KATHMANDU, April 6: Minister for Finance Yuba Raj Khatiwada has said that the white paper, which he recently issued, was aimed at diagnosing the economic woes that the country was facing.
Speaking at a meeting with the executive committee of Society of Economic Journalists-Nepal (SEJON) at the finance ministry on Thursday, Khatiwada said that the white paper was issued to provide the 'real picture' of the country's economic situation.
The statement comes in the wake of criticisms from the opposition party leaders and some economists that the finance minister just 'cherry-picked' economic data to show only the bleak picture of the country while ignoring the positive macroeconomic fundamentals of the country.
“It did not mean that there is nothing good. Through the white paper, we have highlighted issues where we were lagging and where we have weaknesses and vowed to make those our agenda for improvement,” said Khatiwada. He also drew analogy of the white paper with the prescription that a doctor writes for patients. “When we visit a doctor, he writes only those complications in the prescription that we have, not about which organs are fit and fine,” he added.
He also clarified that he did not mean to say that all economic fundamentals of the country have crumbled. “Whatever positive things have happened are in the archive. The government will accord priority for improvement of issues where we are lagging,” he said.
The finance minister also said that there will be a major departure in the working style of the government. “Building a strong economy is our topmost priority, and all our efforts will be on achieving that agenda,” he added.
Food, health service, employment and energy are the four major areas where the government wants to make the country self-reliant, according to Khatiwada. He also said that the government will give continuity to good policies and programs that the previous governments have pursued. “Those practices which are good will be given continuity while faulty policies and programs will be corrected after reviewing them,” he added.
Amid concerns about the government's intention of backtracking on privatization, Khatiwada said that those public enterprises which are not needed will be closed while those of 'strategic interests' will be given continuity or opened. “We may need to open new enterprises as we have to deliver services to people to make sure that the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution are met, while we have to shut down those which we do not need,” he said, adding: “While embracing policy of privatization, we have to make sure that the government gets appropriate benefit.”