economic agendas in the election manifesto

Unfeasible and ambitious promises to woo voters

November 5, 2017 02:30 AM Rudra Pangeni


KATHMANDU, Nov 5: Political parties have again tried to woo voters with unfeasible and ambitious promises in their election manifestos, particularly on the economic issues. 
The manifestos unveiled by two major parties -- Nepali Congress and the left alliance -- have separately announced their time-bound targets on different indicators such as per capita income, hydropower generation, economic growth, and agricultural self-reliance. 

Both parties compete with one another on making promises as if to outpace the other on each of the indicators. However, both parties lack clear strategies and programs for achieving the target, say, economists. 

The election manifesto of the left alliance (UML and Maoist Unity-Centre) has made promise of increasing per capita income by more than six times to Rs 500,000 within ten years. Each Nepali earns about Rs 80,000 per annum now. Nepali Congress has targeted to increase the per capita income to Rs 150,000 in five years. 

Such growth in the per capita income demands a minimum annual increment of 20 percent from the current rate of less than 10 percent, according to economists. 
“Achieving target of more than six-fold growth in per capita income in ten years is something that we, as economists, find hard to ascertain,” said economist Keshav Acharya. 

Acharya also said that the target of Nepali Congress was also hard to achieve, although we find positive examples from South East Asian countries such as Laos and Cambodia.  “But most of the programs and targets are without any strategy or program. They seem to be mere ambitions,” added Acharya. 

An economist who is close to Nepali Congress said that the country needed to achieve 15 percent rate of economic growth per annum for increasing per capita income to Rs 500,000 while the country's average growth rate hovered below 5 percent in the last decade. The country has never achieved 8 percent growth since 1990s. 

“The world history shows that China has doubled per capita income in seven years which is the record high. But our parties' manifestos aim to increase per capita income by six times within a decade in dollar terms. This is completely baseless,” said Posh Raj Pandey, another economist. 

Nepali Congress has announced generating 300,000 to 500,000 jobs each year while doubling the country's economy to Rs 5,000 billion in five years. The country's current GDP stands at about Rs 2,500 billion. 

Pandey said he has not found any factor that could drive job creation in such a scale. “Jobs should also be a quality job which provides basic needs and fundamental living standard,” explained Pandey.  

The dream targets of the left alliance include generating 20,000 MW electricity in ten years from the current installed capacity of less than 900 MW, and also bringing in 5 million tourists annually as well as ending massive import of agro products which are over a hundred billion rupees annually. 
Acharya pointed out both job creation of 300,000 and bringing in 5 million tourists in ten years are not achievable. “Though the economic growth figures were of 7.5 percent last fiscal year, this was a jobless growth and expecting such level of job creation in the current scenario maybe only daydreaming,” said Acharya, adding that the production sector needs a sea change for this. 

"Tourism sector requires a huge investment than we have imagined and therefore increasing the number of foreign tourists by more than five folds in ten years is something more than achievable," added Acharya. 

Acharya said that the economic target indicators are not imaginable given the current bureaucracy and also the political commitments towards achieving those targets.

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