Dahal government’s One-Year Report Card: A catalogue of failures in development and governance

KATHMANDU: As Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal addressed the nation on the completion of one year in power, the reality on the ground paints a starkly different picture from the expected narrative of progress and achievement. The government’s track record over the past year has been marred by a lack of substantial achievements in economic-social development, governance, and the growing discontent among citizens.

The foremost failure lies in the government’s inability to instill hope among the populace. The youth, in particular, facing a dearth of opportunities, are resorting to seeking opportunities abroad, highlighting the diminishing faith in the country’s potential for progress and prosperity. Even Prime Minister Dahal has acknowledged the pervasive sentiment of hopelessness in the country, a damning indictment of his government’s performance.

The much-touted development projects, such as the Budhigandaki and Chisapani Karnali hydropower projects, and the Nijgadh International Airport, have been nothing more than hollow promises. The impracticality of financing these projects, with the government resorting to loans and questionable financial decisions, reflects a desperate attempt to mask the lack of genuine progress.

The pace of construction in key infrastructure projects, including the Kathmandu Terai Expressway and the Narayangadh-Butwal road, has been painfully sluggish. The Nepali Army-led expressway project is nowhere near completion, and the Narayangadh-Butwal road, after five years, remains a testament to the government’s failure to deliver on its promises.

Incompetence and Inaction

The Melamchi Water Project stands out as a glaring example of incompetence and inaction. Floods during the last rainy season have jeopardized the project’s future, showcasing the government’s inability to handle critical infrastructure projects efficiently.

If the Nepal Airlines Corporation is not allowed to continue ground handling, it will be in a crisis. The primary function of the corporation is to fly airplanes, but if it can only fly planes and cannot handle ground handling, it will not be able to sustain itself financially from the next month. The public will also have to bear the burden of the loss from the government through increased airfare. In recent days, the agitation of the Corporation’s employees is also related to this matter.

Due to the lack of production and processing of petroleum products in Nepal, Nepal Oil Corporation does not have direct control over its profit or loss. Prime Minister Dahal has focused only on politics to take mileage out of the Corporation’s profit, even when the price decreases in the international market but increases in Nepal. It is a policy that has been implemented in Nepal in the hope that a self-regulating pricing system will increase and decrease in Nepal as well.

Beyond the realm of development, the government has failed to improve service delivery and governance. Government offices, meant to serve the common people, have become hubs of harassment, bribery, and inefficiency. Corruption remains rampant, with customs evasion and illegal activities at Tribhuvan International Airport being symptomatic of the government’s inability to curb malpractices.

The economic indicators, while positive on the surface, are propped up by remittances from Nepalis working abroad, rather than effective policy initiatives. The domestic economy faces challenges, with slow industrial activity, rising bad loans, and a contraction in the index of industrial production. The government’s spending power, or the lack thereof, is identified as a primary cause of the economic slowdown.

The most alarming sign of citizen frustration is the unprecedented surge in Nepalese emigrating abroad for work and education. The exodus of skilled professionals underscores a lack of confidence in the country’s future under the current administration.

In the face of these challenges, the government’s attempts to control social media and curtail freedom of expression, coupled with questionable expenditures and controversies surrounding Prime Minister Dahal’s activities, raise serious questions about the government’s commitment to democratic principles and good governance.

The government’s controversial actions, such as the shutdown of TikTok and attempts to control social media, indicate a concerning trend of curbing freedom of expression. Prime Minister Dahal’s alleged frivolous spending abroad and nepotistic opportunities for family members have added to the controversies. Indifference towards legislative priorities, evident in the stagnation of education and civil laws, underscores a government perceived as directionless, indolent, and lacking in priorities.

Performance Evaluation

The performance evaluation by the Prime Minister’s Office itself paints a bleak picture, with an abysmal completion rate of planned activities and milestones. The government’s lack of direction, vision, and an effective strategy has left citizens disillusioned and the nation adrift in the sea of uncertainty.

An assessment by the Prime Minister’s Office reveals a dismal performance, with slow progress in the implementation of policies and programs. Out of 1,600 activities and 3,421 milestones set by various ministries, less than four percent have been completed, raising doubts about the government’s capability to fulfill promises.

Opposition CPN (UML) leader and former Finance Minister Surendra Pandey, has characterized Prime Minister Dahal’s one-year progress report as nothing more than a fabrication of falsehoods. Pandey contends that the government has relied on outdated data to present a misleading narrative of its achievements over the past year, accusing the Prime Minister of mismanagement during his tenure.

Meanwhile, Sociologist Ganesh Gurung highlights the government’s entanglement in trivial matters, emphasizing its failure to address significant issues, formulate effective strategies, and meet citizens’ expectations for improved governance and accelerated economic reforms. The overarching sentiment is that the government appears confused, lacking direction, and vision, ultimately resulting in a disappointing year in terms of development and governance.

In conclusion, the government’s one-year rule has been characterized by a litany of failures, raising concerns about its ability to steer the country toward progress and address the pressing issues facing the nation. The need for a comprehensive and coherent strategy, coupled with a genuine commitment to good governance, is more urgent than ever to salvage the hopes of the people and put Nepal on a path of sustainable development.

Umesh Poudel |
Wednesday December 27, 2023, 02:23:37 PM |

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