EDITORIAL: Revive economy

By all accounts, it is not that we are facing a scarcity of funds but we are having problems in using them properly

The economy of the country is now in doldrums, and it is not surprising that in this fiscal year projections are made that the growth would be 0.77 per cent, that is almost zero.

Sectors such as the retail and wholesale trade together with manufacturing and construction sectors are taking a beating.

To make things worse the devastating earthquake that shook the country in April 25 last year and several powerful after that caused destruction in a massive scale.

When it was necessary to carry out the relief and rescue works together with reconstruction and rehabilitation to recover the blockade imposed at the southern border points immediately after the quake for four and a half months did not help in any way.

We then saw scarcity of essentials such as petroleum products and cooking gas which virtually paralyzed the life.

The data released by Central Bureau of Statistics shows the growth is the lowest in 14 years. The growth rate measured in the fiscal year 2001-02 was only 0.16 per cent.

Calculated in basic prices the figures show that that there was almost no growth in the economy which is less than the government’s estimate of two per cent.

Let the situation improve and the supply situation will improve.

This would help spend on the post earthquake reconstruction and rehabilitation to provide relief to those affected by the earthquake.

It is also believed that the country lost more from the blockade imposed than that it suffered from the earthquake.

The present situation not seeing much improvement in the economic front can also be attributed to the poor functioning of the agricultural front largely due to the lack of rain and delayed monsoon.

The growth in the fiscal year so far has been only 1.4 per cent in the agricultural sector which makes the largest contribution to the national economy. The retail and wholesale trades contribute 14.23 per cent to the economy.

As a result of depletion of essential supplies the reconstruction works are moving at a snail’s pace when it is essential to build the necessary infrastructure without further delay.

With the rainy season just around the corner it is high time that all earthquake victims were provided with necessary shelters.

However, experts are of the view that the economic activities would be enhanced by spending in the reconstruction works.

It is a matter of concern that there has been much delay in the reconstruction works despite being provided ample funds from donors as well.

Instead of playing the blame game as to who is responsible for we should boost economic activities in all the concerned sectors.

Now nine months of this fiscal year let us hope that the economy would be able to perform better. By all accounts, it is not that we are facing a scarcity of funds but we are having problems in using them properly.

However, of the 15 sectors that are used to calculate the GDP growth, some six sectors are going to record negative growth in the current fiscal year.

It is hoped that the remaining three months of this fiscal year would see some robust economic growth and we ought to take the setbacks in our stride.

Labour interest

Records show that over 35 million people from the SAARC region have migrated for overseas jobs, mostly in the Gulf countries and Malaysia.

They send in home billions of rupees as remittances annually.

But the working condition of these labourers in the host countries seems to be sub-standard and the SAARC member countries have not been able to collectively raise rightful concerns of their people with the authorities of the host nations.

Most of the labourers end up getting low salaries and are also deprived of basic facilities for their sustainability.

With a view to address the common problems confronted by the migrant labourers, representatives of labour ministers of the SAARC region dwelt on evolving a common strategy and lobbying with the host countries collectively.

They discussed the common agenda of working conditions, working hours, leave, vacation time and social security of the workers.

Condition of the workers would improve if the SAARC member states raise these issues with the countries where their people work.

A collective strategy is imperative to safeguard the genuine interests of the migrant labourers abroad.

The collective efforts will strengthen the bargaining power of the SAARC nations in safeguarding the rightful interests of the workers.