Nepal as a whole is trying to get back (on track) after getting knocked over by the massive 7.6 M Gorkha Earthquake and its subsequent aftershocks. Though the aftershocks are still continuing and causing problems, a more serious problem is that a lot of confusion still needs to be cleared up.
For example, how will the reconstruction or rebuilding drive be carried out? Who will lead it and who will get what role? As this magazine goes to press, the authorities are still drafting the plans and one plan drawn up by one unit of the government is rejected by the other which in turn is drawing up its own plan. Worse, it is still not decided if there will be a new government (like the War Ministry led by Winston Churchill in Britain) though the proposal for the same is being discussed since the earthquake struck Nepal. Probably for that reason, it is still not clear which of the agencies of the country will lead the reconstruction.
In the some countries, the governments add some surcharge on the prevailing taxes to raise the additional funds needed for reconstruction. Will the Nepal government also adopt the same strategy? Indications so far show that there will be no such tax. But clarification on this from the relevant authority (The Ministry of Finance) will clear the confusion. And what will be the role of the government and private sector and the NGOs/INGOs? Will the latter be mere contractors of jobs got from the government or will they too be able to make their own plans and implement them in certain localities with their own resources? Will all the reconstruction jobs be contracted out to the Nepali private sector or will they have to compete with international bidders to get a contract? Will the entire procurement of construction materials come from the local market or will the rebuilders be allowed to import directly?
As these questions are critical to determine the business environment, the private sector will not be able to plan its activities, let alone implement them. Though business can function even in chaos (as the chaos will be taken as a given and the competitors too will be in the same situation), it cannot function in an environment of uncertainty over government policy. If such a confusing state is allowed to linger, the much-talked about opportunity to rebuild the country will be lost and the economy will be doomed to sink to even lower depths.
So far, the government has made it clear that it is not going to issue new building permits till mid-July 2015 and there are some valid reasons for this. But this decision is tantamount to stopping the construction business till then. Thus one opportunity of revitalizing the economy is stopped for about two months. What this decision means is that even the much talked about scheme of the financial sector to provide low interest loans to rebuild the damaged houses will not see implementation until the next fiscal year.
However, the overall cooperative attitude shown by the Nepali people, whether living in Nepal or abroad, to help each other has provided enough indication that the country will not only bounce back to its pre-quake status, but also leapfrog in its development and growth trajectory if the people get a competent and decisive leadership. Unfortunately, the confusion which still lingers on even after a full month of the natural calamity bodes for a darker future which may cause massive outmigration as happened in other countries in similar situations.