Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has termed 2077 BS as the ‘Year of Success’ even though national economy is in shambles due to COVID-19 and political instability triggered by the dissolution of the House of Representatives.
Addressing the nation on the occasion of the New Year 2078 BS on Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Oli sidestepped from taking about the current political deadlock or public scrutiny towards bad governance.
He listed the creation of an environment conducive to peaceful politics by Netra Bikram Chand group as an important achievement of his government.
Prime Minister Oli also mentioned in his address that he had issued a new political map by including Limpiyadhura within Nepali territory.
“My government released a new map of Nepal that covers our territory. This has made all Nepali people joyful and enthusiastic. National pride and confidence of Nepalis have increased because of the new map,” he said.
He added that there was no longer politics of violence in the country, meaning there is no group that uses politics of violence to achieve its objectives.
As working-class people suffered last year at the hands of months-long lockdown induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Oli-led government was widely criticized for its inept handling of the crisis.
Prime Minister Oli, meanwhile, claimed that his government’s first priority was to protect the lives of citizens. “The economy and the lives of the people are paramount,” he said.
He also claimed that people were being unnecessarily provoked and driven on the verge of frustration despite the government doing a good job.
“We have done a lot to inspire hope among Nepali citizens. Despite attempts to discourage the public and provoke dissatisfaction, the government did not deviate from its duties,” Oli.
He, however, did not clarify who was trying to dissuade the public.
Prime Minister Oli also presented a list of development works and the laying of foundation stones of various projects carried out by his government last year.
He mentioned that 12 houses were being constructed in the country every day, the number of recipients of social security allowance has exceeded three million, at least one more suspension bridge was being built every day, and roads in the Tarai region was widened to four-lane.
Oli also included the construction of tracks and bridges in several places for the East-West Railway and the operation of steamers in Koshi and Gandaki in the list of achievements made by his government last year.
“We have no interest in joining the race for taking credit,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Atlantic Council, a think tank, reported that Nepal’s poor governance track record—characterized by inadequate leadership after the 2015 earthquake, a divided ruling party, corruption and mishandling of funds by the government, and questionable governance practices by the prime minister—not only puts the population at a disadvantage in weathering the pandemic, but it also may deal additional blows to the country’s health and economic wellbeing.
Nepal entered the pandemic era with several severe underlying crises, largely due to the government’s 2015 mishandling of earthquake disaster response, creating the conditions ripe for pandemic response failure in 2020.
Overcrowding, malnutrition, and little to no income—factors associated with poverty in Nepal—heighten individuals’ susceptibility to COVID-19 and render adherence to public health safety measures, as well as access to medical care, nearly impossible.
The Nepali government has pervasively and glaringly mismanaged their pandemic response: it faces various allegations of instigating corruption, manipulating food prices, and neglecting quarantine facilities.
Given Nepal’s Least Developed Country (LDC) status, the economy cannot bear the cost of further corruption.
Poor governance diverts necessary funds from COVID-19 relief efforts and heavily undermines future plans for economic recovery that could secure the lives of the quarter of the population that lives below the United Nations poverty line or the families that depend on remittances, which make up 26 percent of the economy.
Instead, party members noted leadership spent the time deadlocked in a power tussle: since a faction in the party led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal channeled its energy to weakening Prime Minister Oli, governing leaders did not place enough emphasis on the pandemic and its impacts.
Continued intra-party disputes and dismissal of the pandemic led to greater suffering and delay urgently needed measures to weather the aftershocks.
A further hindrance to COVID-19 relief efforts routinely lies in Oli’s ineffective governance practices.
To date, there is ample evidence that incompetent leadership is costing innocent lives; given Oli continuously undermines the severity of COVID-19, Nepal may be heading down a similar path.
In conjunction, the Oli administration prioritizes political maneuvers that aim to consolidate the prime minister’s power—censorship of the media, controversial new ordinances, and a border skirmish with India, to name a few—over COVID-19 relief efforts that benefit the general population.