After the first phase of government formation, Nepal’s coalition partners have brought out a 21-point Common Minimum Programme (CMP). This indeed provides a clear direction to the government of ideologically different parties. Theoretically, CPM is a document outlining the minimum objectives of a coalition government. It facilitates power sharing, sets boundaries and helps bringing political stability. Critics argue the coalition government ‘may give rise to horse-trading for the purpose of providing majority’ and blame the federal political system for the emergence of this situation. Parties in the coalition range from republican to monarchical. In such situation, CMP can work as a basis for being in a same boat for the unequal partners.
Low economic growth, employment dependency, ballooning trade deficits, poverty, unemployment, worsening public fiscal management and deindustrialisation are just few problems our economy has been facing for the last many years. No past government has worked seriously on these crucial problems and found and applied concrete solution. Consequently, these problems got complicated. Much of the superficial solutions applied in the past are not going to work as complicated economic problems have surfaced globally as well as locally recently.
Success and trust of any government categorically lies now in resolutely resolving these biting economic problems and improve the living standard of the people. Looking closely to the CMP shows that an efficient governance of the national economy has been agreed and it has emphasised on tackling the needs of Nepal's poor and marginalised population. First, the CMP vows to preserve, protect and promote social harmony and enforce law and order without fear or favour to ensure safe economic and social environment. Our society is already divided in various lines. It should not be further divided. CMP recognises the linkage between social harmony, security and economic development. National security should include both traditional and modern form of security, taken together as human security.
Border security, internal peace, harmony, inclusive development and prosperity are considered crucial for social cohesion. CPM keeps the national interest at the heart of governance and commit to resolve the citizenship issue within the next six months. Second point that has been stressed in the CMP is about ensuring that the economy grows at higher rate in the future in a sustained manner generating productive employment and decent work so that each Nepali family is assured of a safe and viable livelihood. It is a fact that growth becomes pro-poor when the share of labour in national income is increased through more and better paid-employment and self-employment opportunities. This calls for better investment environment and empowering of the national growth engine by boosting the productivities of all factors of production.
The CPM stresses on urgently unleashing the creative energies of the private sector, and promises to resolve the undergoing loan crisis in the country. Several policy and structural reforms are committed. CMP has also declared to make our politics and administration more and more private sector friendly and private sector to be more and more production friendly. Promoting sustainable economic development and boosting domestic production have been agreed by the coalition partners.
Third, CMP has included clear provisions for the enhancement of the welfare and well-being of farmers, farm labour and workers, particularly those in the informal sector, and has assured a secure future for their families in every respect. This is a clear policy departure because of the fact that Nepal’s farm sector has deteriorated over the years despite the fact that more than 60 per cent of our employment is still in this sector. There is indeed a need to attract youth in agriculture and increase domestic production for import substitution and export promotion. CPM tries to make our farm sector more competitive as well as lucrative so that income disparity between this sector and other sectors can be reduced. Quality education and infrastructures have been committed in the CMP.
Fourth, inclusive development and governance approach has been declared in the common programme of the coalition. For a diverse country with so many castes, ethnicities and religions, it is absolutely necessary to listen and address everyone’s right and legitimate concerns so that everyone loves this country and makes contribution for its prosperity. The new government has recognised and vows to empower women, poor, marginalised communities politically, educationally, economically and legally. It also assures for rule of law to be prevailed in the country. Indeed, opportunities must be enlarged and made fair for all for everyone’s upper mobility.
All dimensions of good governance need to be activated and applied in practice. Action should speak louder than the words, as the CMP rightly argues. There is a need for co-governance among all state actors for the CMP to really translate into practice. CMP has promised for quality service delivery. Commitment to good governance, development and prosperity are other special features of the CMP.
In sum, the newly-formed coalition government’s worth lies in its ability to heal the persisting economic woes of the country. This is exactly where they have agreed in their CMP. While coalition partners are in difficulty for working together, the CMP will certainly create a ground for partnership through their policy priority. Indeed, the fruits of democracy are distributed through right public policies and their right prioritisation. What is true is the fact that many of the policies stated in the CMP are consistent with the policies stated in the ongoing 15th national plan. Hence, CMP will not be very new for our bureaucracy for its implementation.
(Dr. Bhusal is an expert in poverty, employment and social protection.)