Friday, January 14, 2022

Himalayan Bank's AGM rejects merger plan with Nepal Investment Bank

 The annual general meeting of the Himalayan Bank Ltd (HBL) rejected the planned merger between HBL and Nepal Investment Bank Ltd (NIBL), after 10 months.

"The 29th annual general meeting of the bank today rejected the planned merger with Nepal Investment Bank,” confirmed Himalayan Bank chief executive officer Ashoke Rana. "So the merger plan with Nepal Investment Bank has officially ended as of now."

The failure of the merger proposal will, however, hurt the investors as the bank cannot distribute dividends and also cannot expand their networks to increase business. The proposal of merger failed in the AGM as the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and a group led by Manoj Bahadur Shrestha refused to endorse it. The EPF and Shrestha’s group totals some 36 per cent share in the bank.

Shrestha is a former chairman of Himalayan Bank, and EPF -- the government body -- is the institutional promoter. The central bank, has however, clarified that the banks will not be able to distribute the dividends as a fine for 'the demerger'. 

The two commercial banks had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the merger last May, committing to completing the merger within two months. But the group led by Shrestha was not happy with the proposal.

"The EPF conducted a separate due diligence audit (DDA) of both the banks after the new government was formed in July, even though the merger committee had already conducted DDA,” according to an investor. "The EPF also rejected the merger plan in view of losses projected for it on the basis of the DDA it has conducted."

The merger committee had agreed to seek approval from the AGM for the merger with Nepal Investment Bank on the basis of 1:1 share swap ratio.

The AGM of Nepal Investment Bank Ltd is scheduled for January 18. Howeverm it also needs have a second thought after the rejection from the Himalayn Bank's annual general meeting. Nepal Investment Bank Ltd that feels betrayed by the new development has called emergency meeting of the board of the bank for Sunday.

The central bank -- that is encouraging the mergers -- had extended the deadline for the completion of merger after they wrote an official letter of intent for merger last June.

The merger of the two big commercial banks has been expected to set a precedent for big mergers in future as thed central bank wanted to reduce the number of banks and financial institutions (BFIs) through 'big mergers' enabling the single bank to invest in large infrastructure projects.

Currently, there are 27 commercial banks in Nepal. The number came down as some of the BFIs have already merged.

Himalayan Bank had decided to pass the merger proposal through voting following differences over the  merger between its promoters. According to the voting result some 42 per cent of the votes came in against the merger proposal following objections expressed by the EPF, N Trading Company and Chhaya International. In order to pass the merger proposal, some 75 per cent shareholders had to approve it.

Himalayan Bank has 14.87 per cent share investment of the EPF, where N Trading Company has 12.77 per cent and Chhaya International has 8.94 per cent stake in the bank. Likewise, Habib Bank of Pakistan has a 20 per cent stake in the bank. It is the largest shareholder in the bank, followed by the EPF.

The board of directors of Himalayan Bank had been divided since the merger agreement was signed with the NIBL. Founding promoters Habib Bank, Mutual Trading Company, Aabha International and Khetan Group are in favour of the merger where EPF, N Trading Company and Chaaya International were against the merger. 

Following the agreement, both the institutions had formally informed the regulatory authority central bank, Nepal Stock Exchange (Nepse), Office of the Company Registrar and Securities Board of Nepal (Sebon) about the merger agreement. Moreover, shares of both the institutions had been been suspended until the integrated transaction is completed. The two institutions had planned to start joint operation from last October 1, last year.

Himalayan Bank Ltd --- established in 1993 in a joint venture with Habib Bank Ltd of Pakistan -- was established by Prithvi Bahadur Pandey, who is currently the chairman of Nepal Investment Bank Ltd. 

Nepal Investment Bank Ltd, earlier Nepal Indosuez Bank Ltd, was established in 1986 as a joint venture between Nepali and French partners. But in 2002, a group of Nepali companies, comprising bankers, professionals, industrialists and businessmen acquired the 50 per cent stakes of the French partner, Credit Agricole Indosuez in Nepal Indosuez Bank, and accordingly the name of the Bank was changed to Nepal Investment Bank Ltd.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

IMF executive board approves $395.9 million ECF arrangement for Nepal

The executive board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a 38-month arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) for Nepal in an amount equivalent to SDR 282.42 million (180 per cent of quota or about $395.9million). The ECF arrangement will assist the authorities’ Covid-19 response in mitigating the pandemic’s impact on health and economic activity, protect vulnerable groups, preserve macroeconomic and financial stability, and support sustained growth and poverty reduction, according to a press note issued by the IMF. "The programme will help fill financing gaps and will catalyse additional financing from Nepal’s development partners."

Approval of the ECF arrangement enables immediate disbursement of SDR78.5 million (50 per cent of quota, about $110 million) usable for budget financing. This follows Fund emergency support to Nepal in May 2020 under the Rapid Credit Facility (100 per cent of quota, SDR 156.9 million, equivalent to $214 million at the time of approval).

The Covid-19 pandemic is taking a heavy toll on Nepal’s economy. From April to July 2021, Nepal suffered a devastating second wave of Covid-19, interrupting a gradual recovery in economic activity. GDP contracted by 2.1 per cent in the last fiscal year 2019-20, staff estimate a partial recovery of growth at 2.7 per cent for fiscal year 2020-21 and forecast growth of 4.4 per cent in fiscal year 2021-22. The collapse of the tourism and service sectors, which are key drivers for growth, will take time to recover. After a sharp drop in 2020, imports have rapidly grown, fueling a large current account deficit (8.3 per cent of GDP in the fiscal year 2020-21). Gross international reserves remain adequate but have begun to decline in recent months. The Covid-19 shock affected both revenues and expenditures with the fiscal deficit expected to widen from 4.2 per cent of GDP in the fiscal year 2020-21 to 6.3 per cent of GDP in the fiscal year 2021-22.

The Fund-supported programme under the ECF has three main objectives, aligned with the government’s Relief, Restructuring, and Resilience (3R) plan. First, mitigating the Covid-19 impact on health and economic activity, and protecting vulnerable groups, including by making room in the budget for health, social assistance, and job support, while enhancing fiscal transparency and governance. Second, preserving macroeconomic and financial stability, including by maintaining a prudent fiscal stance, preserving reserve adequacy, and strengthening financial sector regulation and supervision. Third, supporting a reform agenda that leads to sustained growth and poverty reduction over the medium term, including by implementing cross-cutting institutional reforms that improve governance and reduce corruption vulnerability.

"The Covid-19 pandemic severely impacted Nepal’s economy, including through a decline in tourism and domestic activity and volatile remittances," at the conclusion of the executive board’s discussion, deputy managing director and acting chair Bo Li said. "Households are experiencing an ongoing shock to income and social assistance programs have limited coverage, implying a likely setback to poverty alleviation gains in recent years," he said, adding that important fiscal and external financing needs remain to support the Covid-19 response, facilitate a continued recovery, and maintain a comfortable level of reserves. "The Extended Credit Facility arrangement will support the government’s priorities, to mitigate the pandemic’s impact on health and economic activity and protect vulnerable groups; preserve macroeconomic and financial stability; support sustained growth and poverty reduction; and catalyse additional external financing."

It will also help anchor and leverage the Fund’s capacity development strategy in Nepal, he added.

"Fiscal policy in the early part of the programme accommodates priority spending to address health needs, support the economy, and protect the most vulnerable," he said, adding that fiscal deficits would gradually decline once the health crisis wanes, helping to ensure debt sustainability, while also accommodating the authorities’ commitment to further enhance social safety nets. "A comprehensive fiscal structural reform agenda underpins the programme, with both revenue mobilisation and public financial management reforms to address the public investment efficiency gaps, strengthen fiscal risk management, improve public debt and cash management, and help advance fiscal federalism in a fiscally prudent manner." 

Moving ahead with reforms to further enhance fiscal transparency and reporting will be important, he added. "The gradual unwinding of accommodative monetary policy and the authorities’ commitment to remain vigilant toward emerging risks in the external and financial sectors are welcome."

Suggesting to strengthen financial sector regulation and supervision, he urged that progress is needed on policies that preserve the stability of the financial system while supporting growth through ensuring the availability of adequate and timely supervisory data, updating the regulatory framework to better capture risks including to banks’ asset quality, and enhancing the quality of supervision. "Measures set out under the programme to further improve the autonomy and accountability framework of the central bank would support this agenda."

"Sustained structural reform efforts are necessary to enhance the business environment, strengthen climate resilience, and raise medium-term growth," he further suggested, adding, "To this end, the programme supports several cross-cutting institutional reforms that address governance, vulnerability to corruption, and efficiency of the public sector."

Norway pledges NOK 25 million to back developing countries’ growth through safe food

The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) is pledging NOK 25 million (approximately CHF 2.5 million) from 2021 to 2023 to the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF). The grant will be used to strengthen the capacity of developing and least-developed countries (LDCs) including Nepal to comply with international food safety, animal and plant health standards, produce safe, quality food and increase their access to global and regional markets.

WTO director-general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala welcomed Norway's continued generosity, and said that this new pledge will support developing countries to implement international SPS standards, including using science-based approaches to protect plant, animal and human health. "These efforts strengthen the safety and stability of a developing country’s food supply, so thousands of farmers can sell goods in new markets, improving livelihoods," he added.

Likewise, Norad director-general Bård Vegar Solhjell  said that food security and enabling viable food systems is a priority for Norwegian development assistance. "Norad is proud to support the STDF in its work to ensure that LDCs build capacity and can engage in safe trade, which is one of the keys to economic growth and poverty reduction," he said, adding that the global pandemic emphasises that one must continue to invest in and scale up safe trading systems.

The signing of this agreement marks the first time Norad, a directorate under the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is directly contributing to the STDF. Norad's main purpose is 'to ensure that Norwegian development aid funds are spent in the best possible way, and to report on what works and what does not work.'

The partnership will support developing countries' efforts to comply with the WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement). The STDF will use Norad's contribution to support the development and implementation of collaborative and innovative SPS projects that make safe trade a reality on the ground.

Not including this latest disbursement, Norway has provided CHF 5.2 million to the STDF through multiple agreements since 2007. Overall, Norway has contributed about CHF 41 million to various WTO trust funds over the past 20 years.

To date, the STDF has funded more than 230 projects benefiting LDCs and other developing countries. The contribution by Norway will also strengthen the STDF's coordination platform, connecting diverse stakeholders across agriculture, health, trade and development to share experiences, find opportunities for collaboration and promote a more coherent approach to SPS capacity development.

The STDF was established by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the World Bank Group, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the WTO, which houses and manages the partnership. The STDF responds to evolving needs, drives inclusive trade and contributes to sustainable economic growth, food security and poverty reduction, in support of the United Nations' Global Goals.

Nabil Bank to acquire Nepal Bangladesh Bank

 Nabil Bank has signed an agreement today to acquire Nepal Bangladesh Bank (NB Bank).

The merger committee’s coordinator from Nabil Bank Udaya Krishna Upadhyay and the coordinator from NB Bank Indra Bahadur Thapa signed the preliminary memorandum of understanding (MoU) for acquisition in a share swap ratio of 100:43.

After the acquisition, NB Bank’s business transactions will be in the name of Nabil Bank, but the chief executive officer and chair of the merged entity's board has not been decided yet.

According to a press note issued by the Nabil Bank, the merged entity will have a core capital of Rs 43 billion, paid-up capital of Rs 22.5 billion, loans of Rs 300 billion, deposits of Rs 314 billion with 235 branches and over 1.6 million customers.

The agreement came a day after the Kathmandu District Court issued a stay order barring NB Bank from selling the promoter shares of its foreign partner IFIC Bank Ltd Bangladesh to Chaudhary Group of Nepal. A single bench of Justice Ram Chandra Poudel of the Kathmandu District Court had issued the order against the NB Bank’s plan to sell the share to Nabil Bank, whose majority shares are owned by Chaudhary Group (CG).

Earlier, the Chairman of Sunrise Bank Motilal Dugad had filed a writ at the Kathmandu District Court, and also Patan High Court, stating that the IFIC Bank had breached the agreement made with him promising to sell the promoter shares.

Last July, NB Bank announced an exit of IFIC Bank that owned 40.09 per cent shares of the bank. Binod Chaudhary led Chaudhary Group then made its way to purchase 36,827,426 unit shares of the foreign partner of the NBB. But the Dugad claimed that he has already strike the deal.

अर्थतन्त्रका सूचकमा सुधार आएन

 मूल्यवृद्धि ७ प्रतिशतभन्दा माथि

रेमिट्यान्स आय घट्दो

शोधनान्तर घाटा बढ्ने क्रम जारी

विदेशी मुद्रा संचिती घट्ने क्रम जारी


चालु वर्षको पाँच महिनामा पनि अर्थतन्त्रका सूचकमा कुनै सुधार आएको छैन भने झन् त्यसमाथि यसअघि नियान्त्रणभित्रै रहेको बजार भाउ पनि बढ्ने क्रम तीव्र बनेको छ ।

नेपाल राष्ट्र बैंकका अनुसार मूल्य वृद्धिदर ७ प्रतिशतभन्दा माथि रहेको छ । राष्ट्र बैंकको मासिक प्रतिवेदनअनुसार वार्षिक बिन्दुगत उपभोक्ता मुद्रास्फीति ७.११ प्रतिशत रहेको छ । जुन अघिल्लो आर्थिक वर्षको मंसिरको तुलनामा ४.१८ प्रतिशतले बढी हो । अघिल्लो आर्थिक वर्षको पाँचौं महिनामा मूल्य वृद्धिदर २.९३ प्रतिशत रहेको थियो ।

सरकारले बजेटमा तथा राष्ट्र बैंकले चालु आर्थिक वर्षको मौद्रिक नीतिमा ६.५ प्रतिशतभित्रै राख्ने प्रक्षेपण गरेको मूल्यवृद्धि पाँचौं महिनामा नै उकालो लागेको छ । चालू आर्थिक वर्षमा सरकारलाई मूल्यवृद्धि काबुमा राख्न समस्या पर्ने केही दिन अगाडि राष्ट्र बैंकका गभर्नर महाप्रसाद अधिकारीले संसदीय समितिमा बताएका थिए ।

राष्ट्र बैंकले बिहीबार जारी गरेको तथ्यांकअनुसार चालु आर्थिक वर्षको पाँचौं महिनामा खाद्य तथा पेय पदार्थ समूहको मुद्रास्फीति ५.६७ प्रतिशत र गैर–खाद्य तथा सेवा समूहको मुद्रास्फीति ८.२५ प्रतिशत रहेको छ । २०७७ मंसिरको तुलनामा २०७८ मंसिरमा घ्यू तथा तेल, यातायात, दाल तथा गेडागुडी, शिक्षा र सुर्तीजन्य वस्तु उपसमूहको मूल्यवृद्धि क्रमशः २८.५२ प्रतिशत, १६.२५ प्रतिशत, ११.७९ प्रतिशत, ११.७८ प्रतिशत र ११.७४ प्रतिशत रहेको छ ।

मंसिर महिनामा तराईमा सबैभन्दा बढी भाउ बढेको देखिन्छ । राष्ट्र बैंकका अनुसार काठमाडौं उपत्यकामा ५.९१ प्रतिशत, तराईमा ७.५२ प्रतिशत, पहाडमा ६.९५ प्रतिशत र हिमालमा ४.९१ प्रतिशत मुद्रास्फीति रहेको छ । जबकि २०७७ मंसिरमा यी क्षेत्रहरुमा क्रमशः ३.७१ प्रतिशत, २.३५ प्रतिशत, ३.९५ प्रतिशत र ४.२२ प्रतिशत मुद्रास्फीति रहेको थियो ।

तर, २०७८ मंसिरमा वार्षिक बिन्दुगत तलब तथा ज्यालादर सूचकांक भने बढेको छ । मंसिरमा वार्षिक बिन्दुगत तलब तथा ज्यालादर सूचकांक ६.५३ प्रतिशतले बढेको भन्दै राष्ट्र बैंकले अघिल्लो वर्षको सोही महिनामा उक्त सूचकांक ०.९९ प्रतिशतले बढेको जनाएको छ । चालु आवको पाँचौं महिनामा तलब सूचकांक र ज्यालादर सूचकांक क्रमशः ९.४४ प्रतिशत र ५.७१ प्रतिशतले बढेको छ ।

यसका साथै लगातार घटिरहेको रेमिट्यान्स आय पनि चालु आर्थिक वर्षको पाँच महिनामा पनि सुधार आउन सकेन । राष्ट्र बैंकका अनुसार पाँच महिना रेमिट्यान्स आय ६.८ प्रतिशतले कमी आई ३ खर्ब ८८ अर्ब ५८ करोडमा झरेको छ । गत वर्षको मंसिरमा रेमिट्यान्स आय अघिल्लो वर्षको सोही अवधिमा ११ प्रतिशतले बढेको थियो ।

तर, मंसिरसम्ममा वैदेशिक रोजगारीका लागि अन्तिम श्रम स्वीकृति (संस्थागत तथा व्यक्तिगत–नयाँ र वैधानिकीकरण) लिने नेपालीको संख्या भने उल्लेख्य रुपमा वृद्धि भई १ लाख ३१ हजार ८२ पुगेको छ । वैदेशिक रोजगारीका लागि पुनः श्रम स्वीकृति लिने नेपालीको संख्या २९५.८ प्रतिशतले वृद्धि भई ९९ हजार ५८० पुगेको छ भने अघिल्लो वर्षको सोही अवधिमा यस्तो संख्या ७७.३ प्रतिशतले घटेको थियो । मंसिरसम्ममा खुद ट्रान्सफर ५.७ प्रतिशतले कमी आई ४ खर्ब ३३ अर्ब ९२ करोड पुगेको छ । अघिल्लो वर्षको सोही अवधिमा यस्तो ट्रान्सफर ८.५ प्रतिशतले बढेको थियो ।

यसका साथै अर्थतन्त्रको अर्को महत्वपूर्ण सूचक शोधनान्तर घाटा चुलिँदै गएको छ । राष्ट्र बैंकका अनुसार मंसिरसम्ममा शोधनान्तर घाटा एक खर्ब ९५ अर्ब १ करोड पुगेको छ । चालु आर्थिक वर्षको सुरुदेखि नै शोधनान्तर घाटा बढिरहेको छ । साउनमै ३८ अर्ब ७५ करोड शोधनान्तर घाटा थियो भने भदौमा ८३ अर्ब ४१ करोड पुगेको थियो । तर, असोजमा शोधनान्तर घाटा केही घटेर ७६ अर्ब १४ करोडमा झरेको थियो । फेरि कात्तिकमा एक खर्ब ५० अर्ब ३८ करोड पुगेको शोधनान्तर घाटा मंसिरमा एक खर्ब ९५ अर्ब एक करोड पुगेको छ ।

यसरी शोधनान्तर घाटा लगातार बढ्दा चालु खाता घाटामा पनि दबाब पुगेको छ । कात्तिकमा २ खर्ब २३ अर्ब १९ करोड रहेको चालु खाता घाटा मंसिरमा ३ खर्ब ६९ करोड रुपैयाँमा पुगेको राष्ट्र बैंकले जनाएको छ । समग्रमा अर्थतन्त्रका सूचकहरु सुधार हुन नसकेका कारण अर्थतन्त्रमा समस्या आउने देखिन्छ । बुधबार विश्व बैंकले पनि चालू आर्थिक वर्षमा आर्थिक बृद्धिदरमा संकुचन आई ३.७ प्रतिशत रहने प्रक्षेपण गरेको छ ।

यसका साथै, विदेशी मुद्रा सञ्चिति पनि घट्ने क्रम जारी छ । चालु आर्थिक वर्षको चौथो महिनामा ७.२ महिनाको वस्तु तथा आयात धान्न पुग्ने देखिएको विदेशी मुद्राको सञ्चिति पाँचौ महिनामा आइपुग्दा घटेर ६.८ महिनाको वस्तु तथा आयातमात्रै धान्न अवस्थामा झरेको राष्ट्र बैंकले जनाएको छ ।

आर्थिक वर्ष २०७८-०७९ को पाँच महिनाको आयातलाई आधार मान्दा बैंकिङ क्षेत्रसँग रहेको विदेशी विनिमय संचिती ७.५ महिनाको वस्तु आयात र ६.८ महिनाको वस्तु तथा सेवा आयात धान्न पर्याप्त रहने देखिन्छ, राष्ट्र बैकले जनायो । २०७८ असार मसान्तमा १३ खर्ब ९९ अर्ब ३ करोड बराबर रहेको कुल विदेशी विनिमय संचिती घटेर मंसिर मसान्तमा १२ खर्ब १४ अर्ब ३ करोड भएको हो ।

Inflation soars, remittance and forex reserve deplete, BoP further in loss

The economic indicators have been continuously worsening since the begining of the current fiscal year 2021-22.

According to the current macroeconomic and financial situation report published by the central bank, inflation has been looking up, remittance and foreign currency reserve are depleting, and Balance of Payment (BoP) has seen further loss. 

"The year-on-year consumer price inflation has stood at 7.11 per cent in the fifth month of current fiscal year 2021-22 compared to only 2.93 per cent a year ago's same period," the current macroeconomic and financial situation report based on five months’ data ending mid-December, 2021, reads. "The food and beverage inflation stood at 5.67 per cent, whereas non-food and service inflation stood at 8.25 per cent by the end of the fifth month of the current fiscal year," the report reads, adding that the price of ghee and oil; transportation; pulses and legumes; education and tobacco products rose by 28.52 per cent, 16.25 per cent, 11.79 per cent, 11.78 per cent and 11.74 per cent, respectively on a year-on-year basis. "Inflation in Kathmandu Valley, Tarai, Hills and Mountains have also increased compared to last year."

As of the first five months, Terai witnessed the largest price hike of 7.52 per cent, followed by hill (6.95 per cent), Kathmandu Valley (5.91 per cent) and mountain (4.91 per cent).

The monthly consumer price inflation climbed to its highest in 64 months in December 2021, rising to 7.11 per cent year-on-year from 5.32 per cent in November, the central bank data reveals, adding that the last time the country witnessed the highest monthly inflation rate was in September 2016-17 at 7.9 per cent.

Experts warn inflation may jump to a double-digit figure this fiscal year. And so does the central bank's Inflation Expectation Survey published in November 2021. It showed that a majority of people expected average prices of goods and services to rise by a staggering 11.3 per cent over the next year.

Likewise, remittance inflows decreased by 6.8 per cent to Rs 388.58 billion in the fifth month against an increase of 11 per cent in the same period last year. "In the US Dollar terms, remittance inflows decreased by 7.3 per cent to 3.26 billion in the review period against an increase of 6.4 per cent during the same period last year."

However, the number of Nepali migrant workers (institutional and individual-new and legalised) taking approval for foreign employment increased significantly to 131,082 in the fifth month of the current fiscal year. It had decreased by 92.7 per cent in the same period last year."

Likewise, the number of Nepali migrant workers (Renew entry) taking approval for foreign employment department increased by 295.8 per cent to 99,580, which had decreased by 77.3 per cent in the same period last year.

The widening trade deficit and depleting inflow of remittance has hit the Balance of Payment (BoP). According to the central bank report, the Balance of Payment (BoP) remained at a deficit of 195.01 billion in the first five months of the current fiscal year, way down from the deficit of Rs 150.38 billion in the first four month. It shows that the country faced a net loss of Rs 44.63 billion just in one month’s period of transaction with the rest of the world.

LiIkewise, the deficit of the current account also deepened further from Rs 223.19 billion to Rs 300.69 billion.

Another key economic indicator, the gross foreign exchange reserves also decreased by 13.2 per cent to Rs 1214.03 billion in mid-December 2021 from Rs 1399.03 billion in mid-July 2021, the central bank report reads, adding that in US Dollar terms, the gross foreign exchange reserves decreased by 14.7 per cent to 10.03 billion in mid-December 2021 from 11.75 billion in mid-July 2021. "Of the total foreign exchange reserves, reserves held by the central bank decreased by 12.9 per cent to Rs 1084.64 billion in mid-December 2021 from Rs 1244.63 billion in mid-July 2021."

Likewise, reserves held by banks and financial institutions (except central bank) also decreased by 16.2 per cent to Rs 129.40 billion in mid-December 2021 from Rs 154.39 billion in mid-July 2021. The share of Indian currency in total reserves stood at 25.1 per cent in mid-December 2021.

Based on the imports of five months of 2021-22, the foreign exchange reserves is sufficient only to cover the prospective merchandise imports of 7.5 months, and merchandise and services imports of 6.8 months.

In terms of trade, exports increased by a whopping 105.6 per cent to Rs 102.92 billion compared to an increase of 5.1 per cent in the same period of last fiscal year. At the same time, imports also increased by 59.5 per cent to Rs 838.41 billion. Over the period, the trade deficit soared by 54.7 percent to Rs 735.49 billion.  "The export to import ratio increased to 12.3 per cent in the review period from 9.5 per cent in the same period of the previous year."

During the first five months of the current fiscal year, imports from India by paying convertible foreign currency amounted Rs 92.34 billion, the report adds. 

Saturday, January 8, 2022

दलाल पुँजीवाददेखि दलाल समाजवादसम्म

एक साताअगाडि शिक्षामन्त्री देवेन्द्र पौडेलले आफ्नी अमेरिकामा अध्ययनरत छोरीलाई त्रिभुवन अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय विमानस्थलमा बिदाइ गरेको फोटोमा धेरैले धेरै थरी टिप्पणी गरेको पाइयो, जसमा सकारात्मकभन्दा नकारात्मक टिप्पणी बढी थिए । यसले नेपाली समाज कता जाँदै छ र कस्तो मानसिकतामा बाँचिरहेको छ भन्ने स्पष्ट हुन्छ । साथै, यसले नेपालमा लोकतान्त्रिक चरित्र तथा वैयक्तिक स्वतन्त्रताको कस्तो भाष्य निर्माण गर्ने प्रयास भइरहेको छ भन्ने पनि स्पष्ट हुन्छ । हुन त बहुमत टिप्पणीकर्ताको रोष छोरीप्रतिभन्दा पनि बाबुको दोहोरो चरित्रप्रति लक्षित थियो । तर, शिक्षामन्त्रीको राजनीतिक दर्शन तथा त्यसको व्यावहारिक पाटोलाई जोड्दा एउटी बालिकाको आफ्नो स्वतन्त्रताको विषय गौण हुन सक्दैन । यस्तै प्रश्न बेलाबेलामा अन्य राजनीतिक दलका अन्य नेतासँग पनि जोडिएर आउँछ ।

यस्ता घटनाक्रमले नेपाली नागरिकले दशकौंदेखि रैतीबाट सार्वभौमसत्तासम्पन्न मुलुकका नागरिक बन्न गरेको लडाइँ जित्दै गर्दा वैयक्तित स्वतन्त्रताको दायरा झन् खुम्चँदै गइरहेको देखाउँछ । राजनीतिक दर्शन तथा व्यावहारिक पाटोको तुलना गर्न एउटी बालिकाको सहारा लिनु नितान्त गलत हो र यस्तो वैयक्तिक स्वतन्त्रतामा भइरहेका प्रहारले कालान्तरमा नेपाललाई सार्वभौमसत्तासम्पन्न मुलुकका रूपमा रहिरहन दिँदैन । किनकि सामाजिक सञ्जालमार्फत निर्माण गर्न खोजिएको नयाँ भाष्यले स्वतन्त्र नागरिकको ठाउँमा कुनै अमुक राजनीतिक दलको कार्यकर्ता बनाउन मात्रै उत्प्रेरित गर्छ । मेरो नेताले गरे ठीक, तेरो नेताले गरे बेठीक भन्ने भाष्यले लोकतान्त्रिक चरित्र दर्साउँदैन । पञ्चायतकालमा पनि यस्तै भाष्य निर्माण गर्न खोजिएको थियो, ‘सबै नेपाली पञ्च, सबै पञ्च नेपाली’ । त्यो टिकेन । तर, ठ्याक्कै त्यही पारामा निर्माण गर्न खोजिएको नयाँ भाष्यले पनि मुलुक अग्रगमनतिर होइन पश्चगमनतिर मात्र लैजान्छ ।

हालका वर्षहरूमा सामाजिक सञ्जालले अभिव्यक्ति स्वतन्त्रतामा ठूलै क्रान्ति ल्याइदिएको छ, जसले जसका बारेमा तत्काल जे टिप्पणी गर्न पनि स्वतन्त्र बनाइदिएको छ । तर, आफ्नो वैयक्तिक स्वतन्त्रताको प्रयोग गरेर सामाजिक सञ्जालमा टिप्पणी गर्दा अरूको वैयक्तिक स्वतन्त्रताको हनन गर्न पाइन्न भन्ने हेक्का धेरैमा छैन । फलस्वरूप बेलाबेलामा सामाजिक सञ्जाल नियमनदेखि नियन्त्रणसम्मका कुरा समाजका विभिन्न क्षेत्रबाट आइरहेको छ, जुन सर्वथा गलत हो । तर, अरूको स्वतन्त्रताको ख्याल नराख्ने केहीको मानसिकताका कारण उठेका यी स्वरले बिस्तारै नेपाली समाजमा गलत भाष्य निर्माण गर्न सघाइरहेको छ । यो दुर्भाग्य हो । संघीय लोकतान्त्रिक गणतन्त्रको भविष्यलाई सुरक्षित गर्न यस्ता भाष्यले सघाउ पु-याउँदैनन् ।

दोस्रो संविधानसभाले २०७२ असोज ३ गते संघीय लोकतान्त्रिक गणतन्त्र नेपालको संविधान दियो । त्यसपछि संविधानको संस्थागत विकास गर्न राजनीतिक दलहरूले लोकतान्त्रिक संस्थाहरूलाई बलियो बनाउने आशा गरिएको थियो । तर, राजनीतिक दलहरूले न त आफ्नै राजनीतिक दललाई संस्थागत एवं लोकतान्त्रिक बनाउने चेष्टा गरे, न त मुलुकका कुनै पनि संस्थालाई । उनीहरूले आफ्नै राजनीतिक दल एवं मुलुकका संस्थाहरूलाई महेन्द्रीय पथमा समाहित गरे, चुनाव जित्न बढीभन्दा बढी स्रोत दोहन गरेर शक्ति सञ्चय गरे, जसका कारण नीतिगत भ्रष्टाचार मौलाएको छ । जोखिम लिएर उद्योग व्यवसाय गर्नेभन्दा राजनीति गर्ने धेरै शक्तिशाली तथा धनी भए । पटकपटक सरकारको नेतृत्व गर्ने राजनीतिक दलका नेताको सम्पत्ति बढिरह्यो, मुलुकका कानुन उनैका हातमा भएका कारण उनीहरूले कतै जवाफदेही पनि हुनु परेन । अनि आयस्रोत पनि देखाउनु परेन । तर, जोखिम लिएर बैंक तथा वित्तीय संस्थाबाट ऋण लिएर उद्योग, व्यवसाय गर्नेलाई भने सधैं आफ्नो घरबार डुब्ला भन्ने डर रहिरहने कारणले एउटा न एउटा नेताको सुरुवालको फेरो समाउनुपर्ने बाध्यता सिर्जना भयो । यस्तो परिस्थिति सिर्जना गरेर राजनीतिक दलले आफैंले ल्याएको संविधानको उल्लंघन गरिरहेका छन् । किनकि समाज रूपान्तरणको नारा दिने राजनीतिक दलको छहारी नपाइ कसैले पनि नेपालमा आफूले चाहेको पेसा व्यवसाय गर्न स्वतन्त्र नहुनु भनेको पनि संविधानको उल्लंघन हो । संविधानमा स्पष्ट लेखिएको छ, ‘हरेक नागरिक आफ्नो पेसा–व्यवसाय गरेर खान स्वतन्त्र छ ।’ तर त्यस वाक्यलाई तोडमरोड गरेर ‘हरेक नागरिक कुनै न कुनै राजनीतिक दलको आडमा मात्रै आफ्नो पेसा–व्यवसाय गरेर खान स्वतन्त्र छ’ भन्ने भाष्य निर्माण हुनु दुःखद हो । नेपालको आर्थिक सामाजिक विकासलाई बन्ध्याकरण गर्ने दुष्प्रयास हो ।

यसरी गलत भाष्य निर्माण गर्दै जाने क्रममा हरेक पेसा–व्यवसायलाई बदनाम गरियो । नेपालमा राजनीतिबाहेक कुनै पनि पेसा–व्यवसायमा आफ्नो भविष्य नदेखेपछि युवा मुलुकमा बस्न चाहेन । शिक्षामन्त्री देवेन्द्र पौडेल पनि यसैको उदाहरण हुन् । जब मुलुक जर्जर बनाइसकेपछि आफ्ना सन्तानको भविष्य नदेखेपछि भविष्य सुनिश्चित गर्न अमेरिका होस् कि खाडी होस्, सबै अभिभावकले आफ्ना सन्तान बाहिरै पठाउने हो । शक्ति र राज्यस्रोतमा हालीमुहाली गर्नेले पुँजीवादी अमेरिकामा अनि शक्ति र राज्यस्रोत पहुँच नहुने देवेन्द्र सुनारले वा देवेन्द्र कुर्मीले खाडी नै पठाउने हो आफ्ना सन्तानलाई । त्यसैले सामाजिक सञ्जालमा दलाल पुँजीवाद वा दलाल समाजवादलाई गाली गर्ने सबैका सन्तान मुलुकमा बस्न नचाहनु नेपालको राजनीतिक प्रणाली वा आर्थिक प्रणालीका असफलता होइनन्, भविष्यको आशा तथा भरोसा आफ्नै राजनीतिक दल, नेतृत्व तथा दर्शनमा विश्वास नभएर हो । जसलाई ढाकछोप गर्न सामाजिक सञ्जालमार्फत नयाँ–नयाँ भाष्य निर्माण गर्न उक्साइएको छ ।

नेपालमा बसेर आफ्नो पुँजी तथा श्रमशक्तिको उत्पादकत्व ह्रास हुने देखेपछि कुनै पनि युवा मुलुकमा बस्न नचाहेका हुन्, जसका लागि राजनीतिक दल पूर्ण जिम्मेवार छन् । किनकि राजनीतिकल दलले संस्थाहरूलाई ध्वस्त पारे । अन्यथा प्रजातन्त्रको उत्कृष्ट अभ्यास मानिएको संघीय लोकतान्त्रिक गणतन्त्र नेपालमा असफल बनाउन अरू कसैले षड्यन्त्र गरेको होइन, राजनीतिक दलका नेताका व्यवहारले नै गरेको हो ।

२०७२ मा मुलुक संघीय गणतन्त्रमा गइसकेपछि पछि पनि सरकारी संरचनामा परिवर्तन त आएन नै, लोकतन्त्र पनि तरल नै रह्यो । जसका कारण अर्थतन्त्रमा राजनीतिक दलका दौराका फेर समातेकाहरूको हालीमुहाली बढ्यो, जसको उद्देश्य मुलुकको आथिक समृद्धि थिएन । भगत, राजनीतिक दलको सहयोगमा आफू कमाउने र नेता पाल्नेमात्र थियो । त्यसैले पछिल्ला समयमा सतहमा आएका काण्डहरू केही उदाहरणहरू मात्र हुन् । मुलुकको समृद्धिका लागि राजनीतिक दलको दौराको फेरो नसमाती उद्यम गर्छु भन्नेका लागि स्पेस नभएपछिका दुर्घटना हुन्, पछिल्ला घटना ।

संघीय गणतन्त्र नेपालमा न त लोकतान्त्रिक विचारका लागि स्पेस छ, न त स्वतन्त्र पेसा–व्यवसाय गरेर खानेका लागि स्पेस छ । भएका सामाजिक सञ्जाल पनि उनैको कब्जामा छन्, जो गलत भाष्य बनाएर समाजलाई दुर्घटनातर्फ उन्मुख गराइरहेका छन्, निजी क्षेत्र पनि त्यसैको सिकार भएको हो । यो ती राजनीतिक दलका दर्शन, सिद्धान्त र व्यवहारको असफलता हो, जसले नयाँ नेपाल बनाउने वाचा गरेका थिए । तर, व्यवहारमा पुरानै नेपालको प्रवृत्ति पछ्याइरहेका छन् । होइन भने २०७२ पछिका कुनै पनि सरकारले किन बदलिँदो समयअनुरूप अर्थतन्त्रको संरचनागत सुधारमा काम गरेनन्, उल्टै सुधारवादलाई निषेध गर्ने प्रकारका भाष्य निर्माण गर्दै मुलुकलाई पूर्व सोभियताकालीन अर्थतन्त्रतिर घचेट्दै छन् ? के दलाल पुँजीवाद भनेर गाली गरेपछि आफ्ना सन्तानको भविष्य सुरक्षित हुन्छ भन्ने भ्रम अझै पनि राजनीतिक दलका नेतृत्व वर्गमा छ ?

जबसम्म राजनीतिक दलले तथा यसका नेतृत्वले भावी पुस्तालाई उसको स्वतन्त्र छनोटको अधिकारसहित नेपालमा नै मेरो भविष्य छ भन्ने सुनिश्चित गर्न सफल हुँदैन, तबसम्म पुँजीवादलाई सराप्ने र दलाल समाजवादको अभ्यास गर्नेबाहेक कुनै उपलब्धि हुँदैन । जबर्जस्त नयाँ भाष्य निर्माण गरेर केही समय केहीलाई मुर्ख बनाउन सकिन्छ तर सधैं सबैलाई मुर्ख बनाउन सकिन्न । आफ्नै जीवनकालमा समृद्ध नेपाल बनाउने वाचा गर्ने राजनीतिक दल तथा तिनका नेतृत्व वर्गले आफ्नो शुतुर्मुग प्रवृत्ति जति छिटो परिवर्तन गर्छन्, त्यति नै छिटो नेपालको भविष्य सुनिश्चित गर्न सकिन्छ ।

अन्यथा व्यावसायिक रूपमा प्रतिस्पर्धी निजी क्षेत्र बनाउन सघाउनुको साटो निजी क्षेत्रलाई छोरा, ज्वाइँ बनाउनु खोज्दा दुर्घटना त हुन्छ नै । यसले निजी क्षेत्रको प्रवद्र्धन पनि हुँदैन । साथै, यस्ता क्रियाकलापले निजी क्षेत्रलाई पनि दलालीकरण गर्नमात्र मद्दत मिल्छ । नीतिगत रूपमा सम्बोधन गर्नुपर्ने निजी क्षेत्रलाई व्यक्तिगत रूपमा सम्बोधन गर्न थालेपछि निजी क्षेत्र बदनाम हुने हो, जसले मुलुकको दिगो आर्थिक विकासमा मद्दत गर्दैन । स्वदेशी निजी क्षेत्र बदनाम हुँदा वैदेशिक निजी क्षेत्र पनि नेपालमा लगानी गर्न आउन्नन् । लगानी नभएपछि नेपालमा रोजगारी सिर्जना हुँदैन अनि जाने विदेश नै हो चाहे देवेन्द्र पौडेलका सन्तान हुन् वा देवेन्द्र सुनारका वा देवेन्द्र कुर्मीका । आआफ्ना हैसियतअनुसार गन्तव्यमात्र फरक हो ।

त्यसैले मुहान सफा नभईकन मुलुकका कुनै पनि क्षेत्र सफा हँुदैनन्, मात्र बदनाम हुन्छन् । राजनीति सफा गरौं, मुहान सफा गरौं, सबै क्षेत्र आफ्नो लयमा आउँछन् । अन्यथा दिगो आर्थिक विकास, उच्च आय र उत्पादन सबै सधैं नारामा मात्र रहन्छ ।