Economy is not facing major problem: Finance Minister Sharma

Finance Minister Janardan Sharma has claimed that the country’s economy is not facing a major problem.

Organizing a press conference at the Finance Ministry Monday afternoon Sharma stressed that the economy should be allowed to operate in regular pace and should not be politicized. “Our economy is not facing any big problem looking at the statistics and state. It is not like it has been said that there is a large crisis (sic). The economy should be allowed to operate in regular pace and should not be politicized,” Sharma said.

He stated that the government has started study about different alternatives including five-day working week and not operating government vehicles on holidays to cut fuel consumption by up to 20 percent. He revealed that a proposal has been taken to the Cabinet to that regard and a task force led by the chief secretary is studying the issue that is currently being deliberated in the Cabinet.

He also slammed the main opposition CPN-UML for fearmongering and opined that to claim that the country will suffer the fate of Sri Lanka is treason.

Addressing a program on Sunday UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli claimed that the country is going to suffer the fate of Sri Lanka and it will not be surprising if the government fails to remunerate teachers and pay social security allowance to the elderly.

“The way rumors are being spread saying the country will suffer the fate of Sri Lanka is treason. We should make the country better. Why are they interested in making the country Sri Lanka? I am baffled,” he fumed. “There is propaganda of the type that can deflate the entrepreneurs and people. I appeal to not do that. There is publicity that the country is going toward a big crisis. That is not appropriate. The situation requires us to be vigilant. The ministry has already taken necessary policy steps toward that.”

Organizing as press conference about the current state of economy Sunday in presence of three former finance ministers from the party—Bishnu Paudel, Surendra Pandey and Yuba Raj Khatiwada—UML had accused the current government of derailing the country’s economy that its government had left in a healthy state.

It presented the party’s position on the current economic state in 12 points including the economic indicators at the time of the KP Sharma Oli government to compare wth the gloomy ones now.

The party also slammed the arbitrary suspension of Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) Governor Maha Prasad Adhikari, who was appointed by the then Oli government on April 6, 2020, apparently over the differences with Finance Minister Janardan Sharma.

“We had left a healthy and strong economy. The country’s economic state is under risk. Nobody can stop us from being Sri Lanka if we don’t make meaningful interventions,” Paudel, who preceded Sharma at the ministry, claimed. “The country is deteriorating due to the current policy and behavior.”

Speaking after Paudel former minister Pandey raised the issue of rumored differences between Minister Sharma and suspended Governor Adhikari over the release of money arriving from abroad that the NRB has stopped.

He pointed that the finance minister does not have authority to write to the NRB to release the amount when a friendly country has written that the said amount has arrived illegally, as has been reported in the media, and opined that the agencies concerned should punish Sharma for giving such instruction violating international treaties and conventions Nepal has signed.

Khatiwada, who preceded Paudel at the helm of the Finance Ministry, accused the government of making hay even as the country’s economy is facing serious problems. “Government ministers are busy plundering. They are openly collecting election expenses,” he claimed. “The governor has been punished when the NRB tried to become active as the economy weakened. Inflations has increased abnormally. The general public fears whether we will suffer the fate of Sri Lanka.”

(The news report has been updated after first publication to include the government’s plan to reduce fuel consumption)

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