By Prajwal Shrestha
One cannot hide the fact that King Mahendra had tried to define nationalistic economic policy. King Birendra also contributed a lot to make Nepal a self-reliant nation. Until the introduction of multiparty democracy, Nepal’s economy was far better than the what it is at present.
Nepal is ranked at the category of less developed countries not because we lack resources for economic development but because we have the leaders who have no vision to develop this country. If we go back to the history, during the Lichibi era and also the Malla era, we had surplus trade with the foreign countries. Also during the panchayat days, Nepal was known as a country exporting many items including agro products. Unfortunately, today, our economy is facing continuous loss in exports as our imports are increasing every year and our balance of payment is recovered by the money received through remittance sent by our youths doing dirty and risky jobs in foreign countries. The political leaders have not been able introduce a mechanism to make the nation self-reliant.
We have great scope of investment on infrastructure projects and also we have no scarcity of funds to complete many huge projects, yet, our leaders are not keen for initiating a move to uplift the nation’s economy.
Just recently, at a gathering organised by the energy ministry, the government organs having huge funds in reserve, expressed the commitment that they could manage trillions of rupees if the government would formulate appropriate policies to invest the fund they have in stock.
Karmachari Sanchaya Kosh, Nagarik Lagani Kosh, Nepal Telicom alone expressed the commitment that they can manage one trillion rupees for construction of hydropower project. Likewise, Rastriya Bima Sansthan, Armed Police, Nepal Police, Nepal Army among others which are operating welfare funds, have also expressed commitment for investing the fund in reserve from their welfare fund in hydropower projects if the government introduces a policy to utilize such funds. If these funds are used, the government itself can construct several big hydropower projects making Nepal self-reliant on electricity. Contrary to that, every year, we are importing more and more electricity from India to reduce load-shedding here.
If the leaders in the government will have strong commitment for nation building, there are many other mechanism to generate funds. For example, the previous government, with the purpose of construction of the Budhigandaki Project, raised infrastructure tax worth five rupees per liter of petro products. From such a mechanism, the government has already been able to collect billions worth of rupees. These are the examples that there will be no scarcity of investment if the government will have strong commitment for nation building.
Furthermore, we can attract private sectors by developing investment friendly environment on our basic and prioritized projects. The private sector is always complaining that there is no investment friendly environment in the country. First of all, the political parties protected labour unions are the major hurdle for the investors. The political parties have to keep the labour unions in discipline and they have to stop politicizing and polluting such industries.
Besides, the political parties should not make the industrial houses as milking cow for party funds, rather, they should support and honour national investors.
There should be special consideration on establishing import substituting industries by encouraging our local investors for establishing such industries.
Every year, import of vehicles and motorbikes are increasing. The government has labeled very high tax on import of such vehicles and its parts. Instead of importing vehicles, the government should encourage local investors for establishing assembling plants as well as plants producing spare parts.
Furthermore, as our neighbouring countries’ economy has boomed enormously, the labour cost will also become high there. Therefore, these countries want to establish plants in neighbouring countries to reduce with less labour cost. Nepal can take benefit of such opportunities. On this side also, Nepal should think in time.
One thing we should not forget is that other countries will not come to make us rich, we have to do hard labour to achieve our economic goals. Politically also, to strengthen our sovereignty, independence and dignity, we have to uplift our economy.