Nepal’s Republican Constitution and Economic Revolution

Madhukar Samser RanaBy Madhukar SJB Rana–

A Constitution that subscribes to socialism, and is not FDI friendly at all, can create the environment for any economic revolution? That is in so far as its ideological moorings go.

However, let’s turn to executing the Constitution. We find that 315 existing laws have to be made compatible with the new Constitution while another 138 new laws have to be enacted by the Parliament. How long will this take for this Parliament? My guess is that in the 7 years of the CA’s existence no more than 28 bills were enacted by it. This is just 4 per annum! I believe there are around 65 bills still pending enactment from the period 2008-15.

Needless to underscore that Parliamentarians are more busy with lobbying to become ministers; members in select committees, and in the innumerable commissions than sharpening their minds to be challenged by the required legal matters.

Let us be crystal clear that with the same leaders who have the same feudal mindsets—and more interested in power and pelf than the parliamentary system– is unlikely to deliver what the new Constitution desires.

Whatever happened to the popular preference for a directly elected PM? Obviously, such a structural change in the parliamentary system would not be in the self interest of the political oligarchs who seeks consensual deals with no alternative views being debated in parliament. Even if such views do prevail the whip system effectively kills dissent.

Yes, the Constitution is officially promulgated and the Constituent Assembly dissolved. But the Madhesi and Tharu rejection of the Constitution has led the India backed de facto economic blockade which are so critical for the supplies of POL products from India.

These two Terai communities demand that Constitution be revised to conform to its demands regarding the delineation of the two federal territories,and change to the electoral system with provision for greater proportionality for their better inclusion in tune with the distribution of population, among others.

Hence, de facto, the CA process will linger on until the above matters are settled resulting in less priority for legislative matters. But the light at the end of tunnel is redeemed by the fact that amendments to the Constitution can be effected by simple majority unlike in the Constituent Assembly which required a two thirds majority.

The other reason why it is unlikely that Nepal will experience an economic revolution anytime soon is this: following the federalization of Nepal the next structural problem will arise with  respect to (a) downsizing the central government involving massive transfers of bureaucrats to the federal states causing bureaucratic displeasure leading to further instability, and (b) this will be compounded by the quota system to apply in the process in the quest for inclusion of the marginalized communities.

We underscore the above argument as any economic revolution necessitates comprehensive stability — political , administrative and policy, especially macroeconomic.

Lack of the above mentioned factors prevailing will result in grave threats to the internal security of  the new Republic. And which can be further compounded, and made more complex, by external interferences into our body politic.

(Former Finance Minister of Nepal,Rana is currently professor at the South Asian Institute of Management)

Source: Asia Pacific Daily, Kathmandu issue.

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