Dr. Mona Shrestha Adhikari
CEO, EMERGE (Enterprise for Management, Economic Reform and Gender Equality)
The ‘new normal’ is here to stay. Businesses are struggling as everyone is grappling with their survival and livelihoods amidst managing Covid 19. Economic recovery is more crucial than ever as economic activities and people’s well-being is very closely intertwined. Every individual, community and institution both at the private and public level must fulfill their respective responsibilities and join forces to use the crisis as an opportunity to build back better and build back equal. We were unable to do so in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake, but we should not waste the crisis this time around.
The government, in particular, has the resources as well as holds prime responsibility to revive the economy more inclusively and sustainably. In my opinion, here are three critical interventions that our government could undertake:
Build a robust business thriving environment: Through sound policies, implementation arrangements and active monitoring, the government could make use of these institutional structures and help further build an environment that is grounded on trust and goodwill. Such an environment will help businesses to thrive even during times of crisis. It could leverage the involvement of local community groups and the private sector in generating employment and tapping into the reservoir of corporate social responsibly funds which are in most cases not optimally used, such as those by the financial institutions. Digital literacy promotion and promoting innovative solutions aimed towards inclusive and sustainable growth must be the key focus of policies in all sectors. These measures can be supplemented by ensuring proper utilisation of refinancing facilities initiated by Nepal Rastra Bank. Support measures should be streamlined, hassle-free, easy, and quick for businesses to access.
Foster and upscale inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystem: There is a growing demand particularly from diverse groups of youth, women and ethnic communities who are eager to join the entrepreneurship ecosystem. Harnessing their full potential would require the government to foster and upscale inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystem for which more dialogues, platforms, and mechanisms must be created and strengthened for all interested to join hands and grow together. Training the right people in the right kind of jobs as deemed necessary depending on the need for the emerging skill sets. This is an area that the government could undertake through various training programs including vocational training that could meet the needs for both backward and forward linkages. One area that has relatively done better during the pandemic is e-commerce. However, most of this has happened due to the efforts of the private sector and compulsion for consumers to use their services, with limited support from the government. Three critical challenges identified by the eTrade Readiness Assessment conducted in 2017 are policies and regulatory framework, skills, and infrastructure. Government should therefore follow an ecosystem approach to the promotion of the e-commerce sector so that they are not only able to serve the domestic market, but also can enhance their export potential.
Increase government procurement: The government itself is a huge buyer of goods and services. We often run around in search of markets for our Nepali products and services when the government can take the lead and increase its procurement from Nepali producers or service providers. This would not only boost economic recovery but also encourage the local businesses to flourish, which in turn would generate employment.
Finally, what matters the most is the political will on the part of the government and responsible business culture – low on rhetoric and high on action. Doing so will help promote resilience as Covid 19 is not the last crisis we will ever face.
Originally published at: https://b360nepal.com/critical-economic-recovery-healthcare-delivery-interventions-in-face-of-second-wave-of-covid-19/?fbclid=IwAR2sTxjqI0Igs3Mrw-RYDIDItRJaYQY6EOEae_6oNTWQaLyGsot-2CrGHvo