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Where lies our priority?

By PR Pradhan
pushpa-columnFor the first time in the history, the nation’s balance of payment has gone negative. This is an indication of our failed economy. In other words, our foreign currency reserve has declined and it may invite serious financial crisis. Decline in exports, increase in imports by many folds, decreasing level of remittance income, decline in income from tourism sector are the main reasons for the negative balance of payment.
The government has totally failed in introducing effective economic policy. In fact, the government has no vision for economic prosperity. Nepal is known as an agricultural country but we are importing food stuff and vegetables worth hundreds of million rupees from foreign countries. Every year, farmers are facing scarcity of improved seeds and fertilizers. Nepali farmers don’t get incentive from the government. The government is spending huge budget in agriculture, but it has failed to introduce modern equipments through which production costs could be reduced and production quantity could be increased. Farmers are still dependent on traditional farming.
The other potential area is tourism. We have beautiful places to attract foreign tourists. Unfortunately, we have only one international airport in operation and we have just three aircrafts under the government undertaking, Nepal Airlines, to fly to foreign destinations. NAC was making profit during the panchayat days but along with the dawn of multi-party democracy, its downfall started. Today, foreign airlines are making money by introducing their service to Kathmandu. The nation is losing money due to lack of aircrafts. The foreign airlines have introduced expensive price for Kathmandu flights. If the government airlines would have introduced competitive price, the foreign airlines would have been compelled to reduce their airfare.
Without construction of another international airport in Nijgadh, we cannot think about increase of foreign tourist arrival. When the alternative airport in Nijgadh is going to be constructed, we don’t know. If the government was serious, it would give special consideration in construction of the Nijgadh airport. Among the foreign tourists also, the government should give priority to the quality tourists rather than backpackers.
As we know, above five million of our youths are in foreign countries for dirty and risky jobs. The idea of making money from such dirty and risky jobs is not good but the government is encouraging youths to go to the foreign countries for work. As energetic youths are out of the country, the country is facing scarcity of labours. The government has no policy to attract youths and use them in productive sectors within the country.
We don’t have petro-products, however, we have huge potentiality of generating hydropower. It is unfortunate to state that we are importing electricity from India to end load-shedding. Specially during the dry season, we face shortage of electricity. To end such a problem, we need to construct reservoir hydropower projects such as Budhi Gandaki from such projects we can reserve water during the rainy season and using it during the dry season. The government is performing childish behavior and making uncertain the construction of the Budhi Gandaki project by sometimes handing over the project to some foreign country and sometime taking back the project saying the government would construct the project itself. The beauty of the Budhi Gandaki project is that we can use water for farming during the dry season. Since decades, we have been lauding for issuing whitepaper on the hydropower sector by the government but groups with vested interests are playing their own game for keeping Nepal permanently poor.
By developing big hydropower projects we can substitute import of petro-products by using electricity in hotels, industries and transportation but the government is not serious on this. We could reduce import of large quantity of petrol if we use e-vehicles in the country. The government, by giving subsidy, could encourage e-vehicles.
The government has not been serious in development of necessary infrastructures, in the meantime, the government has introduced an expensive political system for which the government needs hundreds of billions of rupees to run the system. It is unfortunate to state that we are spending hundreds of billions of rupees to feed the people’s representatives — who are only concerned on earning money through corruption and commission. For example, all the newly elected local bodies’ people’s representatives are found interested in purchasing vehicles as they receive commission and they are reluctant to work for other infrastructure development projects. The lame-duck government is distributing money to their party workers. There is daylight loot in the central level of the governance also. On the one hand, the political leaders are neglecting construction of priority projects, on the other, they are looting the nation. In such a way, we can only imagine about dark future of the nation.

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