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We demand answers

We demand answers

To all living eight prime ministers, finance ministers, living finance secretaries, and governors of Nepal Rastra Bank. To all living deputy chairs of the National Planning Commission, eminent economists, advisors, experts, and professors of economics. To all brilliant scholars working globally with the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, International Monetary Fund. 

To all eminent Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, and Cambridge scholars working in the field of economics. To the deans, professors, and lecturers in the economics department of Nepali universities. To all researchers who analyze the regional and global context of Nepal’s economics.

To economic diplomats, heads of missions in business and economics. And to all economic researchers and planners, impact analysts, economic journalists and columnists.

Firstly, amid this peculiar festive season, characterized by slow market activity and lower-than-anticipated traffic on major highways, I extend my warm wishes for your well-being and joy. Today, as a concerned citizen, I raise some pressing questions. 

What has transpired within Nepal’s economy over the past three years? Why does everything seem stable when it’s not? Why isn't trade and commerce flourishing?  Why does the chorus of “There’s no money” persist everywhere? Why does the nation seem to be mourning some unseen loss during this festive climate? What’s the real story behind it all?

You, the distinguished experts, are the ones who can unravel these mysteries and more. Every ordinary citizen of Nepal eagerly awaits your responses. 

It seems, however, that many of you have been avoiding these questions. Could it be that your efforts to plant the right seeds have failed, or perhaps the true root causes of Nepal’s current economic woes have eluded you? Have your analyses and course of action proved futile, or do you simply not concern yourselves with the ongoing situation?

We are firmly convinced that you bear responsibility for these matters, and we seek your clarifications. Your standard responses, such as low GDP, inefficient development budget spending, remittance dependency, lack of industrialization, and import reliance, do not suffice. These issues have been repeated for years, but not a single working solution has been offered. Are there no new factors to discuss, or, if your previously stated reasons are accurate, why hasn't any progress been made? 

The fundamentals of our economy overshadow your assessments and estimations. Isn't it your duty to address these problems? We demand answers. There are more questions ...

How have major corruption scandals, such as the 60 kg gold smuggling case, the Lalita Niwas land grab scam, and the fake Bhutanese refugee issue, institutionalized corruption and impacted our economy? To what extent do such incidents affect the nation's economic growth? Are such scams still occurring behind the scenes? Whether they come to light or remain concealed, how do they affect the economy when corrupt wealth significantly multiplies? Where does this black money go, and what strategy should economists employ to curb corruption?

How do we manage the increasing national administrative expenses, particularly within the federal administration, as the ‘investment return’ of administrative costs? What is the ‘investment return’ of federal administrative expenses?

How has the fluctuation in the value of the dollar affected the economy in recent years, and what actions need to be taken in such circumstances?

When analyzing ‘inward remittances’, who monitors external remittances? How has the tax structure, focusing on ‘tax above business but below brokerage,’ influenced external remittances, and how are non-resident Nepalis expanding their investments? Have they secured funding from businesses like restaurants and petrol pumps? Why do Nepali entrepreneurs primarily seek investment through foreign travel? What is the state of the funds earned from the sale of Nepal’s ancestral property abroad? How are educational loans for students studying abroad managed?

Do you truly understand taxation, or is it merely a mathematical formula for collecting government administrative expenses? Has taxation, rather than being a facilitator, acted as a deterrent for entrepreneurs looking to establish businesses in Nepal? If so, are we barking up the wrong tree? Is our economic path based on incorrect formulas, trapped within traditional perspectives, hindered by inadequate research methods, and constrained by outdated experts? Do we need to break free from our flawed assumptions and understanding? We demand answers.

Moreover, why the reluctance to promote the country’s growing exports through information technology? Why hesitate to critically analyze the actual importance and impact of our national pride programs? Why the hesitation to question the expenses of non-functional institutions and agencies?

If remittance is a key driver of Nepal’s economy, why hesitate to support foreign employment by making it more favorable, well-planned, transparent, modern, and honorable? 

While creating landless loans is nearly impossible, why restrict citizens’ access to funds for purchasing land worth about Rs 100 at a rate of nearly 30 rupees and not enact relevant legislation?

Why the skepticism about creating a conducive environment for the Nepal Stock Exchange Board to make bold decisions? Why has the burden of interest not been alleviated to facilitate access to funds and foster an environment that promotes entrepreneurship and innovation?

We insist on answers. What comes next? We don’t have all the answers, but you might. The nation has invested its hopes, aspirations, and faith in your knowledge, experience, and recognition. Failing to channel your economic expertise effectively would be a missed opportunity—embarrassing even. A knowledgeable expert can solve problems. Therefore, become empowered, self-reliant, and patriotic, transcending illusions and delusions. When does this new beginning occur, and how? We insist on answers.

This piece was inspired by a conversation with a banker