By PR Pradhan
Everyday the local media has been reporting about the horrible scenario of Nepal’s deficit on foreign trade. But what is the government doing to reduce the inclining trade deficit, we are unaware.
According to a government data, Nepal’s exports rose by merely 6.35 per cent to Rs 74.71 billion in the fiscal year 2016-17, on the other hand the country’s imports had surged by a whopping 27.02 per cent to Rs 984.07 billion. The country’s trade deficit in fiscal year 2016-17 widened by 29.09 per cent to Rs 909.35 billion against Rs 704.46 billion in the previous fiscal year.
The share of imports surged to 92.9 per cent of the total trade of Rs 1.06 trillion in fiscal year 2016-17, against its share of 91.7 per cent of the total trade of Rs 844.97 billion in fiscal year 2015-16.
The import-export ratio in 2016-17 stood at 13.2 against 11 in 2015-16. This means the country imported goods worth Rs 13.20 against every export worth one rupee in the last fiscal year.
For a healthy economy, a country should enjoy surplus trade with excellent balance of payment performance. Our economy has sustained from the remittance amount the country is receiving from our youths doing dirty jobs in foreign countries.
Everyday senior government officials, experts and even political leaders are found flying to the foreign countries by spending the government budget. They see development, they admire such development achieved by the country they are visiting, unfortunately, they never try to make Nepal a developed nation like the country they have visited.
Political parties/leaders collect donation/commission from the industrialists and businessmen for their party and also for themselves to secure their and their kids’ future, but they never think about nation building. Political leaders are found always fighting to stick on power just to make money through commission deals and they have no economic/development agenda for the country. If we have had some visionary leaders having no personal interests but dedicated to the nation, we would have had made a big jump in the economic sector as we have a huge stock of natural resources! Nepal, although a small country, we have such a wonderful climate that we can grow everything that we can get in the world market. Unfortunately, the government has not encouraged/ supported/equipped the farmers with necessary information, facilities, modern equipment and technology for doing these things.
We have nature gifted things to attract foreign tourists, but even after spending seven decades in tourism, Nepal has not been able to construct or operate more than one international airport and increase encouraging number of tourists visiting Nepal.
We have huge potential in hydropower but we are ending load-shedding by importing electricity from India.
We are spending the amount in import of petro-products that equals to our entire exports. Our industries and hotels are being operated through the diesel plants as we have not been able to harness hydropower. We have encouraged on imports of vehicles and the government is collecting good amount of revenue from the import tax on vehicles, but we are not making any efforts to substitute such imports, increasing level of import of petro products. We are lucky that the price of the petro-products has not been increased, otherwise, it would be too costly to pay for petro-products! We have never tried to understand that water is our wealth and our strength and we have never tried to use the huge stock of water in this country.
Water is being wasted from our rivers. We could utilize the Himalayan water by producing mineral water and exporting them to foreign countries. As we can find bottled Japanese mineral water in the market and China has established a huge plant bottling Himalayan water in Tibet, which we can get in the local market, which costs around one hundred rupees for even a half littre bottle, but we have never thought about bottling the water from the vicinity of the Mount Everest and other Himalayas.
By diverting mountain rivers we can operate inland waterways by operating medium size ships transporting goods from one place to another. We can utilize our rivers by developing irrigation projects needed for our fertile land. This is important for flood control as well. By developing reservoir, we can stock rainy season water and use it during the dry season. Such reservoir is important to increase the level of underground water in big cities including Kathmandu Valley. Such reservoirs could be developed as a tourist destination and fish farming also.
After all, we have no other alternates left except from harnessing our huge stock of water and generating hydropower to substitute the increasing volume of import of petro-products and also we have no other options except from introducing e-vehicles and ropeways by substituting those petrol-consuming vehicles.