Decision time

  • PM Koirala’s failure to deliver a broad vision for Nepal has resulted in a lethargic PMO

Jun 10, 2014-

The Prime Minister’s Office is among the most important executive bodies in the country. It answers directly to the prime minister and is responsible for directing, overseeing and evaluating the works of all the ministries. The secretaries and numerous advisors at the PMO are also responsible for briefing the prime minister on their respective areas of work. As such, the PMO should be a buzzing, active agency filled with industrious members. Instead, under Sushil Koirala, the PMO has become a haven for secretaries looking for an easy, laidback posting where there is little work to be done.

The current state of the PMO is yet another reflection of the narrative that has coalesced around Prime Minister Sushil Koirala—a leader who is unwilling, or unable, to take decisive action and lacks a concrete vision for where he wants to take Nepal in transition. As much is echoed in the statements of a number of advisors to previous prime ministers, all of whom state that the PMO will only remain busy if the prime minister is clearheaded about what he wants to do. While PM Koirala has demonstrated a commendable commitment to the peace process, his government has been found wanting in areas of governance. Service delivery, developmental projects, investment attraction and resource mobilisation seem to have all been put on the backburner. True, Koirala lacks experience of public office but he rode into office with a two-thirds majority. This large mandate alone should have instilled in him the confidence to pursue developmental agendas with gusto. Instead, Koirala’s more than four months as head of government have been characterised by an almost apathetic approach to governance; he is seemingly stuck in the menial trappings of day-to-day affairs like meeting large numbers of guests every day and inaugurating programmes.

To Koirala’s credit, the constitution-drafting process is well underway. But perhaps the government would do well to shift some of its focus on governance. Its zeal to meet the self-imposed deadline of a year to produce a constitution is praiseworthy but the government cannot afford to ignore economic activities that spur strong and inclusive growth along with high employment. This government’s top priority—the constitution—must be pursued alongside policies and measures that seek to address immediate issues. As we have argued earlier, PM Koirala must come up with a broad political vision that will chart the country’s course. He must marshal the PMO, the nodal body for all such work, and whip it into shape so that it functions in the way it is supposed to.

Published: 11-06-2014 08:46

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