Nepali Times
Economic Sense
Ignored economy



Nepali politicians appear to believe in the phrase 'ignorance is bliss'. Why else would they choose to pay no attention to the issues of the economy?

Listen to what the lawmakers at the Public Accounts Committee have to say on electricity tariffs or the speeches of our politicians on topics ranging from culture to agriculture. One thing they consistently ignore is the economic aspects of the same. Cost issues take a back seat whether we discuss PLA integration or the management of dwindling public corporations such as Nepal Airlines. Transport syndicates have made the cost of transporting goods on the Arniko Highway ten times more expensive than transporting goods on the East West Highway, but who cares? Rastriya Banijya Bank and Nepal Bank Limited continue to be an experiment for donors as part of financial sector reform program even though pure Nepali management has successfully turned around Lumbini Bank.

The country, however, is still not a failed state, as most 'parachute consultants' would like it to be, perhaps by the grace of Pashupatinath. In a year that was governed by an ineffective prime minister and lackadaisical government, GDP has still managed to grow at 3.5 per cent and the growth of disposable income has not abated. Companies are going to post good profits and the banks will report profit growth despite the liquidity crisis. One MNC CEO quipped, "Can you believe we can deliver such results despite keeping factories closed for 150 days? Imagine our performance if we could operate at full capacity". This sentiment may sum up the state of the Nepali economy.

While the growth in the formal market may not be visible, the informal sector is buzzing with activity. No wonder restaurants that don't provide VAT bills do a roaring trade. The cash made by plundering natural resources like forests, river beds and medicinal herbs is never counted in income computations. Immigration businesses run under the garb of educational consultancies and NGOs and non-profit organisations make money in the name of health and education. But political parties have their mouths zipped as these illegal money makers generously fill the party's coffers; so what if the state's treasury is running empty? In any case the government coffers are too often seen as a transit point.

Economic growth could accelerate if the government took initiatives and action-based responses to some questions. Is loadshedding better than buying electricity at prices a quarter of what people spend on running inverters and generators? Are private power producers really welcomed by the government? Could a consistent supply of fuel through private operators instead of getting adulterated fuel after standing in long queues be a solution to the fuel shortage? The government could pool large amounts of untapped funds by setting laws relating to mutual funds and collective investment. It could promote investments rather than be happy that the Foreign Investment Department is not overloaded with applications. The government could put in place a labour law that promotes efficiency and productivity rather than maintain the status quo of political unions working against the interest of labour and enterprises.

A new government will be formed and perhaps this beed will probably write a similar note at the end of the next fiscal year, but one can hope that, like in India, the private sector will begin to defend its own turf rather than fight its own little wars, like the politicians.

Muddy waters, PRASHANT JHA
Social in the capital, RABI THAPA
Multitracking South Asia, PUBLISHER'S NOTE
I Love Prachanda, RANJAN ADIGA

1. Nirmal
The country, however, is still not a failed state, as most 'parachute consultants' would like it to be, perhaps by the grace of Pashupatinath.

If we compare import-export proportion, this claim is exagerately pathetic.

Then, If we take a look at economic freedom as explained in arthabeed's research at the same time: Transport syndicates have made the cost of transporting goods on the Arniko Highway ten times more expensive than transporting goods on the East West Highway, but who cares? Then arthabeed will sound contradictory.

If we take stock of our lahure culture which recent news estimate nearly 3 millions(can you imagine what it implicates and demonstrates!), arthabeed's claim to 3.5 percent GDP growth sounds narcissist, Yeah we have national planners(another arthabeeds) claiming 25% poverty and international arthabeeds claiming 65 percent. But in this whole story NT's Arthabeed appears short!

When it is sold the kind of story through our mainstream media of  economic crisis, I always thought:or you are telling absolutely little truth or you might be joking! We've always been in crisis! If not do these things occur?  What so far have gained till the date by so called economy and national economic policies is a botch up. Mere patches for such an unhealthy-looking economy! The vanity is not truly pride arthabeed.
Arthabeed vs parachute consultant
Yes, we are not yet Somalia, Burundi, Niger and our social atmosphere is not so poisonus as these countries have but we have all elements to complete the circle. If arthabeed gets chance to peer into various global reports on violence, extortions, loots, domestic violence, suicuide rates, epidemic malaises, forced marriage, untouchability, human rights track, press freedom etc you will note that we are not so far on the count-down list. Of course I will also like to hear that our economy with 3.5 GDP growth(more than Europe) is going fine but ours is not that case at all, we have problems of all kinds and those figures are only self-serving assertion.
One of my nepali rich(very rich!) friend came to meet me when he was on journey, we had a dinner with some of foreign local businessmen, some of them asked him whether it supposes a risk to invest capital in Nepal taking into account the unstable and unprotective nature of our political environment in general. My rich and nepali friend said to them, "Don't worry, in Nepal you need money, muscle and power to do business and I will assure you the muscle and power not as that much as money to run your business," the man was not telling lies, he is a real Mac of doing business in Nepal. The problem is that those businessmen didn't want to complicate their business life in Nepal by hiring nepali Macs for their business.

  So is the nepali story today, to do any business when what investors want is the opposite: tranquility and total security. Our economic activities are limited to the stories of some personal successes, there has been no industrialization of quasi nothing in real sense. Thanks to the grace of Pashupatinath we are not a Failed Nation yet but disgracely we are a third world Nation with upper case, realize this arthabeed and pen for the cause. My heartly wish will be with you!

2. DG
For accelerated development of the country two areas need  immediate reform.: Labour Law and Code of conduct for Student Unions.
The right of labour should be protected at the same time their duty should be spelled out ,so also the right and duty of the employer.It should not be the hand maiden of the political parties. The  interest of the country should come first.and foremost.
 In the same way campuses should be out of bound for politicking and political goondas and thugs.. There should be age limit for student union membership , not more than  25 years.
 These are the must for peace and stability and growth and attracting FDI, foreign direct investment.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)