Time To Focus On Austerity, Job Creation

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There are many issues baffling the people of this Himalayan country and also making them wonder as to what will happen next in their motherland, during and after this ongoing delicate and divided political situation we are all seeing at present. Besides the fluid developments, there remain many other matters which are worrying the common populace, who, apart from feeling some sort of importance they receive from glib talking leaders only during election time, have little say in what is really happening to their lives and their right to exist in dignity. 

From better job opportunities to controlling the inflation seen in the market and better health care, better education and other basic needs through which the citizens can live a better life, these all require the attention of the political parties and also the government, so that the presence of change in the political system can be felt by all and the much-touted good governance can also be realised. One cannot also forget the increasing incidents of corruption which is turning the nation hollow economically and comes as an obstacle for any sort of good governance.

Allocations 

There is no doubt that the expectations of the people must also be given top priority. But accomplishing this ambitious task is easier said than done. Still, the people have high hopes and they look up to the political leaders and the government to make their dreams of a better Nepal come true. Right now, regular discussions are being held in the parliament about the next fiscal budget and exactly like the common people, the leaders belonging to different political parties are also demanding for more allocations in the budget for their respective constituencies.

Many MPs have expressed their dissatisfaction in the way the budget has been formulated, especially, MPs of the opposition parties, while others have pointed out the 'productive' and other pragmatic programmes of the budget, but few have spoken about austerity and the need for 'belt tightening' while talking about the spending of the nation's money. Considering that Nepal is still in the 'least developed nations' (LDC) category, it would be a great folly to expect any budget to cater to all requirements of the people and also different tiers of governments, from the federal level to the provincial and local levels. It is a bitter reality that even the government relies much on foreign aid and grants and also on internal resources like revenue collection to meet the mind boggling estimated spending.

The targets in revenue collection and also foreign aid have never been actually met, and the country is now in an alarming debt ridden situation, where each Nepali has to own up to more than one hundred thousand Nepali rupees per head. So even a novice who may not be that familiar with the intricacies of a budget and the huge numbers associated in spending from the government coffers under different heads, can easily say that the country is not in a robust economic condition, as far as spending government funds is concerned. Therefore, it is high time for everyone to acknowledge the harsh realities and be prepared to cut down on spending, to make the nation's economy stronger in the long run.

Austerity, better job and employment opportunities, better health care, good governance, more openings for higher level of education and construction of physical infrastructure among others, are needed at once to stop the exodus of skilled and much needed manpower from the country and to foster good governance and build a stronger economy. It is another fact that the flight of youths seeking better education and skilled manpower leaving the country to work for higher paying jobs in foreign countries and others who see little chance of making a living here and thus go abroad to work in dangerous, difficult and dirty working conditions in whichever country they can afford to go and wherever they can find jobs, no matter whatever the consequences should also be taken as compulsion of the people in general.

We read news about Nepalis dying in foreign countries where they have gone to work and also being cheated by local manpower agencies and foreign companies and being held in captivity and receiving ill-treatment from callous employers in many places. The government should not remain content just because it receives remittance from such workers and now it has an abundant amount in foreign currency reserves, but it has to also be serious about this problem afflicting thousands of Nepalis and monitor the activities of manpower agencies and even officials who maybe working in cahoots with such crooks.

Brighter note

On a brighter note, some sort of enthusiasm is steadily being infused in the hearts of the people by several decisions taken by the government to fulfil its target of taking Nepal to the 'developing countries' category within a couple of years. The boost given by the recent visit to India by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda to participate in the swearing in ceremony of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during which he held talks with his counterpart and other high ranking officials, has also reflected emphatically Nepal's stance to have friendly relations with all countries, especially its two giant neighbours, India and China.

Therefore for now, it would be a wise move to sincerely follow a philosophy, which tells that difficult times are also periods when anyone can reflect on their past mistakes and realise that the doors of better opportunities will open up sooner or later. All the political leaders should heed this advice and unitedly work for a better Nepal where all the people can live happily and be tolerant of each other through thick and thin.

(The author is former chief editor of this daily.)

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