Heavy stakes

The country’s economy is in dire straits as the exports of many of the items it was traditionally known for are plummeting compounded by the

slow down in remittances that until recently was on an upturn. This may in part be attributed to the global economic slump, the likes of which have not been seen in recent times. Nepali carpets and readymade garments once flourishing ventures are now faring very poorly. The handicraft industry is not doing

better either except for some items. The figures are disappointing for it is found that the export of carpets declined by as much as 40 per cent in the first six months of this fiscal year alone. Nepal was famous once the world over for its hand-knotted carpets. Similarly, the export of handicrafts has declined by as much as 12.5 per cent compared to the corresponding period of the last fiscal year. The figures are truly alarming, especially considering that the carpet

industry has shrunk by as much as 70 per cent

compared to its heydays. What more remittances are also on the decline which at one time were growing phenomenally. Forecasts are the remittances growth will continue at a modest 10 per cent this fiscal year compared to 19.5 per cent of the GDP in 2008/09.

Largely responsible for this state of affairs is the

unfavorable climate for the industries with labor

unrest, bandhs, strikes and the instability prevailing, with massive load shedding also taking a toll on the growth chart. But, more than that, the

government has been rather indifferent to the industrialization, agricultural productivity and other income generating aspects. The coalition partners and the political leaders are more preoccupied with the power game instead of providing support and guidance for economic growth.

Under the special circumstances when the industrial sector is stagnating and the agricultural output scenario is gloomy, it is time for the government to prop up the economy with a new action plan and roadmap. In one respect concerning the export trade, the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies (MoCS) is to draw up a priority list that would promote the export of carpets and readymade garments, which should be viewed in a positive light. The government, therefore, has a role cut out for it in this regard such as in promoting the exports of Nepali exportable items in the international market as well as providing support and incentives to the domestic industries which are now in deep trouble.

As for remittances that have helped bring down poverty, the demand for Nepali labor is on the decline in countries such as Malaysia and the Gulf. Now these countries are accepting fewer Nepali workers. No doubt, remittances have enhanced the lifestyle of many Nepali families, but now we can expect these countries to take in lesser migrant workers. Remittances have been supporting the Nepali economy to a significant degree, and they impact consumption and imports. However, in this there may be a silver lining. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) sees the present economic growth difficulties affording a good opportunity to address the domestic economic problems that require vision and ingenuity to tackle.

Eyes on pies

The pie has the power to seduce any person,

particularly the leaders in power. This is not the kind of pumpkin pie that is being referred to: it is to do with the key official posts that turn up vacant

for legitimate reasons or otherwise. That’s how

the power structure seems to be built wherein the heavyweight coalition parties, depending on their proportionate participation and overall sway they hold, turn out in their finery to talk almost inconclusively in nominating their own people for the government agencies and commissions where political appointments have to be made. Maybe that’s why many such seats are lying empty. And, going by the way our revered parties are, the dilly dallying each time the season for an appointment is to be made is more predictable now.

Like each piece in a jigsaw puzzle, Bir Hospital, the largest and oldest government hospital in the country, has had more troubles in its march that meets the eyes. The so called share controversy among the three major parties has been dubbed responsible for the present woes. That the supposedly responsible parties only come to grasp problems when they see gains accruing is now a foregone conclusion.