Only share the correct information, do not let anyone create fear and afraid: Minister Dr. Khatiwarda {interview}

By Ramesh Lamsal, Hari Lamichhane and Ashok Ghimire

Kathmandu, 3० March : As the spread of coronavirus pneumonia has created risks on multiple sectors, the government has come up with some measures to tackle those impacts of COVID-19 on economy and other areas expecting to maintain stability.

Against this backdrop, Minister for Finance, who is also the Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Dr Yubaraj Khaitwada has talked to  about the government measures to combat COVID-19, economic relief packages and other things that the government has pushed forward.

“First of all the country is in a difficult situation. All the problems that we encounter are not created by ourselves. But, we have to face the problems created by others. All political parties, civil society, industrialists, entrepreneurs and the media should stand in a single point at this difficult hour,” Minister Dr Khatiwada told the RSS.

Calling the need for authentic news dissemination, the Communications and Information Minister said the social networking sites users also should give only correct information, adding no one should work to create fear and terror in the society.

“I don’t have to say anything about the responsibility of the press. The media outlets are the main medium for the news dissemination. We expect them responsible and support to the government,” Dr Khatiwada shared his expectations from the media.

The private media outlets are doing good job and the state-owned media are also expected to carry on news on factual basis without being influenced by any prejudices and limiting their products on the government programmes, he added.

Regarding the government decisions, the Finance Minister argued that the decisions were timely and for the control of coronavirus spread. We suspended the international flights and borders. But, if there were some Nepalis infected (with COVID-19) before the closure of flights and borders, he questioned, adding that the local levels are supposed to take information on the infected persons, if any.

The government is sincere towards the supply of basic essential goods so that the citizens won’t be victims for lack of those highly essential goods, he said.

Minister Dr Khatiwada was of the view that the government’s major strategy at this point of time is to ease the supply system without risking the lives of citizens and improving the gaps if any.

On the recent decisions of cabinet meeting, the government spokesperson defended the move to impose a ban on the imports of black pepper, dry dates, green peas and liquors arguing that Nepal has already imported those goods that is sufficient for years, not only for a single year. He also said that the bordering areas became the site for illegal trade of those goods which forced the government to impose restrictions on them.

He was of the view that the government decision will help save our foreign exchanges and added that import of sophisticated vehicles is also discouraged while calling for investing that amount in capital formation.

“You media persons should put your analysis on the taken decisions,” Dr Khatiwada said.

In a question on appointment of Nepal Rastra Bank’s governor, he said the government will decide after the end of the lockdown period.

Making it clear about the gravity of some key decisions taken by the Sunday Cabinet meeting to contain the spread and impact of coronavirus, the Finance Minister said the decisions featured some important steps that government had to be taken for the security and protection of vulnerable community such as grassroots people and daily wage earners during the crisis.

As he said, daily-wage workers are primarily facing two types of problems: first, their income source has stopped with lockdown and second they have no stock of daily essentials for future. In this context, the mobilisation of local levels has been sought to identify such community and take measures for preventing them from suffering hunger by ensuring their daily minimum food requirement.

But, contribution from individual level, social organisations, state level and even from the federation was necessary to set up a fund to manage two square of meals for such community, he stressed.

He went on to say that besides the government had realised that expectant mothers, new mothers, aged people, orphans, and persons with disabilities might need special protections and care at this moment, adding the government had made some special provisions for employees with minimum income.

With a growing health risk from coronavirus, a new trend has developed in the society: tenants are being told to leave the house for fear of infection and professionals like doctors, nurses and health workers face fears of being shunned by others and amidst these adversities caused by the crisis, we have called on house owners to show humanity, not to ask