The real deal or a flight of fancy?

  • Newly appointed ministers make tall promises after assuming office, many call them ‘overambitious and vacuous’
- Post Report, Kathmandu
An administrative expert though describes the tendency of throwing fanciful ideas by the ministers as ludicrous, he finds fault also with bureaucracy

Jul 28, 2017-

As soon as they assumed office, the newly appointed ministers on Wednesday and Thursday announced their plans and promises, which some government officials and observers termed just another flight of fancy. 

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba inducted 19 ministers into his Cabinet on Wednesday. Most of the new ministers did not even bother to learn about what their predecessors were doing, according to multiple officials the Post talked to. And there were some who declared “substantial policy reform”, without even delving into what that means, they said.  

Energy Minister Mahendra Bahadur Shahi declared that the government would terminate the contract for the construction of the 1,200MW Budhi Gandaki Hydropower Project “if the contractor fails to abide by the contract”. 

The erstwhile government led by (CPN) Maoist Centre Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal had awarded the project to a Chinese company. Shahi belongs to the Maoist Centre. 

Speaking at the Reporters’ Club on Thursday, Shahi also declared that he would take action against those who are holding hydropower licence but doing nothing and rid the country of load shedding. 

“But previous governments and ministers also have made these commitments. There is nothing new,” said a ministry official, adding that it would be better if ministers focus on actions instead of speeches. 

Minister for Land Reform Gopal Dahit not only declared that “days of land mafia are numbered” but also announced that the sweeping reforms he plans to introduce would “make all the squatters rich”.

Minister for Irrigation Sanjay Gautam was quick to approve a file that seeks South Korean help to construct a 50MW powerhouse in the Bheri-Babai Diversion Project for which Nepal needs around Rs 8 billion to complete its construction. 

“Making tall promises without understanding and evaluating the issues on the table has become a routine for all new ministers,” said an official at the Prime Minister’s Office. “Almost all ministers just make populist statements without even giving a thought to the gravity of the matter,” he said. 

Administrative expert Kashi Raj Dahal though describes the tendency of throwing fanciful ideas by the ministers as ridiculous, he finds fault also with “our bureaucracy.” 

“New ministers must take briefings from the bureaucrats. And government officials also should insist that the ministers spend a day 

or two to take stock of the ministry and study the files properly before making announcements,” said Dahal. “Many ministers tend to make tall promises because they are wrongly advised by the bureaucrats.”

Health Minister Giriraj Mani Pokhrel refused to sign any file on his first day, saying he had put his signs on many files in the past in the same ministry, but the decisions were hardly implemented. It was rather a good move by the health minister, who not only refused to sign the files on his first day but also stopped short of making promises, said Dahal. 

What our ministers often fail to take into consideration is, said another government official, their own tenure in the Cabinet. The incumbent Deuba government is 10th in as many years. It is mandated to oversee the last phase of local polls on September 18 and provincial and federal elections which should be held by January next year.

Published: 28-07-2017 07:28

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