June 6: Finance Minister Yuba Raj Khatiwada has underscored the need of skilled and educated human resources for sustainable economic growth and development of the country. Finance Minister Khatiwada made such remarks during the inaugural ceremony of Bhutan-Nepal Human Capital Forum that began in the capital on Wednesday, June 5.
The two-day conference organised by the World Bank is being participated by high-level delegates from Nepal and Bhutan to devise strategies for investing more and better on human capital.
Addressing the event, Finance Minister Khatiwada said, “A country is comprised of the collective strength of its people. When they are highly educated, healthy, skilled, and motivated, a thriving workforce can drive the country’s growth and development. The government has accordingly prioritized education, health and drinking water while allocating budget for the next fiscal year. We will continue to work with all stakeholders to invest in people and ensure the creation and empowerment of a globally competitive population for the 21st century.”
Nepal scored 0.49 out of the maximum possible score of one, in the Human Capital Index released by the World Bank in October 2018. This means that a child born today in Nepal will be only 49 per cent as productive when he or she grows up, as he or she could be if he or she enjoyed complete education and full health.
“Although Nepal secured the second spot among its South Asian peers and did better than average for its region, more than half the potential is yet to be realised. It still needs to invest effectively and efficiently on access to quality health services, nutrition, education, employment skills and others to realize its potential,” the World Bank said in a press statement.
Bhutan’s Finance Secretary Dasho Nim Dorji, who led the Bhutanese delegation to Nepal, expressed the importance of enhancing human capital. “As one of the early adopters of the World Bank’s Human Capital Project, Bhutan remains committed to improve the level and quality of investment in our people,” he said, “For us, reduction of inequality across the region and access to quality services has always been a high priority,” he added.
Bhutan performs better than its neighbors in stunting rates, according to the World Bank report. “However, one out of five Bhutanese remain stunted. While Bhutan’s adult survival rate is relatively satisfactory, the country needs to invest more in health services and access,” states the report.
Speaking on the occasion, Faris Hadad-Zervos, country manager of World Bank for Nepal, said, “Investing in the early years is one of the smartest investments a country can make to break the cycle of poverty, address inequality, and boost productivity later in life. There is an urgent need to allocate resources for the physical, cognitive, and emotional development of children to ensure future productivity of individuals and increase economic competitiveness of nations.”