Economic and Social survey of Asia and the Pacific 2016: Policy implications for Nepal
SAWTEE and United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) organized a round table discussion on the annual flagship publication of the UNESCAP ‘Economic and Social Survey of Asia and The Pacific 2016’. The publication focuses on nurturing productivity for inclusive growth and sustainable development.
Dr. Sudip Ranjan Basu, Economic Affairs Officer, UNESCAP highlighted the fact that there has been slow down of productivity gains in recent years; and amid the weakening of decent employment, reduction of poverty and inequality have emerged as key challenges in the Asian economies. He added that productivity and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are closely interlinked and we need growth with increase in productivity to achieve the targets set by the SDGs. He also stressed on the need for regional cooperation and integration to foster economic development.
Speaking at the programme, Mr. Deependra Bahadur Kshetry, Former Vice Chairman at the National Planning Commission, Nepal and Former Governor, Nepal Rastra Bank, said that poverty alleviation is the primary objective of the upcoming SDGs. However, he stressed that our policymakers should be mindful of the fact that in this era of globalization economic outcomes of our economic partners are more likely to have cascading effects on Nepal’s own economy. He also said that the at present Nepalese economy is reliant on import based consumerism fuelled by remittances which is happening at the cost of the productive labour forces.
Similarly, Dr Shankar P. Sharma, Former Vice Chairman at the National Planning Commission, Nepal said that lack of technical skills in the labour force and absence of integration with regional and global value chains have negatively affected the country’s labour productivity and job market. Therefore, we need to have a positive transformational growth focusing on high employment and high productivity sectors.
Mr Shekhar Golchha, Vice President, Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce (FNCCI) highlighted the problems faced by the private sector in the country. He said that the two important sectors for the Nepalese economy i.e. the agriculture sector and the industrial sector have not been able to attain any growth or create employment opportunities in recent years because of poor policies, unsupportive laws and poor infrastructure which has adversely affected the competitiveness of these sectors in the global economy.
The Chief Guest of the programme, Dr. Yuba Raj Khatiwada, Vice Chairman of National Planning Commission said that we need to be clear on how to raise productivity of our labour force. For this he said that we need to take forward efficiency and inclusion in an optimum manner, striking a balance between labour productivity and wages. He further added that adequate market instruments should be in place to make Nepal’s growth more inclusive.
Chairman of SAWTEE as well as the chair of the programme, Dr. Posh Raj Pandey, suggested that it is difficult for a small economy like Nepal to be economically independent. In that case, Nepal should aim to create predictable dependency so we can focus in increasing productivity and efficiency to achieve a sustained economic growth. He also highlighted that Nepal can benefit from the growth in the region and further suggested that focusing on proper implementation of existing regional trade agreements in South Asia, such as the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) and SAARC Agreement on Trade in Services (SATIS) should be a priority.
About 30 participants from the government, academia, think-tanks, private sector, etc. participated in the round table.
Dr. Sudip Ranjan Basu