Analysis January 2020

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Summary

There is no human control over natural disasters, but there are always small ways to improve the lives of the people affected with those disasters. Improving public health is a key to prepare for epidemics. However, COVID-19, which is turning out to be a pandemic, has unveiled the unpreparedness of Nepali authorities under crisis and the need for government investment in public health and infrastructure. Nepal’s focus has been on corruption scandals ever since KP Oli came to power. Widespread corruption has laid bare the rife financial undercurrents which is the main culprit for the country’s inability in creating development opportunities at home despite huge sums of money being injected into development projects, both from internal and external sources. Unemployment and foreign labor migration are the major challenges in realizing a prosperous Nepal. They are also interconnected with national security.

As Nepal’s constitution guarantees right to employment to every citizen in the country, international migration should have been a voluntary choice, however, it remains a necessity for many till date. Ironically, remittance serves one-third of the Gross Domestic Product in Nepal. Despite its huge contribution to the national economy, foreign labor migration is a very challenging phenomenon as it is associated with socio-economic, legal, political, and health hazards. The migrant workers often engage in dirty, dangerous, and difficult work threatening their lives.

Overlooking the sufferings in the destination countries, people are forced to migrate for employment. The Prime Minister Employment Programme, which was designed to address the domestic unemployment problem, has not been successful in ensuring the rights to employment as provisioned in Nepal’s Constitution. Minister for Labour, Employment, and Security Rameshwar Raya Yadav had vowed that the government would provide jobs to 60,000 youths under PMEP this fiscal. However, the project is yet to take off.

PM Oli has time and again stated that the government would adopt a zero-tolerance policy against corruption and that he himself is strictly against corruption and would not let anyone else indulge in it. As the Prime Minister states that the government is actively working to curb corruption, various individuals from his own party have been caught in corruption scandals repeatedly in a matter of two years that he has taken office. Whether it be Bishnu Poudel from NCP for ‘Lalita Niwas land grab scam’, Raghubir Mahaseth, Minister for Infrastructure and Transportation, or the freshly reported Gokul Banskota case, it can be surmised that the KP Oli administration is not seen doing much to restrain the corruption culture in the government.

The corruption scandal of Gokul Prasad Baskota, PM’s Oli’s confidante, has weakened Oli’s position in the party. On the contrary, Dahal’s seeming distance from the corruption scandal, evidenced by his remarks, his uncensored criticism of the government’s performance, and his apparent dissatisfaction with the status of NCP’s unification have strengthened his position in the party. 

Following the infamous rape case on former Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara, a few high profile rape cases have come to light. The perpetrators are the high-level officials of a security agency. In most of the cases, it has been found out that the perpetrators are comparatively powerful and ‘well-connected’ than survivors. In these politically high-profile cases, legal support, rehabilitation, and the process of justice to the survivors are also politicized. Inevitably, victim blaming, negligence from law enforcement bodies, lack of support from family and society, all play roles to create obstacles in the process of justice.

The PM’s commitment to curbing corruption is seemingly turning out to be a lie while the rule of law and fundamental constitutional rights including employment and another dimension of human security draws no concern of the government. Likewise, on the Corona disaster, the government is all but unprepared.

Apart from the Corona impact on the global economy, the sluggish Indian economy may slow down Nepal’s growth. The Indian budget decides the price and availability of the consumer goods for Nepal. Since a lot of consumer goods imported from India are sourced from the market of the bordering towns of India, Indian taxes and duties are included in the price. So, Nepalis end up paying Indian taxes too. Additionally, Nepal may follow the new income tax slabs introduced by India in the budget this year. As a smaller economy that is intricately connected with the Indian economy, over-dependence exposes Nepal to anomalies. Rampant excavation of Natural resources ongoing across country as per the decision of local governments has threatened people’s livelihoods, their place and culture. All three tiers of the FDR seem to be contesting just in taking benefits from the natural resources but have remained irresponsible towards conservation. National Natural Resources and Fiscal Commission has devised a formula for sharing the benefits. As per the formula local governments and provinces would get 25% of the revenue collected and the federal government the remaining 50%.

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