The government as an investor is good but government as a business manager inevitably leads to gross inefficiencies.

Here is a summary of the recommendations from yesterday’s open citizen’s gathering: where we shared our strategies for Economic Development in Nepal: Happens every Saturday at GAA, Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal 9:45 am sharp. Do come. More information here !

  1. There are differences in each participant’s opinions on how much we should prioritize the issue of private property rights. These differences are mostly centered around differences on the extent on the role of government in dictating a person’s private life/rights/property.
  2. There should be redistribution of wealth within Nepal, but the ways to go about it and the extent, scope, and proportion of the redistribution are points of disagreement.
  3. There should be a detailed study and consideration of Nepal’s particular property rights/distribution history so that past injustices are not replicated/ amplified by present rhetoric of inheritance rights, private property rights, and income capacities. That historical injustices and marginalization ought to be a starting point when considering land-reforms or other re-distributive mechanisms.
  4. Taxation as a method of redistribution is agreed upon, but there are differences among participants on the nature of the tax system that may best (for each one’s interest and viewpoint). For example, progressive taxation (according to one’s income) or fixed taxation (as a percentage of one’s income) and the role of subsidies (as in government regulations for subsidizing services for economically and politically marginalized groups);
  5. There are also differences in opinions on what property rights entail; how to define private, public, and community property?
  6. Land reform as an important step for economic redistribution is important; but there are differences here too on the scope, nature, and proportion of re-distributive functions and mechanisms on the basis of practicality vs ideals.
  7. There should be an fair distribution of resources; but what kind of resources is open for debate, who determines which resources are to be redistributed, and according to whose interests? Who benefits from such redistribution and who loses out? (Maybe best left for technical experts ?)
  8. The government as well as private enterprises ought to compensate for private property that is otherwise taken up for public infrastructure purposes – mainly building roads, but also dams and other large scale projects for public utility.
  9. Private property rights should be respected and redistribution ought not entail taking away from the rich and giving to the poor on an ad hoc basis. Rather the government (perhaps in partnership with private and non-governmental institutions) ought to design and carry out a just mechanism for land redistribution.
  10. Empathy as an important political/social affecting condition ought to be emphasized over antagonism, disruption, and destruction.
  11. That there should be redistribution of resources, but the government ought not be too involved so that functions of the state remain streamlined, minimal and agile.
  12. Who gets to be in-charge of economic development and what ought to be the government’s role in this? There is little faith in the government because of its poor track-record. Instead of functioning as day to day administrators, the state could help private entrepreneurship through the granting of start-up loans for businesses and act as a consistent efficient, regulator and a customer service of people.
  13. It should not be a matter whether one is a capitalist or a communist, but rather suitable and functioning aspects from both systems may be incorporated for Nepal’s economic development when suited. Right Intention in leadership is key.
  14. The government ought to play a strong role in basic needs sectors – education, public infrastructure, and health-care; but one ought to be watchful of the state’s inherently inefficient qualities.
  15. Rather than criticizing the government for its failures, one also must be critical about the failure, limits, and constraints of the private sector also.
  16. Entrepreneurship must be prioritized for economic development because it yields numerous multiplier effects that happens as a result of increased employment, quality of competition, and the desire  to be efficient, streamlined, and goal-oriented.
  17. But some remote, rural, and economically marginalized areas must get government subsidies if they are to have a chance at equal participation and fair competition in the open market.
  18. The government as an investor is a good thing, but government as a business manager inevitably leads to gross inefficiencies.
  19. Perhaps comparative studies of political economies of China, India, and other suitable examples should be considered for further knowledge-building.
  20. The school sector/ education sector requires massive reforms for social, economic, and political equality to follow.

Summary prepared by Sujit Shrestha. Thank you Sujit ! (Edited for clarity)