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Soaring remittances, tourism income boost external sector

Soaring remittances, tourism income boost external sector

The continuous improvement in the remittance inflow, tourism earnings, and forex reserves has put the country’s external sector in a comfortable position. The latest macroeconomic report released by the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) shows Nepal has received remittances above Rs 100bn for seven straight months.

The comfortable position of the external sector has given space for the central bank to bring a moderate monetary policy for FY 2023/24. While the central bank’s top officials have not spoken about the direction of the new monetary policy, the latest data, according to the private sector, allows the NRB to be more flexible. The central bank in the current fiscal year adopted a tighter monetary policy amid declining forex reserves and a deteriorating external sector.

NRB officials say that the policy efforts of the government and the central bank implemented a year ago, aimed at controlling imports and credit expansion, have worked as expected. According to them, the challenge now is to maintain the pace of improvement.

The NRB Executive Director Prakash Kumar Shrestha also said that the latest macroeconomic report has indicated that a flexible monetary policy could be introduced. “However, which direction the new monetary policy will take will be determined by the market and statistics,” he said. “It is not just the external sector that has become improved. Liquidity has increased while interest rates are decreasing. But we should also pay attention to how the money will be used. While the indicators are positive currently, we need to tread with caution.”

Nepal has received remittances worth Rs 107.3bn in Jestha (mid-May to mid-June). The country has been receiving monthly remittances above Rs 100bn since Mangshir (mid-November to mid-December).

With the surge in remittance inflow, the country’s forex reserves, and balance of payment both have improved, said NRB. According to the NRB report, Nepal’s balance of payment (BOP) is at a surplus of Rs 228.98bn in the first 11  months of FY 2022/23 compared to a deficit of Rs 269.81bn in the same period of FY 2021/22. In US Dollar terms, BOP remained at a surplus of 1.74bn in the review period compared to a deficit of 2.26bn in the same period of the last fiscal year.

The country’s forex reserves increased by 21.8 percent in the first 11 months of the current fiscal year. The report said Nepal’s forex reserves stood at Rs 1480.87bn in mid-June, 2023 from Rs 1215.80bn in mid-July 2022. In US dollar terms, the gross foreign exchange reserves increased by 18.5 percent to Rs 11.3bn in mid-June 2023 from Rs 9.54bn in mid-July 2022.

In the report, NRB has stated that the current level of foreign exchange reserves is sufficient to cover merchandise imports for 11.2 months, and merchandise and services imports for 9.6 months.

Meanwhile, continuously growing tourist arrivals helped the growth of the country’s tourism income by 94.3 percent. Nepal has earned Rs 58.60bn as tourism income in this fiscal year compared to Rs 29.87bn in the last fiscal year. The country’s tourism earnings nosedived in FY 2019/20, and FY 2020/21 due to restrictions on international travel as countries imposed various lockdowns to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.