Govt  targets doubling average income of Nepalis by 2023

Published On: May 22, 2018 06:42 AM NPT By: Rudra Pangeni  | @rudrapang

KATHMANDU, May 22: No Nepali youths will be flying abroad for employment by 2023 and the average earnings of Nepalis will have doubled by that year, according to the government’s policy and programs for  next fiscal year announced on Monday. This means the country will have to increase the number of jobs a minimum of  nine-fold from what it is today to retain the youths within the country, according to an analysis of the targets.

An average of 500,000 youths are leaving for the Middle East and Malaysia for employment every year since the last five years. Hardly 50,000 new  job seekers find employment in the country in a given year. 

These are some of the  targets set by the government elected for the next five years  for delivering progress and prosperity, and some of the targets are  described as ‘highly ambitious’. 
Gross Domestic Product will grow  nearly double digit next fiscal year (2018/19) and growth will be  double digit in FY 2022/23, the government claimed. Likewise, it claimed that earnings by the average Nepali will double  in the next five years from the current US $1,004. This target is  ambitious. Recent  trend shows that it took nine years to double the per capita income.  

The other target in the next five years is stopping the outflow of youths as migrant works. 
Unveiling the policy and programs for  next fiscal year, President Bidya Devi Bhandari also announced a new program, the Prime Minister’s Employment Program, for achieving the employment target. 

Agricultural output, which is about a third of the country’s GDP, is targeted to double in five years. This is another ambitious target as growth has slowed miserably in  recent years. Farm output  has doubled only over the period of a decade in the recent past.  

Total agricultural output in 2008/09 was Rs 414 billion and is expected to reach close to Rs 1,000 in the current fiscal year. However, the target if achieved can have a significant impact on the soaring import of agricultural products, which was above Rs 100 billion  last fiscal year. 

Likewise, the government has announced it is to fix the minimum support price of major crops—paddy, wheat and sugarcane—when farmers begin the planting. It also has repeated the past declaration on  storage facilities.     

The government, which was elected  last year for the next five years, has targeted an over 13 times increment in per capita electricity consumption. The consumption will grow to 1,500 units (kwh) from 110 units . Electricity per capita consumption saw a marginal growth  over the last decade. The government has repeated  similar commitments as past governments, including producing 5,000 MW in the next five years and 15,000 MW in 10 years. 

Former finance minister Ram Sharan Mahat, who is also a senior leader of the opposition  Nepali Congress, said  budgets have several wish lists while setting targets in figures. “But there are hardly any new programs and projects to translate those targeted figures into reality and the repetition of past programs and projects continues,” he said, adding that doubling agriculture output is nowhere near possible. Mahat suggested the government should rather have set growth targets in industrial production.  

Commenting on the policy and programs, former finance secretary and economist Rameshore Khanal hinted that it seems the budget will be rather different from past budgets. 
“But I found a kind of confusion in implementing federalism as programs and projects of small scale are included in the federal government’s programs instead of leaving them to the local levels and provinces,” he added.    

The government has set deadlines for completing several development projects, mostly in infrastructure. The Fast Track Highway, Mid-Hill Highway and Postal Highway will be completed within five years while Gautam Buddha International Airport, which was a sick project until recently, will be completed within a year, the government has announced. Pokhara Regional International Airport, construction on which started  last year, is to be completed in the next three years. 

Likewise, the government has announced it is to build a new international sports stadium within three years. Connecting each local level unit with blacktopped roads within the five years is another ambitious program  announced.

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