If you wander in the streets of Kathmandu and eavesdrop to people’s conversation then you’d probably hear this statement often: where are all these gas cylinders and petrol going? And it is not just the chitchats that pinpoint towards the statelessness in the nation; the rhetoric that Nepal is run by black-marketers seems visibly true. In the present context, the current government appears lackadaisical towards proper governance, rehabilitation and reconstruction programs for earthquake survivors, and ending of the stalemate through genuine negotiation with the Madesh based political parties. As we all know that our nation succumbs easily to conspiracy theories, we cannot but cogitate that the on-going situations, perhaps, maybe there’s a nexus of the powerful players in all this. On that premise I believe in following statements.
It is with not doubt that black-marketing is rife and uncontrolled in the country right now. oAccording to various reports and news the government has almost done nothing or seems to be lukewarm towards this scenario causing serious suffering to the general public. Black-marketing is not only a threat to the development of the nation but is a curse to those who are underprivileged.
Firstly, the sudden rise of black-marketing has given rise to some serious questions. Are international mafias involved in this, like they are for human trafficking? Why is the government allowing the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) to have its ways? Suddenly the case of Birat Petrol Inc has emerged as they have been given clean chit to sell petrol for higher prices than NOC is selling. It was only few months’ back that the owners of petrol pumps were arrested for tampering the pumps using mechanical devices. Secondly, businessmen, government employees, chief of petrol pumps at various locations, general public, and criminals have been involved in this illegal cause. Thirdly, the quasi-functional government is busy harping on how best the constitution is. Their democratic activism is laudable but not at the expense of people’s needs.
Secondly, the absence of proper laws related to sell of petroleum products has greatly allowed the businessmen to have their ways. Even though the blockade is over now, customers are still not having their hand on gas cylinders and petrol smoothly. This only shows the reluctance of businessmen and state coffers to let go the wealth they have been amassing through black-marketing. Transparency International (TI) Nepal has already said that the lack of proper governance and corruption in high state-levels have severely affected Nepal’s position in following the corruption acts it has signed to affirm its compliance at international level.
Thirdly, the present government’s inability to cope with this issue effectively only suggests that the bureaucracy and political leadership of Nepal are visibly corrupt. If the country is to progress as promised by the Constitution then corruption and black-marketing has to be curbed at all levels. Technology should be used to detach the direct negotiation between sellers and customers. Also, the authority given to the Commission for Investigation of Abuse & Authority (CIAA) needs to be enhanced and function effectively to investigate any untoward irregularities in the country.
It is always interesting to know that Nepal has signed several laws but have failed in implementing them repeatedly. It cannot be denied that we have progressed a lot legally in paper but when it comes the time for implementation of laws and accountability of state actors and its activities then it is startling. This scenario needs to be changed drastically if we are to escape poverty and come out of the status of an underdeveloped nation. There is greater need for all actors including the politicians, bureaucrats, private sector and even the general public to change their short term orientation of making life easy for themselves at the cost of others. The mindset needs to be changed at all level to remove the tag of inefficient and feeble Nation, which has been following Nepal.
The PM of Nepal recently visited India and had few deals signed and now he is planning his visit to China. We can only hope that newer deals will be signed to ease the energy crisis of the country. However, we must note that we need to move ahead to become self-reliant. The present situation doesn’t suit us to become so but it is also not unlikely in days to come. We need to focus on green-energy and diversify our trades. We also need to balance our ties with India and China and only then we can progress rapidly.
In nutshell, the present government must act (positively) immediately to curb black-marketing, accelerate reconstruction works, seal deal with the Madesh based political parties by putting an end to the stalemate, repairing strained ties with India, and working for people’s needs. The monopoly of NOC needs to be ended and make them accountable to Nepalese citizens. Or else the government is not worthy of ruling, nor the promises of Constitution will be fulfilled.
Arun Budhathoki is an International Relations graduate and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org