By Prajwal Shrestha
The country’s economy is sick. Foreign trade is the main indicator to know the economic health of a nation. According to reports, in first four month of the current fiscal year, imports have been recorded double than the exports. What measures the government has introduced to curb imports, we don’t know. Basically, our economy had been saved by the remittance income that the country had been receiving by exporting labours in the international market. That remittance amount has also started to decline due to different reasons. We had timely alerted to the government that it should not totally rely on exporting labours as this is not permanent solution to solve the economic problems. Yet the government has not formulated appropriate policy to provide job to the youths within the country, neither, the government was able to utilize the remittance amount in productive sectors. We know that larger amount of the remittance was used for buying luxurious goods imported from foreign countries. From such a trend, the remittance amount has also contributed to encourage imports from foreign countries.
Although it has been neglected by the government, the increasing trend of imports and decreasing trend of exports is very serious symptom on the economic health of the nation. The government, as well as, the policy makers has to act immediately to improve the economic health, otherwise, the country may face a serious crisis in the future.
How serious is the present government about the betterment of the economy we don’t know but for last four months, the meeting of the Investment Board chaired by the Prime Minister has not taken place. Of course, there is no environment to attract foreign direct investment, even though, some investors have shown their interests for investing in Nepal. Obviously, they have been discouraged from the performance of the Investment Board, that too headed by the Prime Minister. This makes clear that boosting economy is not in the priority list of the government.
We talk about tourism promotion in the country but we lack well equipped international airport. The only international airport in the country, Tribhuwan International Airport is now congested and within five years, the TIA cannot bear the tourist traffic load and we need another international airport. Decades ago, the government had decided to construct international airport in Nijgadh and the Nepal Army has already completed its work of opening track to construct fast track linking Kathmandu to Nijgadh. The government has decided to construct the fast track road by itself but there is no progress at all. The government has allotted fund for Nijgadh airport but nothing has been done to construct both fast track and the airport. How the government plans to promote tourism without an airport, maybe, the government might have been planning to lift tourists from nearby airports in India!
To boost economy, we need strong commitment and strong will in the government’s leadership. The non-visionary leaders in the government are always running behind corruption and commission and they are engaged in fighting against each other just to capture power at any cost. Enjoying power and squeezing government coffer are the prime mission of the political leaders. They are fighting for rooms when the house is burning.
Energy Minister is working hard to end load-shedding. He has tried to develop a plan to end load-shedding forever from the country. He called a meeting of some government organs along with the security organs. At the meeting, he found that many big projects can be completed from the fund belonging to these organs. Unfortunately, there are hurdles in using such reserve fund. The Nepal Army said that it cannot invest its welfare fund in any profit making business unless amended the present regulation. If the government is keen to develop hydropower projects by our own money, why doesn’t the cabinet meeting amends the regulations and allows the government organs holding huge funds to invest in hydropower projects? The Nepal Army also wished to run already closed Hetauda Textiles. It also submitted a proposal to the concerned government authority. Many months have gone but the Nepal Army has not received any clearance.
In fact, by viewing sensitiveness of our geography and open international borders with Indian, anytime, Nepal can become a hub of international terrorism. By giving attention towards such possibilities, Nepal should give high priority in strengthen its security organs with sophisticated arms. Also, the existing number of the Army personnel has to be increased by five times. During the peaceful situation, such a large number of army should be used for construction of infrastructural projects and during the conflict period, the very force can be mobilized to curb conflict or foreign interferences. By amending the existing laws and regulations, the army should be granted to run different industries including manufacturing of small arms, bullets, explosives, shoes, textiles, among others, of which, the Army itself is the consumer. If did so, on one hand, the Army can invest its welfare fund in running different industries, on the other, it will help to reduce imports. So far, will the government listen to us?
Measures needed for a wealthy economy
By Prajwal Shrestha