EDITORIAL: Miles to go

We could have introduced sound policies, programmes and incentives to attract more foreign investment, to support domestic farmers and manufacturers

Every periodic plan and every national budget lays emphasis on boosting the growth rate of the country, and for this, on increasing its productive capacity and exports.

But still, the ratio of our imports to exports is widening, now put at a dangerous 1 to 9.4 (based on seven months’ data of the current fiscal year), leaving the gap at several hundreds of billions of rupees.

With such a large trade deficit and most of our imports being consumer goods, including luxuries, the task ahead to turn the economy around appears to be a daunting one.

Without sharply boosting the Nepalese exports, the task of stimulating the economy’s growth rate remarkably will face big hurdles.

The country has been in such a difficult situation for many years, and it is mainly the remittances of the migrant Nepalese workers working abroad which have largely enabled the country to pay for its burgeoning exports.

Such over-dependence on imports has in fact hindered the growth of our productive sectors. A combination of factors is to blame, including years of conflict, political instability and a prolonged transitional period.

The newly appointed Commerce Minister, Jayanta Chand, unveiling a 60-day action matrix for the implementation of policies and programmes of the commerce ministry for the fiscal year 2015-16 in the capital on Monday, said that their time-bound implementation would be stressed in order to achieve the objective of export-led growth.

The action matrix has been brought out for the purpose of completing the unfinished tasks of the policies of the ministry for the remaining two months of the current fiscal year.

While the enthusiasm shown is commendable, how and to what extent the sixty-day promise can be achieved remains to be seen.

As the government admits, the country’s exportable items are limited.

Though agriculture has remained the mainstay of the Nepalese economy for generations, the country has been reduced to a position of being a net importer of agricultural products, including food grain, which it used to export just until a quarter of century ago.

The causes of this reversal of status should be investigated and corrective measures need to be taken in all seriousness.

In several other sectors, such as garment, carpet and pashmina, Nepal used to earn a lot of foreign currency through exports at one time, but each of these areas has slipped away one by one.

Why this happened and what measures we took to restore the things also need to be investigated.

Apart from the question of political stability, we could have introduced sound policies, programmes and incentives to attract more foreign investment, to support domestic farmers and manufacturers, to fulfill the infrastructural requirements of trade and industry, including the development of hydropower at least to meet all or most of domestic demand, and to create a more congenial environment for the growth of agriculture, manufacturing, and service industry in general.

Nepal cannot expect to do well in all sectors. Therefore, it should fix priorities accordingly.

The present coalition government has pledged a lot of things towards that end, and serious implementation of those pledges could indeed make a difference.

Seasonal diseases

As the temperature is soaring so are the seasonal diseases. Most of the patients visiting hospitals and health centres suffer from diarrhea and dysentery.

This is mainly because there is a scarcity of clean drinking water during the summer as a result of which people drink unsafe water. Therefore, people are advised to take hygienic food and clean drinking water.

According to experts observing the 3S  safe hand, safe food and safe water - could go a long way in reducing the incidence of many communicable diseases for polluted water also causes diseases like cholera, typhoid and jaundice.

Mosquito bites also causes many diseases particularly in the Terai which causes malaria, Japanese encephalitis and dengue, among other diseases.

One should be very careful of what one eats because by eating contaminated food one would suffer from food poisoning. In order to avoid these diseases one should use nets to keep away mosquitoes from biting.

In any case, the doctors advice the people to drink a lot of fluids.

By taking certain precautions we would be able to avoid these diseases many of which are life threatening.