The government has come under much flak for its claim of achieving most of its 25 pledges in 120 days.
It claimed 11 pledges as achieved, 11 on track and three as unachieved. A closer look at these claims show that the government has exaggerated its achievements. All pledges it reported as being on track were not achieved, at least as it pledged. It may be on track because work to keep the pledges are claimed to be underway.
When a decision to drop a pledge, such as the conversion of Samrang farm into a vegetable farming project is listed as achieved, the government has sorely undermined the people’s understanding of what an achievement means. What it appears to have achieved though is the promotion of vegetarian meals.
The government, unabashed of its failure to keep its promises however, insists that it has not lied to the people and that the fulfilment of the pledges is about interpretation.
However, the issue is not so much about nomenclature as it is about keeping promises, on which it contested the election. It pledged that should it be given the mandate to govern, the party would deliver on its promises. It was given the mandate but it did not deliver what it promised in 120 days. For the people, implementation of free nutritious lunch to all schools means students eating free nutritious meals. For the government, implementation meant the cabinet endorsing in principal the decision to provide the meals.
Setting the decision making process in motion does not translate into fulfilling a pledge, unless it is specified.
The flak it has come under is not for breaking its promises. People were aware that some of the pledges could not have been kept in four months time. The criticism is for the government’s refusal to accept that it has not keep its pledges. Broken promises are not new to the people just as criticisms are to an elected government.
What has however, taken a beating is the public confidence. The government that came in with a promise to change the system, with a new way of thinking and doing things is being changed by the system. The handling of the earn and learn programme has become exemplary of the government’s functioning, one where several discussions are held but with no outcomes.
The pledges for the first 120 days in office are made to drive a new government to demonstrate governance, to show it can keep its promises and deliver. People hold an elected government accountable by their pledges and thus the scrutiny. This means, it is time for the government to get out of the campaign mode.
Admitting that it has not kept its pledges would have given the government the creditability that it has now lost.
The governments have changed. Sadly, this aspect of governance has not.