Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Government and World Bank sign $120 million concessional loan financing agreement and $19.7 million grant agreement to strengthen school sector

The government and the World Bank today signed a financing agreement for $120 million concessional loan from the International Development Association (IDA) and a grant agreement for $19.7 million from the Global Partnership for Education for the School Sector Transformation Programme (SSTP) Operation, which support the implementation of the government’s flagship School Education Sector Plan.

The agreement was signed by finance secretary Arjun Prasad Pokharel and the World Bank country director for Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka Faris Hadad-Zervos at the Finance Ministry.

The operation focuses on improving foundational skills by implementing the national integrated curriculum in early grades, a press note issued by the World Bank reads. "The operation supports the government’s programme through the development and implementation of the Recovery and Accelerated Learning Plan to address learning losses as a result of school closures due to Covid-19 and other disasters, strengthening teaching and learning in the classrooms, construction of green and resilient classrooms, ensuring minimum enabling conditions such as qualified teacher, child-friendly taps and seating, and toilets in the early childhood education development centers, and strengthening digital teaching and learning materials, among others," it reads, adding that the operation also envisions improving the equity of the school sector by supporting girls, disabled students, and those of lower socio-economic status, through targeted scholarships programmes.

“I am hopeful that the reform agenda envisioned in the School Sector Transformation Programme will be instrumental in increasing equitable access and improving the quality of education, which are critical for human capital development,” said finance secretary Pokharel after signing the agreement.

“The School Sector Transformation Programme operation supports the government of Nepal’s Green, Resilient, and Inclusive Development (GRID) agenda by investing in quality and equitable access to education, which is key to developing human capital and fostering inclusive and resilient growth,” said World Bank country director for Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka Faris Hadad-Zervos, after signing the pact.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Private sector booms with over 30-fold growth in 30 years, contributing over 80 per cent to GDP and employment: Report

The private sector contributes significantly to the country's gross domestic product (GDP), with the service and agriculture sectors playing a dominant role, according to a new report by the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

The report, titled 'State of Private Sector in Nepal: Contributions and Constraints,' analysed data from fiscal year 2011-12 to 2020-21, evaluating the private sector's contribution and current context in Nepal. The report is -- that is claimed to be the first such attempt to create a comprehensive baseline for the entire private sector in Nepal -- combines analysis of both published and unpublished secondary data to offer a snapshot of the private sector contributions to Nepali economy.

According to a comprehensive analysis of sectoral data published by the National Statistical Office (NSO), Finance Ministry (MoF), and various public and private enterprises, it has been estimated that the private sector, which includes households contributes, 81.55 per cent to the country's GDP, taking into account the value addition of all 18 sub-sectors that collectively drive Nepal's economy.

The number of private sector establishments has significantly increased over the past three decades, from 28,660 in 1983 to 923,356 in 2018. It is also the largest employer in Nepal, providing employment to 85.6 percent of the total labor force, the report claimes, adding that a substantial portion of the country’s labour force is employed in agriculture, forestry, and fisheries (57 per cent) and wholesale and retail trade, including vehicle repair (12.5 per cent). "Both industries are primarily driven by the private sector." In 2018, the private sector employed approximately 5.5 million people, while the public sector employed around 427,000 people.

"Based on solid evidence, this report further highlights the private sector’s vital contribution to the socio-economic development of Nepal," country representative for IFC in Nepal Babacar S Faye said, "Our hope is that it will also help better inform and encourage the dialogue between the public and private sectors in order to formulate the best policies that will unleash the full potential of Nepal’s dynamic entrepreneurs."

"The people of Nepal need jobs, products and services that can only come from a stronger and more productive private sector," she said, adding that as the first of its kind in Nepal, the report certainly does not pretend to be comprehensive,  and "we look forward to constructive feedback from all stakeholders in order to enrich the discussions and also improve future editions.”

The study revealed that the private sector has played a critical role in Nepal's growth since the restoration of democracy in the 1990s and the implementation of liberalisation, privatisation, and globalisation policies by the government. This has triggered remarkable progress in several industries, including finance, hospitality, tourism, education, and health.

However, the report highlighted certain areas that require improvement, such as simplifying bureaucratic processes, promoting transparency and accountability, improving the reliability and cost of transportation services, and reducing tariffs on crucial imported inputs.

"Nepal is currently going through a period of major social and economic changes and is having to deal with the challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic," president of the FNCCI Chandra Dhakal said,  on the occasion. "To progress economically, it is vital that stakeholders come together for consultations and discussions," he said, adding that the report can act as a helpful aid to those looking to get the most out of the private sector's contribution to Nepal, and to foster cooperation between the public and private sectors. "We hope that future editions of this report will aggregate and analyse all private sector-related data in one place- creating a robust baseline for data-driven policy dialogue."

The report includes a survey of 517 Nepali firms to gauge the impact of Covid-19 and their awareness of sustainability and climate change. Half of the firms surveyed were in wholesale and retail trade, 13 per cent were in the hotel and accommodation sector, and 12 per cent were in manufacturing. Likewise, half of the firms had borrowed from commercial banks, and during Covid-19 restrictions, 87 per cent were affected, with 63 per cent fully closed. "Some 79 per cent experienced a loss of revenue during lockdown, but 50 per cent reported being profitable after it was lifted."