--BY MADAN LAMSAL
Ah, the age-old complaint - 'I don't have money.' It's the new national anthem! Everyone's singing it, from the buyers to the sellers, producers to consumers, banks to businessmen and even the bribe-givers and takers. Money seems to be playing hide and seek, and it's the world's most sought-after player! It's as if it's on a permanent vacation in some tropical island, sipping margaritas and soaking up the sun. Meanwhile, the rest of us are stuck here in the real world, wondering where it all went wrong!
Looks like the mystery of the missing money has got our former finance ministers in a tizzy! First, it was Janardan Sharma, who was trying to figure it out, but it seems he might have lost his calculator in the process. Maybe he's still buried under a mountain of paperwork, muttering to himself 'Where did it all go?' Then came Surendra Pandey and Bishnu Paudel, who probably thought they had it all figured out. But alas, they too were defeated by the great vanishing act of our hard-earned cash! It's like watching a never-ending game of hide-and-seek, except the money seems to be the champion here, leaving our finance ministers to play a perpetual game of catch-up. At this rate, we might as well declare the missing money as a national treasure and put up a reward for anyone who finds it!
Why is the money missing from the market? Did it go on a vacation? Did it get lost in translation? They promised us a cash deluge after the elections, but we got a desert instead. Did the politicians and their minions stash the money under their mattresses or escape overseas with it? Maybe they invested it all in NRNA (Non-Resident Nepali Association) bonds, leaving us with empty pockets? Maybe the hundi business got tired of our market and decided to move on to greener pastures. Or perhaps Nepal Rastra Bank is just hoarding all the cash like a miserly dragon guarding its treasure. Whatever the reason, it seems like we're all left high and dry, while the money is having the time of its life, wherever it may be.
But hey, look who's asking where the money went! It is okay for us broke folks to have empty pockets, but when even the big shot businessmen and banks start complaining, you know something fishy is going on. Who did the borrowers pay back their loans to? Did they magically make the money disappear into thin air? Or did they slip it under their mattresses like a bunch of hoarders? It's a mystery, really. And let's face it - if the finance ministers and governors are clueless, what hope do us mere mortals have of figuring it out? But hey, maybe we can all just start digging around in our couch cushions and hope for the best. Who knows, maybe we'll find a couple of bucks and help kickstart the economy ourselves!
Ah, the government. The very embodiment of efficiency and competence, isn't it? Why bother informing the people about the economy when they can just sit back and collect their cushy allowances and perks? After all, who cares about trivial things like the financial well-being of the country when you can enjoy all the luxurious benefits of being in power? And why bother trying to understand the intricacies of the economy when you can just blame it all on external factors like the weather or the alignment of the planets? It's not like anyone's expecting the government to actually do their job, right? They're just there to enjoy the ride and collect the rewards.
Oh, the mysteries of the corrupt and the black businessmen! Who are they, you ask? Who knows, really? And who gets to classify them as black or fair? Is there some sort of official handbook we can consult? It's all a bit murky, isn't it? But one thing's for sure, they're not hiding their money in sacs at home. That would be a surefire way to make their money rot! So, where could they be stashing all that cash? Maybe they've invested in some shiny gold and silver or some real estate. Or perhaps they've dabbled in the stock market with shares and bonds and debentures. Or maybe they've just lent it to their pals or become sleeping partners in some shady business. Who knows? But one thing we do know is that the money should have come back to the banks by now. But we are told it hasn’t. So, where is it? Did it get lost in transit or did someone forget to write a memo? Or maybe the corrupt and black businessmen are just having too much fun swimming in their piles of money to remember to give it back. It's a real head-scratcher, isn't it?
Ah, the age-old question of black, grey, and white money! Who decides which is which? Is there even a mechanism in place to make such a determination? Our country has a reputation for corruption, after all. We have institutions like the CIAA, central bureau of investigation, and national vigilance center to combat corruption. But why do they seem to turn a blind eye to the corrupt? Are they in cahoots with them? Do they turn a blind eye to corruption, hoping to reap some benefits of their own? It's a possibility, isn't it?
Well, folks, it's time to unveil the truth about where all that hard-earned cash has gone! And let me tell you, it's a real shocker. After extensive contemplation and a few shots of whiskey, I've come to a brilliant realization. The money hasn't disappeared into thin air, oh no, it's all tucked away in the Nepal Rastra Bank - the godfather of all banks in this country! I know what you're thinking, "how in the world did the money end up there?" It's simple, really. The government has been playing a little game of hide-and-seek with our wallets. They've been secretly funneling all our hard-earned cash into this granddaddy of banks, hoping we'd never catch on.
Apparently, the US dollar worth a whopping two trillion rupees takes off like a bird every year to import goods and services, leaving the country high and dry. And don't get too excited, folks, because the US dollar that does make it into the country - a measly 200 billion rupees - is practically peanuts compared to what's leaving. It's like trying to fill a bucket with a thimble. But wait, there's more! Sure, the occasional US dollar enters the country in the form of remittance or foreign grants and loans, but this year, it's almost non-existent. So, how do we expect to have any money in the country when everything that comes in immediately goes out?
Covid-19 is another reason behind the missing money. You see, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the NRB issued all sorts of concessional loans to support the economy. But now, with Covid-19 practically extinct, the NRB has swooped in and collected all those loans back. And poof! Just like that, the money has vanished from the market and deposited in the NRB!
Despite the best efforts of countless economists, nobody has been able to figure out how to bring that money sitting in the NRB back into the market. But hold on to your hats! Maybe the agitation launched by a billionaire who has studied only up to Grade 8 and who started with buffalo rearing and now runs a massive hospital in east Nepal will make it possible! Maybe he will use his experience wrangling buffalos to lasso that cash back into the market!