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भारतीय बजेटको तरंग

डा. हेमन्त दवाडी

भारतका वित्तमन्त्री अरुण जेट्लीले आर्थिक वर्ष २०१७/१८ को वार्षिक बजेट भारतीय संसद्मा प्रस्तुत गरेका छन्। सवा सय करोड जनसंख्या भएको र विश्वअर्थतन्त्रमा ‘ब्राइट स्पट’का रूपमा चित्रण गरिने मुलुकको बजेटप्रति अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय चासो हुनु स्वाभाविक हो। अझ नेपालजस्तो भारतसँग खुला सिमाना रहेको र आफ्नो दुईतिहाइ अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय व्यापारसमेत उसैसँग हुने मुलुकका लागि त त्यहाँको बजेट महत्वको विषय हुने नै भयो।

भारतीय बजेटले भारतमा आयात हुने वस्तुमा लाग्ने महसुल र भारतमा उत्पादन हुने वस्तु र सेवामा लाग्ने शुल्कमा खासै परिवर्तन नगरेबाट नेपालमा ती वस्तुको मूल्यमा तत्काल असर नपर्ने देखिन्छ। अप्रत्यक्ष करमा भएका सबै परिवर्तन अझै पनि उपलब्ध भइनसकेकाले तिनको विस्तृत लेखाजोखा हुन केही समय लाग्नेछ।

भारतका वित्तमन्त्रीले त्यहाँको सरकारको बजेट एजेन्डालाई रूपान्तरण, सशक्तिकरण र निर्मलीकरणका रूपमा चित्रण गरेका छन्। यसले नेपाललाई पनि आफ्नो अर्थतन्त्रलाई पारदर्शी एवं उद्यमशीलतामुखी बनाउन अभिप्रेरित गर्ने सम्भावना छ।

पाँच सय र हजार रुपैयाँका पुराना भारतीय नोटको ‘नोटबन्दी’पछि आमभारतीयले भोग्नुपरेको कष्टलाई दृष्टिगत गरेर तिनलाई खुसी पार्नेखालको ‘पपुलिस्ट’ बजेट आउने अपेक्षा धेरै भारतीय विश्लेषकको थियो। तर, अपेक्षाविपरीत पुँजीगत खर्चमा बढोत्तरी गरी सरकारले दिने अनुदानमा खासै परिवर्तन नहुनुले भारतीय बजेटलाई ‘पपुलिस्ट’ मान्न मिल्दैन। बजेट वक्तव्यपश्चात् भारतीय पुँजीबजारको मापक मानिने बम्बे स्टक एक्सचेन्जको सेन्सिटिभ इन्डेक्समा झण्डै ५०० अंकको (करिब १.५ प्रतिशत) वृद्धि हुनुले उद्योग व्यापार क्षेत्रले भारत सरकारको बजेटलाई सकारात्मक रूपमा लिएको पुष्टि गर्छ। भारतका कतिपय स्वतन्त्र अर्थशास्त्रीले बजेटको स्वागत गरेका छन्। भलै चरम राजनीतिक विभाजन भएको अवस्थामा केही प्रमुख राज्यको आमनिर्वाचनको पूर्वसन्ध्यामा ल्याइएको बजेटलाई विरोधी दलहरूले नकारात्मक चित्रण गरेका छन्।

यस  बजेटको प्रमुख विशेषता पुँजीगत क्षेत्रमा बढेका विनियोजन नै हुन्। ग्रामीण क्षेत्रमा गरिने पुँजीगत लगानीमा २४ प्रतिशतको वृद्धि गरिएको छ। यसले ग्रामीण भारतको पूर्वाधारमा ठूलो परिवर्तन ल्याउने र भारतीय कृषि अर्थतन्त्रमा सकारात्मक असर पर्ने अपेक्षा गर्न सकिन्छ।

भारतीय बजेटले त्यहाँका साना व्यक्तिगत आयकरदाता र सानो कारोबार गर्ने कम्पनीको आयकरमा कमी गरेको छ। अब भारु २.५ लाखदेखि ५ लाखसम्म आय रहेका व्यक्तिले १० प्रतिशतको सट्टा ५ प्रतिशतमात्र कर तिर्नुपर्ने भएको छ। त्यस्तै, भारु ५० करोडसम्मको कारोबार गर्ने कम्पनीले ३० प्रतिशतको सट्टा २५ प्रतिशतका दरले मात्र संस्थागत आयकर तिर्नुपर्नेछ। साथै, कर तिर्ने सबै व्यक्तिको कर दायित्वमा १२,५०० ले कमी आउने भएको छ। भारतले लिएको यस कदमबाट नेपालमा पनि साना करदातालाई लाग्ने करको भार कम गर्न दबाब बढ्ने निश्चित छ।

भारतीय बजेटमा भुक्तानीको विद्युतीय माध्यमको प्रयोग बढाउन र मुलुकको अर्थतन्त्रलाई पारदर्शी बनाउन धेरै पहल घोषणा भएका छन्। भारतीय अर्थतन्त्र ‘क्यासलेस’ हुँदै जाँदा उद्योग एवं उत्पादनहरू थप प्रतिस्पर्धी बन्ने निश्चित छ। यसले भारततर्फ हुने नेपाली निर्यातमा थप दबाब पर्नेछ र नेपालमा भारतबाट हुने आयात बढ्नेछ। साथै, अर्थतन्त्रमा नगदको प्रयोग घटेमा कर छल्ने प्रवृत्तिमा कमी आउने र अनौपचारिकको सट्टा औपचारिक अर्थतन्त्रले टेवा पाउने देखिन्छ। बजेट वक्तव्यमा भारतीय वित्तमन्त्रीले राजनीतिक दलहरूलाई दिइने चन्दा सम्बन्धी नियममा व्यापक परिवर्तनको प्रस्ताव गरेका छन्। अहिलेसम्म २०,००० सम्मको चन्दा नगदमा स्रोत नखुलाइ लिन पाइने अवस्था रहेकोमा अबउप्रान्त २,००० सम्ममात्र स्रोत नखुलेको चन्दा लिन पाइने भएको छ। साथै, राजनीतिक दलले मात्र भुक्तानी लिन मिल्ने चुनावी ऋणपत्र(इलेक्टोरल बन्ड) को प्रस्ताव बजेटमा छ।

अपारदर्शी अर्थतन्त्र(ब्ल्याक इकोनोमी) बढ्नुमा राजनीतिक दलको अपारदर्शी वित्तव्यवस्थालाई नै प्रमुख कारकको रूपमा लिने गरिन्छ। राजनीतिक दललाई दिइने अपारदर्शी चन्दाले भ्रष्टाचार एवं आर्थिक विकृतिलाई टेवा दिने गर्छ। नेपालमा पनि राजनीतिक दलहरूको आय–व्ययमा ठूलो अपारदर्शिता रहँदै आएको छ। के हाम्रा राजनीतिक दलले अबउप्रान्त सबै चन्दा पारदर्शी रूपमा चेकमार्फत् लिन पहल गर्लान्? र, हाम्रा अर्थमन्त्रीले बैंकमार्फत् मात्र दलहरूलाई चन्दा दिन पाइने र राजनीतिक दलले आफ्नो आयको विवरण आयकर प्रशासनलाई दिनुपर्ने बाध्यकारी व्यवस्था लागु गर्ने साहस गर्लान्? यो हामी सबैका लागि चासो र चाखको विषय हो।

भारतीय बजेटमा वैदेशिक लगानीको क्षेत्रमा ठूलो प्रक्रियागत परिवर्तनको घोषणा भएको छ। हालसम्म भारतमा कतिपय क्षेत्रमा स्वचालित माध्यम(अटोमेटिक रुट) बाट र अन्य क्षेत्रमा सरकारको वैदेशिक लगानी प्रवर्द्धन बोर्डको पूर्वअनुमति लिएपछि मात्र वैदेशिक लगानी गर्न पाइने व्यवस्था थियो। वित्तमन्त्रीले वैदेशिक लगानी प्रवर्द्धन बोर्डको अन्त्य गरी सबै वैदेशिक लगानी स्वचालित माध्यमबाट परिचालन गर्ने प्रस्ताव गरेका छन्। नेपालमा पनि कतिपय वैदेशिक लगानीका निम्ति उद्योग तथा लगानी प्रवर्द्धन बोर्डको पूर्वअनुमति लिनुपर्ने व्यवस्था छ। पूर्वअनुमतिका लागि बोर्डमा प्रस्ताव लगिरहनु नपर्ने व्यवस्था गरिएमा वैदेशिक लगानीको वातावरणमा केही सुधार हुन सक्ने थियो।

भारतका वित्तमन्त्रीले त्यहाँको सरकारको बजेट एजेन्डालाई रूपान्तरण, सशक्तिकरण र निर्मलीकरणका रूपमा चित्रण गरेका छन्। यसले नेपाललाई पनि आफ्नो अर्थतन्त्रलाई पारदर्शी एवं उद्यमशीलतामुखी बनाउन अभिप्रेरित गर्ने सम्भावना छ। नेपालमा नियन्त्रणमुखी विचारधाराको बाहुल्य रहेको परिप्रेक्ष्यमा बजेटमार्फत् भारतीय अर्थतन्त्रमा आउने आर्थिक परिवर्तनबाट नेपाली अर्थतन्त्र अझै पछि पर्ने सम्भावना बढेको छ। व्यक्तिव्यक्तिमा रहेको उद्यमशीलताको उपयोग गर्दै प्रतिस्पर्धी अर्थतन्त्रको निर्माणको विकल्प नरहेको सन्देश भारतीय बजेटले दिएको छ।

Hemant Dabadi

About Hemant Dabadi

Dr. Dabadi is a Senior Fellow at Samriddhi Foundation.

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Economic prosperity through free market

This article was originally published by Prience Shrestha on The Himalayan Times in December 11, 2016.

Price system in a free market enables producers to gauge supply and demands of specific products or services in the market and consequently produce those demanded items. In the process, the price system helps the market guarantee an optimal utilization of resources. Following this notion, the idea of encouraging free market while limiting the role of the government in commerce and infrastructural services has remained valid, and has also delivered prosperity in different societies.

The drive towards liberalizing the economy in the 1990s where the private sector took charge of the economy while the government played the role of a facilitator and a monitor sparked impressive economic growth in Nepal in its consecutive years.

However, it should not be taken to mean that Government is a hindrance to prosperity, and therefore deserves to be completely extricated. Instead, Government has a strategic role of framing and enforcing laws and regulations that allow effective functioning of the market in the society. After all, free market relies on rules of just conduct that assures security of certain rights (private property, engaging in free enterprises) and enforcement of contracts for it to prevail and yield prosperity.

‘Strong and limited’ versus ‘weak and unlimited’

Economic prosperity through free market occurs in presence of a strong government that keeps itself to playing the role of a facilitator and only administers justice and provides protection to people lives and properties while allowing the private sector to thrive. On the contrary, unlimited government that participates in all such activities that the private sector could do more efficiently, but is weak in performing its role of enforcing foundational rules of the market is disastrous to economic prosperity.

Renowned economist Tom G. Palmer makes similar assertion as he attempts to range government effectiveness from the lowest scale of “weak and unlimited” to the highest scale of “strong and limited” in his essay called ‘20 Myths of Market’. Interestingly, this continuum offers an opportunity to scale the effectiveness of our own Nepal Government on the very measure of “strength” in enforcing market propelling rules and “limitedness” in keeping itself away from practicing commerce and providing public services and infrastructures – things that can be better taken care of through private sector under clearly laid down regulatory framework.

Weak government

In judging the strength of our Nepal government on this regard, its success in being able to enforce the legislated rules and regulation impartially among all participants of the market is definitely one of the important deciding variables. Given how it has remained exclusively lenient in imposing commercial regulations among large business houses, it only reckons double-standard and weakness from the side of the government in effectively enforcing rules and regulations. The latest running probe against Patanjali Ayurved Group of India regarding its unauthorized investment of more than NRs 150 crore in Nepal without retrieving permission as per our Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Act (FITTA) is definitely a relevant illustration for it. Though this case scenario has especially charged the Indian Herbal FMCG company as guilty for skipping Foreign Investment regulations, the influence of the company and its founders’ strong stature on our government’s enforceability cannot be undermined either.

Besides, similar concern of lack of government enforceability has also been observed in regards to outbound foreign Investment from Nepal. Speaking of it, people that can exercise influence on the government havemanaged to make foreign investment outside of Nepal despite such practice being barred by the law. In no way could a layman have succeeded in practicing Foreign Investment as such.

The idea here is not to favour the capital control intention of our Investment regulation. It is in fact to highlight the partiality in enforcing the laws and regulation on different individuals and institutions based on stature and political connections. Ultimately, this lack of objectivity only pictures the inability of our government to enforce the legislated regulation.

Except for the inability of the government to enforce laws and regulation objectively, dearth in institutional capacity of the government is also known to have hindered strong enforcement of law and justice. While this issue has infected all areas beyond commercial affairs, unfocused diversion of limited institutional capacity of the Government can be mostly found culprit for it.

The unlimited government

In turning towards evaluating the limitedness of our Nepal government, the boundless extension of ever-ballooning budget of the Nepal government is self-explanatory. After all, it is quite clear that the Government has chosen to remain limitless regarding its scope of influence in the economy. Economic Survey Report FY2015/16 published by the Ministry of Finance (MoF), shows clearly that the growth rate of fiscal budget, and the ratio of Government Budget to National GDP are observing rise in approximate average of 19.77% and 28.26% respectively; in other words, Government of Nepal has adopted the principle of unlimited government in terms of its role in the economy.

If we now revisit the aforementioned scales in terms of measuring the government effectiveness, Government of Nepal unfortunately appears to lie close to the ‘weak and unlimited’ category (as against the more favoured ‘strong and limited’). Therefore, it is advisable for the Nepal government to gradually strengthen its role in areas of law enforcement and justice by curtailing its presence in commercial activities. Gradual divestment of State-owned enterprises mostly involved in commerce is one of the many widely favoured measures prescribed on this regard.Such measure allows the Government to concentrate its unnecessarily dispersed institutional resources in fundamental areas (i.e., administration of justice, contract enforcement, protection of lives and properties, and market monitoring) that support Free market and liberalization.

Prience Shrestha

About Prience Shrestha

Prience works in the research department at Samriddhi Foundation. And, he attempts to specialize in the field of Development Economics

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आर्थिक संकट : उदारवादको उपज होइन

-डा. भोलानाथ चालिसेको प्रकाशित लेख।

विश्वमा, त्यसमा पनि विकसित देशहरुमा, देखा परेको आर्थिक संकट विश्वभरिका वामपन्थीहरुले अति पुँजीवादको उपज भनि विकसित देशका उदारवादीलाई र हाम्रो जस्तो गरिब मुलुकमा उदारवादलाई भन्दा पनि उदार सोचमा आधारित बहुदलवादी संसदीय राजनीतिक व्यवस्थालाई मज्जाले प्रहार गरिरहेका छन् । नेपालका प्रजातन्त्रवादीहरु जो अधिकांश समाजवादमा विश्वास गर्दछन् यस्तो प्रहारलाई प्रतिवाद गर्ने सैद्धान्तिक स्पष्टता नभएकाले के वामपन्थी राजनीति नै उपयुक्त त होइनु भन्ने सोच अँगाल्नेतर्फ धकेलिन पुगेका छन् । स्वतन्त्र बजार कसरी चल्दछ भन्ने कुराको ज्ञान भएकाहरु पश्चिमा देशमा समेत अल्पमतमा रहेका बेला हामीकहाँ समाजवादी प्रजातन्त्रवादीहरु यसरी धकेलिनुमा अनौठो मान्नु पर्दैन । डर मान्नुपर्ने कुरा त के हो भने व्यक्तिगत स्वतन्त्रता र प्रतिस्पर्धी बहुदलवादी राजनीति नै नयाँ नेपालको निर्माणमा अवरोध हुन् भनि ठान्नेहरुले यही अवसरमा अझ बढी प्रहार गर्ने हुन् कि भन्ने हो ।

पश्चिमा देशमा अहिले देखापरेको आर्थिक संकट अति पुँजीवादको उपज भन्ने कुरा नै गलत हो । गलत अवधारणामा आधार गरेर विश्लेषण गरी निकालिएका निष्कर्षहरु स्वतः गलत हुन्छन् । वामपन्थीहरु संसारभरी नै गलत धारणाका आधारमा अफवाह फैलाउन माहिर छन् । विकसित देशमा देखापरेको अहिलेको आर्थिक संकट बैंकहरुले अन्धाधुन्ध लगानी गरेर देखापरेको हो । तर उदारवादीहरु जो स्वतन्त्र बजारमा विश्वास गर्दछन् तिनले भने यो समस्या स्वतन्त्र बजारको प्रक्रिया स्वतन्त्र नछोडेर सरकारले हस्तक्षेप बढाएका कारण उत्पन्न भएको भन्दछौं । कुनै पनि देशको केन्द्रीय बैंकको स्थापना उदारवादी सोचको विपरित हो । कुनै उत्तरदायित्व नभएको, कसैप्रति जवाफदेही हुनुनपर्ने, खाली नोट छाप्न पाउने एकाधिकारवादी अधिकार प्रयोग गर्ने केन्द्रीय बैंकहरुको हस्तक्षेपले आर्थिक संकट निम्त्याउँदै आएको हो । संसारभरकै केन्द्रीय बैंकहरु सरकार (बुझ्नुहोस् राजनीतिज्ञ) प्रति मात्र बफादार हुन्छन् र सरकारले बजारमा ऋण बढाउनु पर्यो, घटाउनु पर्यो वा ब्याजदर स्वतन्त्र बजारले निर्धारण नगरी सरकारले चाहेको दरमा राख्नका लागि केन्द्रीय बैंकहरुले हस्तक्षेपकारी भूमिकाहरु बढाइनै रहेका छन् । हामीलाई सुन्दा अनौठो लाग्ला पश्चिमा देशमा पनि वाणिज्य बैंकहरु १८ औं शताब्दीको अन्त्यतिर मात्र स्थापना भएका हुन् । यिनको स्थापनापश्चात स्वतन्त्र बजारले मागअनुरुप ऋणको मात्रा र ब्याज दर निर्धारण गर्ने प्रक्रियालाई हटाउँदै आफू खुसी निर्धारण गर्न सुरु गरेका हुन् । यी वाणिज्य बैंकहरुको क्रियाकलापलाई सिण्डिकेटको रुपमा समर्थन र विकास गर्नका लागि केन्द्रीय बैंकहरुले वाणिज्य बैंकहरुलाई बेलाबेलामा विभिन्न वहानामा पुँजी उपलब्ध गराउँदै गए । केन्द्रीय बैंकहरुले नोट छाप्दा सुन या चाँदीको धरौटी राख्नुपर्ने व्यवस्था रहेसम्म यी बैंकहरुले छाप्ने नोटहरुको सीमामा कटौती त रहेको थियो तर जब पहिलो विश्व युद्ध पछाडि यस्तो व्यवस्थाको अन्त्य भएर विभिन्न समयमा विभिन्न नाममा केन्द्रीय बैंकहरुले आफू खुसी नोट छाप्न पाए । स्वतन्त्र बजारले निर्धारण गर्ने ऋणको मात्रा र ब्याजदरको निर्धारण गर्ने प्रक्रिया त कहाँ मर्यो कहाँ यी केन्द्रीय बैंकहरुको असीमित अधिकारका कारण व्यक्तिले आफैंले निर्णय गर्ने अधिकारमाथि बलात्कार मात्र भएन यिनका बिना मूल्य उत्पादन गर्ने शक्तिका कारण सरकार बलियो मात्र भएन निजी उत्प्रेरणाहरु मर्दै मात्र गएनन् समाजलाई नै सरकारले समाजिकीकरण गरेर व्यक्तिलाई व्यक्ति होइन सबै बराबर हुने जनावरको रुपमा परिणत गर्दै लगे ।

अब वामपन्थीहरुले स्वतन्त्र बजार अपनाएको भनिएको तर सरकारी हस्तक्षेप बढीरहेको अर्थतन्त्रमा कसरी उतार र मन्दी आउँछ त भन्ने प्रश्नको उत्तर खोज्नु उपयुक्त हुन्छ । बैंकहरुले केन्द्रीय बैंकको संरक्षकत्वमा आफ्नो हैसियतभन्दा बढी लगानी गर्ने मौका पाउँदछन् तब स्रोतहरु प्रतिस्पर्धी र निपूर्ण क्षेत्रभन्दा बाहिर अप्रतिस्पर्धी र अनिपूर्ण क्षेत्रमा लगानी बढ्दै जान्छ । अप्रतिस्पर्धी र अनिपूर्ण क्षेत्रको लगानीले अर्थतन्त्रलाई उँभो होइन उँधो तर्फ धकेल्दै लान्छ । अर्थतन्त्र ओरालो लाग्न थाल्यो भने सरकार संकटमा पर्ने हुनाले यसले केन्द्रीय बैंकमार्फत ब्याजदरमा कटौती गरी अझ थप ऋण लगानी गर्दै जान्छ । यस्तो अर्थतन्त्रलाई अन्य निपूर्ण अर्थतन्त्रले धक्का दिँदै जान्छ । यस्तो अवस्थाबाट उन्मुक्ति पाउन सरकारले ती वाणिज्य बैंकहरुलाई बचाउने नाममा जनताले तिरेको करबाट सोधभर्ना गरिदिन्छ । यसैलाई वामपन्थीहरु अतिपूँजीवादको उपज भन्दै स्वतन्त्र बजारलाई हान्न पुग्दछन् । यो स्वतन्त्र बजारको उपज नै होइन । सरकारहरुले अर्थतन्त्रमा बढी नगद प्रवाहको कारण मूल्य वृद्धि भयो भने करको दर बढाएर व्यक्तिलाई मारमा पार्दछन् भने मन्दीतर्फ अर्थतन्त्र जान लाग्दा सरकारले नै घाटा बजेट वा बैंकहरुको शेयर खरिद गरेर तिनलाई संरक्षण दिन्छन् । यी दुवै खाले क्रिया स्वतन्त्र बजार माथिको सरकारको नांगो हस्तक्षेप हो । उदारवादीले सरकार बलियो बनोस् भनेर कहिल्यै सोच्दैन । उदारवादीहरु स्वतन्त्र बजारमा विश्वास गर्दछन् । स्वतन्त्र बजारमा भएको कुनै पनि हस्तक्षेप वामपन्थी सोचको उपज हो । पश्चिमा देशहरुमा पनि वामपन्थीहरुको बिगबिगी चलेका कारण अहिलेको आर्थिक संकट उब्जिएको हो ।

सरकारले हस्तक्षेप गरेकै कारण यस्ता आर्थिक संकट उत्पन्न भएको हो भने किन केन्द्रीय बैंक र वाणिज्य बैंकहरु नै नभएका बेला पनि अर्थतन्त्रमा बेलाबेलामा उतार र मन्दी आए र यिनको समाधान कसले कसरी गर्नुपर्नेथियो त ? यस प्रश्नको उत्तरका लागि अर्थशास्त्रीहरुले प्रचलित भाषामा बुझ्ने गरेको ‘अष्ट्रियन स्कुल अफ इकोनोमिक्स’ को सिद्धान्त बुझ्नु सहयोगी ठहरिन्छ । यस स्कुलका २० औं शताब्दीका सिद्धान्तकार लुडभिग फण्ड मिसेस र फेड्र्कि फन हाएकका विचारहरु सबैभन्दा सामयिक छन् ।

अस्ट्रियन स्कुल अफ इकोनोमिक्सले भन्दछ, अर्थतन्त्रमा आउने उतार र मन्दी कुनै एउटा उद्यमी वा व्यवसायी (भनौ लगानीकर्ता) ले अर्थतन्त्रको भविष्य कस्तो हुन्छ भन्ने आंकलनमा भर पर्दछ । अर्थतन्त्र उतारको मोडमा जान्छ त्यसैले अहिले उपभोग गर्नुभन्दा लगानी गर्नु उपयुक्त हो भनि लगानी गरेर त्यसको प्रतिफल पाउन थालेपछि अर्थतन्त्र उतारको मोडमा जान्छ । तर यस्ता लगानीकर्ताले गरेको भविष्यवाणी गलत हुन थाल्यो भने अर्थतन्त्र मन्दीतर्फ धकेलिन्छ । यस्तो उतार र मन्दीको समस्या सरकारले हस्तक्षेप गरेर होइन स्वतन्त्र बजारले निर्धारण गर्न छोडिदियो भने अर्थतन्त्रको उतार र मन्दी आफैं हटेर जान्छ । विषयवस्तुलाई सर्वसाधारणको बोलिमा भन्दा लगानीकर्ताले अर्थतन्त्र भविष्यमा उतारमा जान्छ भनेमा लगानीको लागि पुँजीको माग बढ्छ र पुँजीको माग बढेका बखत व्यक्तिहरुले

आफ्नो सम्पत्ति अहिलेको उपभोगमा लगाउने कि भविष्यको आम्दानीका लागि बचत गर्ने निर्णय गर्दछ । लगानीकर्ताहरुले पुँजीको बढी माग भएको देखेपछि लगानीका लागि माग बढेका कारण व्यक्तिहरु अहिलेको उपभोगमा भन्दा भविष्यको आम्दानीका लागि बचत गर्न थाल्दछन् । यस्तो अवस्थामा बजारमा ब्याजको दर बढ्न थाल्छ । सबै लगानीकर्ताहरुको भविष्यवाणी सधैं सफल नहुन पनि सक्दछ । जो जो लगानीकर्ता सफल हुन्छन् तिनले आफ्नो लगानीको राम्रै प्रतिफल पाउँदछन् । जजसको भविष्यवाणी गलत हुन्छ तिनीहरु टाट पल्टिन पनि सक्दछन् । भविष्यवाणीहरु गलत भएका बखत अर्थतन्त्रमा मन्दी आउँछ, सफल भएका बखत अर्थतन्त्रमा चढाव आउँछ । असफल व्यवसायीहरु टाट पल्टिनु भनेको अर्थतन्त्रका लागि राम्रो लक्षण हो । असफल व्यवसायीको संख्या कम सफल व्यवसायीको संख्या बढ्दै जाँदा अर्थतन्त्र सधैं उँभो लाग्दछ । स्वतन्त्र बजारमा पनि उतार र मन्दी आउँछ । तर यस्तो उतार र मन्दीलाई बजारले निर्धारण गर्नेब्याजदरले छिटो र तुरुन्त सुधार्दछ । सरकारले ऋणको मात्रा र ब्याजदरहरुमा हस्तक्षेप गरिरह्यो भने खासगरी मन्दीको समस्या केही समयका लागि पछाडि सारिन्छ तर पुरै निको भने हुँदैन । यो दुखेको रोगलाई ब्रुफिन खाएर कम भएको महसुस गराउने मात्रै हो, रोगकै निधान भने होइन । अहिले संयुक्त राज्य अमेरिकी सरकारले ७ सय बिलियन डलर खर्च गरेर बैंक एवं वित्तीय संस्थाहरुलाई बचाउनु भनेको बु्रफिन दिनु सरह हो ।

दुर्भाग्य, यस्तो प्रक्रियालाई स्वतन्त्र रुपमा काम गर्न दिन छोडेर सरकारको भूमिका बढाउने हिमायती वामपन्थीहरुले अर्थतन्त्रलाई ‘Equilibrium’ मा राख्ने नाममा वा बेरोजगारी कम गर्ने नाममा अथवा देशको कुनै क्षेत्र, वर्ग वा विपन्न समूहलाई फाइदा दिने नाममा केन्द्रीय बैंकमार्फत स्वतन्त्र बजारले निर्धारण गर्ने ऋणको मात्रा र ब्याजदरलाई हस्तक्षेप गरेका कारण नै अहिलेको आर्थिक संकट देखापरेको हो ।

लेखको अन्त्यमा एउटा टिप्पणी थप गर्नु उपयुक्त होला । वामपन्थीहरु पश्चिमा देशका सरकारले र विश्व बैंक तथा अन्तर्राष्टिय मुद्रा कोषले चालेका कदमहरुलाई पूँजीवादी सोच ठान्दछन् । उनीहरुले सोचेको जस्तो पुँजीवाद भनेको उदारवाद हो भने यी सरकार र यस्ता संस्थाले गरेका निर्णयहरु कुनै पनि हालतमा उदारवादी सोच होइनन् । यी सरकार र यी संस्थाले दिएका सुझावहरु त केन्द्रीय बैंकमार्फत सरकारलाई नै बलियो बनाउने हुन् । सरकार बलियो हुनु भनेको व्यक्तिको स्वतन्त्रतामाथि अझ थप हस्तक्षेप हुनु हो । पौल क्रुगम्यानलाई यस वर्षको अर्थशास्त्रको नोबेल पुरस्कार दिनुभनेको यस्तो सरकार बलियो बनाउने र सरकारको हस्तक्षेपलाई बढाउने कार्यलाई वैधानिकता दिइएको हो । यही वैधानिकतालाई अतिपूँजीवादको संज्ञा दिँदै स्वतन्त्र बजारमा आधारित बहुदलवादी संसदीय राजनीतिक व्यवस्थालाई असफल ठहर्याउन खोजिएको कार्यलाई समर्थन गर्न व्यक्तिगत स्वतन्त्रतालाई सरकारको हातमा सुम्पिनु सरह हो ।

Deekshya Nakarmi

About Deekshya Nakarmi

Deekshya Nakarmi is Communications and Outreach Assistant at Samriddhi, The Prosperity Foundation. She is a student of Development Studies.

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Panama Papers and the offshore holdings delusion

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 22 seconds. Contains 676 words

The world is abuzz with the articles published by The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) based on one of the biggest data leaks in history. The articles dubbed as ‘Panama Papers’ are based on leaked data of the Panamanian law firm Mosack Fonseka. The internal documents of the firm were leaked by an anonymous source to the German Newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung which passed them to ICIJ. The scandalous leak contains about 11.5 million files covering 40 years of operations of offshore accounts and shell companies in tax havens like Panama, British Virgin Islands and the Seychelles. The offshore holdings have been linked with international figures including current and former presidents, prime ministers, monarchs and celebrities. Among the repercussions of this probe have been resignation of Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson to concession of UK’s Prime Minister David Cameroon that he benefited from an offshore trust fund in the Bahamas set up by his father.

The articles claim that high profile politicians and their close associates have used tax havens to hide their wealth. The other accusation that is tied with these offshore holdings is using them for tax evasion. But the fact that not all offshore holdings are linked with illegal activities evades most people. Similarly, most media have focused on the theme of ‘tax evasion’ while the revelations are mostly linked with hiding wrongdoing by corrupt officials not just tax evasion.

The New York Times reported,

“Holding money in an offshore company is generally not illegal, although such financial arrangements can be used in illegal ways — for example, to facilitate tax evasion or money laundering.”

Though the Panama Papers exposed cases where people have used offshore holdings for hiding assets and evading taxes, there is a myriad of legitimate reasons for setting up offshore accounts and shell companies. Generally, people use shell companies because of government restrictions on certain transactions and capital controls. Companies may also use offshore companies for tax efficiency through legal tax planning. Moreover, multinationals use shell companies to reap the benefits of flexible corporate regimes and investment diversification opportunities abroad. The New York Times describes some of the legitimate reasons behind shell companies in the article titled “The Panama Papers: Here’s What We Know,” as follows:

“There are many valid uses of offshore shell companies for multinational corporations, joint ventures and wealthy individuals. Many countries restrict the sale of real estate to their citizens or to companies registered there. American retirees looking to purchase homes in such countries form offshore companies that buy the properties to abide by the law.”

“Companies establishing joint ventures in countries with weak or corrupt legal systems also create offshore companies, based in a jurisdiction like the British Virgin Islands or the Cayman Islands, that own the enterprises.”

The Kathmandu Post reported that the statistics of Department of Industry (DoI) shows that 20 percent of FDI entered Nepal from tax havens till last fiscal year. The government officials suspect that FDI from tax havens may be linked with money laundering. However, the reason why FDI is entering Nepal from tax havens like the British Virgin Islands could be because of our corrupt system and capital restrictions like mentioned above.

One important aspect about ‘tax evasion’ is the case when tax rates cross the threshold that people are willing to abide by. When taxes are excessive, people naturally tend to try to find ways to evade them—whether through offshore holdings or other ways. The other aspect is whether the taxes you are paying to a government are reflected in the services it provides. People may be willing to pay even high taxes if they are satisfied with the way the government uses taxes. Else, even if taxes are low, people may want to evade them. For instance, if a government is not efficient and transparent while handling taxpayers’ funds, people will not be willing to pay taxes even when tax rates are low.

If you are interested in learning other legitimate reasons for setting up shell companies, here’ s the link to Huffington Post’s article titled “5 Legitimate Reasons to Have an Offshore Company

Dinesh Karki

About Dinesh Karki

Dinesh Karki is an independent researcher. He has Economics degree from Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China.

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The burden of reconstruction

The legislative parliament has passed the Reconstruction Authority Bill for executing the rebuilding program by disseminating the targeted $2 billion reconstruction fund plus $ 4.4 billion pledged by foreign governments and donors as grants and soft loans. The National Planning Commission (NPC) estimates the cost of reconstruction to be as high as $ 6.7 billion. The obvious question to ask now is ‘Who is going to bear all this cost?’ The obvious answer is us – the taxpayers. And if so, why is there a need for such huge government assistance in the first place? One plausible answer is that protective measures like buying insurance could have lowered the fund needed for reconstruction. However, such voluntary adoption of protective measures as buying insurance is very low in Nepal. In fact, some serious regulatory hurdles have constrained the growth of insurance industry!

Insurance penetration is very low in Nepal – a mere 1.42% of the GDP as per the Insurance Board of Nepal (IBN) data. The same for emerging markets averages 1.75% of the GDP. The compensation amount post-earthquake from insurers stands at Rs. 3.519 billion, a mere fraction of the required reconstruction costs. Apparently, there would be no need for such costly reconstruction assistance from the government had there been more structures been insured against earthquake-induced damages.

Rigid Solvency and Investment Requirements

In the name of prudential regulation for protecting consumers in case of insolvency, the IBN heavily regulates the insurance companies. There are strict solvency requirements and rigid investment requirements that limit the insurance companies from devising their own risk-management strategies.

The board has laid out solvency ratios and their consequent corrective actions. These solvency controls are uniform rule-based quantitative requirements without incorporating the risks undertaken by the insurers. It leads to a restrictive atmosphere where insurers are forced to meet inappropriate capital requirements even when the riskiness of their portfolio is low. Swiss Solvency Test (SST) in Switzerland and Solvency II Directive in the EU, for instance, align capital requirements with their specific risk profile.

The IBN has also laid out quantitative (mandatory minimum) requirements for investment in limited asset classes (for example, government securities, treasury bills, fixed or short term deposits of commercial banks, etc.) in the name of minimizing risks from uncertain losses. As per the recent IBN data, only 16.4% of the actual investments made by providers of no medical exam life insurance are under unregulated category which further proves how restrictive the requirements are. Such highly restrictive solvency and investment requirements are detrimental to the insurance industry as they stifle product development, innovation and competition.

Price-setting and Confidentiality of Premiums

The premiums charged for different categories of houses are set by the Insurance Tariff Advisory Committee (ITAC). The tariff and the premium rates are rendered confidential and are not available to consumers even when demanded. Such provision of price setting and confidentiality creates a problem of asymmetric information and further distorts the coordination of the insurance market through prices. Further, such price setting could lead to ‘cartel-type market arrangement’ imposing higher costs to insurers as well as consumers. Another problem is that they are not based on any actuarial methodologies; meaning, they are not based on specific risks of the policyholder. The basic principle of insurance dictates that equal risks must be treated equally while unequal risks must be treated differently. When unequal risks are pooled together and levied a uniform premium rate, this gives rise to the classic problem of ‘adverse selection’. In other words, such policies become more attractive to high risk consumers and unattractive to low risk consumers.

Disincentives for Purchasing Insurance: Earthquake Deductible and Low Claim Settlement

As far as the purchase-decisions are concerned, one clear disincentive for people while buying insurance is not being eligible for compensation. According to the latest IBN data, about 20% of the claims (i.e. 3499 out of 17,400 claims are ‘no claim’) related to earthquake are either ineligible or withdrawn by the homeowners. One of the reasons for the case of ‘no claim’ is because the claims are either equal or lower than the amount that insurers are allowed to deduct while settling claims. When we compare this to Japan’s case for instance, insurers are required to reimburse 100% of the insured amount. Another constraint for purchase and post-purchase decision can be attributed to the ineffective claim settlement process. The probability that an insurance claim will receive some compensation after being evaluated by a supervisor stands at just 3.28%.

The Reconstruction Bill and the Moral Hazard Problem

Even before people decide to purchase an insurance policy, they should recognize the need for it and evaluate other alternatives. When there is a strong assumption that the government will provide grants and soft-loans in case of an earthquake, there would be no financial incentive for people to purchase insurance. Inference from history suggests that post-disaster government responses play the role of the substitute to disaster preparedness. For example, loans provided during the reconstruction and rehabilitation program after the earthquake of 1988 were later converted into grants. Further, lobbying for total loan forgiveness in the past is a testimony for rent-seeking and vote-bank-securing behavior from politicians and interest groups. Though meeting immediate needs of the earthquake victims can be justified from the humanitarian aspect, outright grants and low-interest loans would only make things worse in the present and the future.

Tying It All Together

Removing these regulatory supply constraints will create room for the disaster insurance market to expand and thus cover more properties. This expansion will shift the risks of disasters like earthquakes to the homeowners themselves. The government will not have to redirect huge amounts of taxpayers’ funds to rebuilding efforts. Removing these constraints should in no way be viewed as a magic-wand; insurers will not magically cover all nooks and crannies of the country right away. Like all market processes, this will be a continuous process and will see scores of adjustments along the way. Having said that, this is in every way, a move in the right direction – letting the market thrive, giving choices to the people, and most importantly, reducing the burden to the government – the government that has not been very efficient in handling the relief and reconstruction activities to say the absolute least.

This article was originally published on Setopati on the 8th of January, 2016. The article was authored by Dinesh Karki. For the original version of the article, please click here

Dinesh Karki

About Dinesh Karki

Dinesh Karki is an independent researcher. He has Economics degree from Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China.

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Inflation stands high at 10.4 %

Several news media have recently reported on Nepal Rastra Bank‘s latest macroeconomic update warning of a stagflation. Released on 16 Dec 2015,  the report states that the four month long protest and blockade of the trade routes in the Terai-Madhesh region as the underlying factors that have resulted in soaring inflation rate, which stands highest at 10.4% in past three years.

The consumer prices have increased drastically and remains highest in Kathmandu valley at 11.8% (past four months-FY 2072/73) from 7.1% last year for the same period.

The government has already said that the economic growth would stand at 2 per cent this year due to the devastating earthquake and prolonged strikes in the southern belt. The central bank had made a forecast on 20 Nov 2015 of negative economic growth in the country.

 

 

 

 

Deekshya Nakarmi

About Deekshya Nakarmi

Deekshya Nakarmi is Communications and Outreach Assistant at Samriddhi, The Prosperity Foundation. She is a student of Development Studies.

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