Pros­per­ity or poverty?

People's Review - - COMMENTARY - PR PRAD­HAN push­para­jprad­han@gmail.com

One can never achieve any goal by walk­ing to­wards the neg­a­tive di­rec­tion. The gov­ern­ment is giv­ing the slo­gan of "pros­per­ous Nepal and happy Nepalis", but in ac­tion, no ef­fort has been seen to make Nepal pros­per­ous and make the Nepali peo­ple happy. The gov­ern­ment is en­cour­aged from the rev­enue re­ceived from im­ports of goods, and thus, it is dis­cour­ag­ing es­tab­lish­ment of im­port sub­sti­tut­ing in­dus­tries within the coun­try. The gov­ern­ment is en­cour­ag­ing im­port of ve­hi­cles con­sum­ing petro-prod­ucts by dis­cour­ag­ing elec­tric ve­hi­cles. Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent re­port, some pri­vate sec­tor en­trepreneurs had wished to op­er­ate elec­tronic ve­hi­cles for pub­lic trans­porta­tion in Kathmandu. The gov­ern­ment had formed a com­mit­tee to study on the fea­si­bil­ity of the op­er­a­tion of such ve­hi­cles. The fact is that for years, the com­mit­tee has not com­pleted its re­port. The elec­tronic ve­hi­cles deal­ers com­plain that the Trans­porta­tion Man­age­ment Depart­ment is dis­cour­ag­ing them in reg­is­ter­ing such elec­tri­cal ve­hi­cles. Nepal doesn't pro­duce a drop of petro-prod­uct. In the last fis­cal year alone, Nepal Oil Cor­po­ra­tion paid 152 bil­lion ru­pees to the In­dian Oil Cor­po­ra­tion whereas, the gov­ern­ment col­lected ad­di­tional 55 bil­lion ru­pees as tax from the con­sumers. Every year, the petro-prod­uct con­sump­tion rate has been in­creas­ing by 20 per­cent and in this way, the gov­ern­ment's tax rev­enue is also in­creas­ing. In this re­gard, the gov­ern­ment is in­ter­ested in do­ing busi­ness en­joy­ing ex­ces­sive profit mar­gin rather than strength­en­ing the na­tional econ­omy. The gov­ern­ment is col­lect­ing above 250 per­cent im­port tax from each ve­hi­cle, there­fore, if ve­hi­cle im­port de­clines, the gov­ern­ment will lose a ma­jor tax rev­enue. The gov­ern­ment, which is keen for do­ing busi­ness by ex­ploit­ing con­sumers, is less in­ter­ested in think­ing about sub­sti­tut­ing the im­port of petro-prod­ucts. If we en­cour­age elec­tronic ve­hi­cles, we can re­duce con­sump­tion of petro-prod­ucts. As the Nepal Elec­tric­ity Au­thor­ity is re­ceiv­ing more elec­tric­ity pro­duced within the coun­try, the gov­ern­ment should have given pri­or­ity to elec­tric ve­hi­cles. Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent state­ment by the NEA manag­ing di­rec­tor Kul­man Ghish­ing, cur­rently elec­tric­ity de­mand is ful­filled through im­port from In­dia, how­ever, within three years, NEA will be self suf­fi­cient in elec­tric­ity. Within five years, Nepal will be able to ex­port elec­tric­ity, Ghish­ing has in­formed. He has also dis­closed the fact that from ex­port of each unit of elec­tric­ity, Nepal will earn just five ru­pees but if Nepal her­self will con­sume the elec­tric­ity, from one unit, NEA will earn 100 ru­pees. Un­der­stand­ably, from the ex­port of elec­tric­ity, the in­come is nom­i­nal but from con­sum­ing power within the coun­try by our self, we can earn 20 times more money. Mean­while, we will be able to sub­sti­tute con­sump­tion of petro-prod­ucts. Each year, we spend bil­lions of ru­pees just in im­port­ing LP gas for cook­ing food. If the gov­ern­ment en­cour­age on the use of elec­tric­ity heaters, con­sump­tion of elec­tric­ity will con­sid­er­ably in­crease. In the same way, if we will pro­vide elec­tric­ity to the in­dus­tries at con­ces­sional price, Nepali prod­ucts will be cheaper and they can com­pete in the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket. As we have huge po­ten­tial­ity of gen­er­at­ing hy­dropower, we need to de­velop plans on con­struc­tion of mega hy­dropower projects not for ex­port, but for do­mes­tic con­sump­tion. We see ev­ery­where roads are be­ing con­structed. But if we give pri­or­ity in con­struc­tion of cable car projects or rope­way lines spe­cially in hilly ar­eas, the trans­porta­tion cost would be­come cheaper. Maybe, the ini­tial in­vest­ment in the con­struc­tion of rail­way lines could be higher than con­struc­tion of roads, but in the long-run, op­er­a­tion of rail­ways will be cheaper than the ve­hi­cles. Nepal is a coun­try with high po­ten­tial as the na­ture has given it enor­mous re­sources, un­for­tu­nately, Nepal is a poor coun­try as the Nepalis are un­able to har­ness the nat­u­ral re­sources. We have a long part­ner­ship in every sec­tor with In­dia, but the In­dian in­ten­tion is to keep Nepal al­ways poor. When Nepal wished to link it­self with China by con­struct­ing the Kerung-Kathmandu rail­way, In­dia be­came wor­ried and it has been mak­ing all ef­forts to stop the con­struc­tion of the rail­way line link­ing China. On the one hand, In­dia is talk­ing about the con­struc­tion of the Raxul-Kathmandu rail­way line, that too in kind, on the other hand, In­dia has also distributed the dream of op­er­at­ing Nepali ships to the sea by us­ing In­dian rivers. Nepalis don't be­lieve on the In­dian com­mit­ment ma­te­ri­al­iz­ing, nev­er­the­less, this is an ef­fort to en­gage our lead­ers with In­dia and avoid Nepal's part­ner­ship with China ei­ther in sign­ing of trade, trans­porta­tion and tran­sit agree­ments or con­struc­tion of rail­way lines or Nepal's ac­tive part­ner­ship on OBOR, a Chi­nese ini­tia­tive. In the mean­time, the so-called in­tel­lec­tu­als have al­ready started a cam­paign against the con­struc­tion of a rail­way line ex­plain­ing that the con­struc­tion of the KerungKath­mandu rail­way line would bring Nepal un­der the debt-trap. In­stead of en­cour­ag­ing the gov­ern­ment for im­ple­men­ta­tion of the project as soon as pos­si­ble by show­ing the ben­e­fits from our link/trade with China, these spon­sored in­tel­lec­tu­als are mak­ing non­sense and hy­po­thet­i­cal ar­gu­ments. It is upto us, which path should we chose – to­wards pros­per­ity or to­wards poverty!

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