Rein In Growing Arrears

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It is indeed alarming that when even partners in the present coalition government have admitted that arrears are piling up in the financial transactions of the country. According to a report in the TRN, the Office of the Auditor General stated that arrears in this fiscal year have piled up to Rs. 483.6 billion, which a country with a declining economy can ill afford.

The report also mentions that such an economic burden has befallen on this struggling nation because of ‘fiscal indiscipline’ and also lack of accountability among government officials and political leaders from the grassroots level to leaders in big metropolitan cities.

It is heartening to see a young reporter and also a seasoned former bureaucrat emphasising on the need for responsibility and accountability. In fact, in a TV interview a few days ago, the former bureaucrat repeatedly talked about the importance of accountability, a campaign loyally followed by this writer for many years. But this former bureaucrat is also known for his cleverness in stringing words like many smart ‘seminar experts’, while talking in any workshops or conferences. 

Prosecution 

This writer further knows at first-hand how this same man had taken no responsibility when a senior journalist was taken into custody for some hours and later he was informed he could be jailed for up to two years without any chances for an appeal. For months, this journalist was prosecuted by the ‘democratic’ government led by late Girija Prasad Koirala and also the Nepal Police whose chief was a mere football player when he entered the police organisation. In fact, even after the government gave my friend a clean chit, this police officer threatened that the case was not over in his irritatingly nasal voice as told by this journalist to his close fellow workers after the incident.

A just retired senior police officer also said how this top level officer, also instructed policemen like him fighting at the frontlines, to kill  even innocent villagers in the remote villages of Mid-Western Nepal. This retired officer further informed that this man abusing his authority had imported 22 sporting rifles to fight the then Maoist rebels. This was a laughable decision, if so many police personnel did not have to sacrifice their lives in the line of duty. In recent times, many such officials have even been jailed for their involvement in corruption, but none of them seem to have any moral quality to hang down their heads in shame in their role to bring down the morale of the entire police force the majority of whom work day and night to provide security to the ordinary people. 

This is no diatribe against any person. It is only to point out the lack of discipline and accountability shown by individuals who were in high posts at one time or the other. Responsible, they definitely were not, as this word seemed to be something which they had never heard, and this goes to even ordinary people who tend to flout rules even while walking on the busy streets of Kathmandu.

Meanwhile, another report in TRN also informed readers of how the National Planning Commission had made the decision to implement ‘embossed’ number plates for vehicles and also for drivers to have smart driving licenses. This was not a bad decision, but the implementation part was not only hasty but also wrongly timed. At a time when the common folks are having a difficulty because of the alarming inflation rate in market prices, having burdened with more hardship just to get a driving license and an embossed number plate was adding more woes to these people who simply could not waste their time in wanting prompt government services while having to struggle just to make ends meet for themselves and their families.

Meanwhile, this writer was impressed by a speech made by Lee Hsien Loong, the current Prime Minister of Singapore, who is also the son of late Lee Kwan Yew, the first prime minister of that island state. The current prime minister has elaborately talked of how important accountability is and also how vital honesty is for small nations to move forward.It is history now how Lee turned the inhospitable Singapore into a much prosperous state envied even by the developed Western nations and admired by others.

In fact, late Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, the first prime minister after the reinstatement multi-party democracy in 1991, promised to make Nepal into another Singapore. But looking back now, this was merely a pipedream to only bolster the spirit of the ordinary people.

Right now, the piling up of arrears is an example of no sense of responsibility being shown towards the nation and a total lack of accountability on the part of elected individuals and government officials. This is simply not good for a struggling economy like that of our nation, which is facing other challenges, too.

Accountability

Just passing on the blame to others is also not good. For example, the courts orders the government to do this or that, the lawmakers in different committees of the Parliament draw the attention of the government to do this or that, the government ministers in turn give directives to the secretaries in various ministries to look after these issues, and the secretaries then instructs for the formation of committees and even commissions to look into the matter. By the time such committees come up with a vague sounding report, the issue is already forgotten. In this, the major media outlets must also be blamed for not doing proper follow-up stories.

If a mistake has been made, some persons or government institutions must have enough guts to say they were responsible for whatever has been done. They should not keep on passing the buck to others.  That is why accountability is a must in every sector, be it among political leaders, officials or even the general public. That is the only way how the country can move forward.

(Yug is a freelancer.) 

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Yug Bahadur
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