By PR Pradhan
“Prosperity”, it sounds good, but there are many hurdles in its path, moreover, the government created problems and corruption are the main hurdles. Reports state that the number of youths going abroad for work has already crossed seven million. Every day, 1500 to 2000 youths are going to the Gulf countries seeking dirty and hard work. A large number of energetic and healthy manpower is abroad for work and at the same time the country is facing shortage of labour force. It has become rare to see youths in villages. Fertile agriculture land is thus left unused due to lack of manpower. Contrary to such a situation, the government is encouraging youths to go abroad for dirty jobs while endorsing agreements with one after another country for consumption of Nepali labour force there. Under the agreements, Nepali labours can go without paying any fees, even without paying airfare to some countries. Due to the government’s efforts, the labour market in South Korea and Japan has also been opened and these countries have become the attractive destinations for the Nepali youths. How can the government think about prosperity within the country by sending all working young youths abroad? Due to lack of necessary labourers, Nepal has become an attractive destination for the Indian workers. Either in the construction sector or in the industrial sector or in the agricultural sector, there is seen a strong domination of the Indian labourers. This is the Nepali reality.
Perhaps, the government argument could be that remittance has supported in boosting Nepal’s economy. The reality is that 80 percent of the money received by the Nepali families through remittance is being spent in non-productive sectors such as buying of luxury items, mostly imported from India. The first priority of the family receiving remittance amount sent by relatives abroad is to purchase land and construct a house in the city areas. Furthermore, their choice will also be in purchasing television sets and motorbikes imported from India. The government seems happy while collecting revenue from these imported goods. Ultimately, such a trend will not support in making the nation prosperous permanently. The nation can feel real prosperity when she can claim the country has become self reliant in agro-products. The nation could be transformed into a prosperous one if the government is able to reduce the alarming state of trade deficit it faces with many other countries with which it is a trading partner.
Infrastructure development is also the main part in transforming any nation and bringing in prosperity. Yes, the government has ended electricity load-shedding, not because of locally generated electricity, but by importing electricity from India. May be, after some years, especially during the rainy season, the country is going to be self reliant in electricity. But during the winter season, the country will face scarcity of power. Local experts are saying that permanent solution to end load shedding will be construction of reservoir model of hydropower projects. Such reservoir style projects can generate necessary electricity needed in the dry seasons as well. Besides, water can be used for irrigation also. The government is competing with the private sector while constructing run-of-the-river model hydropower projects, but it has not given priority in constructing reservoir model projects. Nepali citizens – besides other taxes including road construction fee and environment fee – are still contributing to the government plan to construct reservoir model projects. In each litre of petrol, the consumers are paying five rupees to the government treasury established to construct a reservoir model hydropower project. What has happened to this fund, we don’t know.
Transportation is important for prosperity. But it is sad to state that none of the roads and highways is in a condition to travel or to transfer goods. Many of the highway maintenance or their expansion or construction works are either incomplete or impending as the construction contractors have disappeared. The government has been unable to take any action against such construction contractors as they are the main financers of the political parties in the government. Even in the already completed projects, their quality and standards have not been maintained. We don’t need to go far away, in Kathmandu, the two bridges – one in Kalimati, another in Naya Baneshwor are not in operation even after their completion as the construction contractors have not met the quality and standards required while constructing these bridges. The government bidding policy is wrong. As per the government mechanism, the bidder who offers the cheapest rate is rewarded the construction or purchasing works. In this way, the contractors offer the lowest price just to capture the project. The contractors are confident that they can manipulate in the quality and standards by influencing the concerned government officials with money. Unless the government makes correction in such a practice, there will be no improvement and Nepal will not be transformed into the prosperous lad it has been envisioned as.
Although the leaders in the government have been shouting about a “Prosperous Nepal” every day, this is a far away dream as the present system is still a very corrupt system which is contributing to bring prosperity for the leaders and bureaucrats who are in the government organs only.