Nepali Times
Artha Been

Artha Beed's "Amrika-return" (#94) looks at US-Nepal relations. The United States, or any other country for that matter, will not step into areas where it does not see any benefits, direct or indirect, economic or otherwise. US foreign policy is guided by self-interest. I am not saying that what is in the US's benefit could not be beneficial to us. But we have to pause to consider all the implications of such a move before we pass any judgement on it.

There are long-term implications of the movement of foreign capital into the country. Are we ready for it? With our frail economy and banking sector, not to mention the pegged currency, we could be inviting a certain disaster here with direct foreign investments in the form of portfolio investment. Either we have to give up the pegged currency or our own macro-policies-which I doubt the validity of, since they seem to change every time we get a new government, or it may just be that we lack vision, and the will and courage to act. To give up the pegged currency suddenly is definitely not a possiblity, given the terms of our economic and political relationship with India and it would seem very unwise to be dictated by the macro-policies of other countries. Capital account liberalisation is not a feasible goal for now for Nepal.

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. I am infuriated! There are lots of Nepali businessmen who have become multi-millionaires (in US$) and never paid a single rupee in income tax. I have seen some of them on shopping sprees in Paris and London. At the same time I have regularly made large donations from my relatively meagre income to support the spread of basic education in rural areas of Nepal, where your government does not think it necessary to grant badly-needed teacher quotas.

Walter Limberg,

. I have to compliment Mr Artha Beed on his columns. As someone not normally particularly interested in the details of economics I have to commend you for carrying his articles. I like his honest writing style combined with a subtle yet healthy sense of sarcastic humour. Here are two story ideas for him: The groundbreaking gender trend at Standard Chartered Bank. Women appear to outnumber men in staff positions consistently, at least at the Kantipath branch where even the manager is female. It is also interesting to note that their stock on the Nepse is the highest valued, even while their interest rates are among Kathmandu's lowest. It seems professionalism pays where international market rates do not. Despite your coverage of Standard Chartered in the Nepali Times ("We are here to stay," #95), this gender angle was missed out.

After consistently admonishing my dear ones in Namche and Solu Khumbu to make duplicates of all official documents such as land ownership certificates (so that there is proof even after district headquarters' records are destroyed, as was the case for many whose records were sacrificed to the Maoists' "fire puja" at Salleri last fall), and keep a set of copies in a separate place, such as a safety deposit box at a Kathmandu bank, imagine my dismay to find that there are no more lockers available in at least two of my banks: Bank of Kathmandu, and Standard Chartered. Looks like we have to return to the ancient system of secret stashes in nooks and crannies of private property. If one is lucky enough to own any private property.

Lozang Sherpa,
Solu Khumbu

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)