KATHMANDU, Jan 4: The year 2017 has just ended with some far-reaching impressions and precedence in Nepal’s history.
Nepal witnessed many ups and downs both positive and negative last year. The year 2017 left behind sweet memories in political, social and economic domains but disaster took a heavy toll in the southern plains causing a huge loss to human life and property.
Completion of all three-tiers of elections amid uncertainties remained the landmark achievement in the country. The country people got their elected representatives for the first time nearly after two decades in the 2017 in line with the federal setup.
Uncertainties had loomed large over the timely elections to the local levels despite the government announcement as the political parties in the Province No. 2 were taking to the streets threatening to boycott the local polls. However, the agitating parties too came on board the polls thanks to massive political engagements and grievances handling of the agitating forces.
Likewise, Nepal held the province assembly elections for the first time in the history while the elections to the House of Representatives were also conducted in a free, fair, fearless and credible manner. The international community has also lauded the elections to the Province Assembly and House of Representatives stating that the elections have provided ground for much needed periodic stability in the country.
With the fresh mandate and people representatives in all layers of government, Nepal has entered into a stage in which almost all doors to possibilities towards prosperity have opened up.
The issue coming together with the election-2017 is the alliance of two rival communist parties. The patch up of the CPN (Maoist Center) and CPN-UML and landslide victory of the left alliance has become a historic move in the country. The victory of left alliance forged aiming to form a single communist party and the subsequent victory has ushered in multiple rays of hope to the general public. In this case, 2017 has become a foundation year for the nation’s economic development followed by political stability after the end to longstanding political instability and decade-long transition. So, the country has welcomed the left alliance’s plan for socialism of Nepali characteristics by sweeping away all forms of exploitations and injustices prevailing in the society.
Another thing to cheer in 2017 is rapid economic growth and all time high tourists’ arrival with past record break.
In the year 2017, Nepal remained the third fastest growing economy in the world according to a report of the World Economic Forum. The Swiss non-profit foundation ranked Nepal third in terms of growing economy after Ethiopia and Uzbekistan stating that Nepal’s growth rebounded strongly following a couple of reasons.
For the first time in the history of tourism sector, Nepal welcomed 940,000 plus international tourists which is a major point to cheer as good rebound in tourists’ arrival has build trust of the air service operators, tourism investors and business community ultimately contributing to the country’s foreign exchange earning.
However, there are some analysts who argue that tourism experienced better turnaround due to marketing efforts and aggressive promotion by various international media. The current growth heralds a cosy picture of the country’s tourism. The number of 2017 indicates that we will be seeing arrival of more tourists in 2018 because more star-hotels are under construction, better tourism infrastructures are being created and political stability and peaceful situation in the country has been improved.
Despite the above mentioned achievements, Nepal suffered badly, perhaps one of the worst disasters in southern plains in 2017. Nearly one and a half dozen districts in Tarai and Madhes suffered badly due to floods. The total damage caused by the floods is approximately Rs 61,844.8 million (USD 595.5 million) which stands almost three per cent of our gross domestic products (GDP). The household sector takes the largest share of damages as many houses and standing crops were damaged. The 2017 floods damaged thousands of houses and the total number of houses completely destroyed was reported as 41,626 while 150,510 houses were partially damaged.
The government report states that Rautahat district reported 16,145 houses as fully destroyed, the highest among all the 18 severely affected districts. The total cost of recovery needs is estimated at Rs 73,224.8(US$ 705.1) million. Though the cost of recovery appears to be high, a careful planning of the recovery program would ensure that the recovery programme is fiscally prudent and affordable.
Nepal set bright records in almost all issues in 2017 despite some hurdles. We witnessed better political accommodation, economic growth and better international image. However, the natural disasters remained beyond our control as the Tarai flood took heavy toll on human lives and infrastructures. So, 2017 remained a departure point for Nepal’s prosperity from where we can set a new journey for the country’s bright future and people’s wellbeing provided that we deal with the serious issues at hand tactfully.