‘All parties are now following policies Congress embraced’


Onlinekhabar caught up with Ram Sharan Mahat, NC leader and former finance minister known for liberalising the Nepali economy, to talk about policies economic policies that his party will adopt, at a time when people are expecting an economic revolution to sweep the country, with the task of promulgating a constitution through a popularly-elected Constituent Assembly already completed. Excerpts from the interview taken at a time when the NC’s 13th general convention is round the bend:

Policies matter

The country is currently moving ahead on the basis of economic policies that the Congress party adopted. In this country, I don’t see see any other party’s economic policies’ save the Congress’. Congress is the party that adopted the policy of political liberalism in Nepal and institutionalised it. No other party was in favour of pluralism, democracy and parliamentary system. Other forces were either leftist or pro-Panchayat. Now, all parties are following the policies that the Congress embraced.

Economically speaking, we stood for social justice and democratic socialism. This is a middle path; it is neither communist nor capitalist. This path is acceptable to the whole world today. Capitalism and communism of the yore have gone. Democratic socialism is the middle path.

After 1990, we took a new course. For economic growth, we adopted policies that promoted private capital, lifted restrictions on foreign capital, promoted the private sector. These policies had it that the government should play a role in social sectors and other areas where the private sector would not invest. These sectors were infrastructure development, poverty alleviation and social justice.  We started the privatisation of many dysfunctional public enterprises.

The move came under fire. But these days, all parties are embracing these policies. They all are following the same. Prime Minister from the ultra-leftist Maoist party has signed BIPPA with India and pledged to protect foreign investment. Recently, Prime Minister (KP) Oliji called for Indian investment in Nepal. There’s no need to talk about Congress’ economic policies as these policies have already taken root in the country.

Unfortunately, during general conventions, there are talks about leaders than their policies. No one, not even journalists, bothers about policy papers. That’s why policies appear to have slipped into oblivion. Policies do not change in short intervals. Our election manifestos are there. At the party’s general convention as well, we will present our policy papers.

It’s economy, stupid
Economic prosperity and development is the need of the country. For this, people who have understood the economy should be in leadership positions. People like me, who have understood the economy, should be leading government to reorient the focus on the economy.

We should not be wasting time by delivering speeches. Rather, we should invest our time for the sake of development, economic growth and justice. It’s time to stop going for general strikes and movements. For 10 years, we should concentrate on development. That is how we can rebuild this country. We do not need to discuss much on development models. We have embraced a model that the entire world has accepted. We should reward hard work, entrepreneurship and innovation. Only by attracting investment, working hard and developing entrepreneurship can we move ahead.

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