EDITORIAL: Timely initiative

While big businesses find it less difficult to absorb the shocks and recover, small operators find the challenge much more difficult

The launching of a Rs.100 billion fund for economic revival by the government should be welcomed as it seeks to give a boost to the productive sector in the country hit hard by the major earthquakes and their aftershocks of April and May, the unrest in various parts of the country, including in central Tarai, as well as the trade blockade imposed on Nepal. The big blow given by the earthquakes had badly affected a number of districts, including the three districts of the Kathmandu Valley, causing deaths of more than 9,000 people, and injuries to many more, destruction of over half a million houses, and damage to about half that number of houses, apart from the damage suffered by other industrial and development structures and cultural monuments. The financial loss caused by the earthquakes has been put at some 700 billion rupees. As if that was not enough, the trade blockade has caused a much higher amount of financial loss to the country. All this has pushed back the development of the country a number of years. How fast the country can recover will depend on how wisely and effectively the reconstruction and recovery plans can be worked out and put into practice.

The- government cannot do everything, but the tasks before it are many and difficult. Therefore, it has to set priorities of things to do. The idea of providing loans to the productive sector at five per cent interest rate can be expected to give the entrepreneurs some relief and incentives to do more on their own, thereby, contributing to swifter economic recovery. This will help inspire the investors with new confidence. The fund has contributions from the government, banks and financial institutions (BFIs) and development partners. BFIs can obtain credit from the Rastra Bank at 1.5 per cent interest rate, and they will have to lend the amount to good borrowers at not more than a five per cent interest rate. The importance of the initiative is obvious at a time when the country’s projected economic growth rate has already gone down to 3.04 per cent in the fiscal year 2014-15, with a grimmer forecast of the growth rate posting a negative figure in the current year for the first time since 1983.

The productive sector for the purposes of the soft loans include small and medium industries, agricultural farms, mountaineering, trekking, rafting and travel agencies, hotels, restaurants, resorts and other recreational facilities, airlines and other tourism-related ventures. Hydro-power plants under construction, and those whose production has been halted for various reasons, and any other project related to the production, transmission and distribution of hydro-electricity are eligible for the loans, whereas manufacturers of alcohol and tobacco products cannot get this refinancing facility. Though the last two also generate employment and contribute to capital formation, they have been excluded, because they produce products socially considered undesirable. The government and the central bank should ensure that in making loans BFIs operate according to the criteria set and small enterprises are not largely left out of the process. While big businesses find it less difficult to absorb the shocks and recover, small operators find the challenge much more difficult.

Promoting teachers

Promotion of teachers of community schools as per the Civil Service Act would help boost the morale of teachers. There are anomalies prevailing while promoting them at present. According to the Civil Service Act, section officers could be promoted after having served for five years and Joint-secretaries are eligible for further promotion after seven years service in the government. There are 107,853 permanents posts for teachers in the community schools which number more than 3,500 in the country. Expert advice would be sought by the government from education experts for promoting the teachers.

The new regulation comes into force regarding promoting teachers to be run MoE’s School Sector Development Programme from July of 2016 to 2022. So far promotion is given to teachers who have been appointed under the Civil Service Act. With the bid to encourage quality teaching and learning preparations are going on to supply adequate teachers, particularly in subjects like science, mathematics and English. The teachers who have done well should be felicitated and be given due recognition for their contribution.