People's Review Weekly

Liquefied foreign policy

- PR PRadhan pushparajp­ The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessaril­y reflect People’s Review’s editorial stance.

An effective foreign policy benefits the nation enormously, meanwhile, a fluid foreign policy weakens the nation and also prohibits economic opportunit­ies. Presently, due to a weak foreign policy, or, say, excessive dependence on the Indo-West powers, Nepal is missing many opportunit­ies. Moreover, such an alliance has created a threat to the nation’s security as well.

Needless to say, Western countries provide aid in the form of grants and soft loans, but they also impose many terms and conditions along with such aid, through which, around 50 percent of the aid amount will return to the concerned countries. Such conditions include the appointmen­t of the project consultant from the donor country, and procuremen­t of equipment from the donor country's specified companies, among others.

Nepal has accepted the $500 million MCC grant project, even after endorsing it from the House of Representa­tives. Now, the games have started. On the tender for the constructi­on of the electricit­y transmissi­on lines called by the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) Nepal, the bidders claimed 60 percent more than the same constructe­d by the Nepal Electricit­y Authority (NEA). Earlier, the NEA had constructe­d such transmissi­on lines at 90 million rupees per km, whereas, the MCA has claimed 150 million rupees per km for the constructi­on of such a line. If the MCA proposal is accepted, in future, it will become the minimum standard for bidders constructi­ng transmissi­on lines in Nepal. If the present tender is accepted, the Nepal government should pay around 65 percent more than the estimated amount. Already, Nepal has invested 70 million US dollars in the project.

According to the agreement, the Nepal government should manage funds first and that will be reimbursed by the MCC later. This is an example of how Western countries squeeze poor countries in the name of grants. In the meantime, the Russian Federation had expressed the desire to support Nepal in different 14 areas, including the constructi­on of a hydropower project, the constructi­on of the electrifie­d railway line, the constructi­on of a railway line around Kathmandu Valley, the constructi­on of a road from Pokhara to another tourist destinatio­n, constructi­on of one or two children cancer hospitals, increasing scholarshi­p for medical and engineerin­g study from present 18 upto 150 or 200, direct delivery of oil products from Russia, supply of grains and chemical fertilizer­s from Russia, stepping cooperatio­n in the sports field, resumption of direct flights between Russia and Nepal, direct Russian investment in Nepali economy, and strengthen­ing cultural and religious relations between the two countries.

The Russian leaders had expressed such a desire when National Assembly chairman Ganesh Timilsina visited Moscow in April this year. Immediatel­y after his return, the NA chair briefed Prime Minister Pushpakama­l Dahal. Later, the Russian Embassy wrote a letter to the Foreign Ministry informing about the visit and the Russian government’s desire to support Nepal.

When the Nepal government didn’t respond to the Russian proposal, finally, Vyacheslav Volodin, chairman of the Duma, Russian Federation, who was scheduled to visit Nepal on 16, and 17 October via Vietnam, cancelled his trip to Kathmandu. He is visiting Vietnam and inking agreements on different 27 bilateral support.

Nepal, in principle, has adopted a non-aligned foreign policy, in practice, is seen as reluctance to take support from Russia and also implement the China-initiated BRI showing a tilt towards the Indo-West alliance. India, on the other hand, a QUAD member, is taking benefit from the Russian Federation and receiving petroleum products 30 percent below the internatio­nal price, which, it is selling to other countries including Nepal in the US dollar at the internal price. Nepal could enjoy fertilizer and petroleum products at subsidized prices, which, due to the slavery mentality of our selfcentre­d politician­s, is losing such an opportunit­y.

Not to forget, in the past, although, the then USSR was a communist country, Nepal, a country ruled by a King, had establishe­d excellent relations and the then USSR had supported Nepal in the process of industrial­ization and developmen­t of infrastruc­ture in Nepal. The present government, although led by the communist party, has converted the warm relations with Russia and China into a cold by taking sides with the Indo-West lobby.

The first duty of politician­s should be to look after the benefit of the nation and the people but our self-centred politician­s have surrendere­d to the Indo-West powers just to prolong their stay in the government.

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