Nepali Times
Economic Sense
It’s the economy, ullu


We couldn't understand the economic problems of Nepal's far-flung areas so we politicised it. The result is a conflict that shows no sign of ceasing. We wanted to give the country's economy the best person to lead as chief of its central bank but the appointment is mired in politics.

We make political decisions while changing heads of state enterprises and let the organisations bleed to death. We use every opportunity to hit back at political foes and educate students to vandalise and destroy property clearly knowing that oil or electricity prices are pure economics. Irrespective of any political force in power, they cannot stem price hikes. We, as businesses, lobby politically to make loan defaulting kosher. We have a management association headed by the prime minister's wife that has little to do with corporate management cadre.

Political parties need to fuel their own cash flows and there is nothing like leveraging economic policies and decisions. The current coalition government, like its predecessors, is the perfect example. You have one set of people in the party that will constantly and consistently talk about withdrawing from the government while the other set sits in to make hay while the sun shines.

Passing scathing remarks, they let their affiliated organisations rise in agitation while they pretend to be clean. Everyone in the coalition is out to make a quick buck as long as it lasts. And this is a great time to rake it in: no parliamentary accounts committee to scrutinise them, no public inquiry into expenditures, budgets are ordained by can't get any better than this. With the anti-graft body having figured out which side of their momos have the achar, political parties are rocking big time. And of course those not involved in all this are crying foul. They want their chance too. Set up an all-party government and this will not change.

The more delineated politics is from economics, the better are benefits to citizens. Enterprises should drive the economic and not political masters. Innovative businesses that create jobs and keep the consumer happy drives the economy. The IT and outsourcing boom in India has created a whole new class of people who are driving the new economy. The reason it is thriving is because politics is kept out of it.

In Nepal, the presence of multilateral and bilateral agencies along with numerous non-profit organisations have not served the purpose of delineation. Aid is about assisting the economy, not crippling it. The way it has politics at the user's end has complicated matters. Politicians use donor or not-for-profit money for their own gain rather than what it was meant for. Unaccounted money always leads to unaccountable applications.

Out political button-pushers must be alienated from economic institutions, be it the central bank or the oil corporation. Enterprises and entrepreneurs should be driving the economy at the village and transnational level. If Nepal is looking for a long-term solution to the conflict and not a short-term ceasefire, we need to understand where politics ends and economics begins.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)