Oli counts success of the government while Covid-19 gradually grips the countryMinister for Health and Population Hridayesh Tripathi has publicly admitted that the government hasn’t succeeded in securing a deal to procure the additional vaccines.
In his address to the nation on the first day of Nepali New Year 2078, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli counted the achievements and works of the government. His Wednesday’s address wasn’t much different from the one on the third anniversary of his government on February 15.
In his close to one hour address, Oli claimed that last year was a success though the Covid-19 pandemic created some obstacles. He said the right policies and approach of the government led to a minimal loss of life and to the economy. He dedicated most of his speech in presenting the lists of the infrastructure projects from roads, bridges, schools and hospitals constructed by his government.
But Oli was short of providing the government’s plan to deal with a second wave of Covid-19 infections nor did he present a recovery plan. He did spend some time explaining about the threat of a second wave of infections requesting the public to remain alert and take precautions. But he didn’t talk about what efforts his government was making to ensure vaccines for all.
The Covid-19 vaccine is the most pressing issue at present as the second wave of the pandemic is gradually taking the country into its grip. The government is struggling to procure the additional jabs as the Serum Institute India is reluctant for the export while the Oli administration hasn’t made any concrete approach for the import from other vaccine manufacturers. As many as 603 new cases of the Covid-19 were reported on Wednesday alone.
Hridayesh Tripathi, the minister for Health and Population, has publicly admitted that the government hasn’t succeeded in securing a deal to procure the additional vaccines. Other than the gift from the Indian and the Chinese governments, the Oli administration has procured two million doses of vaccines from the Serum Institute, of which half has been delivered so far.
In his interview with Kantipur Television on Monday, Tripathi said the Serum Institute will deliver the remaining one million doses soon. He, however, said the government’s attempt to procure additional five million doses on the market price has failed. The government had paid $4 for each dose while procuring the two million doses. The market price could reach as high as $ 7-8 per dose.
“The middlemen posed obstruction in procuring the additional doses,” said Tripathi in the interview. “Covid-19 cases had soared in India by the time we got away from the middlemen. The Serum Institute then was reluctant to export.”
Experts say Oli’s Wednesday’s speech has only disappointed the general public. They say the people won’t believe his claim that the government made progress last year while the country’s economic growth was negative in the last fiscal. Nepal’s economy contracted by 1.9 percent in the last fiscal year.
“People fear that they would have to go through last year’s situation if the Covid-19 cases continue to rise,” Hari Roka, a political economist, told the Post. “Oli has completely failed to give a hope to the people.” Contrary to Oli’s claim that the effective moves by the government have increased the morale of the people, Roka said his speech has only increased pessimism.
He said through the prime minister’s speech the people were looking for the government’s plan to manage effective quarantine, testing, treatment and vaccination. Secondly, they wanted to hear what would the government do if the people lost their jobs as the cases are increasing and the situation could warrant another lockdown.
Even Oli, in his address has said as the health matters above everything else, the government could impose a lockdown as a last resort to contain the spread. Roka says Oli also failed to provide a plan to continue the teaching-learning process through the alternative means and a roadmap to boost the economy.
“Wednesday's Oli shows how narcissist is Oli,” he said. “Someone should tell him announcing the commencement of projects is not a development.”