Cronyism in Nepali politicsThe government instead of acting as a neutral player seems instead to be a puppet in the hands of a few individuals.
News of a restaurant structure within the Narayanhiti Palace Museum has been doing the rounds in the last few days. At the heart of the current scandal is Batas Group, a company that has managed to diversify its activities to such an extent to have a finger in every pie. The restaurant's construction has now been put on hold, with the government believing that it was an illegal infrastructure in the first place. The crucial question is, who gave the go-ahead in the first place? And this is not the only instance where state-owned assets are generously accorded to specific individuals or groups.
Is there a procedure the authorities adhere to when they offer public assets to private individuals? Or is based on their whims and fancies? If not, then how would one justify first the construction of the structure within controlled premises only to pull it down, citing illegality? Instead of acting as a neutral player in promoting fair play, the government seems to be a puppet in the hands of a few individuals who determine the distribution of public resources in their favour totally in control of the laws of the land.
As can be seen, the ramifications of cronyism will have other devastating effects on Nepal's social, economic, and political fabric. In contrast, it deters honest individuals from making sound economic contributions. And with only specific individuals and businesses falling into the favour of the politicians and accessing public resources, there is a high probability that the nexus between the two groups will erode the rule of law. The authorities will be reduced to passive spectators, while the real decision-makers will be a select group of people determining the country's course for their benefit.
Instead of the state benefiting from the riches of trade and commerce, only a particular group above the reaches of law will thrive. The issue of opening a restaurant within the premises of Narayanhiti Museum focuses on what is fundamentally wrong with policymaking in Nepal. The tentacles of cronyism are not just limited to allocating lucrative contracts ensuring financial windfall.
Given the unstable political situation, Nepal witnesses the frequent change of government. Usually, the same group of politicians play the game of musical chair and each successive change. There are new appointments in the civil service, experienced hands are transferred merely on whims, and people appointed it seems to complete a backdoor promise. It does not even spare international attention. The Deuba administration recently decided to recall those ambassadors politically appointed by the previous Oli-led administration. And it is the same story with each successive government. To reap the benefits of our political struggle, primarily aimed at ending cronyism. In that case, the practices of a fair rule need to be initiated by those at the top.