Kathmandu, May 30
Dispelling concerns that the government might have set an over-ambitious economic growth target, Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada said the target of eight per cent was achievable and was based on growth projections of prioritised sectors.
Addressing mediapersons during a budgetary interaction held here today, Khatiwada said, “The growth rate has been calculated on the basis of projected growth rates in agriculture, industrial and service sectors.” On a lighter note, he responded to former finance minister Ram Sharan Mahat’s comment on the economic growth target, Khatiwada said, “As a sign of respect to Mahat, I will aim for 7.9 per cent economic growth.”
At a different programme held in the capital today, former minister Mahat had said if the country was able to achieve the eight per cent growth target as aimed in the budget, he could be termed a ‘failed minister’.
During the interaction, Finance Minister Khatiwada explained that the federal budget for the upcoming fiscal, which was unveiled in the Parliament yesterday, primarily focused on boosting the country’s production base and generating employment opportunities for holistic development of Nepal.
He added, “A country can be prosperous if its budget addresses concerns of each citizen. As employment is directly related to every individual and household, the federal budget has prioritised opening new doors to employment opportunities in the country by promoting entrepreneurship and enhancing the production sector.”
Stressing that citizens’ health and education determine their quality of work, Khatiwada said the budget had done the needful to enhance health and education services in the country and increase people’s access to these basic needs.
As per Khatiwada, quality education and good health are not the only prerequisites for stronger economic growth. Skilled manpower also has an equal role to play which is why the government has envisioned setting up at least one skill development centre in each local unit.
“The government has focused on employment generation rather than social security schemes because people’s life can be more secure through jobs rather than social security facilities,” added Khatiwada.
He vowed to effectively implement the Prime Minister’s Employment Programme announced in the budget. In a bid to assure rights of workers under this programme, Khatiwada said the government would soon prepare a guideline ensuring minimum wages of workers and other provisions related to their compensation.
However, Khatiwada said the Prime Minister’s Employment Programme would basically aim at generating jobs for low-income households and citizens living in abject poverty.
Khatiwada claimed that the government’s aim of doubling agricultural production within five years and attracting two million tourists annually by 2020 was possible. “To achieve the agricultural targets, the government will promote agro industries, encourage use of technology in agriculture and run the Prime Minister’s Agriculture Modernisation Project in full swing,” he added.
To increase the inflow of foreign tourists, Khatiwada said the government would expedite processes of constructing all planned domestic and international airports, identify new tourist destinations, initiate special tourism promotion programmes and packages targeting Chinese and Indian tourists and celebrate 2020 as ‘Visit Nepal Year’.
A version of this article appears in print on May 31, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.