By PR Pradhan
One can never achieve any goal by walking towards the negative direction. The government is giving the slogan of “prosperous Nepal and happy Nepalis”, but in action, no effort has been seen to make Nepal prosperous and make the Nepali people happy. The government is encouraged from the revenue received from imports of goods, and thus, it is discouraging establishment of import substituting industries within the country. The government is encouraging import of vehicles consuming petro-products by discouraging electric vehicles. According to a recent report, some private sector entrepreneurs had wished to operate electronic vehicles for public transportation in Kathmandu. The government had formed a committee to study on the feasibility of the operation of such vehicles. The fact is that for years, the committee has not completed its report. The electronic vehicles dealers complain that the Transportation Management Department is discouraging them in registering such electrical vehicles.
Nepal doesn’t produce a drop of petro-product. In the last fiscal year alone, Nepal Oil Corporation paid 152 billion rupees to the Indian Oil Corporation whereas, the government collected additional 55 billion rupees as tax from the consumers. Every year, the petro-product consumption rate has been increasing by 20 percent and in this way, the government’s tax revenue is also increasing. In this regard, the government is interested in doing business enjoying excessive profit margin rather than strengthening the national economy. The government is collecting above 250 percent import tax from each vehicle, therefore, if vehicle import declines, the government will lose a major tax revenue. The government, which is keen for doing business by exploiting consumers, is less interested in thinking about substituting the import of petro-products. If we encourage electronic vehicles, we can reduce consumption of petro-products. As the Nepal Electricity Authority is receiving more electricity produced within the country, the government should have given priority to electric vehicles. According to a recent statement by the NEA managing director Kulman Ghishing, currently electricity demand is fulfilled through import from India, however, within three years, NEA will be self sufficient in electricity. Within five years, Nepal will be able to export electricity, Ghishing has informed. He has also disclosed the fact that from export of each unit of electricity, Nepal will earn just five rupees but if Nepal herself will consume the electricity, from one unit, NEA will earn 100 rupees. Understandably, from the export of electricity, the income is nominal but from consuming power within the country by our self, we can earn 20 times more money. Meanwhile, we will be able to substitute consumption of petro-products.
Each year, we spend billions of rupees just in importing LP gas for cooking food. If the government encourage on the use of electricity heaters, consumption of electricity will considerably increase. In the same way, if we will provide electricity to the industries at concessional price, Nepali products will be cheaper and they can compete in the international market.
As we have huge potentiality of generating hydropower, we need to develop plans on construction of mega hydropower projects not for export, but for domestic consumption. We see everywhere roads are being constructed. But if we give priority in construction of cable car projects or ropeway lines specially in hilly areas, the transportation cost would become cheaper. Maybe, the initial investment in the construction of railway lines could be higher than construction of roads, but in the long-run, operation of railways will be cheaper than the vehicles.
Nepal is a country with high potential as the nature has given it enormous resources, unfortunately, Nepal is a poor country as the Nepalis are unable to harness the natural resources. We have a long partnership in every sector with India, but the Indian intention is to keep Nepal always poor. When Nepal wished to link itself with China by constructing the Kerung-Kathmandu railway, India became worried and it has been making all efforts to stop the construction of the railway line linking China. On the one hand, India is talking about the construction of the Raxul-Kathmandu railway line, that too in kind, on the other hand, India has also distributed the dream of operating Nepali ships to the sea by using Indian rivers. Nepalis don’t believe on the Indian commitment materializing, nevertheless, this is an effort to engage our leaders with India and avoid Nepal’s partnership with China either in signing of trade, transportation and transit agreements or construction of railway lines or Nepal’s active partnership on OBOR, a Chinese initiative.
In the meantime, the so-called intellectuals have already started a campaign against the construction of a railway line explaining that the construction of the Kerung-Kathmandu railway line would bring Nepal under the debt-trap. Instead of encouraging the government for implementation of the project as soon as possible by showing the benefits from our link/trade with China, these sponsored intellectuals are making nonsense and hypothetical arguments.
It is upto us, which path should we chose – towards prosperity or towards poverty!