Archive ref no: NCA-21007
Eight-Point Reform Initiatives for Socio-economic Transformation
Speech delivered by Right Honorable Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba at the joint session of the Parliament. 16 August 2001 ( English Translation)
Right Honorable Speaker,
We are all aware that our guiding principles--fundamental ideals associated with constitutional monarchy and multiparty parliamentary democracy and the concept of social justice enshrined in the directive principle of the constitution-- are the results of a sustained struggle by the Nepalese people.
It is our responsibility to establish parliamentary democracy as the supreme and welfare-oriented form of governance. We have to gain the trust and confidence of the people by ensuring an equitable order in all aspects of national life in the process of resolving national political, economic, and social problems. In this context, the government has decided to speed up the campaign of socio-economic transformation of the country. The eight-point socio-economic transformation package also incorporates some of the features of 14-point program forwarded by the then Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and additional 3-point program suggested by main opposition and other political parties. Accordingly, I would like to announce the first-phase-programs of the government to the House.
1. Land reform program has always been an integral part of Nepali Congress' ideology. In this regard, the present government, incorporating certain historic land reform initiatives by B.P. Koirala after the first parliamentary general election of 1959, has decided to go forward with a transformative land reform program. Such program will, among other things, include lowering of the ceiling of land holding, and identification and justification of relevant issues related to land. I am confident that such an approach will provide the landless, poor and economically underprivileged, access to the land; help attain national prosperity through productive utilization of labour, skill, and capital of the landowners; and, finally, provide strength to the campaign of constructing an equitable society and a prosperous nation.
The government will, in the current session, table a bill to formulate essential laws for the land reform program. The bill will be passed after consultation with all political parties, and necessary arrangements will be made for its effective implementation. Right Honorable Speaker, I would like to inform the House that His Majesty's Government, with a view to facilitate systematic planning and to create appropriate infrastructure, has decided to, with immediate effect, withhold all transactions involving land or transfer of land ownership until the essential laws come into existence.
2. For long, discrimination against some of our brothers and sisters and the stigma of untouchability have prevailed in our social order. It is our historical responsibility to eliminate these unjust and immoral customs. For centuries, Nepalese dalit brothers and sisters have been deprived of the benefits of development. They have also been barred from entering different temples and religious sites of worship. To prevail over such situations, His Majesty's Government has decided to eliminate all forms of barriers that restrict dalits from entering public places including temples or other religious sites. Effective from this moment, the practice of social discrimination and untouchability are declared as grave and punishable crimes. In addition, to formulate necessary laws to abolish these practices, His Majesty's Government will table a bill in this session of parliament.
Furthermore, His Majesty's Government, after consultation with and suggestions from all sections of society, has decided to institute a National Commission for Dalits, which can permanently work for the interest and welfare of dalits throughout the country.
3. This government will, in the present session of parliament, take initiative to pass a bill that will rightly establish women's right to parental property, which is going to be another historical milestone towards social justice. Similarly, it has also been decided to formulate necessary laws in order to eliminate all provisions that cause or maintain discriminatory practice in men-women relationships. In this connection, we have decided to constitute a National Commission for Women under a separate Act to prevent and punish all practices that subject women to humiliation, repression, domestic violence or any other forms of exploitation, and to work on a permanent basis for the security and interest of women. For this purpose, a bill will be tabled in the present session of the parliament.
4. Right Honorable Speaker, I would like to inform the House that the government has, in consultations with all stakeholders concerned, decided to establish an effective and fully authorized Academy for the preservation and development of religion, culture, and language of various indigenous and ethnic peoples, who have been left behind in the socio-economic order.
5. I would like to inform the House that His Majesty's Government, with a view to accelerate the nationally-prioritised campaign for socio-economic transformation and for the establishment of an equitable society, has decided to announce a 25-year action plan to provide special opportunities and protection in education, employment, and national development process to the women, dalits, ethnic, and indigenous people, who for centuries have been deprived of socio-economic, political rights and other developmental opportunities.
6. With intent of making corruption a grave and punishable crime, His Majesty's Government has decided to review all the existing laws. In addition to passing the proposed bill in the parliament that would confiscate properties earned through illegitimate and illegal means, His Majesty' s Government has decided to formulate additional legal provisions to deal with the problem of corruption.
7. Keeping in view the demands of all political parties and parliamentarians, the government headed by Nepali Congress has announced the emancipation of bonded labor. His Majesty's Government has decided to honor the task of rehabilitating the emancipated landless and bonded labor by speeding up the process of providing them with land and assistance for building houses by the end of coming Marg 2058 (November/December 2001). Along with the rehabilitation program, the government is resolved to complete the process of identifying genuine landless people and providing them with land certificates by the end of this fiscal year.
8. The significance of a free and fair election in a multi-party parliamentary democracy need not be reiterated. We have already evolved a national consensus on this issue after making extensive deliberations in this House. I would like to inform the House that His Majesty's Government would implement the report made available by the High Level Committee on Electoral Reform, constituted as per the mandate of this House, by making appropriate legal provisions.
Right Honorable Speaker,
I have informed this House about some of the significant decisions taken by His Majesty's Government for poverty alleviation, employment promotion, socio-economic reforms. The process of socio-economic reforms demands a change-oriented and forward-looking vision, based on wider national consensus. My sincere appeal to all forces of national life to walk/march with the government and support its commitment for socio-economic reforms. Right Honorable Speaker, in addition to the decisions I have mentioned, I will make public additional decisions to be implemented during the second-phase of the program to this House at the appropriate time.
We are all familiar with the economic, social, and political problems faced by countries like Nepal. I would like to assure all Nepalese sisters and brothers that the present government, in a free and open environment provided to us by constitutional monarchy and multiparty democracy, would seek cooperation from the main opposition party, other political parties, and civil societies, and move forward with all its efforts and sincerity towards attaining socio-economic and cultural transformation of the country.