KATHMANDU, March 31: Minister for Finance Yuba Raj Khatiwada has said that increasing import of edible products that could have been produced in Nepal has been a matter of concern for the country.
Presenting the white paper at parliament on Friday, Khatiwada said foreign dependence has increased even on basic things that could be produced inside the country. In the first seven months of the current Fiscal Year 2017/18, Nepal has imported goods worth of Rs 661 billion.
Around Rs 40 billion has been spent to import edible products only. Till the first seven months of the current fiscal year, rice has been imported worth Rs 17 billion, while vegetables worth Rs 7 billion have been imported.
Similarly, fruits worth Rs 3 billion and vegetable oil worth Rs 13 billion has been imported, minister Khatiwada said.
“Strategy for replacing import of basic need goods has been always ignored,” Khatiwada said. “And it has increased the import of edible products and other industrial materials to an unpleasant extent.”
He further said: “Country’s overall economy is dependent on import and for the last five years, 15 percent of the imports have been that of petroleum products, while import of agricultural produces stand at 14 percent in average. Similarly, the imports of vehicles and spare parts stand at 12 percent, while electricity covers one percent of overall imports.”
According to Khatiwada, negative impact of migrant youth workers on domestic production and productivity, increasing dependence on remittance, and import-oriented economy were not good for the country. “From our basic needs to luxurious wants, from foods to medicine, from cloths to petroleum products, we are dependent on imports,” he further added.
He said: “Our exports are very limited as we have lagged behind in promoting our products in the international market.”
Looking at the data of the last 24 years, trade deficit has increased 42 times -- from Rs 22 billion in FY1992/93 to Rs 917 billion in FY2016/17. “The increasing trade deficit has reached to Rs 614 billion in the first seven months of the current fiscal year,” the minister added.
“Almost 65 percent of country’s foreign trade is dependent on India. This constitutes 66 percent of our total trade deficit,” the minister said while presenting the white paper.