KATHMANDU, May 28: Economic prosperity and progress were the buzzwords since the current government came into office in February last year. But the economic survey for its first year unveiled on Monday shows nothing encouraging.
As with previous governments, infrastructure building was a priority as well as boosting investment, and also the generation of 500,000 jobs to help end migration abroad in search of jobs by fiscal year 2022/23.
This government has lagged behind in the development of infrastructure and in spending money allocated under the development budget.
Driven by high agricultural output and robust growth in services and the trade sector, the economic growth is projected to attain 6.8 percent. But growth has not generated employment as expected, as manufacturing is projected to grow by only 5.78 percent compared to last fiscal year's 9.17 percent.
The survey estimates the number of jobs generated this fiscal year at 500,000, which is hard to believe. Growth in agricultural, the other real sector of the economy, is to be nearly doubled to 5.02 percent.
No major investment announcements in the manufacturing sector have come during this period, except for the recent opening of one manufacturing plant int the Special Economic Zone in Bhairahawa. Four others are in the pipeline.
Overall, most of the economic indicators have deteriorated in the first eight months of fiscal year 2018/19. The country's foreign income has been dwindling. Foreign direct investment (FDI) has nearly halved to Rs 7.1 billion in the nine month period from Rs 14.41 billion in the corresponding period last year.
395 KILOMETERS OF ROAD BLACKTOPPED
The total length of roads blacktopped in the first eight months of the current fiscal year is only 395 kilometers compared to 904 kilometers last fiscal year, according to the economic survey.
Similarly, only 87 motorable bridges have been constructed in the current fiscal year while a total of 82 bridges were built during last fiscal year.
TWO HOSPITALS ADDED BUT NO NEW DOCTORS
Similarly, only two hospitals have been constructed in the current fiscal year but no new primary health centers have come into operation . Only two health posts started their services. Not a single hospital bed has been added in the current fiscal year.
No new doctors joined the public hospitals and health institutions, and their number remains unchanged. There were only 2,640 doctors, indicating that services at public hospitals has not improved at all although the number of medical colleges and medical graduates are increasing.
The percentage of the population having basic drinking water increased by only 0.1 percent to 88 percent from 87.9 percent.
But there has been great progress in reducing the gap between electricity demand and supply and in import stabilisation.
The electricity demand and supply gap has shrunk to about 20 MW from 485 MW last fiscal year. This achievement has been possible through massive control of leakage, demand side management as well as effective overall management.
According to the survey, electricity import, which was increasing by leaps and bounds in recent years, now stands at 1,834 MW, which is equal to the total annual import last fiscal year. On the other hand, the import of petroleum products has kept on increasing. It increased by 33 percent to Rs 154 billion in the first nine months of the fiscal year.
The country has generated additional electricity of only 38 MW in the eight months, and recently an additional 30 MW (from the first unit of Upper Trishuli 3A) was generated.
The government had announced it was starting electricity generation of 456 MW from Upper Tamakoshi in the current fiscal year, but the deadline was extended again by another year.
PROGRESS IN RECONSTRUCTION
Altogether 44 percent of the total 818,851 people eligible for receiving housing grants have rebuilt their houses in the first eight months of the fiscal year, compared to only 13 percent of grant recipients completing their houses in the same period last year.
-Gross Domestic Product growth rate to be 6.8 percent, up from last year's 6.3 percent
-Per capita income to reach US$ 1,047
-No new doctors in public hospitals as doctor numbers remain the same at 2,640
-44 percent quake victims have rebuilt their houses, up from only 13 percent during this period last year.
-68 MW electricity connected to national grid including 30 MW from Upper Trishuli 3A, and installed capacity reached 1,104 MW
An additional 395 km road has been blacktopped and construction of 87 motorable bridges completed