationally popular as the poorest prime minister in the world.


Dr. Tilak Rawal

Dr. Rawal is former governor of NRB.

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