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Nepal’s Oli Govt in 2018 – Achievements, Failures and Questions Unanswered!
Nepal’s revenue collection increased by 32 percent in the first five months of the current fiscal Y-o-Y
Seems like the Oli Government has failed to keep many of its promises resulting in Nepal’s failure to secure growth in areas of economic and financial development.
The Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Chair and Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli was received amidst opposition parties’ critical uproar in the Parliament on January 06, 2019.
This was the first time Oli addressed a parliamentary session ever since the winter session began on December 26, 2018.
PM Oli’s speech focusing on his government’s efforts for Nepal’s progress throughout the first year of his regime spanned higher growth, curbed-corruption, and improved law and order situation.
However, Oli’s presentation of Nepal’s progress path didn’t seem to satisfy its main opposition Nepali Congress (NC), whose lawmakers were quick to sought clarifications.
NC lawmakers Dilendra Prasad Badu and Minendra Rijal were first to seek permission from Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara to speak to Oli. But the Speaker refused their request after Oli clearly stated that he did not want to take any questions from the opposition.
A number of lawmakers from Oli’s own NCP opined that his parliamentary address was ill-timed and could have waited until his party completed its first term in office.
PM Oli emphasized seven indicators of the budget implementation and their status during the parliament including the balance of payment, capital expenditure, economic growth, employment revenue collection & financial situation, implementation of flagship program and progress made in the implementation of national pride projects.
Following are the major points presented by Oli at the Parliament:
Nepal’s revenue collection increased by 32% in the first five months of the current fiscal Y-o-Y
Capital expenditure increased by 25.33 percent in the first five months of the review period while government expenditure reduced to 14 percent from 34 percent last year
Inflation rate decreased to 3.7 percent from 4.2 percent in the previous year
Foreign aid increased by 162.72 percent compared to last year, whereas the total pledged foreign aid and loan stands at NPR 112.13 billion
Nepal exports in the first five months of FY 2018-19 increased by 12.3 percent
The government decided to grant five percent concession on 15 exportable goods and three percent on 11 exportable items to promote export
National Pride Project Gautam Buddha Airport in Lumbini has been fast-tracked to conduct a test flight by June 2019 with a deadline of six months for the apron and runway construction
Works on the Upper Tamakoshi project for test production to be conducted by August 2019 are being carried out
A detailed project on the EastWest Railway has been completed and resources are being arranged for railway construction in the Kakadvitta-Butwal section
Oli said that since this government’s formation, electricity meters have been installed in 30,000 houses and electricity theft was reduced by 3 percent
In terms of clean energy, biogas plants were installed in 10,561 households including 80,990 solar plants and 40,362 improved stores
With the Nepal government’s initiative, India amended its energy trade directives enabling Nepal to provide surplus electricity to third countries through India
The government forged an agreement between Bangladesh and Nepal on electricity trade
As part of its initiatives, the Oli-led government is working on war-footing to finish the laying of petroleum pipeline between Nepal and India before the deadline
Providing the status on railway achievements he said:
The prefeasibility study on Kerung-Kathmandu railway has been completed and works are underway to prepare a detailed project report
Preparations for a prefeasibility study of Kathmandu-Pokhara-Lumbini railway are underway, with support from China
Nepal government has signed an agreement to prepare a Detailed Project Report for Raxaul-Kathmandu railway with India’s support
Preparations are underway for establishing Nepal Sheep Office and appointing a Sheep Registrar
The Prime Minister also added that a Public Transportation Authority will be formed to manage post-syndicate turmoil in the transportation system. He hailed his administration’s efforts to control crime stating that the Police Administration achieved 96 percent success in curbing crimes.
However, Oli’s report failed to discuss some of Nepal’s major concerns, for which, he received severe criticism from opposition parties and raised questions on his role.
Downsides of PM Oli’s Rule
Following are the discrepancies observed in Oli’s presentation:
Indifference to Business Community: Finance Minister Khatiwada and Industry Minister Matrika Prasad Yadav failed to be empathetic towards the business community’s problems despite three leading private sector’s umbrella bodies’ attempts to pressurize the incumbent government for creating favorable investment climate.
Nepal Aviation Scam: Oli irked many when he didn’t comment or speak anything about the NPR 4.35 billion aviation scam. The case stands as one of the biggest corruption scams in Nepal at a time when Oli advocates his government’s attempts to restore good governance and eradicate corruption.
Rising Trade Deficit: Nepal’s growing trade deficit has been a matter of concern for quite some time. However, PM Oli made no mention about the alarming trade deficit and declining foreign direct investments. The two concerns were one of the commitments that two-thirds of the government pledge to improve during its budget speech. Nepal’s trade deficit stands at NPR 458.48 billion in the first four months of FY 2018-19 and has tipped off the country’s Balance of Payment (BoP).
According to Nepal Rastra Bank’s Current Macroeconomic and Financial Situation of Nepal report, the country’s export-import ratio dropped to 6.1 percent from 7.4 percent in the last fiscal year.Oli advocated that the trade deficit increased by only 1.5 percent in the first three months of the current fiscal but without any supporting statistics.
According to the NRB report, the country’s overall BoP in the first four months stood at a difference of NPR 57.33 billion compared to the surplus of NPR 2.40 billion in the same period last year.
“Import of industrial goods and construction material has increased by 40.6 percent and this has hit the balance of payment. But this is a positive indicator for the country’s production and development,” reads an excerpt from Oli’s speech.
Capital Expenditure Progress: Nepal’s capital expenditure made slight progress but attested that the government failed to deliver its promises of ensuring higher growth and employment. The capital expenditure remained at NPR 26.01 billion compared to NPR 17.86 billion in the previous year. Statistics until Sunday projected a 15 percent progress in the capital spending plan of NPR 313 billion even though more than half the review period has passed by.
Drop in Foreign Direct Investment: Nepali witnessed a decline of over 50 percent in the first four months of the fiscal despite government claims about improving the FDI flow in Nepal by clearing legal and policy hassles. Nepal’s FDI flow trickled to NPR 4.95 billion from NPR 10.17 billion during first four months of the previous year. PM was quick to defend this claim with a sharp remark stating that the number of foreign investments increased by 25 percent. However, Oli 14-page document failed to attest related numbers.
National Pride Projects: Most of the national pride projects works remain unsatisfactory. However, Oli pointed the progress in several projects including Babai Irrigation Project, Bheri Babai Diversion Project, Gautham Buddha International Airport, Pokhara International Airport, and the Upper Tamakoshi project.Despite Oli’s attempts to fast-track the project’s final works on his trip to Dolakha in April 2019, the project has failed to make headway. Oli claims that 97.5 percent of the project work is complete however, he did not provide any progress figures when he assumed office. Nepali Congress leader Gagan Thapa said that the information presented by PM Oli was similar to Finance Minister Khatiwada’s White Paper presentation of Nepal’s Economic status.
“The White Paper had tweaked economic information to fit Khatiwada’s approach to show the economy in a bad shape, and Oli has now done the same. Oli has manipulated information in his speech. He has also tried to threaten his critics about the procurement of project war room in his office,” said Thapa.
Nepal Migrant Workers to Malaysia: Thapa further pointed out at the situation of Nepal Migrant workers to Malaysia which is still at standstill despite a MoU being signed by both nations.
“Oli remains silent why the outflow of migrant workers to Malaysia has not yet started but claims that the remittance collection has grown due to administrative reforms,” adds Thapa.
PM Oli states that the number of migrant workers declined by 41 percent but the remittance inflow increased by 36 percent.
Besides, while Oli presented a good picture of Nepal’s economy at the beginning of his speech, it’s a well-known fact that just nine months before this statement, Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada introduced a white paper which depicted a shoddy state of the country’s economy.
Other untouched/less discussed issues include 13-year old Nirmala Pant’s case and President Buda Devi’s purchase of expensive means of transport including a helicopter.
The meeting portrayed Oli’s contributions to Nepal’s progress in very poor light. Many have begun to raise questions on his ability as Nepal’s Prime Minister.
“The thumping of desks by NCP lawmakers was muted today, which indicated Oli’s performance had deteriorated,” remarked Thapa.