Economy matters

A government that is supposed to be for the people obviously has numerous responsibilities to shoulder. The first thing that the Nepali people expect from a new government is sprucing up of the law and order situation in the country, the propping up of the economy that never is healthy, and peace to prevail, among others. This time around, too, the usual expectations are there. The constitutional process has seen a new executive at the helm of affairs. It is change in the sense that there the responsibility has been taken up by Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal fully cognisant of the challenges and pitfalls that lie ahead. But, what is marked is the approach that has been chalked out howsoever skeletal it may be at present when the full strength cabinet is yet to come together. Yet, the appointment of Surendra Pandey as the Finance Minister as the first step gives an inkling of the economic urgency that the Prime Minister feels about. The battered economy finds its reflection in the growing unemployment, slow pace of development activities, low industrial output, spiraling prices, and the like.

The past Maoist-led government may have done an excellent job of taking revenue generation to new heights, but the lack of follow up action through generating employment opportunities and spending on development works has become a paradox. It is true that the coffers are full but its pragmatic utilization must be the top priority rather than the use of the stock on reckless ventures. On this account, Finance Minister Pandey has come to stand on firm ground. Yet, in the days to come, particularly the budget that he is entrusted to present, will show the knack of dealing with the rather uneasy economic situation that the country is stuck with now. It would be worthwhile remembering here that the budget for 2008/09 was Rs. 236.15 billion while the revenue target of Rs. 141.72 billion was successfully achieved. On this, FM Pandey has hinted at the 2009/10 budget to exceed the previous fiscal year’s estimates. On the one hand it shows confidence in guiding the country out of the economic mess that it is in, but on the other hand it might come about through populist moves as there are over twenty political parties that will be calling the shots.

To make the economy perform through result-oriented thrusts is what everyone would recommend. But, what these measures will be to stimulate the economy is for the FM to come up with after extensive consultations with members of the coalition, economists, the various stakeholders, and the people in general. While stressing on the priority to create an investment friendly environment, improve industrial relations and increase investment in the productive sector, FM Pandey also feels that the private sector, an indispensable economic partner, too, will be given due encouragement to contribute extensively to the economy. The initial few days cannot be the overall guide for the path that the economy will traverse on, yet the basics are trickling in. With diverse political parties having their role in the government, it should not become a tug-of-war as far as national economic priorities are concerned.