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Nepal: Action Paralysis in Governance: Update No. 300

Note No. 725                                   Dated 23-Aug-2014
By Dr. S.Chandrasekharan
Governance at its worst.
This is what we are seeing in Nepal today.  With the Prime Minister  due to go to US again for cancer treatment, many vital decisions are getting postponed indefinitely.  Added to this is the mistrust between the two major parties and the seven point deal between the two parties is as good as dead.  
The economy is in shambles with the banks sitting on piles of cash and finding no avenues to invest.
Meantime, the constitution making has taken the back seat and the dead line of January 22, 2015 is not mentioned these days.  Senior Nepali Congress leader Dr. Shekhar Koirala recently said that the deadline for promulgation of the Constitution may not be adhered to. Dr. Bhattarai of UCPN (M) and chairman of the Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee has not been able to make much progress on contentious issues relating to federalism in spite all his enthusiasm.  He also appears to be busy with  the serious internal differences he has with his party chief Dahal.
Dr. P.C.Lohani whose analysis had always been accurate said recently and I quote “ Lethargy in decision making and a complete lack of cohesiveness and team spirit in the government is a sign of lack of seriousness on the part of Nepali Congress and the UML Leadership.”  Indeed the main problem appears to be lack of seriousness on the part of the top political leadership.
Consider the following:
* It is going to be ten months since the elections took place and yet the remaining 26 members are still to be nominated by the government to bring the interim constituent assembly to its full strength of 601. There is a legal issue involved with an incomplete constituent assembly. A few days ago there was a statement from the government that it would do it in the next fortnight! I am not so sure of that!
*About a dozen ambassadorships are vacant and this includes important ones like the one in Delhi.  There has been no Nepalese Ambassador in New Delhi for the last three years! The Ambassador’s absence was particularly noticed when the Indian Prime Minister recently visited Kathmandu and it looked that adequate preparations were not made.  The PM of Nepal Sushil Koirala had just returned from USA after his treatment for cancer.  Tow major agreements that are vital to Nepal -the one on the power purchase and the other on the power development could not be finalised for want of a consensus on the Nepalese side!
* Important Constitutional bodies like NHRC, CIAA and the Public Service Commission are not in full strength for quite some time now.
* The Assembly is yet to endorse the President and the Vice President for the new term as technically they have ceased to be, as they were elected by the previous Constituent Assembly.  The UML had insisted on this  with the Nepali Congress before they agreed to have a coalition to run the country.
* It is nine months since the parents of the slain Krishna Prasad Adhikari are on a hunger strike in Kathmandu.  The health of the Adhikari senior is fast deteriorating and yet there appears to be no anxiety on the party of the government to resolve the issue.
* Vital bills are pending in the CA for want of a quorum.  In an assembly of 575 (26 yet to be filled) there should at least be 142 members present to consider the bills and even this number is not available in the assembly.  The only time when the assembly was full, leaving the Indian PM’s address was when the assembly was considering funds for each constituency for development works!
* As said earlier, the banks are flush with funds but there are no avenues to invest.  Loans and grants from bi lateral and multilateral donors are lying unused.  Remittances from abroad by the labour continue to pour in. The economy needs immediate attention.
* Exodus of labour for jobs in Gulf and other countries is continuing and the Government appears to be in no position to stop the trend.
It is said that PM’s health is still cause for concern and he may have to visit US again.  There are reports that many times the cabinet meetings had to be postponed because of PM’s health.
More important, both the UML and the Nepali Congress do not seem to be getting on well with each other and most of the problems faced by the country emanate from the distrust the parties have for each other. 
The new chairman of the UML K.P.Oli is a very competent person and perhaps he has to take a personal lead to get the country moving.