Call it ruling coalition's move 'to cover up its own incompetence under finance minister'


Three former finance ministers have expressed strong reservations against the suspension of the Nepal Rastra Bank governor and termed it a move of the ruling coalition 'to cover up its own incompetence under pressure from Finance Minister Janardan Sharma'.

According to a joint statement signed by Bishnu Prasad Paudel, Surendra Prasad Pandey, and Yuvaraj Khatiwada - former finance ministers representing the CPN-UML - the government has removed the NRB governor from his post at a time when discussions are under way within the ruling coalition to change the finance minster due to his inability to resolve the ongoing economic crisis.

The statement adds that the former Nepali Congress-led government had also attempted to remove the central bank governor that resulted in leadership vacuum at the NRB and the country plunging into economic crisis. "Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba took an outright wrong decision under pressure from the anarchic finance minister."

The government had suspended NRB Governor Maha Prasad Adhikari on Friday accusing him of leaking sensitive government information.

Adhikari was automatically suspended following a Cabinet decision to form an investigation committee to probe allegations levelled against him, including leaking information to the media regarding the finance ministry's recent decision to prohibit import of luxury goods.

Adhikari was appointed governor of the central bank by the erstwhile KP Sharma Oli-led government in April 2020, prior to which he had served as the chief executive officer of the Investment Board Nepal.

According to today's statement, the economic indicators were much better despite the corornavirus pandemic when the government was being led by the CPN-UML.

The former finance ministers said when the reins of the government were handed over, the inflation was below four per cent, and the trade deficit and balance of payments were all under control.

"The annual inflow of remittances had increased by nearly 10 per cent and the foreign exchange reserves had reached Rs 1.4 trillion, which was sufficient to cover the prospective merchandise imports of more than 11 months."

The former finance ministers have also criticised the decision of the ruling coalition to amend the budget presented through an ordinance and scrapping of some popular programmes introduced by the CPN-UML after the change in the government.

The statement also alleged that the government's focus was more centred on fulfilling its own interests rather than the current economic crisis.

"The inflation has doubled, the trade deficit has skyrocketed, the current account deficit is unmanageable, and the erosion of foreign exchange reserves is alarming."

They also claimed that the private sector was disappointed with the current government, which even lacked inter-agency coordination. They termed the seven per cent economic growth target for this fiscal year as 'ludicrous' as agricultural production had dropped, banks were unable to expand their investment, the private sector morale had deteriorated and the capital expenditure had been sluggish.

"Donor agencies have forecast the GDP growth will not even reach four per cent this fiscal."

A version of this article appears in the print on April 11, 2022, of The Himalayan Times.