Unsung Heroes of Nepal and Fear Factor in Developmental Context
Stimulus Investment Plan, option for economic acceleration
Government must embark on bold and realistic, yet pragmatic, initiatives accelerating high domestic demand and creating employment by mobilizing substantial public spending on infrastructure development, with sustained flow of remittances. It must also allure domestic and foreign direct private investments by improving absorption capacity, timely implementation and reforming state structures for speedy deliveries and creating conducive atmosphere for productive bank credit growth.
Challenges will be how to enhancebusiness optimism in politically unstable environment and stimulate productive economic sectors to acceleration. Economy will not develop without developed infrastructure, energy and sustainable manufacturing industries. Robust growth needs to spread across all sectors, not limited to sectors like agriculture, cooperatives, tourism and small-scale investments. Economic stimulus with Marshal Plan is needed for there is no short-cut to economic acceleration for retaining millennial at home. Sadly, governments’ economic performance and deliveries are not inspiring for investment platforms are narrow and short sighted.
Political transformation is convoluted and future economic direction could still be lost in transition to federalism, coupled with misdiagnosed economic health and misplaced priorities. This will not entice genuine public and private partnerships for sustainable investment. Looming threat persists for economy might still become a hostage to perennially embroiled relationships with economic houses, India and China puzzle, and Nepal’s inability to adapt to changing global economic scenarios and emerging trends.
Migrant Workers – the unsung economic heroes of Nepal
Without real wealth creation sustainable jobs cannot be created. Assuming that 1,500 individuals are leaving Nepal daily, as reported by media, creation of one half a million jobs with decent wages, will be a mammoth task in a country without sustainable economic Stimulus Investment Plan. Without such stimulus jobs creation will not match supply of burgeoning youths. Let’s face it. Youth emigration will continue until there will be a Marshall Planon infrastructure development and industrialization of economy. If government remains obsessed with politicizing economic sectors for political interest and personified glorification there will be no economic development.
Unfortunately economic contribution of migrant workers are not seen respectfully and with dignity for nation has failed to recognise their massive impact on nation’s economic health. This is by far the most important element in national budget. Remittances constitute one third of Nepal’s annual budget and a significant chunk of foreign exchange. Nepal’s economy would have long collapsed without remittances for imports have sky-rocketed while exports continue to plummet. This fact alone should have been a respectable reason for government to honouring migrant workers as the real heroes of country.
Migrant workers are patriots, dedicated to work ethics and sacrificing their lives for livelihood and survival of families. They remit hard-earned savings home for sustaining households. Diaspora has truly become an important cog in Nepal’s economic wheel. This is a fact and we must revisit our perceptions and attitudes towards them for their contribution is economically gigantic.
Well, we must accept the reality and recognize migrant workers’ crucial role compared to other groups in economy. Government’s education policy, thus, should be on skills training and improving quality of work-force. State must grant more scholarships to youths attending technical and vocational skills. Technical skills are major component in economic development and crucial for youth’s employment at home and abroad. Changes in skills profile of work-force will contribute positively to economic transformation and quality of standard. Low skills propagate low standards in economy and results in poor quality of life.
Philippines government recognizes contribution made by Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) with high respect in nation’s development process. Every year, at year-end, Philippines President personally welcomes returning migrants at Manila International Airport and honours them as the “Heroes of Country” and takes pride in them. Nation is proud of OFWs even though remittances do not exceed 10% of the national budget, unlike in Nepal it is above 30%.
Remittances are mostly spent on sustaining vibrant domestic consumptions, goods, and services – essential grease to churning economic wheel, and for well-being of families at home. Remittances component is an important source of robust market in vibrant economies like China, India, Sri-Lanka, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Philippines, Mexico, Spain, Portugal, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Ghana to cite a few.
Fear factor – impediment to economic development
Nepal is a victim of its own contradictions shrouded in ambiguity and dilemma in maintaining robust economic alliances with India and China. Nepal is obsessed with perceived fear of sovereignty and citizens are conditioned to think this way for political convenience. Switzerland, a small country like Nepal, surrounded by big military and economic powers Germany, France, Italy, and Austria has witnessed two World Wars and continues to prosper safety and dignity as sovereign country. Likewise, Singapore, a tiny island nation, surrounded by murky sea waters and a hostile neighbour with no start-up domestic resources, became one of the richest and financially meritorious country in the world. Why can’t we achieve something realistically similar based on our strengths? When will Nepali political leadership shed old political baggage off and take up economic agenda as top priority to build this nation?
Foreign direct investments do not necessarily tamper with sovereignty for as it has not happened in other countries, including reclusive states like China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Nicaragua to name a few. Communist China has welcomed foreign direct investment and created massive wealth and now spreading this surplus in other countries. India does not have that kind of surplus fund and clings on to its regional peripheries.
China has economically outsmarted India, and also with the revival of ancient Silk Road project metaphor. Understandably, India could not be happy for it is unable to subscribe to China's ambitious global project because both countries are keen on influencing the same territories while competing with similar aspirations. India cannot replicate China for it is marred by internal political contradictions and lacks fund.
China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia have not lost sovereignty with massive foreign direct investment. On the contrary, political standing of these countries have risen and their citizens are treated with dignity and respect. In Nepal, sovereignty fear issue has become a mass mesmerizing mantra to divide and rule strategy for political manipulations and intrigues. This is contributing adversely to economic progress. Make country economically viable, secured and liveable by improving standards and quality of life before demanding patriotism from poor citizens. Nation becomes strong only with economic prosperity and patriotism flourishes concomitantly with economic security.
Mystic glorifications, devoid of economics, will not guarantee economic security of citizens at present or in future. Millennial majority aspire better economic future and nation owes this to them. We have no other better choice other than becoming economically stronger unless we want to remain in status-quo forever.
30 April 2018