The increasingly unpredictable precipitation patterns of South Asian monsoons are an irrefutable proof of climate change. There are still a few holdouts who are still not convinced that the new global weather patterns are permanent. But they are a dwindling bunch. A new Asian Development Bank report, “Assessing the Costs of Climate Change and Adaptation in South Asia”, once again highlights the new climate-related vulnerabilities the world (and South Asia in particular) is facing. Climate change-driven events like melting glaciers, says the report, pose a grave risk to Nepali economy. If urgent steps are not taken to halt climate change, Nepal would see economic losses equivalent to 2.2 percent of GDP by 2050, and 9.9 by the end of the century. But along with stark reminders of the costs of ignoring climate change, the report also offers a ray of hope: “If mitigation and adaptation steps are taken, the damage could be limited to around 2.4% of GDP by 2100.” The message is clear: it is still not too late to forestall the worst impacts of climate change.
There is not much happening in the country except that financial institutions are flush with funds and the central bank is busy mopping up this excess liquidity. Yet we are constantly complaining that there is shortage of investments! The demand for funds from the private sector is so low that banks are struggling to find profitable outlets. Rise in remittance has further increased bank deposits. Naturally, treasury bills rates have decreased significantly and so have inter-bank rates.
So here we are: a poor country complaining of shortage of funds when money sits idle both in banks and government treasury. The central bank is already complaining that its reverse repo measures are temporary and won’t succeed unless the government channels spending in productive activities in line with national priorities. As for the government, it remains in a state of near permanent torpor. The ministries are simply unable to make use of available capital. During budget preparation there is a rush to inflate capital budget but once the allocations are made the government machinery is incapable of spending.
The formal inauguration of 253 kilometers long Lhasa-Shigatse track of Qinghai-Tibet Railway and potential future railway track from Shigatse to Kerung—the nearest Chinese town from Nepal—along with the Chinese government’s decision to allow its citizen to travel Nepal without any prior approval happened to take place during the same week. These two seemingly small activities from the northern neighbor kicked off right after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Nepal. It seems New Delhi is more disturbed by these activities than Kathmandu.
Nepali political leaders, policymakers and media were busy for almost two months preparing the list of things to ask Modi during his visit. The list included almost everything from ambulances to mega hydropower projects. They also wanted to talk about revisiting the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship. But by now it has become clear that Modi’s visit was not meant for taking care of Nepal’s development but a careful strategic move of New Delhi.
Recently a number of Federal Socialist Party Nepal (FSPN) leaders, including its vice chairman Bijaya Subba, returned to CPN-UML, the party they had left to found FSPN in 2012. Many had predicted that CPN-UML would not fare well in the CA II polls following mass defection from a substantial number of leaders and cadres belonging to indigenous ethnic groups. To everyone’s surprise, CPN-UML emerged as the second largest force in the CA II leaving behind UCPN (Maoist).
Against this background, the rise of CPN-UML is indeed remarkable. An analysis on its rise provides an overview of entire CA II elections result. The split in the two of the major leftist parties—UCPN (Maoist) and CPN-UML—had undoubtedly benefitted the centrist NC in the CA II elections. While CPN-Maoist rejected CA II elections, the splinter group from CPN-UML contested the elections under the banner of FSPN. CPN-M leaders, who had serious differences with the establishment, waged a ferocious street battle to disrupt the polls. When it was clear that the elections could not be stopped, CPN-M leaders apparently gave their undeclared support to CPN-UML by making sure their supporters voted for CPN-UML at the expense of UCPN (Maoist).
It’s a farce, an open mockery of parliamentary democracy. The legislature-parliament has been rendered useless with our vaunted lawmakers going AWOL during vital deliberations. Most of them go to the parliament, register their presence—and then vanish. At least a fourth of all lawmakers must be present in the house, the legislature-parliament’s regulations provision, for a tabled motion to go ahead. The current strength of the legislature-parliament is 575, so there must be at least 142 lawmakers present at any time. But even this minimum quorum is being routinely violated. Vital bills are piling up as a result. Interestingly, the same lawmakers who skip vital sessions are now up in arms against the government. They claim the government ignores most of the issues raised in the parliament. They have a point. In parliamentary democracy, the executive is answerable to the sovereign legislature. Not so in Nepal. Not a single issue raised individually during the ‘zero hour’ has been addressed.