Critics term white paper damp squib


Nov 25, 2015-

The government on Tuesday issued white paper on current status of economy and immediate priorities, focusing on fuel supply, energy security, food security and ways to ease businesses and reconstruction but stopped short of coming up with specific programmes when it comes to addressing fuel supply woes and energy security. 

The white paper presented by Finance Minister Bishnu Poudel is also silent on the proposed commercial import of petroleum products from China. 

On food security, the white paper says the government will fix ‘certain price’ for paddy and make arrangements for purchasing food items through Nepal Food Corporation. But it is silent on amount of food items the government plans to purchase. 

The white paper says that country’s food security has been threatened as ‘the stock has come down to 155,000 tonnes against the need of 5.34 million tones’. 

Critics say the lack of specific programmes suggests the government will find it hard to implement the programme. 

Former finance secretary Rameshore Khanal said that the white paper should have mentioned that the government would maintain stock of certain quantity of food. 

On reconstruction, the government plans to issue the first instalment of proposed assistance of Rs 200,000 to earthquake victims immediately. Those whose houses need to be dismantled will get up to Rs 300,000 loan without collateral. The government will provide Rs 10,000 each to families of quake victims in view of the approaching winter, Poudel said. 

On current economic situation, Poudel said that the economy could grow by just 2 percent, against the target of six percent, in the current fiscal year due to disturbances in supply system as a result of the Indian embargo and Tarai unrest. Last week, Nepal Rastra Bank projected that the economy could contract by one percent. 

Former finance secretary Khanal dismissed the government’s new projection as ‘fake.’ “The growth can recover if economic activities stop for a few days, but it cannot recover if economic activities come to a halt for one whole season,” said Khanal. The white paper says the current crisis could push a large number of people below the poverty line. 

Published: 25-11-2015 09:04

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