THT 10 years ago: Despite high growth, inequality rises

Kathmandu, September 26, 2006

Income growth in Nepal was high between 1995-96 and 2003-04, with real average per capita expenditure having grown on an average by 4.5 per cent thanks due to the patterns of growth, especially driven by the increasing returns on human and physical assets.

However, low-income growth lacked these assets and income inequality worsened during the same period, says the joint survey of the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS)-National Planning Commission (NPC), the World Bank, DFID and Asian Development Bank (ADB), released here today.

During the same period, the income inequality situation worsened due to the increased gap between the middle class and the rich.

The survey says that economic and social outcomes are worse in rural areas, particularly in remote areas. It found that poverty levels are highest and access to services lowest, in the remote mid-west and far west regions.

Poverty, as per the survey prepared for September 2006, states that the incidence of poverty declined dramatically, falling from 42 per cent in 1995-96 to 31 per cent in 2003-04.

All three measures of poverty – the headcount rate, the poverty gap, and the squared poverty gap improved, says the survey.

The decline in poverty was driven by growth in per capita consumption expenditure and income, which was driven by increases in remittances, higher agricultural wages, increased connectivity, urbanisation and a decline in dependency ratio.

Remittances increased dramatically during the period as more than a million Nepalis were working abroad in 2003-04.

An irreparable loss, indeed!

The loss of precious lives in the helicopter crash in Taplejung on Saturday should go down in history as the most horrendous in recent times.

The death of some of the leading personalities in the field of nature conservation is indeed an irreparable loss. At the top, of course, is none other than Dr Harka Gurung.

A trained geographer-turned-conservationist and someone who often defied the mighty, Dr Gurung’s loss irreparable. Then there is the Minister of State for Forest and Soil Conservation (MOF&SC), Gopal Rai — a budding politician — who had a brilliant career ahead.

Tipped to inherit the legacy of his uncle Bal Bahadur Rai, Gopal missed a lot more. Some of the dead had fabled life to lead. Consider Mingma Sherpa, who was with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) US. For someone with roots in Solukhumbu, becoming a part of the WWF was a dream come true.

One also cannot forget Dr Chandra Prasad Gurung, the WWF Nepal Country Representative.

One wonders who would follow in his footsteps now that he is no more. While 18 persons among the dead are verily “who’s who” in the conservation front, others were very important persons in their own right.