Missing ingredient

After a nine-month experiment in distributive budget by the Maoist-led government, the country has reverted to the basic principles laid out in the Three-Year Interim plan formed by the coalition led by Girija Prasad Koirala. Yet the budget, in trying to be too accommodative, has lost focus on key priorities. Furthermore, despite the lessons learnt, it insists on an ambitious revenue target and capital expenditure. They imply the need for political stability, which, given the current political situation, appears improbable.

One of the key lessons learnt from the past year is that sound politics is the backbone of any effort at economic prosperity. Despite all the hullabaloo over the Maoist economic program, the GDP at basic price for this year was only 3.8 percent. Apart from weather and the global financial crises, all the other obstacles to growth were human made. Energy crisis, decline in capital expenditure, disturbed industrial sector and absence of local representatives were cited as the key reasons for stifled growth. All these factors have a common feature — they were all caused by political mismanagement.

The government is led by the CPN-UML, and it is natural for the party to try to seek to accommodate some of their favorite policies and programs. Yet the burden of a 22-party coalition also reflects heavily in the budget. Instead of trying to focus on some key priority areas, the government has scattered resources in many areas. Though everybody appreciate the effort, nobody is particularly happy.Despite all these constraints, the budget has tried to impart hope by initiating some projects of national pride, investing heavily in the energy sector, and in focusing on the peace process and people’s welfare.

While populist ideals indicate the political parties’ tendency to put party politics above national interest, they also imply an inability to address issues of pressing concern. The time now is not to debate whether neo-liberal economics is better than socialist ones. The time is to stabilise peace and lay the foundations for future economic prosperity. The missing ingredient in the budget is peace and political understanding. Without them, no budget, however good, has any chance of having a positive impact.

Success stories

Mushroom farming is getting to be increasingly popular as one can reap in immense profits from little investments. Besides, the art and technology of harvesting mushroom is relatively simple

and not much space is required for the purpose. Farmers in Chapagaun of Lalitpur and Balambu

of Kathmandu are involved in the farming in big way and reports have it that they are minting money

not to talk about supplementing their income. What is even more encouraging is that most of the farmers involved in raising mushroom are women who have now become more self-reliant and in a position to support their families on their own. They have

succeeded in ameliorating their lifestyle.

With these success stories, it is no surprise that mushroom farming is gaining in popularity.

Areas with the climate like Kathmandu valley are considered suitable for growing mushroom on a commercial scale. More farmers could take up mushroom farming as a cash crop and they should be encouraged to switch over to raising mushrooms in a big way and, thereby, earn rich dividends. Researches should be carried out on raising mushrooms and developing varieties best situated to particular locations that could assist mushroom cultivators.