By Prajwal Shrestha
Our political leaders are excellent actors. They are never tired in giving big speeches but when they find opportunity to enjoy government funds, they never miss the chance. When the cabinet meeting had proposed to provide financial support to the ailing octogenarian leader and former prime minister Dr Tulsi Giri for his medical treatment, “revolutionary” health minister Gagan Thapa opposed the decision saying that at a time when the commoners are dying as they don’t get even Citamol tablets, why should the government give funds to the leaders!. It sounds good to listen but then next week, our former President Rambaran Yadav left for New York with his family for treatment, which was possible within the country. The government had provided billions of rupees for his treatment. Within several weeks of Thapa’s statement, our speaker Onasari Ghartimagar went to Bangkok along with his husband Barshaman Pun. The couple, during the Dasain holidays, had gone to Bangkok. This is not the end of the story as many leaders are going abroad for medical treatment plus family junket by misusing government funds.
The other side of the story is very gloomy. According to a recent survey, the country’s balance of payment has gone negative for the last two months. In our foreign trade also, the country has faced deficit by 80 percent in the first quarter of the present fiscal year. And the government has not introduced any effective measures to reduce the trade deficit. This is an indication that we are making a loss in our business abroad. This is also an indication that the value of our currency is declining with other currencies including the Indian currency with which our currency has been tied up at 1 unit of Indian currency equals to 160 unit of the Nepali currency for years. In real term, considering our deficit in trade with India, the real price of the Indian currency has already gone up. Nevertheless, the nation was buying Indian currency by selling the foreign currency stock as our balance of payment was positive basically due to the remittance received from our citizens working abroad. When the balance of payment is also gone negative, in real terms, we are going to face financial crisis. This is the real picture of our economy and if rescue measures are not introduced promptly, it is sure that our economy may collapse in the near future.
Our leaders, who are always fighting for power, have no time to think about the economic health of the country. On the other hand, they are involved in loot of the government coffer. Nepal like small country has 601-member parliament and all the members of the parliament have unanimously passed the proposal for increment of their salaries and facilities. This scribe has never heard about any serious discussion that is taking place in the parliament to rescue the economy. Also, this scribe has never heard any remarks by the ministers and specially by the finance minister and the prime minister whether they are bringing any plan to rescue the economy!
This is the time to reduce imports and increase exports but the government has not made any efforts to reduce imports. Nepal is considered as an agricultural country but we are importing agro products including fruits, vegetables and rice from India and other countries. During the Panchayat days, Nepal was known as an agro-products exporting country, after demise of the Panchayat system, Nepal has started to import hundreds of millions rupees worth agro-products from abroad. The democratic government, in the name of open economy, disposed many import substituting industries and many of the remaining industries including the government undertakings were ruined due to the rampant political interference.
Nepal is heading towards bankruptcy due to the wrong attitude and non-visionary leadership after the country entered into this “loktantrik’ era. This is an indication that we are going to be identified as a failed state.
Economic health of the country
By Prajwal Shrestha