Nepal’s Maoist lead government unveiled its budget last month. Finance Minister Dr. Babu Ram Bhattarai presented the NRs 236 billion (US $1=NRs. 76 approx.) budget during Constituent Assembly meeting. The new budget is almost 40% higher than last year’s.
In country wrecked by decade long civil war, decaying infrastructure, roller coaster of a business environment and limited internal revenue sources, the mammoth budget sure seems like an unaffordable tasty treat. Dr. Bhattarai plans to pay for this expensive dream through foreign donations and loans-NRs. 65 billion, internal resources-NRs. 129 billion and will run up a deficit of NRs. 41 billion. The government also plans to generate funds through reforms and revised tax rates, domestic borrowing and previous year’s cash surplus.
According to the state owned Gorkhapatra Daily, the philosophical foundation of the new budget is to “eliminate all forms and remnants of feudalism and establish Socialism-oriented industrial capitalism”.
Dr. Bhattarai is planning to usher Nepal into the new era of Socialist oriented Capitalism, choosing to ignore that the country cannot afford Socialism-at all. Nepal needs a vigorous push towards Capitalism -the pure kind.
Looking at Capitalist giants like the United States take serious blow because of credit crises, it is easily to dismiss the system as being flawed. No one is happy to see the markets crash but what happened in America was not Capitalism’s fault-it was because the government chose not to enact strict laws and guidelines and allowed Wall Street to be the boss. Without enough regulations, businessmen got crazy and made bad deals with short term focus. Capitalism works, but the government has to be willing to be tough at times of need.
In Nepal’s case, for long the country has been run by those who believe government is the second god and unfortunately the people believe that absurdity. Business, education, health economy, culture, religion, national heritage, and defense-everything imaginable under the sun is believed to be government’s responsibility. If government is going to do everything then what is our responsibility as citizens? What is the purpose of being a democracy when you are willing to place all the power in hands of the government?
Not only in Nepal but in lot of developing countries in Asia and Africa, government and the influential elite have been brainwashing the people to believe that they are mere citizens dependent on the mercy of the government. The entire social, economic and political structure is set-up in a way to rob people of their power and subjugate them to the government.
To keep this subjugation, Socialism is used as a weapon. That system is used to keep people dependent on the government handouts. Country’s industries are nationalized, businesses are under direct government control, health care and education is at the whim of the ministries. An entire system of dependency is created whereby citizens are forced to feel powerless.
If you take out the dependency created by Socialism and empower people to make their own choices through free enterprise and market driven economy, they will be able to rebuild their nation. Nepal needs similar kinds of empowerment, where people take back the power and show government its place.
Another shameful aspect of Nepal’s Socialist dreams is that the government proudly declares that it is expecting NRs. 65 billion of foreign loans and donations to fund its expensive pie in the sky budget. The country has limited resources so the help is welcome; frankly it helps the nation function. Unfortunately over the years the dependency on foreign help has gotten very severe. It is as if the world community is obliged to help Nepal. True the donations and loans help fund vital programs in the country but it is not helping Nepal. It is just feeding another developing nation instead of encouraging it to find its own path. I mean how many spoon fed Asian and African countries have come out of poverty in last decade? If only Nepal could shed Socialism inspired emotion of victim hood and embraced the opportunities Capitalism has to offer, the government would actually be ashamed of being dependent on foreign donations and have a more dignified and affordable budget.
Previously published at UPI Asia Online and Nepal Abroad.