After pushing the country to the brink of economic ruin, former guerilla commander Sharma steps down

History will judge Janardan Sharma’s one-year-long tenure harshly. His policies and actions have left deep scars in the country’s economy.

NL Today

  • Read Time 2 min.

Kathmandu: When Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba appointed Janardan Sharma as the Finance Minister, many were shocked as the responsibility to handle one of the powerful portfolios was handed over to someone who had no knowledge about the economy.

The consequences of appointing an incompetent politician to an all-important portfolio started surfacing a few months after he took office. 

The Finance Minister had a tumultuous run. The country’s economy was heading in the wrong direction with overall indicators showing worrying signs.

Instead of taking the initiative to correct the course, he was hell-bent on, what the observers say, amassing power for his personal gains. 

During his nearly one year in the Finance Ministry, Sharma has been embroiled in a series of controversies. 

Since Sharma’s appointment as the Finance Minister on July 13 last year, he has been in the headlines, but for all the wrong reasons, mainly for mismanaging the whole financial system.

With strong backing from Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and chairperson of CPN (Maoist Center) Pushpa Kamal Dahal, he continued serving the vested interests of his near and dear ones. 

At a time when the severe economic crisis had already loomed, his priority was to sack the governor of the central bank. Despite the country’s laws prohibiting money laundering activities, he was found to pressure the central bank chief to release Rs 400 million, which was blocked by the Nepal Rastra Bank suspecting money laundering. The money was sent to Nepal from the United States. 

A so-called revolutionary leader of one time, who fought for the proletariat people, his policies and actions, however, were not in the favor of the poor people. 

On Wednesday, Sharma stepped down following a massive public outcry over involving “unauthorized persons” to make changes in tax rates in the budget just a day before he presented the spending plan for the fiscal year 2022/23. Allegedly, he had involved two outsiders to alter tax rates on 28 May. 

Following the incidents, parliamentarians, especially the leaders from the opposition CPN-UML, demanded CCTV footage of the ministry premises in the parliament. Sharma refused to cooperate to provide the footage. 

A so-called revolutionary leader of one time, who fought for the proletariat people, his policies and actions, however, were not in the favor of the poor people. 

Despite the legal provisions to maintain the archive for at least three months, Nepal’s Finance Ministry, on July 3, said the CCTV footage has been deleted citing that the CCTV has the capacity to store footage for only 13 days. This lame explanation indicates the culpability of Sharma in the alleged financial crime.

A parliamentary committee, comprising four lawmakers from the CPN-UML, two each from the Nepali Congress and the Maoist Centre, and one each from the CPN (Unified Socialist), Janata Samajbadi Party, and Loktantrik Samajbadi Party, has been formed to probe the incident.

Former guerilla commander Sharma is considered to be a radical communist leader with authoritarian traits. Sharma’s resignation comes at a time when Nepal is going through uncontrolled inflation and a deep fall in its foreign reserves. 

In nearly one year in the Finance Ministry, Sharma, according to commentators, contributed to institutionalizing protectionism and corruption. It is certain that the bad policies and actions Sharma adopted as a Finance Minister will leave deep scars on Nepal’s economy for a long time.