Basic Economic Database
It is comforting to know that the country has successfully completed the first-ever National Economic Census to collect data about all kinds of business enterprises in operation across the country. The Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), a subsidiary of the National Planning Commission responsible for collection and processing of all kinds of data, had conducted the survey right from the first day of the Nepali New Year on 14 April, 2018. Some 4,000 individuals had been deployed in various parts of the country for two months to collect information regarding business organisations relating to mines and excavation; industrial production; electricity and water supply; waste management; construction; wholesale and retail trade; vehicles, transportation and warehouse; food and beverage; information and communication; finance and insurance; education and health; social works; art and entertainment; real estate; and administrative and technical services. Information such as address of the business enterprise, major activities, employment figures, capital investment and access to credit had been accumulated. Since no such survey had been conducted so far, there was a lack of actual data about the number of business firms that are in existence in the country and what is their situation.
According to the preliminary results of the census, there are over 900 thousand business firms in operation in the country that employ 3.4 million people – 2.04 million male and 1.36 million female. As per the initial estimate of the census, Nepal has about 32 business establishments per 1,000 people, compared to 45.4 businesses per 1,000 in Japan and 50.3 businesses per 1,000 in Sri Lanka. The survey revealed that Nepal has relatively fewer business firms for its population due to the geographical disadvantage. But surprisingly, Manang has the highest number of enterprises per 1,000 persons with 76.2 establishments, followed by Mustang with 64.7, Kathmandu 58.3, Bhaktapur 55.3 and Kaski 54.4. The districts having the lowest businesses per 1,000 people are Achham with 15.2 enterprises, Bara 15.6, Rautahat 15.8, Baitadi 16.7 and Doti 17.2. Kathmandu has the largest number of business establishments – 123,994 - followed by Jhapa -38741- and Rupandehi with 38,415 business firms. On average each business firm employs 3.7 people compared to 9.9 people employed per enterprise in Japan, 2.8 persons in Sri Lanka and 3.3 persons in Cambodia. Nepal has relatively more number of persons engaged per establishment, probably due to fewer street businesses in the country.
The CBS deserves appreciation for the job. Data is a crucial prerequisite for planning and policymaking. Besides, we live in the so-called age of information when data and statistics hold high importance. One of the reasons why Nepal still remains trapped in the cycle of poverty is we lack authentic data about any field of life. Quality data has a direct bearing in making informed decisions and formulating development plans. the Western countries have advanced on the strength of authentic data and record keeping while the third world countries including Nepal lag behind in the absence of reliable and timely data. Hence the initiative of the CBS will have a far reaching impact not only on the area of business and economy but also in other fronts of the society; the government and non-government organisations, universities and private sector can directly benefit from the data collected by means of questionnaire and e-census method. The government agencies can utilise the data for policymaking and planning development programmes while the business entrepreneurs can establish and expand their businesses on the basis of actual data. Meanwhile, the educational institutions can access the statistics for teaching and learning to understand the ground realities better. Let’s hope the body of data the CBS has compiled will serve as a comprehensive source of statistical information for more effective administration and execution of economic and social development plans in the country.