Industries and factories have returned to normalcy as the effects of the pandemic are gradually easing
The year 2020 left a deep scar on the national economy because of the COVID-19 pandemic that forced tens of thousands of people out of jobs both within and outside the country. Tourism, civil aviation, service, media and education sectors were hit the hardest as a result of the global pandemic that has left 1.96 million people dead all over the world. In Nepal alone, 1,932 people have so far lost their lives since March last year. Although the gap between COVID-19 infection and recovery from it has almost closed, from a whopping 42,000 during September and August last year to just over 6,000 this time around, almost half a dozen people are still dying every day across the country. The daily statistics maintained by the Ministry of Health and Population clearly show that the rate of infection and recovery as well as the deaths related to the virus is gradually declining with every passing day. This is a good sign that the pandemic will be brought under full control when anti-COVID vaccines are rolled out to the general people within a couple of months. The statistics should give a better hope for the national economy to grow at pre-COVID level. With the threat of the deadly pandemic ebbing, albeit slowly, the national economy is also crawling back to normalcy, though it will take a few more months to fully bounce back from its shock. According to a survey made public by Nepal Rastra Bank the other day, around 54 per cent of industries have been able to resume full operation after November and December last year compared to the pre-pandemic situation. The industries, which provide most job opportunities in the formal sector, have returned to normalcy as the effects of the pandemic are gradually easing. However, 46 per cent of other industries and factories – mostly medium and small-scale ones – are still struggling to come back into operation, thanks to financial constraints. This is a marked improvement compared to the situation in June and July last year. The central bank has also said around 30 per cent of hotels and restaurants have also resumed their operation recently. The employment rate has also increased from 77 per cent in June-July to 87 per cent till December-end. There are still some major hurdles to fully bring the national economy back to the pre-pandemic level. Some domestic industries and service sectors are still struggling to cover their operational expenses due to low market demand. In order to revive the economy, the government needs to inject more money into the productive and service sectors from its policy guidelines as outlined by the central bank in last July. Majority of the industries that can absorb a large number of work force have not been able to take advantage of the refinancing policy unveiled by the central bank. Lengthy bureaucratic hassles and lack of proper coordination between and among the various government agencies have made it quite difficult to avail the refinancing packages. The government also should not dilly-dally in purchasing the anti-virus vaccines and vaccinating the population with urgency. The sooner the vaccines are purchased and rolled out, the better the prospect of reviving the economy to the desired level.
Bike theft On average, two motorcycles are said to be stolen in the Kathmandu Valley every day. With motorcycles and scooters costing quite a fortune these days, bike-lifting has become a lucrative business. The Traffic Police have made quite a few arrests in recent times, and they all seem to belong to a racket involved in stealing motorcycles from different places of the Valley, which calls for caution on the part of the owners. Earlier this month, the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division had handed over 22 stolen motorcycles and scooters to their respective owners. It would make the work of the Traffic Police easier if the vehicle owners took extraordinary precautions to keep their two-wheelers safe. There is no room for carelessness, which is the main reason for motorcycles to go missing. Since bike-lifters keep close watch of busy places like marketplaces and hospital premises, it is advisable to keep the bike handles locked at all times. Police say an intelligent locking system with double lock option would make the bike more secure. Also hefty punishment not only for those lifting bikes but also purchasing stolen vehicles will go a long way in curbing motorcycle theft.