Donor agencies should concentrate on infrastructure projects, instead of scattering funds for various social and political causes, in Nepal, according to the finance minister.

They can help Nepalis upgrade their lifestyle by investing on infrastructures like roads and irrigation canals that can have actual impact on the living standards of the people, said finance minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat launching ‘Nepal’s Development Tragedy: Threats and Possibility’, a book by senior economist Prof Dr Bishwambher Pyakuryal.

“I request the foreign development partners to channel their funds into infrastructure building, be it large or small, instead of funding projects under the names of democracy, empowerment and peace building,” he said, asking the agencies keen to work on smaller projects targeting rural population to fund rural roads, electrification, drinking water and irrigation.

Mahat also called the physical infrastructures, especially roads, as the biggest catalyst to development. “Most of the progress achieved by Nepal post-1990 can be attributed to the expansion of road networks,” he added. “Better access to roads means access to market that eventually leads to increased productivity and lowered production cost, improving overall competitiveness.

Currently, Nepal has roughly 46,000 kilometre of roads, including both local roads and larger highways, across the nation. But still, all the district headquarters have not yet been connected to national road network.

Even teachers and health workers are not willing to go to work in the remote areas, he said, blaming poltical transition, insurgency and governance for underdevelopment of the country.

The book ‘Nepal’s Development Tragedy: Threats and Possibility’, also highlights reasons of slow progress in development including capital, policy, governance or institution.

The book takes stock of development experiments, agriculture, food security, infrastructure, unemployment, and federalism, the author said, adding that the book has a chapter dedicated to the analysis of relation between infrastructure and growth to show empirical evidence of how access to roads is inter-linked with progress.

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