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Editorial: Time to deliver, above all else

Editorial: Time to deliver, above all else
CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has a lot of challenges to overcome as prime minister. Above all, he needs to improve the national economy, which is getting worse. The soaring interest rate, liquidity crunch, and a sharp slowdown in business activity are major causes of concern. The private sector has already submitted a long list of demands to PM Dahal.  On top of their agenda is the postponement of the guidelines on working capital loans introduced by Nepal Rastra Bank. The two leading private sector organizations–Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) and Confederation of Nepalese Industry (CNI)–separately briefed Dahal about the health status of the economy. The private sector says reviving the economy should be the first and the foremost priority of the government. The Dahal-led government needs to take immediate and drastic measures to improve the economy.

The second challenge obviously is to improve the service delivery. As parties remained busy in the elections and intra-party and inter-party fighting, the quality of service delivery has suffered. Corruption and irregularities are thriving. The first meeting of the Dahal Cabinet has decided to improve service delivery, particularly in the passport and transport offices. This is indeed a welcome step, but it is not sufficient. If the past is any guide, proactive measures like these last just a few days. People are still forced to pay bribes to get their job done. So, the Dahal-led government should launch a special campaign to improve service delivery.

The next step would be to revive people’s trust in key state institutions, such as the parliament, the judiciary and other constitutional bodies. Politicization of state organs has shaken the basic democratic tenet of checks and balances. The judiciary is without a full-fledged chief justice, with an impeachment motion pending against the high officeholder, Cholendra SJB Rana. The damning exposé on Rana’s political ambition whilst leading the Supreme Court has eroded public trust in the judiciary. Rebuilding the court’s image and its legitimacy will require hard work and a long time. To perform these tasks effectively, the government needs to take a consultative approach. Before taking any decision, the PM should take all the coalition partners and even the opposition into confidence. Previous governments failed to take decisions on time because coalition partners were not on the same page on various issues. The new PM faces the challenge of accommodating more than seven coalition partners and their conflicting interests. This government’s failure to deliver will further fuel people’s dissatisfaction with the mainstream political parties. The November 20 elections have clearly shown that frustration against the mainstream parties will further strengthen the rightist forces challenging the constitution. So, to build on the progress made so far, the current government should work seriously. PM Dahal has said on several occasions that he will not repeat past mistakes and will work to revive people’s faith in the political parties. The onus is on all political parties to lend their support to the Dahal-led government, enabling it to serve the people in a difficult time.