My Republica, Roshan Sedhai, 2nd May 2017, Kathmandu
Just 13 days ahead of the local polls slated for May 14, the main opposition CPN-UML unveiled its election manifesto on Monday, promising robust economic growth and infrastructural development in the next five years.
In its manifesto announced Monday, the second-largest party in parliament has said it is to increase the per capita income of Nepalis to US$ 5,000 within the next 10 years. It has also made several other big promises, including a more than two-fold increase in social security allowances, free healthcare, employment and massive economic development.
The manifesto, unveiled by UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli in the capital, has promised to undertake hundreds of big and small projects in social and economic development .
The UML manifesto is similar to the election manifesto unveiled by Nepali Congress. In its manifesto made public six days ago, NC made similar pledges, to canvas public support in the elections taking place after a gap of two decades. While some targets put forth by the two parties look achievable, many of their stated goals appear difficult to achieve.
Though the political parties are under no legal obligation to deliver on their promises, election manifestos are considered important as they reflect a party’s vision for the country and people.
UML, which led the government three times in the last five years, has also pledged massive economic growth. It has said that the party would bring this about by increasing investment in hydropower, agriculture, tourism and big industries. The party said it would generate 15,000 megawatts of electricity in 10 years. The party has expressed commitment to developing at least one industrial zone in each of the seven provinces.
It has also promised to raise the minimum wage for workers, improve the condition of the poor, elderly, women and children.
The party promises to increase social security allowances to Rs 5,000 from the current Rs 2,000 a month.
Besides putting forth its vision for economic development, the party has also announced it is to work on strengthening national security, maintaining balanced relations with neighboring and other countries and equipping the security forces with resources and logistics.
The 27-page document incorporates the party’s vision for the promotion of sports and culture, eco-friendly cities and resilient infrastructure. It has also expressed its commitment to press freedom.
After the party made its election platform public on Monday, hundreds of people took to social media like Facebook and Twitter to praise its vision. But the party also came under ridicule for some of its unachievable targets. Many criticized the party for making unrealistic promises like the operation of Nepal’s own ship and rail networks at a time when common people remain without decent transport facilities.
UML Secretary Yogesh Bhattarai said that the party is committed to delivering on the promises if given an opportunity to lead the governments at the local and national levels.
“Most of these targets are achievable within the given deadline. It is possible if we get enough public support,” said Bhattarai.