The government completes its 100 days in office today. On the occasion, The Rising Nepal and its sister publication Gorkhapatra daily talked with Minister for Communication and Information Technology Gyanendra Bahadur Karki about the government’s achievements and plans for the days ahead.
What are some of the major things the government has achieved in its first 100 days?
Before talking about the achievements, I would first like to mention the background in which this government was formed. After the elections, the leftist government formed with a near two-thirds majority had ample time to deliver prosperity and development to the people. But, that government, under Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, chose to focus on centralising power and pushed the country towards authoritarianism. This was clearly shown when he went against the core spirit of the constitution and dissolved the parliament twice.
For three and a half years, Nepali Congress fulfilled the role of a responsible opposition and did not intend to form or join the government. But the situation necessitated it.
In speeches, they (members of CPN-UML) call the present government a government by mandamus. But that is not so.
After former PM Oli said that he did not command a majority in the parliament and the President called for the formation of a new government in accordance with Article 76(5) of the Constitution of Nepal, 147 members of parliament submitted their signatures in support of Sher Bahadur Deuba. But, instead of moving forward with the necessary procedures, the government chose to dissolve the parliament. Naturally, we opposed the step and went to the Supreme Court.
The Court, for its part, did not state anything new. It simply reiterated what was written in the Constitution and paved the way in line with the wishes of a majority of the members of the House of Representatives. This is not a government by mandamus and is indeed a government of the parliament which has a proven backing of 165 lawmakers who had voted in favour of Prime Minister Deuba’s confidence motion.
That is why this government has been moving ahead with a steadfast commitment to democracy, rule of law and good governance.
In its first 100 days, the government has given the citizens a sense of stability. In my view, the most important achievement of this government is that it has protected the Constitution, democracy and the values and processes that the Nepali people fought for. The government has kept these things at the centre while working over the last 100 days and shall stay devoted to these principles in the coming days as well.
Yes, certain technicalities delayed the formation of the cabinet but now, the government is complete. And in the first meeting of the complete cabinet, the Prime Minister instructed all the ministers to work sincerely, enthusiastically and to the best of their abilities to meet the expectations of the people.
In its first 100 days, the government has worked honestly and whole-heartedly to fulfil the aspirations of the Nepali people.
Prime Minister Deuba had prioritised vaccination and the safeguarding of people against the coronavirus. So far, 34 per cent of the country’s population has been vaccinated.
How will the government move forward on this front?
The Prime Minister has made it clear that the government prioritises vaccination. We aim to vaccinate every citizen of the country before the end of this Bikram year ( by mid-April 2022) and we have received a lot of support from the international community as well.
The government is moving forward successfully on this front. Vaccination has allowed public life to return to normal and our society has been able to move beyond the pandemic.
Currently, the main opposition party CPN-UML has been obstructing parliament. What does the government plan to do to end this obstruction, resume parliamentary proceedings and pass the lawsnecessary for the country?
The parliament is a sacred place where we work for the sovereign citizens of Nepal and the responsibility to ensure that it runs smoothly falls on both the government and the opposition.
I, as the spokesperson for the Government of Nepal, hope that UML, which has been part of the parliamentary system for so long, understands that such obstruction not only prevents important bills from being passed but also weakens this system we all have fought so hard to establish.
The government does not wish to rule by ordinance but, if the parliament is not allowed to run then we will be forced to introduce them for crucial matters.
How does the present government view the media sector?
We are committed to press freedom. The government shall never infringe upon the constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of the press but we must all seek to create a dignified, independent and impartial media sector by ending unprofessional behaviour. We must discourage misinformation, disinformation and yellow journalism.
How does the government plan to proceed with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) that the private sector also wants implemented?
MCC is a development grant. The way it has been politicised is completely wrong. Hydroelectricity can be a great way to reduce the trade deficit of the country and MCC would help the country develop this sector.
MCC can help us realise our dream of prosperity. That is why it must be implemented, or else, we risk damaging our international credibility. It is necessary to cut through the misinformation surrounding MCC.
MCC is the property of the parliament and the people need it to be discussed and ratified there.
You have met with the leader of the opposition KP Sharma Oli numerous times. Have you discussed the obstruction of parliament and the ratification of MCC with him?
Our discussions have primarily centred on ending the obstructions to the parliament.
The topic of MCC may have popped up in context but that has not been the focus of our conversation. However, Oli had talked favourably about MCC when he was the Prime Minister and I expect that they still have a positive view of the grant now that they are outside of the government.
It is to be mentioned that nearly 50 countries have ratified MCC and all of them have had positive experiences. Mongolia, which is bordered by Russia and China, has accepted MCC twice.
What will the government do to revive the COVID-affected sectors and boost the country’s economy?
The government will work to revitalise the economy post COVID. We have also envisioned a welfare state, for which, we will focus on increasing production and ensuring equitable distribution. We do not lack natural resources and if we utilise them properly for the good of the people then Nepal can be a self-sufficient country within 10 years. We have great potential for hydroelectricity, agriculture and tourism. The government will work to realise this potential.
Does the government have a vision to orient the communication sector to the needs of the modern information age?
I believe in work more than talk. We live in a time when a country can be attacked by attacking its information and communication. While heading the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, I shall strive to make our communication and information systems strong and managed.
The previous government’s tenure was marred by disagreements within the ruling party which affected its ability to work. Should people worry that Nepali Congress might suffer the same fate,
especially when its 14th general convention is just a few months away?
We believe that the general convention will add energy to Nepali Congress. Our party leadership has always sought consensus on every issue and decision. People need not worry about the issue you have raised.
In the end, would you like to say something to the media and the journalists of the country as the Minister for Communication and Information Technology and the spokesperson of the Government of Nepal?
Let us all work with a focus on the rights of the Nepali people. National unity is the need of the time and journalists have a crucial role to promote it. The government is always ready to support them.
By Aashish Mishra