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Greed and fear-led policy-making

Greed and fear-led policy-making

When greed and shortsightedness are primaries in scheming economic policies and adopting other policies that have their roots in political instability and political impulses, nations fail, nationals are dissatisfied and the private sector is discontented.

Greed is reflected in policy-making and policy implementation. Sectors like infrastructure development, administration processes and contract administration offer examples. Greed has been the root cause for institutionalization of corruption and bribery. Incompetence, ineffectiveness and inefficiencies are on the rise in Nepal where economic policies derive through political desires to acquire wealth for political parties as well as for individuals. Unwarranted and self-interested longing for wealth and power on the part of powers that be results in poor infrastructure development works that takes a huge toll with development efforts producing sub-standard and unacceptable outcomes. 

Institutionalization of corruption, greed-led policies, programs and contracts is emerging as one of the major ‘threats’ for Nepal’s sovereignty, national identity and stability. 

Scams like the Lalita Niwas land-grab offer an example. Nepal’s Parliament remains susceptible to greed-led policies even as some voices continue to challenge such policies. 

In national policies, the occurrences of greed can have across-the-board outcomes. The aim is to observe the repercussions of greed-led national policies and examine their prospective magnitudes on numerous compasses, including economics, social welfare and governance.

Characterizing good governance

The availability of international aid and loans largely depends on the extent of good governance in a recipient country and efforts toward development. Good governance-documented literatures are as old as human civilization. They lay stress on curbing corruption, hearing the voices of the marginalized/underrepresented peoples in decision-making, addressing the needs of the society and maintaining applicable standards of the finished work. Good governance is accountable, consensus-oriented, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive, follows the rule of law, is participatory, responsive and transparent. 

Governance is often led by fear and greed and an insecure personal character. Fear that an individual is not capable enough to be placed in a favorable position where there is more budget. Personal behavior, also known as the greed personality trait (GPT), is personified by the craving to obtain further and the discontent of not ever having adequate, a trait associated with negative emotions/effect characteristics and aggressive conduct. These negative traits are turning into a national character, a setback for policy-making and forming a greed-free society in the long run. 

There is an involvement of several formal and informal actors as well as the civil society in governance. It may be a political cadre, who can influence decision-making in the interest of international donors that come with monetary pledges. Governments at various levels are one of the actors. Other actors can be landlords, heads of various associations, cooperatives, NGOs, INGOs, research institutions, religious structures and leaders, finance institutions, political parties and the military. They all can play important roles in making/shaping policies. Also, organized crime syndicates have influence particularly in government structures at the national level where decisions are arrived at and implemented. Informal decision-making structures like informal advisors, kitchen cabinets, land mafia and powerful families can influence decision-making, which often result in corrupt practices. 

The 21st century global economic crisis or financial crisis of 2008 highlighted the obsession and eventual ferocity of greed. It was an illustration of the type of recurrent greed that is prevalent in the economic system. The Asian Financial Crisis 1997 is another example of political inaccuracy in economic policies that impacted Southeast Asia.

Democracy sold out

Nepal has her own characteristics and own identity that need strengthening through democracy, but the opposite is happening. Greed-led practices to gain wealth for personal well-being are rampant, causing the investment meant for the nation to go waste.  It can be argued that the nature of corruption in democracies and autocracies for reforms are mere facades as there is corruption in infrastructure, tax collection, cross-border trade and government procurements.

This is part I of a two-part-series. 

The author is a Strategic Analyst, Major General (Retd) of the Nepali Army, and is associated with Rangsit University, Thailand