In the world today, Nepal may be a small country sandwiched between the two giant states of China and India. But this small land is endowed with a miraculous attraction. Millions of people from around the world have been coming here as pilgrims and visitors.
Nepal deserves to be proud of its wonderful natural sceneries with Sagarmatha (Mother of the Universe) widely known as Everest Peak uniquely towering above the world at the height of 8,848 meters.
Nepal is the land of the Gods and Sages; especially of Lumbini where the Prince Siddhartha Gautam Buddha was born, who gained Enlightenment, who has shown the Way to peace and happiness for hundreds of millions of people during the past 26 centuries. So many philosophies have been passing by in this world with a life span of a few hundred years or shorter, but Buddhism still remains the art of living as powerfully persuasive in today’s world as ever.
Nepal deserves to be proud of being the peaceful home for believers of various faiths with no religious war whatsoever; the home to over 70 different ethnic groups who speak different languages and have been living together in harmony for several centuries.
Nepal deserves to be proud of being one of a very few small nations in the world that have managed to retain its national independence until now. Never has a superpower, be it Asian, European or American, been able to impose its domination over this sovereign land.
Nepal and the Nepalese deserve to be proud of their traditional culture and customs that have been well preserved while similar local traditions have been adulterated or obliterated in many other countries.
But in recent years Nepal has seen dramatic changes in its peace and prosperity. When suddenly there is a general strike called by any political party, people say that there is nothing left in Nepal to develop as all politicians and bureaucrats are corrupt. But nobody gives an objective analysis based on historical and present facts.
Have we ever thought of why many small nations similar to Nepal have developed a lot with few resources? Look at Dubai, Singapore, Switzerland. They have gone beyond our imagination and there is no looking back for them.
What do we really need to do to be a developed country ? This question keeps nagging on my mind and I think many other people may feel similarly. Here are some points that come to my mind as probable solutions.
We need a very VISIONARY LEADER who has a clear vision to see Nepal as a DEVELOPED NATION. He should not only have a vision but should also make sure that the vision is fully implemented and it is regularly monitored with peace.
Restructuring Nepal Planning Commission : It should be a very strong and proactive institution that should have complete authority to plan the development activities in a way that addresses the needs of the citizens of Nepal. The planning commission should include a full-time Chairman (not the prime minister who is ex-officio chairman at present) and representatives (not ministers) from various ministries.
Set up a Quarterly Monitoring Committee : Quarterly Monitoring Committee will focus on evaluating the inflation, trends in export & import, evaluating monitory policy, etc. The focus should be on individual products as how to increase exports and decrease imports, production and consumption analysis and make our current manufacturing and service sectors effective. It will also look into the sick units and the existing running units of the government of Nepal. The committee should include a Chairman and representatives from various sectors like Nepal Rastra Bank, Finance Ministry, Chambers of Commerce, etc.
The National Statistical Department should be formed to collect data about the actual state of affairs of the country. This department should focus on actual import and export of goods and services, manufacturing, electricity production, agriculture outputs, etc., on all aspects of the nation on an individual basis and should be shared to the respective ministries and departments for effective evaluation and policy making. Though we have a Central Bureau of Statistics, it is not performing as expected.
Restructuring Policies: Policies in the field of manufacturing, education, health and related sectors need to be restructured giving more emphasis on domestic components. A contract manufacturing system should be initiated. Job creation in our country needs to be emphasised. Changing a few policies in all the sectors can give a big boost to the economy.
We need to set up an Infrastructure Development Fund in which funds will be collected offering high interest rates to the contributors who should be entitled to tax exemption of the amount that he/she provides to this fund. This fund should collect money only from people and institutions of our own country. It will be similar to a government bond or Treasury Bill but this will be tax free and offer higher interest rates for the investor.
Saving Fund for individuals : We should give special incentives to people to save. For example, individual income up to Rs 1 million per year should be made tax free. Similarly, tax exemptions should be given on money spent in health insurance, insurance of personal homes, money invested in government funds, life insurance, etc. This will help in individual savings and people will try investing in good policies of companies and the government and that, too, in Nepal itself.
Moreover, the Finance Ministry should evaluate what would happen if income tax on individuals is abolished. Most likely, tax collection from other sources will increase and that will be much more than what is collected as income tax. Service tax, entertainment tax, VAT and other taxes can be reviewed to increase tax collection.
Abolish Licensing System : Though it is said that Nepal has no licensing system, the most important areas are still subject to license. It should be completely abolished. Procedures should be made simple for doing business, investing funds or getting Foreign Direct Investment in every sector. Getting a license and renewing it every year or two is very problematic.
Budgeting the entire Nation's Requirements for Development: A Committee should first jot down the actual requirements of the nation to become fully developed. The accompanying table gives an illustration. The Budget should be spread over 10-20 years of planning with urgent development being the first priority and so on. This will average our overall requirement to 2-4 Lakh Crores (2-4 billion US$) per year.
For raising the funds required for such a plan, we need to invite the private sector as well as the international community who can support us for a long term basis and at a lower interest rate. World Bank, Asian Development Bank, India ,China, Japan and many countries can do so.
An International summit can be held for this purpose with domestic and international business leaders combined. We could emulate the Indian slogan and have our own MAKE IN NEPAL policy to attract investments.