Too wide a gap
As compared to countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, the overall inequality in income between the haves and have-nots is widening in Nepal, according to a survey conducted by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). Accordingly, the richest group’s share in the national income in 1995-96 was 34.9 per cent which increased to about 40 per cent by the end of 2003-04. It is, however, regrettable that the poorest 10 per cent of the population received only 2.1 per cent of the total national income, thereby reflecting great unevenness in social and economic progress. Moreover, the income distribution among geographic regions also happens to be glaring, with Kathmandu topping the list.
Now that some semblance of peace and political stability has been restored with the formation of a new democratic dispensation, it is hoped that the people-oriented plans and projects will be accorded top priority in order to ameliorate the condition of the poor. As several friendly governments have already pledged financial support, the economy that was once on the verge of collapse can now be expected to make a recovery. But more important is the need to revive the donor-funded projects that have the immense capacity to provide employment to many impoverished households. Likewise, all the allied sectors of the tourism industry and other industries can also think of getting back to business with renewed hope. We also need more investor-friendly and flexible laws to invite private players and industrial tie-ups. Nepal should seize the newfound opportunity to give the economy a shot in the arm. Only a far-sighted leadership can help realise this.