Friday, December 14, 2018

Nepal can increase exports to South Asia by four-fold: World Bank

Nepal has the potential to increase exports to South Asian countries four-fold, according to a report.
Man-made trade barriers have held back intraregional trade in South Asia, reads the report, ‘A Glass Half Full: The Promise of Regional Trade in South Asia’, Launched here in the capital today. "If these barriers were reduced, intraregional trade could grow from its current value of $23 billion to $67 billion."
Intraregional trade in South Asia remains one of the lowest in the world and accounts for about 5 per cent of the region’s total trade, compared with 50 per cent in East Asia and the Pacific, highlights the report launched at a discussion programme hosted by the World Bank in partnership with the South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE). "Nepal mostly exports to South Asia and has a trade deficit of $10.8 billion which is equivalent to 37 per cent of its GDP."
The report also assesses the gap between current and potential trade in South Asia and provides a roadmap for deepening regional trade. It identifies four critical barriers to regional trade: tariffs and para tariffs, real and perceived non-tariff barriers, connectivity costs, and a broader trust deficit.
“Situated in the world’s fastest growing region, Nepal’s potential to expand trade in goods and services is promising,” said World Bank country manager for Nepal Faris Hadad-Zervos. "Addressing its own protectionist policies will help Nepal significantly increase its exports not only to South Asia, but also to the rest of the world."
South Asian countries impose greater trade barriers for imports from within the region than from the rest of the world. More than one-third of intraregional trade falls under sensitive lists, which are goods that are not offered concessional tariffs under the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA). More than 36 per cent of Nepal’s imports from South Asia are under sensitive lists, more than any other country in the region.
The report recommends targeting sensitive lists and para tariffs to enable real progress on SAFTA and calls for a multi-pronged effort to address non-tariff barriers, focusing on information flows, procedures, and infrastructure.
Likewise, connectivity is a key enabler for robust regional cooperation in South Asia. Though repeatedly discussed on increasing connectivity, poor land and air connectivity prevent South Asian countries from reaping the benefits of shared borders, the report adds.
"There are no flights between Nepal and Sri Lanka, the Maldives, or Afghanistan," World Bank Lead Economist and lead author of the report Sanjay Kathuria said, adding that there is only one flight per week between Nepal and Pakistan. "Lack of connectivity is a key contributor to the high cost of trade between Nepal and South Asia and improving connectivity will take Nepal a long way."
The report also suggests that policy makers in South Asia may draw lessons from the India-Sri Lanka air services liberalisation experience, where liberalisation was gradual and incremental, but policy persistence paid off.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

वित्तीय संघीयताका चुनौती


मोरङको बूढीगंगा गाउँपालिकाले त्यहाँ रहेका उद्योगलाई विभिन्न शीर्षकमा लगाएको करविरूद्ध मोरङ व्यापार संघले उच्च अदालत विराटनगरमा मुद्दा दायर गरेको छ । व्यापार संघले सोमबार उच्च अदालतमा बूढीगंगा गाउँपालिकाले संविधानविपरीत दोहोरो कर लिएको भन्दै मुद्दा दायर गरेको हो । संघका अध्यक्ष पवनकुमार शारडाका अनुसार बूढीगंगाले त्यहाँका उद्योगमा यस आर्थिक वर्षदेखि लागू हुने गरी विभिन्न शीर्षकमा अत्यधिक मात्रामा छुट्टै व्यवसाय कर लगाएको छ । जसअनुसार ठूला उद्योगलाई ५ लाख, मझौला उद्योगलाई ३ लाख र साना उद्योगलाई १ लाख कर कायम गरेको छ । साथै घर जग्गा करअन्तर्गत उद्योग भवनसमेतको समेत कर दस्तुर लगाइएको छ । रिट निवेदनमा ‘उद्योगहरूले धेरै अगाडिदेखि करसमेत बुझाई कारोबार गर्दै आएकोमा पुनः पटके सवारी कर, विदेशी सवारी साधनमा लाग्ने दस्तुर र कवाडी कर भनी उद्योगका लागि आउने सवारी तथा कवाडीका सामाग्रीमा दोहोरो कर उठाउन आह्वान गरिएको बोलपत्र नै गैरकानुनी’ रहेको दाबी गरिएको छ । बूढीगंगा गाउँपालिकाले कार्यपालिकाको बैठकबाट दररेट पारित गरी फलाममा प्रति केजी २ रूपैयाँ, पित्तल, तामा, फलाम, जिंकलगायतमा प्रति केजी २.५० र काम नलाग्ने मेसिनरी औजारमा प्रति केजी २ रूपैयाँका दरले लगाएको करले उद्योग व्यवसायको लागतमा वृद्धि भएको अध्यक्ष शारडाले बताए । 
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बूढीगंगा गाउँपालिकाले लगाएको करको विरुद्ध ब्यवसायीले अदालतमा मुद्दा नै दायर गरेको एउटा प्रतिनिधिमूलक घटना हो यो । संघीय संविधानको लेखनक्रमममा नै निजी क्षेत्रले संघीयता लागू भएपछि दोहोरो कर तथा अन्य विभिन्न करहरूमा एकरूपता ल्याउनु पर्ने मागसहित राजनीतिक दलका शीर्ष नेतृत्वलाई लामो फेहरिस्त नै बुझाएको थियो । पटक–पटक विभिन्न नाममा दोहोरो कर लगाउँदा उद्योगी–व्यवसायीको मनोबल खस्कने र उद्योग व्यवसायको लागत बढ्न गइ धराशायी हुन्छ ।  संविधान तथा कानुनअनुसार पनि सघीय सरकार, प्रदेश सरकार तथा स्थानीय सरकारले एउटै वस्तुमा पटक पटक कानुन नै नबनाई दोहोरो–तेहेरो कर दस्तुर लिनु गैरसंवैधानिक तथा गैरकानुनी पनि हो । तर राजनीतिको विद्यालयबाट संघीयताको पाठ्यक्रम पढेर हुर्किएको हाम्रो स्थानीय तथा प्रदेश एवं संघीय नेतृत्व नै वित्तीय संघीयताको मूल मर्मविपरित संघीयतालाई नै खतरामा पार्ने क्रियाकलापमा व्यस्त छन् । राज्य पुुनःसंरचना तथा भौगोलिक संघीयताको चुरो भनेको वित्तीय संघीयता हो । यदी वित्तीय संघीयताको बारेमा संविधान निर्माणकै क्रममा व्यापक छलफल भएको भएको भए, आज यो विवाद आउँदैनथ्यो होला । तर, संविधान निर्माणका क्रममा भएका सबै नै छलफल केबल राजनीति र भूगोलमा मात्रै केन्द्रित भयो, चुनावलाई केन्द्रबिन्दुमा राखेर राजनीतिक दलले देशमा शासन गर्ने अभिप्रायले नै संविधानको परिकल्पना गरे । त्यसको परिणाम आज प्रदेश, प्रदेशबीच तथा स्थानीय सरकार, स्थानीय सरकारबीच धेरैभन्दा धेरै लगानी तान्ने र औद्योगिकीकरणमा जोड दिनुपर्नेमा अऔद्योगिकिकरण हुने डर फैलिएको छ । निजी क्षेत्रलाई त्रसित बनाउनु भनेको मुलुक अऔद्योगिकीकरणको बाटोमा जानु हो । मोरङको बूढीगंगा गाउँपालिकाको यो घटना एउटा प्रतिनिधिमुलक घटनामात्र हो ।
000
नेपालमा शदियौंदेखि एउटा वर्गको केन्द्रिकीत शासनसत्ताका कारण राज्यका सबै स्रोत र साधन उनीहरूको कब्जामा रह्यो । जसका कारण देश गरिबी, अभाव, असमानता तथा अविकासको दुष्चक्रमा प-यो । विगत ७० वर्षदेखि नेपालका राजनीतिक दलले नेपाली जनतालाई घोकाउँदै आएको पाठ यही हो । त्यसैले समानुपातिक, न्यायोचित तथा समविकासका लागि संघीयता आवश्यक छ । नेपाली जनताले राजनीतिक दलको पाठ अक्षरशः पालना गरे र एउटा परिवार वा वर्गको हातबाट शासन सत्ता खोसेर आफनै हातले संघीय गणतन्त्र नेपालको संविधान लेखे । तर, राज्यको पुनः संरचना कुुनै पनि देशको विकासका आयामभित्रको एउटा पाटोमात्र हो । समानुपातिक, न्यायोचित तथा समविकासको लागि, त्यसैले, राज्य पुनः संरचना भौगोलिक कार्यमात्र होइन । स्वस्थानी कथामा झैं एउटा घेरा कोरेर तिमी यो राज्यको राजा भयौ भन्नका खातिर हजारौं नेपाली जनताले बलिदान दिएका होइनन् । तर, राज्य पुनःसंरचना तथा त्यसपछिका केन्द्र सरकारका क्रियाकलापमा स्थानीय तथा प्रदेश सरकारको आर्थिक सक्षमता विकास तथा वित्तीय संघीयताको झल्को नपाईदा एउटा वर्गको हातबाट शासन खोसेर अर्को नवकुलिन वर्गको हातमा शासन सत्ता गएको हो कि झैं आभास हुन थालेको छ । किनकी स्थानीय सरकारमा चुनिएका नेताहरू आफना गैर संवैधानिक तथा गैरकानुनी चुनावी वाचा पूरा गर्न आर्थिक अनुशासनहीनता तथा विकृत वित्तीय अनुशासनको अभ्यास गर्दै छन् । मोरङको बूढीगंगा गाउँपालिकाका पानीमाथि उत्रिएको हिउँको एउटा सानो टुक्रामात्र हो । योभन्दा ठूलो आकार पानीमुनि अझैं छोपिएको छ । त्यसको पूर्ण आकारको अनुमान अहिले कसैले गरेको छैन । जब त्यसको पुर्ण आकार देखिन्छ, जनतामा संघीयताप्रति चरम वितृष्णा नजाग्ला भन्ने छैन ।त्यसैले वित्तीय संघीयताको पहिलो ठूलो चुनौती भनेको अझै पनि जनवादी केन्द्रिकृत राज्य सत्ताको धङघङी नै हो । वित्तीय संघीयता कार्यान्वयनको पहिलो चुनौती अहिलेको केन्द्रिकृत कार्यशैली तथा वित्तीय अनुसाशनहिनता नै हो भन्नेमा विज्ञहरु विश्वस्त छन् । अर्थविद् डा. चन्द्रमणि अधिकारी पनि केन्द्रका नेतृत्वको ब्यवहार संघीय प्रणाली अनुरूपको हुनुपर्नेमा जोड दिन्छन् । तीनै तहको सरकारको चुनाव पछि नेपाल संघीयता कार्यान्वयनमा गएको मान्ने हो भने पनि कार्यशैली भने परिवर्तन भएन । केन्द्रले नै सबै निर्णय गर्ने तथा विकासको जिम्मा लिने हो भने, प्रदेश तथा स्थानीय सरकाले कहिले क्षमता अभिवृद्धि गर्ने र संघीयता पूर्ण रूपमा लागू हुने प्रश्न जटिल छ । किनकी विकास भनेको आर्थिक क्षमता वृद्धि मात्र होइन, अपितुु नागरिकको व्यवहारमा आउने समष्टिगत सुुधार हो । संघीयता अनुरूपको व्यवहार नभएसम्म संघीयता अझ त्यसमा पनि वित्तीय संघीयता कार्यान्वयन हुन सक्दैन । समस्या मोरङको बूढीगंगा गाउँपालिका जस्ता अनेकन स्थानीय तहमा छ, त्यता समाधान गर्न लाग्दा ठिक होला न कि गद्दी छोडेर साधारण नागरिक भइसकेका ज्ञानेन्द्रले नाचेको प्रति टिप्पणी गर्दा ।
000
दोस्रो चुनौती, तीनै तहका सरकारबीच साधन स्रोतको ठाडो तथा तेर्सो सन्तुलित बाँडफाँड हो । वित्तीय संघीयताका विश्वव्यापी सिद्धान्तअनुरूप वित्तीय स्रोतको प्राप्ति र वितरणसँग सम्बन्धित सिद्धान्तहरूमा राजस्व जिम्मेवारीको सिद्धान्त, अन्तरसरकारी हस्तान्तरणको सिद्धान्त, ऋण प्रवाहको सिद्धान्त, वित्तीय व्यवस्थापनको सिद्धान्त नै प्रमुुख हुन् । तर, देशको भूूगोल, उद्योग–व्यवसाय, स्रोत परिचालनका सम्भावना पनि महत्वपूर्ण हुन् । हाल नेपालमा संघीयता महँगो भयो, कर धेरै लगाइयो भन्ने आवाज जताततै छ । अवश्य पनि केन्द्रिकृत राज्य व्यवस्था भन्दा संघीयता महँगो हुन्छ नै । संघीयता महँगो राजनीतिक व्यवस्था भए पनि जथाभावी कर लगाउँदा आइपर्नसक्ने भावी दुुश्परिणामबारे जनप्रतिनिधिहरू अनभिज्ञ देखिएका छन् । पहिला एउटा सरकार भएकोमा हाल केन्द्र, ७ प्रदेश तथा ७५३ स्थानीय सरकार नेपालमा छन् । प्रादेशिक संसद र मन्त्री, संघीय संसद र मन्त्रीलगायत धेरै निकाय तीनै तहमा राखिने व्यवस्था भएकाले संघीयता खर्चिलो हुुनुु स्वाभाविकै पनि हो । त्यसमाथि चुनावपूर्व गरिएका राजनीतिक वाचा पूरा गर्ने नाममा जथाभावी डोजर लगाउने खर्च विभिन्न करका नाममा थप्नु गैरसंवैधानिक तथा गैरकानुनी हो । सिद्धान्ततः कर जहिले पनि र जुनसुकै प्रकृतिको भए पनि न्यूनतम आवश्यकता पूरा भएपछि मात्र लिनुदिनु पर्ने वित्तीय औजार हो । त्यसैले, जनता अब सचेत भइसकेका छन् र वित्तीय औजारको दुरूपयोग बुझ्ने भइसकेका छन् । कर तिर्ने बेलामा उनीहरूले आफूले पाएको सुुविधाको समीक्षा अवश्य पनि गर्दछन् । देशको भूूगोल, आर्थिक क्षमता, पूर्वाधारको क्षमता, जनताको हैसियत आदिलाई हेरेरमात्र कर नलगाउँदा अर्को विद्रोह ननिम्त्याउँला भन्ने छैन । राज्यको आयस्रोतको ठूलो स्रोत भनेको कर राजस्व हो । तर, एकातिर रोजागारी सिर्जना गर्ने तथा कर तिर्ने उद्योगी ब्यापारीलाई त्रसित पार्ने, अर्कोतिर अत्यावश्यक पूर्वाधारको अभावमा नयाँ लगानी नआउने भएपछि भएका सीमित स्रोत पनि नासिने भयो । संघीयतामा केन्द्र, प्रदेश र स्थानीय सबै सरकारले कर लिन पाउने विश्वव्यापी मान्यता छ भन्दैमा बन्द व्यापार उद्योग नै बन्द हुने गरेर स्रोतलाई नै नष्ट, भ्रष्ट गर्ने अभ्यास गर्दा नकारात्मक सन्देश जान्छ र संघीयताप्रति नै वितृष्णा जगाउँछ । संविधानको अनुसूची ६ मा उल्लेख भएको विषयमा प्रदेश र अनुसूची ८ मा उल्लेख भएको विषयमा स्थानीय तहले कर लगाउन पाउँने भएपनि साझा अधिकारको सूचिभित्रका विषयमा र कुनै पनि तहको सूचीमा नपरेका विषयमा राजस्व उठाउने व्यवस्था नेपाल सरकारले निर्धारण गरे बमोजिम हुन्छ नै । तीनै तहलाई आ आफ्नो अधिकारक्षेत्र भित्रको विषयमा राजस्व उठाउने अधिकार पनि छ । तर राजस्व उठाउनेमात्र होइन उठेका राजस्व सदुपयोगको तथा पारदर्शिताको कुरामा पनि ध्यान दिनु आवस्यक हुन्छ । अपुग स्रोत केन्द्रले संकलन गरेको राजस्व संघ, प्रदेश र स्थानीय तहलाई न्यायोचित वितरण गर्नुपर्ने हुन्छ । प्रदेश र स्थानीय तहले प्राप्त गर्ने वित्तीय हस्तान्तरणको परिमाण राष्ट्रिय प्राकृतिक स्रोत तथा वित्त आयोगको सिफारिसमा हुने व्यवस्था समेत संविधानले गरेको छ ।तर, संविधानले सबै अधिकार दिएको छ । आफै व्यवस्था गर भनेर केन्द्रले भन्ने स्थिती हाल छैन । किनकी उनीहरूको क्षमता अभिवृद्धि पनि आवस्यक छ । त्यसबाहेक आवस्यक स्रोत केन्द्र सरकारले प्रदेश र स्थानीय तहलाई राजस्वको क्षमताको आधारमा वित्तीय समानीकरण अनुदान वितरण गर्ने व्यवस्था गरिएको छ । साथै, प्रदेशले नेपाल सरकारबाट प्राप्त अनुदान र आफ्नो स्रोतबाट उठ्ने राजस्वलाई मातहतको स्थानीय तहको खर्चको आवश्यकता र राजस्व क्षमताको आधारमा वित्तीय समानीकरण अनुदान वितरण गर्नु पर्दछ । नेपाल सरकारले संघीय सञ्चित कोषबाट प्रदान गर्ने सशर्त अनुदान, समपूरक अनुदान वा अन्य प्रयोजनका लागि समेत संघीय कानून बमोजिम वितरण गर्न सक्छ । राजस्व बाँडफाँड गर्नेसम्बन्धी कानुन बनाउँदा प्रदेश र स्थानीय तहले जनतालाई प्रदान गर्ने सेवा, राजस्व उठाउन सक्ने क्षमता, विकासको आवश्यकता, गरिवी र असमानताको न्यूनीकरण र बञ्चितीकरणको अन्त्य जस्ता विषयमा ध्यान पुर्याइएको पनि राष्ट्रिय प्राकृतिक स्रोत तथा वित्त आयोगले बताएको छ ।सिद्धान्ततः संघीय प्रणालीमा राजनीतिक र प्रशासकीय अधिकार जस्तैगरी वित्तीय अधिकार समेत संघीय इकाइहरूबीच आपसमा बाँडफाँड गरिन्छ । संघले प्राप्त गरेको आय (राजस्व) लाई प्रदेश र स्थानीय तहसम्म प्रदेश वा स्थानीय तहको क्षमता, आवश्यकता र क्षेत्रीय सन्तुलनसमेतलाई विचार गरी कानून बमोजिम वा संवैधानिक आयोगको व्यवस्था भए सोको सिफारिसमा वितरण गर्नुपर्दछ भन्ने मान्यता अनुसार नै आयोगले वितरणको फर्मुला बनाएको हो । यसरी वितरण गरेको स्रोत के कामको लागि खर्च गर्ने भन्ने अधिकार भने पूर्ण रूपमा प्रदेश वा स्थानीय तहलाई नै हुन्छ । यसो गर उसो गर भनेर हस्तक्षेप गर्न वा निर्देश गर्न पाइदैन । यसरी स्थानीय तहसम्मै स्वतन्त्र रूपले खर्च गर्न पाइने हुँदा क्षेत्रीय असमानताको अन्त्य हुने, बेरोजगारी समस्या घट्ने, राजनीतिक उत्साह र जिम्मेवारीबोध हुने तथा जनजागरणमा सकारात्मक परिणाम प्राप्त हुन्छ भन्ने मान्यता पनि हो । त्यसैले राष्ट्रिय प्राकृतिक स्रोत तथा वित्त आयोग गठन तथा अन्तरसरकारी वित्त व्यवस्थापन ऐनले पनि सरकारका तहहरूबीच राजस्व बाँडफाँड गर्ने सहजीकरण गर्न गर्दछन् । किनकि साथै, बिनास्रोत साधन समानुपातिक, समन्यायिक तथा समविकास पनि चुनावी नारा मात्र हुन्छ । त्यसैले स्थानीय सरकारकै ब्यवहारका कारण अर्को चुनावसम्ममा संघीयताको विरुद्धको जनमत तयार नहोस् भन्नका लागि पनि वित्तीय ब्यवस्थापन महत्वपूर्ण छ । बिना सफल वित्तीय संघीयता कार्यान्वयन नेपाल फेरि अर्को एउटा राजनीतिक प्रयोगशाला नबन्ला भन्ने छैन । इतिहासले नेपालमा प्रत्येक १०, १० वर्षमा पटके राजनीतिक परिवर्तन भएको देखाउँछ । इतिहास नदोहोरिएला भन्ने प्रत्याभुति दिनसक्ने वर्तमान सरकारको कुनै क्षमता छैन ।
000
अर्थविद् अधिकारीका शब्दमा नेपालको वित्तीय संघीयताको तेस्रो प्रमुख चुनौती भनेको साधन तथा स्रोतको परिचालन र व्यवस्थापन हो । नेपालको संविधान २०७२ ले संघीय, प्रादेशिक र स्थानीय सरकार गरी तीनैवटा सरकार संवैधानिक हकको अधिकार प्रयोग गर्न सक्ने बनाइ दिएको छ । यसैले, सरकार चलाउन खर्चको आवश्यकता पर्ने भएकाले सबै तहका सरकारको ध्यान करको दर र दायरा बढाउनतिर नै गएको देखिन्छ । संविधानको धारा ६० तथा साझा सूची र ५ देखि ९ सम्मका अनुुसूचीहरूले स्थानीय, प्रान्तीय र संघीय सरकारका कार्यक्षेत्र, अधिकार र साझा अधिकार खुलाइदिएको पनि छ । तर, साधन तथा स्रोतको परिचालन र ब्यवस्थापनमा  नेपालको कुनै राम्रो इतिहास छैन । र संघीयतामा सबैभन्दा ठूलो झगडा यसैमा देखिन्छ । यहि साता काठमाडौंमा भएको अन्तर प्रदेश परिषद्को बैठकमा मुख्यमन्त्रीहरूको गुनासो पनि यसैमा थियो ।    संघीय राज्यव्यवस्था र सरकारको महत्वपूर्ण पक्ष नै शक्ति र स्रोतको बाँडफाँड हो । नागरिक हक–अधिकार, निर्वाचन प्रणाली, सरकार–सरकारबीचको अन्तरसम्बन्धजस्ता विषयहरू शक्तिअन्तर्गत पर्छन् भने राज्य सञ्चालन, जनहित र विकास–निर्माणका लागि स्रोत, आम्दानी र राजस्वको बाँडफाँड र निरूपणसम्बन्धी कुरा स्रोतअन्तर्गत पर्छन् । अधिकारमात्र दिने तर आर्थिक स्रोतको सुनिश्चित नहुने भएपछि मुख्यमन्त्रीहरूका गुनासा बढ्दै जानेछ । जसबाट संघीयता विरोधीलाई बल पुग्छ र दशकौंपछि नेपालीले प्राप्त गरेको राजनीतिक स्थिरता पनि खतरामा पर्ने देखिन्छ । किनकि वित्तीय संघीयता भनेको संघीय प्रणालीमा देशका विभिन्न तहका संघीय इकाईबीचको वित्तीय सम्बन्ध हो । त्यसैले संघीयताको सफल कार्यान्वयन गर्न वित्तीय संघीयता अचुक अस्त्र हो । कुनै पनि संघीय मुलुकको सफल कार्यान्वयन गर्न सरकारका तहबीच स्वस्थ, पारदर्शी तथा सन्तुलित वित्तीय व्यवस्था आवश्यक छ । तर, नेपपमा वित्तीय विकेन्द्रीकरणको पक्ष सहज देखिँदैन । स्रोतसाधन र विकासका गतिको हिसाबले विभिन्न सरकारमा ठूलो भिन्नता पाइन्छ । विगतका तथ्यांक हेर्दा नेपालभित्र ६ जिल्लाबाट ८५ प्रतिशत राजस्व संकलन भइ बाँकी ७१ जिल्लामा १५ प्रतिशत मात्र उठ्ने अवस्था छ ।
000
नेपालको संविधानले सार्वजनिक, निजी र सहकारी क्षेत्रको सहभागिता र स्वतन्त्र विकासमार्फत राष्ट्रिय अर्थतन्त्र सुदृढ गर्न अर्थतन्त्रमा निजी क्षेत्रको भूमिकालाई महत्व दिंदै उपलब्ध साधन र स्रोतको अधिकतम परिचालन गरी आर्थिक समृद्धि हासिल गर्ने लक्ष्य लिएको छ । संविधानले निर्देशित गरेका लक्ष्य हासिल गर्न निजी क्षेत्रको ब्यापक सहभागिताबिना असंभव छ । निजी क्षेको आग्रहमा नै संविधानको धारा २३६ ले अन्तरप्रदेश व्यापारमा वस्तुको ढुवानी वा सेवाको विस्तारमा कुनै किसिमको बाधा अवरोध गर्न वा कुनै कर, शुल्क, दस्तुर वा महशुल लगाउन वा त्यस्तो सेवा वा वस्तुको ढुवानी वा विस्तारमा कुनै किसिमको भेदभाव गर्न नपाइने व्यवस्था गरेको पनि छ । तर पनि ब्यवहारमा कस्ता समस्या आउने छन् हेर्न बाँकी नै छ । यस्तै, हाल खर्च बढिरहेको कारण संघ, प्रदेश र स्थानीय तहको खर्चको व्यवस्थापन गर्न तथा तीनवटै तहको बजेटको स्रोत व्यवस्थापन गर्न अप्ठ्यारो परेकोले के कसो गरेर नयाँ स्रोत जुटाउन सकिन्छ भन्ने ध्याउन्नमा स्थानीय तह लागेको देखिन्छ । त्यसैले राजनीतिक रूपमा स्वतन्त्र भएपनि नेपाली जनताले संविधानले दिएको आर्थिक स्वतन्त्रता पुर्ण उपभोग गर्न पाउनु पर्दछ । आफूले चाहेको पेशा व्यवसाय स्वतन्त्रतापूर्वक गरेर खान पाउने अधिकारमा कुनै पनि तहको सरकारले हस्तक्षेप गर्दा संघीयता संचालनको लागि चाहिने स्रोत सुक्ने र पुँजी पलायन मार्फत अर्थतन्त्र धरासयि हुने खतरा रहन्छ । मोरङको बूढीगंगा गाउँपालिकाको घटना यस्ता विकृत अभ्यासको अन्तिम उदाहरण बनोस् । 

Nepal sees record 1 million foreign tourists in a year

Nepal witnessed a record tourist arrival this year. The country hosted over the much awaited mark of one million annual arrivals in the 11 months of 2018. "The foreign tourists by air touched 1,001,930 with cumulative increase of 17 per cent over the same period in 2017," according to Nepal Tourism Board (NTB).
According to the board, for the first time in history foreign tourist arrivals from January to November in 2018 has crossed over a million. "The figures do not include the number of overland international visitors to Nepal in October and November this year."
Nepal saw arrival of 940,218 foreign tourists in 2017.
NTB chief executive officer Deepak Raj Joshi remarked that the image of Nepal as one of the most preferred tourist destinations has been reinforced with an extraordinary growth in the visitor arrivals to Nepal, according to a press note issued by the board.
It is a good news as the country is starting Visit Nepal Year 2020 campaign, he said, adding that India and China – the largest source markets for Nepali tourism industry as always in last some years – led in terms of sending more tourists in Nepal. Nepal welcomed a total of 260,124 Indian visitors during the 11 months of 2018 while Cina sent 134,362 visitors during the same period.
The US, Britain and Germany came third, fourth and fifth in terms of sending tourists as of November in 2018. Likewise, the number of American Tourists, which stood at 73,650 in 2017, surged to 82,870 in 11 months of 2018. Tourists from the UK increased to 57,555 from 50,652 in 2017, while German tourists visiting Nepal also grew to 34,479 from 28,702 in 2017. The number of Australians visitors to Nepal in January-November period stood at 33,528.
"Even if overland arrival figures of last year are assumed to be constant, overall growth in January-November period has been 23 per cent,” the NTB press note reads, adding that the arrival of European tourists has also surged in 11 months of 2018. "The total European arrivals in January-November period in 2018 reached 224,206."
"It can also be attributed to the concerted efforts of the government, NTB, private sector and media towards promotion of overall tourism sector in the international tourism arena," Joshi added.
The government targets to bring two million foreign tourists to the country by the Visit Nepal Year 2020.
Though the government is yet to come out with Tourism Satellite Account (TSA), the travel and tourism sector alone contributed about 7.8 per cent to the gross domestic product (GDP) last year.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Trade to slow in 2019, millions of jobs put at risk by trade conflicts: UN report

Coinciding with a recent trade truce between the US and China to usher in dialogue and trade negotiation, the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has released a new report discussing the impact of a full-blown trade war and charting potential policy responses in the region to withstand the headwinds.
The Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report (APTIR) 2018 notes an accelerated imposition of restrictions on trade in goods and services, and more reservations on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). The US-China trade tensions have also begun to disrupt existing supply chains and dampen investor confidence, as evidenced by the deceleration in trade growth after the first half of 2018. "If the trade tensions remain, export growth may slow to 2.3 per cent in 2019, compared to a nearly 4 per cent growth in export volume in 2018," it reads, adding that FDI inflows to the region are also expected to continue in their downward trend next year, following a 4 per cent drop in 2018.
Tariff hikes that have already taken place are expected to cut global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $150 billion, and regional GDP by a little over $40 billion, if they remain. Importantly, as many of the main export industries in the region are relatively labour-intensive, a contraction of export could spell at least temporary hardship for many workers. At a minimum, Asia and the Pacific will see a net loss of 2.7 million jobs due to the trade war, with unskilled workers -often women- shouldering more severe impact.
The report finds that if the tariff war further escalates in 2019 and investor and consumer confidence drop, global GDP could ultimately be cut by nearly $400 billion, also driving regional GDP down by $117 billion. Almost 9 million people could be put out of work in the region, with many more workers also moving to new jobs in different sectors.
As trade frictions reshape global value chains (GVCs), winners and losers in the region are likely to emerge. Based on research, South-East Asia is well positioned to benefit in the medium term. "As production shifts take place and resources are reallocated across sectors and borders due to the trade conflicts, tens of millions of workers may see their jobs displaced and be forced to seek new employment. Regional integration will be important to create new economic opportunities," director of the Trade, Investment and Innovation Division at ESCAP Mia Mikic said, adding that other complementary policies like labour, education and retraining policies plus social protection measures to support people negatively affected must also be placed high on the policymakers’ agenda if the region is to continue making progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The report highlights that neither China nor the US can win a trade war: both will see significant economic losses from continuing conflict. It also finds that implementation of mega-regional trade agreements such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, among ASEAN and its six partners, could offset much of the economic losses from trade tensions. ESCAP estimates that implementation of mega-regionals could boost exports by 1.3 per cent to 2.9 per cent and add 3.5 to 12.5 million jobs in employment for the Asia-Pacific.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

FNCCI asks central bank to tame rising interest rates

The private sector has asked the central bank to crack whip on soaring interest rates.
Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) today – submitted a memorandum to the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) governor Dr Chiranjibi Nepal asking him to tame the rising interest rate that has added doing business cost.
The abrupt hike in interest rate has made an adverse impact on industries and enterprises, FNCCI president Bhawani Rana told governor Dr Nepal submitting a memorandum at the latter's office.
A delegation led by Rana called on the central bank governor today to draw his attention on the effects of soaring interest rates on deposits on lending rates.
The hike in lending rates will erode the competitive capacity of domestic industries, increase project costs and discourage entrepreneurs and industrialists to start new projects, the delegation told the central bank governor. "The high rates will make it difficult to increase industrial production and narrow widening trade deficit that are key targets of the fiscal and monetary policy."
FNCCI has also suggested the central bank to address high-interest rates and manage liquidity problems that banks are facing at present. Institutional depositors are blamed for driving interest rates higher by bargaining with banks and financial institutions for better rates. The umbrella organisation of the private sector has suggested that the share of institutional depositors – including Employees Provident Fund, Citizen’s Investment Fund and welfare bodies of security agencies – in total deposits should be reduced to 25 per cent from existing 45 per cent.
The FNCCI has also asked the central bank to lower the difference between lending and deposit rates to 3 per cent from existing 4.5 per cent, bring remittances through formal channel, bring money from informal markets to bank and financial institutions, and increase the government’s capital spending. Likewise, it has suggested central bank to bring auto loan down to 50 per cent and introduce credit rating for any private limited company to make borrowings of Rs 1 billion or above.
The central bank governor Dr Nepal responding to the private sector assured that the central bank will take needful initiative to tame rising interest rates.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Ex-minister Pandey accused of embezzling billions

The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) today filed a corruption case at the Special Court against 21 persons – including former minister and chairman of the Kalika Construction Bikram Pandey – accusing them of embezzling Rs 8.32 billion in the course of the construction of main canal of Sikta irrigation project, a national pride project.
They have been charged with using faulty design, substandard construction and repeated collapses of the main canal of the national pride project Sikta.
CIAA spokesperson Rameshwor Dangal confirming that the anti-graft body has filed corruption cases against former minister and chairman of the Kalika Construction, Bikram Pandey after a quality test found problems in the works. "The CIAA has charged with corruption on 20 others – along with Pandey – including government officials and consultants involved in the Sikta Irrigation Project," he said, adding that the anti graft body has lately focussed on irregularities in development project implementation. "Those indicted by CIAA are project chiefs Sarva Dev Prasad, Saroj Chandra Pandit, Dilip Bahadur Karki, and Ramesh Basnet; nine senior divisional engineers; engineers with the Irrigation Department Uddhav Raj Chaulagain, and managing director of the project consultant ERMC-ITECO Nepal JV."
The CIAA has sought to recover Rs 2.13 billion as embezzled amount from Pandey, whose Kalika Construction won the contract of building the main canal of the multi-billion-rupee Sikta Irrigation Project that aims at irrigating 80 per cent of arable land in Banke district. However, the quality of works at the project has been questioned after repeated collapses of the main canal. The main canal was heavily damaged at different sections of a 5-km segment in June 2016 and July 2018. When the newly built channel was first tested in June 2016, it collapsed at multiple sections. Despite repair, it broke in July again during another test.
The CIAA came into action after a government probe panel formed on August 10 submitted the report stating that repeated collapses of the main canal were due to the failure to spot dissoluble soil in the designing phase.
The report prepared by the panel – led by joint-secretary at the Energy Ministry Sushi Chandra Tiwari – had stated that consultants, while designing the project, failed to carry out a special soil test, which led to a fragile canal. The panel reported that the detailed project report prepared by the consultant said nothing about the presence of the dissoluble soil in the area where the canal collapsed.
The panel’s report blamed the dispersive soil for the repeated collapse of the main canal. The canal was built on such soil because the feasibility studies did not mention anything about that, according to the report.
According to the CIAA chargesheet, most structures of the project’s canal section crumbled and the huge investment made in the project proved to be a waste of money, provisions to ensure quality work were not incorporated in the contract as it was signed in haste with the intent of committing corruption, authorities okayed wrong design and incorporated incomplete, ambiguous provisions in the contract without going through the reports prepared in the past on the project, those responsible for construction of the project did not conduct even the quality tests stated in the contract, provisions that could ensure quality work in construction of the embankment of the main canal were overlooked, and the joint in concrete lining was substandard, apart from the main canal that was supposed to withstand the current of 50 cubic metres per second could not withstand lower volume of water.
The Office of the Auditor General – in its 55th annual report – has also stated that despite clear presence of dissoluble soil on the surface, its identification, analysis and treatment were not conducted before constructing the canal. Due to the glitches, construction of the project has been delayed and overall cost shot up. When the project was initiated in 2005-06, it was supposed to be completed by 2014-15 at an estimated cost of Rs 12.8 billion.
Officials now say the project may not be completed before 2019-20. By the time it is fully operational, the project cost is expected to shoot to Rs 25.02 billion.
This is the second instance in the last two months of a leading construction firm being charged by the anti-graft body with corruption. The CIAA on October 6 had filed a corruption case against Pappu Construction owner Hari Narayan Rauniyar and his son Sumit Rauniyar for building a substandard bridge over the Babai river in Jabbighat, Bardiya.

UNESCO warns not to ignore the education needs of internal migrants

Three quarters of all those on the move are internal migrants, often moving from rural to urban areas to find better opportunities. Depending on the definition, Asia has the highest rates of internal migration, at each education level. The new UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report, 'Building bridges, not walls,' looks at the implications for these movements on education systems.
Director of the GEM Report Manos Antoninis said that countries are underestimating the education needs of children on the move. "Many governments, such as India, have made efforts, including to track migrant children, to set up seasonal hostels or boarding schools and translate school materials," he said, "But they may be missing the bigger picture."
Schools must reflect cultural differences and improve teacher training. Until then, the value of an education will always lose to the attraction of earning money through work, he added.
The report further reads that in India 10.7 million rural children lived in households with a seasonal migrant in 2013. About 28 per cent of youth aged 15 to 19 in these households were illiterate or had not completed primary school, compared to a national average of 18 per cent. About 80 per cent of temporary migrant children in seven Indian cities lacked access to education near worksites. Children of brick kiln workers in Punjab state in 2015 were found to work 7-9 hours a day.
The report also warns of registration and documentation requirements set up to reduce migratory flows that make it harder to enter schools, and have effects even long after they have been eased.
Likewise, the report emphasises the acute education needs faced by children living in slums in the region. It estimates these needs will increase with 80 million more children expected to live in slums globally by 2030. While scarce, data tend to show that education in slums is far worse than in other urban areas.
Slum dwellers’ education needs are often severely impacted by eviction and resettlement: In India, 18 per cent of the students displaced by a River Front Project in Ahmedabad dropped out, and an additional 11 per cent had lower attendance. The 2016 India Habitat III national report committed the government to universal provision of basic services including education. Yet research from the same year showed that urban planners were not being trained to understand the particular needs of slum dwellers.
Children who have left home to become domestic workers are found to be the most vulnerable to exclusion from education.
The report further warns of the negative impact on children’s education that being left behind as parents migrate can have.