Fiscal Policy 2014: Can it Revive the Economy?

On Juep(7)ly 13 the government unveiled a Rs 618 billion annual budget for the fiscal year 2014-15 with significant investment promised in energy, infrastructure, agriculture and irrigation sectors. Finance Minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat, who has time and again committed to kick-start second generation of economic reforms, termed the budget as reform-and investment-oriented. Though the budget has not introduced any new programmes as such and has drawn mixed reactions from experts and politicians, the minister believes that the fiscal policy will help give momentum to the sluggish national economy. Here’s an analysis by Siromani Dhungana:

This is the first time that the government succeeded in introducing full-fledged budget on time in the last four years. The delayed implementation of the budget had resulted in economic stagnation, as economic activities could not speed up in the absence of a spur from the government, the largest spender. Though timely budget announcement this year is expected to change the scenario for the better, the journey ahead is not easy for the Finance Minister.
Expansionary Fiscal Policy
Considering the Rs 596 billion ceiling put forward by the National Planning Commission (NPC) the budget was bigger-than-expected. The Minister crossed the recommended ceiling mostly because of two reasons. Despite his reluctance, he had to concede to the pressure of the MPs from the largest partners of the ruling coalition – Nepali Congress and CPN-UML – to earmark Rs 10 million for infrastructure project in each constituency. Next to it, the budget increased the amount of constituency development fund, provided to each of the 601 MPs for funding various development activities in their respective constituency as per their discretion, from the erstwhile Rs 1 million to Rs 1.5 million per MP.  Adding to it, the budget made upward revisions in the civil servants’ salary and other perks as well.
Despite being flexible in its spending, the budget did not make any major hikes in the taxation rates. Expansionary budget, like the one under discussion, is expected to accelerate economic growth, help in employment creation and in poverty reduction. However, analysts claim that this budget comes with many risks. It may create demand pressures and fuel inflation. Analysts claim its forecast of a 8 percent inflation rate to be unrealistic.

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“Nepal May See 10% GDP Loss From Glacier Melts, Climate Extremes”

Moon rose from the east as sun cast its last rays of the day over the summit of Mt Machhapuchhre

Climate change-driven events like melting glaciers pose a grave risk to Nepal’s economy, and could cause losses equal to almost 10% of the country’s annual gross domestic product (GDP) by 2100, says a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) climate and economics report for South Asia.

“The population is extremely vulnerable, not only to the immediate threats of increasingly frequent glacial lake overflows, landslides, flash floods, and droughts, but also to longer-term climate change, which will ultimately reduce water availability and limit crop productivity,” said Bindu Lohani, ADB Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development. Continue reading

आखिर, यो एकदमै सानो काठमाडौँ तलाउमा को सँग के मात्र भनेर झगडा गर्दै बसिरहने?

आखिर, यो एकदमै सानो KTM तलाउमा को सँग के मात्र भनेर झगडा गर्दै बसिरहने? मान्छे चिने पुगि हाल्यो — त्यसपछि हात हल्लायो, नमस्ते भन्यो, त्यै त हो नि, यहाँ को चलन, हैन र?
आशुतोष तिवारी
म हिमाल मिडियामा सिइयो भएर काम गर्दा (२००८) तिर त्यस बेला एक ताका त्यहाँ तैनाथ मजदुर सँगठन सँग खुबै मिटिंग र निगोसिएसन गर्नु पर्थ्यो। झण्डै हरेक हप्ता जस्तै — लामो, लामो मिटिंग, कहिले त राति १२ बजे, बिहान १ बजे मात्र सकिने मिटिंग। महिनौ लम्बिन्थे युनियनसँगका ति मिटिंगहरु।
के गरिएन ति मिटिंगहरुमा समस्या सुल्झाउन?आफुले जानेका ब्याट्ना, गेम थ्योरी, हाँस्ने-हँसाउने, हिसाब-किताब खुल्लम-खुल्ला देखाउने, कम्पनीमा सबैको भविष्य के गर्दा राम्रो हुन्छ भनि बुझ्ने-बुझाउने, कानुन का कुरा, पछि Sun Tzu को आर्ट अफ वार — सबै बिधि कानुनत: चलाइयो — र कालान्तरमा (by Feb 2009) सबै को सहयोग बाट काम सफल पनि भयो।
त्यो बेलाका युनियन, नन-युनियन प्राय: सबै साथी हरु सँग मेरो अझै पनि राम्रो सम्पर्क नै छ।

तर त्यो tension-filled crisis र high adrenaline को बेला मैले के देखे भने:
साँघु साप्ताहिक मा चाँहि मैले नै सम्भालेकै कम्पनि को बारेमा झुठा-झुठा समाचार आएको छ, आएको छ, लगातार, एक पछि अर्को, मेरो र म सँग त्यसबेला कार्यरत् केहि सहकर्मि हरुको बिरुद्ध मा, हामीहरुलाइ घरि-घरि बेकम्मा र खत्तम र झुर मान्छे बनाएर र देखाएर।फेरि कम्पनि मा कोहि-कोहि चाँहि मच्चि-मच्चिकन “सर्, आजको साँघु साप्ताहिक मा त यस्तो आएछ नि, है, गएको हप्ता उस्तो आएको थियो नि, है – हा, हा हा” गर्थे, खुबै मजा लिएर, आनन्द लुटेर।

मानौ, जसरि हुन्छ, हाम्रो मनोबल गिराउनु नै कसै-कसैलाइ ‘साँघु साप्ताहिक” मनपरि छाप्न- छपाउन दिएर नै के के न ठुलै काम गर्या जस्तो हुन्थ्यो।

शुरुमा त मलाइ “यो साँघु भन्ने के ताल को पत्रिका होला — जसले जे फन्टुस कुरा दिएपनि सन्कि सन्कि छाप्दो रहेछ, सत्यता स‍ँग त यसको मतलब नै रहेनछ, खालि मान्छेलाइ खसाल्यो, हा – हा, गर्यो यसलाई” जस्तो लाग्थ्यो।
तर जे होश, रिस जति उठे पनि, जे पनि मनपरि छापिदिने साप्ताहिक सँग झगडा गरेर आफ्नो इनर्जि र समय खर्च गर्नु भन्दा ट्रेड-अफ को रुपमा कम्पनि कै भलाइ (टर्न-अराउण्ड) मा म as the सिइयो लाग्नु पर्छ भनेर म चुपचाप आफ्नो काम गरिरहन्थे, भलै कसै-कसैको आँखामा साँघुले हियाएर कमजोर नै बनिएको जस्तो देखिएता पनि।
आखिर एउटा ठुलो युद्ध एकाग्र भएर जित्ने नै हो भने आएका स-साना र tangential लडाइँ हरु मा पनि त्यत्तिकै इनर्जि खर्च गर्नु हुँदैन — लडाइँ बरु ‘हारेर’ पनि युद्ध नै जित्नु दिर्घकालिन सफलता को एउटा शुत्र नै रहेछ।
तर पत्रिकामा आफ्नो बारेमा तथानाम गालि र झुठो कुरा आएपछि, सहन सक्ने शक्ति सबै मा हुँदैन। साँघुमा जथाभाबि खबर छापिएको दुइ-तिन दिन सम्म त मेरो समय आघात र घायल भएका एकदमै काम गर्ने त्यसबेलाका मेरा सहकर्मिहरुको गिरेको मनोबल नै उच्च पार्न मै जान्थ्यो।

के भन्ने?
Fast forward to Nov 2009:
No surprise: साँघु को हाम्रो बारेमा आएका झुठो समाचार हरु झुठै भइरहे। पछि कसले चाँहि हाम्रो बारेमा मनपरि कुरा छाप्न लगाएको रहेछ, मैले थाहा पाएँ र म कुनै तालले छक्क परिन — र तिनलाइ केहि भनिन।
आखिर नेपालमा कामै गर्ने हो भने खुराफाति गर्ने हरुको पछि लागेर केहि हुन्न, गरि रहुन, खाइरहुन — किनकि समयले नै देखाउँने नै रहेछ, को कति पानी मा थियो र छ भनेर।
Anyway, उता हिमाल मिडिया मा चाँहि सबैको सहयोग पाएर मलाइ दिेइएको काम राम्रै सँग सकाएर त्यसपछि हिमाल मिडिया को हितैषि नै रहि म ‘वाटर एड’ चलाउन तिर लागे।
तैपनि कुनै पनि बेला, यतिका बर्षमा, कहिले पनि मैले साँघु का सम्पादक गोपाल जि लाइ सोधिन — “तपाई ले किन यस्तो अक्षरको गोडमेलको नाममा झुठको खेति (पनि) गर्नु हुन्छ र के पाउनु हुन्छ त्यस्तो अरुलाइ बिन िसत्तिमा दुख र आघात दिने खेति बाट?” भनेर
तर हरेक बर्ष CIAA ले नबिराइकन वहाँलाइ (मात्र) दिने ‘CIAA पत्रकारिता पुरस्कार’ जसको घोषणा वहाँले “यो बर्ष पनि साँघु ले खत्रा पत्रकारिता को लागि फेरि पायो yay!” भन्ने आशयका साथ फेसबुकमा गर्नु हुन्छ, एउटा समान्य पाठकको हैशियतले म फिसिक्क हाँस्छु र एउटा लाइक भनेर औलाको डिजिटल चित्र कोर्छु
आखिर, यो एकदमै सानो KTM तलाउमा को सँग के मात्र भनेर झगडा गर्दै बसिरहने? मान्छे चिने पुगि हाल्यो — त्यसपछि हात हल्लायो, नमस्ते भन्यो, त्यै त हो नि, यहाँ को चलन, हैन र?
आशा छ, गोपाल जि जस्तो CIAA-सम्मानित सम्पादकले यो पाठक को यि कुरा हरु लाइ मनन् गरि पुलिट्जर वा सो सरह का पुरस्कार का लागि आफ्नो पत्रिका लाइ भेरिफाइ गर्ने सकिने समाचार नै छाप्ने बनाउन नै दिलो-ज्यान ले लाग्नु हुन्छ — यसमा मेरो सानो शुभकामना!
(This article was originally posted as facebook status by Ashutosh Tiwari. We have reproduced here with his permission.)

Intellectual Honesty & “A Big Fish in a Small Pond” Syndrome in K-town

If one is not intellectually honest about small things, one cannot be honest about bigger things

Ashutosh Tiwari

Not at all surprised that people are finally up in arms about CK Lal’s supposed intellectualism.

I had my first newspaper ‘fight’ with him in 1992, when he unfairly criticized my article published in the then The Independent. His criticisms were personal, and NOT at all related to whatever the demerits were of that article on education.

I had my second newspaper ‘fight’ with him in 1999, when, upon reading one of his newspaper pieces, I realized that he had shoddy understanding of the ‘laws of war’ (i.e. jus in bello and jus ad bellum), and was (ab)using these international legal terms to write about the then raging Maoist war. [I even showed his article to a professor in whose course on international law I had received an A, and for which I had written a 20-page paper on the laws of war, with applications to the then Maoist war. The professor agreed with my characterization of CK's misunderstanding of those Latin terms.]

I had my third ‘fight’ with CK in the early 2000s when he wrote that Narayan Gopal, the singer, was a taxi-driver. Continue reading

A Deviated Path: The Private Life of Nepali Private Sector

Siromani Dhungana/UWB

Nepal’s private sector, as evidences show, is shying away from its major responsibilities and becoming much like NGOs. The current situation is such that the private sector is acting like nonprofits or as a project implementing body. Popular perception is that our private sector lacks innovative approaches and entrepreneurial mindset.

Recently, me and my friend Hom Nath Gaire did a story on the recent trend of private sector engaging in appeasing donors for projects instead of being involved in businesses. I want the news to speak and help you readers make a judgment about our private sector:

A Donor-Dependent Private Sector

By Siromani Dhungana and Hom Nath Gaire

Aid orientation has been evident among Nepal’s private sector organizations as they are hell bent on bagging projects from donor agencies to carry out activities for their own welfare and day to day activities. Sometimes, their race for getting projects appears to be ‘unhealthy’.

Here are some examples:

• USAID Nepal Economic, Agriculture and Trade (NEAT) activity provided grant to the Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) to conduct Public Private Dialogue (PPD) on draft of Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Act (FITTA) last year. Continue reading

Women Entrepreneurs in A Country Where Business was Men’s Domain

Women entrepreneurs in Nepal have come far but they still have a long way to go. Women entrepreneurs are still waiting for a situation where they will get a chance of working as freely as their male counterparts.

Siromani Dhungana/UWB

Over the last few weeks, I have met several women entrepreneurs who are doing amazing work in the entrepreneurial world. I listened to women entrepreneurs and got motivated from their amazing journey of struggle.

I was truly inspired by the struggle of the first generation women entrepreneurs in Nepal. I know, women still face problem from their very commencement of enterprise in Nepal. The society still does not believe in their capacity and even their own family does not want to invest their capital in the business run by women due to lack of confidence in the women’s ability to run a venture successfully.

Yet, they are doing very good especially in Small and Micro Enterprises (SMEs) field. Currently, women own about 14,300 small and medium enterprises in Nepal, accounting for 2 percent of GDP (registered formal sector) and employing over 200,000 workers. A study commissioned by International Finance Corporation (IFC), private sector lending arm of the World Bank Group, suggests that meeting their current credit requirements of US$ 106 million can increase their contribution to the economy.

Long Journey

The other day, I spoke with Hajuri Bista, a first generation women entrepreneur in Nepal. Business was men’s domain even few decades ago, she says. You know people used to laugh at women who were in favor of setting up venture, she shares her experience. Entrepreneurship was a male preserve and the idea of women taking up entrepreneurial activities was considered as a distant dream, she adds. Continue reading

An Analysis of Corruption in Nepal: Is It Becoming Socially Acceptable?

Siromani Dhungana/UWB

It is no surprise that Nepal is a very corrupt country, but a cause of worry today is that politicians are robbing the state coffer openly and sometimes ‘proudly’ in Nepal.

This is an analysis of very recent allegations of corruption against our politicians, which have mostly gone un-answered.

Here are a few examples:

News 1: Nagarik Daily published a series of in-depth investigative reports (by Subodh Gautam) about erosion of Chure Hills in its February 22 and 23 editions. The news has hinted the apathy of the police to control rampant illegal activities in the Chure area. According to the articles, around 0.75 billion Nepali rupees have been misused under President´s Chure Conservation Program (PCCP). Can the commission for the investigation of abuse of authority (CIAA), an anti-graft body in Nepal, and the government agencies concerned, bring the guilty under scanner? Many believe they canno

News 2: On the February 22 edition, Annapurna Post published an article (by Govinda Pariyar) about import of sub-standard medicines worth Rs 500 million from India. According to the article, the government has been importing medicines that the Indian government has banned. The issue should have received a great deal of government attention, especially because this directly relates to the health of a large population, but no legal action has been initiated so far. Continue reading

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The Kathmandu Post interview: When blogs were Twitter and Facebook

UWB:

Dinesh Wagle interview with the Kathmandu Post

UWB founder Dinesh Wagle is interviewed by Kathmandu Post’s Weena Pun in today’s issue of the newspaper.

What is United We Blog?

It is a political blog—Nepal’s first—founded on my personal web domain in 2004. Initially it started as a forum to express private feelings and the daily grind lived by journalists and included stories by my friends Ujjwal Acharya and Deepak Adhikari and myself. Later, the site was hosted on blog.com.np and soon became the only uncensored source of political information in Nepal for a while in 2005.

Why did you decide to blog?

I was excited by the new medium of expression. In 2004, I had been a journalist with the mainstream media for seven years, and at that time, the new media was still very new in Nepal. Blogs were the ‘social media’ of that time. They provided additional and unlimited space for expressing ourselves, as opposed to limited print and air space of the old media. This ‘limitless’ space was the second reason for me to start a blog.

Originally posted on Wagle Street Journal:

The Kathmandu Post celebrates its (and Kantipur’s) 21st anniversary today by publishing a 16-page pullout on Nepal’s social media scene. The supplement, titled “Platforms of Change“, explores how Nepalis are using the Internet and its various platforms mainly to express themselves and to connect and share and debate. In the lead article ‘Teleprinter to Twitter’, Editor-in-Chief Akhilesh Upadhyay talks about the impact of technological changes (and a constitutional provision that guaranteed press freedom) in impressive expansion of Nepal’s media.

Dinesh Wagle interview with the Kathmandu Post
I was interviewed by the Post’s Weena Pun on my political blogging and journalism days.

Here’s the page as it appeared in the Post (PDF) and the following is the text:

When the then-king Gyanendra imposed his authoritarian rule in February 2005 and later clamped down on all private media outlets in Nepal, United We Blog became the go-to site for delivering uncensored political news. One of the two co-founders behind the blog, Dinesh Wagle, a former journalist with…

View original 1,467 more words

Gallery

Thabang: The village that didn’t vote; once hosted Maoist guerrillas

This gallery contains 16 photos.

Originally posted on Wagle Street Journal:
A man in Thabang, Rolpa, face smeared with colored powder, celebrated Maghi festival. On the background is an anti-election slogan- “the one who asks for vote will get chot (hurt).” (यो लेखलाई नेपालीमा पढ्न…

Liars! Nepal’s Politics Suffers from a Trust Deficit

The trust deficit among major political parties and their leaders continues to exist even after the election of the second CA and the new Prime Minister by the parliament last week. Leaders continue to spit venom at each other.

By Siromani Dhungana

By now it is clear that the consensus between two major political parties –NC and UML– has become an elusive pursuit. They have failed to win confidence of each other. Evidences suggest that their journey ahead will be full of distrust and discomfort. After the election of the second Constituent Assembly (CA), the two parties are at loggerhead over power sharing deal.

The all-powerful Home Ministry has become the bone of contention between two parties. Nepali Congress has been dismissing the UML claim that there was a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ between the two parties to give Home portfolio to UML. NC’s veteran leader Ram Sharan Mahat, who is the sole minister but without any portfolio in the Sushil Koirala cabinet, tweeted on Wednesday (12 Feb): Who says there was a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’? False news has been disseminated intentionally.

On the other hand, UML leader Bamdev Gautam who has been proposed as Home Minister by the party, continues to claim the existence of such agreement. In an exclusive interview with Setopati, he said: ‘Congress dumped the gentlemen’s agreement.’ Continue reading