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Interview
Nepal Does Have Future For Youth : Khetan

The government recently brought another partial budget and the full budget still looks out of sight. So what are the effects of failure to bring the full budget on the economy?

The budget is very important for the country, in the sense that it brings a lot of development to the grass roots level. But if you look at it from the macro point of view, basically it is a balance sheet between the expected income and expenditure of the government. People have made a fairytale out of the budget and are expecting a lot of things from it. In fact, it is not good. Budget should be limited to income and expenditure. It is important, but rather than limiting it to what it is, the budget became social and it became a sort of fashion, became populist. So, it is basically an income and expenditure of the government and nobody should be able to stop the government from bringing the budget at any time of the year.

What are the implications of current political deadlock in the economy?

If you look at the economy, lots of things have been now decentralized. There is no direct impact of the budget to the economy. The economy has been impacted for a long time with three basic things: first, the lack of electricity, second, the trade union attitudes and, finally, the sense of insecurity. If these three things are addressed, then there is nothing much for many to do with the political deadlock. And, these three things are beyond the approach of any budget or any government. It should be more politically solved by the top brass.

The government introduced the investment year. But as we are approaching towards the end of the year, it is on the verge of failure. What should the government have done to make the investment year more successful?

Investment year can always go on. It may be not limited to one year; it can be of five years. What we do is we always introduce such plans like investment year or visit Nepal year at the end of the year. For example, if 2014 is an investment year, then we announce it at the end or middle of 2013, whereas it should have been announced two years before. And in two years, we can do our homework and make 2014 a success. However, it can be for a long period, there is nothing wrong with that.

Investment year is not a failure also, it can go on. But the big question is that are we ready for inviting investment? Are we, the local investors, ready for investment? There is no electricity, no security; there is corruption and trade union militancy. If these four things are not solved, then we local investors are not ready, then how will the foreign investors invest?

What is the state of manufacturing industry in the nation? Why are you leaving it?

I’m also leaving it and many people are leaving it. Those who are doing manufacturing are mostly based on banks. It’s not their money. It is because we don’t have competitiveness as our size of economy is very small, size of production and market is also small. India and China are manufacturing in very large scale, so they are more cost effective than us. There are lots of loopholes at the customs, which makes foreign goods even cheaper. Manufacturing is not possible in Nepal. Unfortunately, a few policy makers at the government level are also discouraging industry and supporting imports.

Service industry also has its share of problems. What should be done to make it more transparent?

Service industry is already more transparent than any other sector. But the issue is that there are no proper laws or by-laws and the regulators define them in their own ways. They try to bully the private sector as a milking cow to please their political masters, which is not fair. Everybody is suffering from it. Even they try to differentiate with what the law has prescribed. They bring by-laws which are against the law. In such cases also, the government is keeping mum and has stayed quiet. Why is this? There should be some reason and there is definitely a reason.

Service Industry has its backbone in technology. Where do you think Nepal stands when it comes to technology?

Technology in Nepal is not bad. Especially in terms of software, we don’t have our hardware and we can’t compete also. We can only contribute to using those software and computers. Building, using and servicing by technology is doing very well.

How do you see the penetration of technology in the society?

Nowadays, internet has become a household product. People are using smart phones for their needs and have laptops. It was in 1998/99, when Nepal Telecom Corporation (NTC) launched mobile, I was among the first ones to use dial up from mobile and check emails along with Anup Shamsher and Ambika Shrestha.

Today, if someone saves enough money then their first choice is buying a smart phone. Due to smartphones, my laptop usage has decreased by around 90 percent and my smart phone usage has grown by 200 percent. The only thing is that NTC’s quality is not good and Ncell is very expensive.

What sort of future do you see for the young generation that is coming up in the midst of all this political turmoil, provided they stay in the country?

It’s far away: 5 years or 10 years down the line they have future. They have to create a market for themselves. Nepal is still dynamic and uprising country. It will take some time, but they have a great future.

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