Friday, 3 December, 2021

Challenges Of Good Governance

Shyam Prasad Mainali

Good governance is about fair application of authority and utilisation of resources in implementing coherent governing plan for the best interests and priorities of people at large. It aims at protection and promotion of rights, welfare and well-being of the citizens through legitimised democratic governance under rule of law. It provides avenues for peace, crime control, fairness of public decision with legal certainty and equality. It avails for a bridled governmental power, qualified administration, and a system of fraud and corruption-free state operation.

The actions that are based on accountability in the process of execution of decisions taken by public authorities at the upper bracket of national organogram are totally in favour of the agendas of the public organisations meant to benefit public. Answerability refers to the obligation of government to provide public with the information of justification that their decisions are totally in favour of the welfare of the populace. Enforcement refers to the right of such bodies to take actions against the spoiler behaviours of any parties which are hindering the process of implementation of such decisions. 

The notion of transparency demanding access to information is highly linked with all activities of the state. The governing body should regularly inform the public about all activities of the government done in the name of citizens. Transparency can be guaranteed by regular delivery of information from the government bodies to the general public about the works they are doing. Otherwise, it starts loosing its credibility among the general public.

Participation is the involvement of citizens in a wide range of policy-making activities, including determination of types and levels of service, budget priority and acceptability of physical construction projects, in order to orient government programmes towards community needs The sense of ownership in this process leads to the feeling of sense of equality among the citizens and encourages harmony between them, build public support and encourage a sense of public cohesiveness in neighbourhoods.

Legitimacy provides a ground for the governing bodies to make decisions and effectively implement them in the targeted area. Without legitimacy, the decisions made by government or other assisting bodies of any government may face resistance from the public leading to even violent movements. The legitimacy can be challenged by the opposition even if the elected governing body acts against the will of the people.

Resposiveness and delivery of justice is directly related to delivery of public goods. The government is said to be able to deliver all the public goods and services the public are in need of. Public goods denote all the services that should be delivered by the state in an indiscriminate manner which are guaranteed by the constitution. The government and its bodies should be able to provide perpetual public goods in case of the public needs. Since the UN Declaration of Universal Human Rights on Decmber 10, 1948, the governments have given due consideration to human rights-related issues and public international law with the notion of responsiveness. The government of any country should be able to guarantee the human rights of the people and other rights which it has committed to fulfill while signing international conventions.

Major challenges have been faced by the governing bodies in the process of strengthening good governance, due to the poltical instability every cabinet thrived for survival. After the restoration of democracy, no political parties has been able to run the full term of the government. The difference between the political ideologies and mistrust between the parties taking part in government are seen polarised with other forces and operating to make a new coalition government. For the stability the government has always been trying to convince and work to the benefit of parties in voilation rather than focusing on meeting the demands of the people. This has resulted in numerous unpopular decisions from the cabinet. The consequences are eroded accountability, transparency and legitimacy of the government and the political parties.

Rampant corruption hampers the quality of governance. It is ironic that Nepal seems to be oriented towards institutionalised corruption gradually. Corruption not only hampers in the development process of the country and developing the public goods but it becomes more critical when corruption becomes a culture and starts getting acceptable to the the society. Corruption, nepotism, irresponsibility, among others, have become institutionalised problems of the bureaucracy in Nepal. This has turned out to be a bureaucratic culture. The consequence of such bureaupathological characters have negatively affected quality public service delivery.

Based on the latest data, Nepal is a country where more than 16 per cnet of its population live under the line of extreme poverty. In addition to this, the social structures of the country are so discriminating that they have hindered the equal participation of marginalised groups. The political stalemate and deadlock compel people to be pessimistic about the betterment of the society which has resulted in brain drain, migration, huge demographic changes and flow of working forces to foreign soil.
The ethnic tension between the people of Nepal has been gradually increasing. Such undesired situation has caused antagonistic relations between different ethnic groups creating security and social problems. This has also increased mistrust between the ethnic groups and sometimes they even come to the phase of encounter.

Political will
For statutory measures and institutional arrangements, Nepal needs a strong political will to ensure social, political and economic reforms. Economic disparities and social inequalities are taken as the main cause of decade long civil war. So, the government should focus on development activities and economic programmes and raise public awareness overcome social stereotypes, stigmas and superstitions. While doing so, the religious, ethnic and cultural aspects and meaningful materilisation of inclusion policy should be taken in high consideration.

(Mainali is former secretary of Government of