By PR Pradhan
“Prosperous Nepal and happy Nepali” is the motto of the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN). Whether the present government and also the ruling party are committed to fulfill this mission, it is doubtful. The government led by KP Sharma Oli has already completed seven months in office. There is a saying, “morning shows the day”. In these seven months we have not seen any sign of any good beginning for the country and the people. Forget about other opponents who obviously criticize the government, but senior leaders in the party have also expressed dissatisfaction on the non-performance of the government. Earlier to his departure to Singapore, the ruling party’s co-chairman Pushpakamal Dahal said that the government has not been able to perform. Addressing a gathering in Chitwan, Dahal said that people are not satisfied from the performance of the government. If such a trend will continue, obviously, the party will lose popularity among the people. More than that, the party’s senior leader Madhav Nepal, addressing the parliament, expressed his utter dissatisfaction on the non-performance of the government. It is very much astonishing that why the government is unable to perform!
What is the government plan to achieve prosperity, we don’t know the government programme. If we watch the economic indicators, they present a very bleak picture of the nation’s economy. Recently the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB)’s unveiled a report which shows very negative indicators of the economy. There is sharp decline in remittance growth rate and alarming trade deficit along with negative balance of payments.
According to the central bank’s report, the country’s current account deficit is of Rs 17.88 billion compared to Rs 11.12 billion in the corresponding period of the previous fiscal year. Balance of payments deficit also increased to Rs 5.87 billion as the trade deficit increased alarmingly by a whopping 12 per cent compared to the corresponding period of the previous fiscal to stand at Rs 151.83 billion in the first two months.
In trade, the ratio of export and import has been recorded at 1:12 in the review period compared to 1:11 in the same period of the previous fiscal year. The country imported goods worth Rs 165.4 billion against exports of Rs 13.58 billion in the review period. Import of petroleum products, vehicles and machinery parts surged in the review period.
What measures the government is planning to improve the economic health of the government, we don’t know.
Just last week, the Sri Lankan government decided to stop imports of vehicles at least for six months to reduce trade deficit. The government has also asked the people not to use imported products and not to travel to foreign countries.
Considering the poor economic scenario, the newly elected Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has initiated a revolutionary move along with cut down on the government facilities to the political leaders and ministers. Perhaps, our leaders in the government are aware about the efforts made by leaders from the neighbouring countries.
Earlier, PM Oli’s close aides were saying that he was busy in reading and trying to follow Chinese President Xi Jinping and Singaporean visionary leader Lee Kuan Yew’s biographies. When this scribe was informed about Oli’s reading choice, he had hoped for some revolutionary move from Oli after he assumed office. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.
The sound economic health of the country is the mirror of prosperity. If the balance of payment is positive, this is an indication that the nation’s economy is okay. And if international trade is also positive, this indicates economic prosperity of the nation. Contradiction is that for decades, Nepal is continuously facing trade deficit and last year, for the first time, the country witnessed a deficit in balance of payments. This year, compared to last year’s same period, the trade deficit has increased by 45 percent. Furthermore, due to the increase of the US dollar and also increased price of petroleum products, the country’s trade deficit is going to be further intensified. As our dependency on petroleum products is increasing every year, trade deficit is beyond the control of the government. Import of vehicles and practice of using cooking gas have also contributed in intensifying trade deficit.
At a time, when the developed countries have fixed the deadline to replace petroleum product consuming vehicles by e-vehicles, our government is encouraging import of petroleum product consuming vehicles. Instead of subsidizing and encouraging use of micro-oven consuming electricity for cooking food, the government is aimed at constructing gas-pipeline from India and so on and so forth, which are all destructive. Will these initiatives contribute to the nation for its prosperity?
Where is prosperity?
By PR Pradhan