The government’s policy and programme, unveiled before the joint meeting of Federal Parliament on Friday, concentrates on overcoming multi-layer crisis triggered by COVID-19. The pandemic has not only caused medical emergency but also the economic recession owing to the prolonged lockdown and social distancing measures enforced to contain the spread of the virus. First and foremost, the policy document aims to rid the nation of coronavirus. For this, it commits to building the robust health infrastructure across the nation. The budget of fiscal year 2020/21 will allocate sufficient amount of resources to construct national and state level infectious disease hospitals with laboratory facilities while upgrading the existing regional level health centres. The policy paper contains the theme of ‘a Healthy Nepal’ to reorient the country’s health strategy that has not been effectively implemented in the past.
Altogether 19 health programmes have been introduced to deal with the infectious ailments. The establishments of Pandemic and Health Emergencies Fund and Centre for Disease Control are expected to expand the health services for the citizens. This announcement comes in the wake of the medical crisis caused by the novel coronavirus disease that has crippled normal life and activities. Health is the fundamental rights of the people as enshrined in the constitution. But the weak health infrastructure, paucity of human resources and expensive medical education has made the health service beyond the access of common people. The spread of coronavirus is now exposing rickety conditions of the health sector. It is imperative for the policymakers to adopt an integrated and comprehensive approach to strengthening the health institutions so that they can be able to cope with the health emergency of present scale.
Apart from health, the policy and programme has attached priority to economic recovery, education, employment generation and border security, among others. The two-year achievements had built a strong foundation for realising high goal of ‘Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali’ but it seems next to impossible to sustain the fast economic growth of last two years owing the pandemic. So the budget has focused on keeping the economy afloat by doling out attractive packages to those inclined to work and invest in the agriculture sector. Thousands of migrant workers have been laid off abroad and they need to be mobilised in different sectors once they return home for they have skills and experiences in running small to medium level enterprises. Agriculture is the ideal area for them because it is labour intensive sector that holds the key to attaining self-reliance in agro produce. It is good that the government will revive sick industries with new management, methods and process in collaboration with the private sector. While presenting the policy and programme, President Bidya Devi Bhandari said that the industry sector programmes would be run to increase productivity and production with the maximum use of available resources, capital, skills and technology. In yet another important commitment, Bhandari said the government would publish new political map including Kalapani, Lipulek and Limpiyadhura in it and push diplomatic efforts to bring back the land of Limpiyadhura and observe all border points. Ensuring the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of nation is the primary responsibility of the government. It has shown ample guts and determination to recover the encroached lands. In a nutshell, the policy document is realistic and pragmatic with many encouraging programmes but challenges lie in their successful implementation.