Govt set to release White Paper ‘shortly’The government is preparing to issue a White Paper on the state of economy amid the ongoing Tarai banda and unofficial trade embargo imposed by India.
The government is preparing to issue a White Paper on the state of economy amid the ongoing Tarai banda and unofficial trade embargo imposed by India.
“Preparations are on to make public the document on the state of economy in a day or two,” said Finance Secretary Suman Sharma. “It will focus mainly on the scale and impact of the banda and blockade.”
It will be the fifth time that the government would be issuing the white paper after Jana Andolan II in 2006. In Nepal, White Papers are generally brought up after major political changes and they have been brought up three times over the last 20 years.
The first White Paper was presented after a political change in 1990 by the then Finance Minister Devendra Raj Pandey.
In 2006, Ram Saran Mahat brought up the second document in 2006 in the wake of Jana Aandolan II, Baburam Bhattarai then presented the third in 2008 after the formation of the Maoist-led government and in 2011, Bharat Mohan Adhikari presented the fourth after failing to present a supplementary budget.
Although the government has not said specifically about the losses caused by the banda and embargo, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa said at the meeting of UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last week that Nepal has incurred more than $5 billion in losses due to the blockade. Various ministries are calculating the losses in the specific areas.
According to Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), the embargo has severely affected industries, tourism and development of major infrastructure projects. Nara Bahadur Thapa, chief of Research Department at the NRB, said that most of the industries in the Tarai have remained closed for the past three months, leaving many workers umemployed.
According to the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, over 90 percent of the industries in the main industrial belt have been closed.
“Hotels and restaurants remain closed due to fuel shortage,” said Thapa, adding that cancellations of demands for food items from the hospitality sector have affected the income of farmers and other people involved in the supply chain.
According to Thapa, constructuion works at major infrastructure projects, which had already been stalled by the April 25 earthquake, have not come into operation yet.
“Even the projects unaffected by the quake are suffering from the fuel shortage due to embargo,” he added.
While the non-agriculture sector had been hit hard by the quake, the agriculture sector also suffered due to non-availability of the fertilizers and weak monsoon this year, according to the NRB. “All of these factors suggest a negative or meagre economic growth,” said Thapa.