EDOTORIAL: Find alternatives

The focus of Nepali planners and policy makers should be on chalking out policies aimed at generating enough employment within the country

The Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) has released statistics of remittances inflow into the country during the first ten months of the current fiscal year, indicating a declining rate of increase compared with the previous year. During the period under review, remittance growth stood at an average 4.8 per cent as against an encouraging 18.9 per cent in the same period of the past fiscal year. The total remittance in the first month of the current fiscal had shown a decline of 2.5 per cent, which gradually improved over the following months peaking at 7.8 per cent in the fourth year. The total remittance inflow during the ten-month period stood at Rs.566.97 billion compared with Rs. 538.87 billion in the corresponding period of the past year. This is a case of a slowdown of the remittance growth rate.

But it will not be wise for us to expect a continued robust growth of the remittance money indefinitely. In a way, the remittance inflow may be peaking. We can rely on remittance money to support our economy heavily for years and years only at the long-term cost to the nation’s growth and development. For years, so far, remittance has become a big pillar of the Nepalese economy, among other things, by largely paying for our imports and covering other expenditure. It is mostly spent on consumption, and only about one-fifth of it remains available for other purposes. The nation has not yet been able to put in place an effective plan for utilizing a large part of the remittances for productive purposes. The huge exodus of our youths to help man the engines of development of other countries has already meant that there has been a shortage of manpower in various sectors, such as agricultural fields, of the country.

Nepal’s labour destination countries employ Nepali migrant workers because they have faced an acute shortage of manpower. This may change, depending on a number of factors, including the recession in those countries, the fluctuations in their economic fortunes, and as most Nepali migrant workers head for the Middle East countries, on the fluctuations in world oil prices. As a result, Saudi Arabia has faced such a downturn in its economy, and the latest cutoff of diplomatic relations with Qatar by several neighbouring countries is sure to affect adversely the labour market there. In Malaysia, Nepali workers have faced problems of various sorts. Therefore, the focus of Nepali planners and policy makers should be on chalking out policies and programmes aimed at generating enough employment within the country even to cater for the needs of millions of Nepalis who will have to return one day. Though government leaders have been saying much about creating job opportunities so that Nepali youths do not have to go abroad to work hard in generally poor working conditions, putting their lives and dignity at risk, little has been done so far, even for those youths who are now within the country. Our foreign currency reserves depend mostly on unpredictable remittance. That means alternative sources of foreign exchange earnings should be developed too.

No country can become developed by exporting working population which should instead be employed within the country.

Keep vigil

More incidents of burglary have been reported in the capital city than last year. As many as 620 such incidents have been reported by the police since the beginning of this fiscal year. These incidents of thefts have exceeded that of last year. Thefts recorded last year were 468 and cases of burglaries could increase this year as we enter the second half of the fiscal. Most of the thefts occur during the day when the tenants and house owners go for work leaving their house unattended. Police advise to keep their valuables in safe places like bank lockers. The burglars usually make off with cash, and items such as gold and electronic gadgets that can easily be sold.

If possible the police advise the installation of security systems which is glaringly lacking at present. The police have also warned the public to take extra care because most of the cases of burglaries take place during the monsoon season. During the monsoon only the sound of rainfall falling on objects can be heard. This makes it easier for the burglars to carry on with their clandestine activities.