UK SPENDING CUTS Impact Nepal

The British government’s unprecedented measures to reduce deficits hit&nbsp; almost all sectors of national economy<br><STRONG>Bhagirath Yogi</STRONG> in London

Nov. 21, 2010, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol. 04 No.-11, Nov 19 2010 (Mangsir 03, 2067)

In the last week of October, workers of the London Underground went on 24-hour strike in protest of proposed job cuts in their organisation. On November 5 and 6, thousands of BBC journalists followed suit protesting against proposed changes in their pension scheme. Welcome to the season of industrial action in the United Kingdom!

Like most European countries, UK is still trying to recover from the impact of global financial crisis. In a bid to balance its books, Chancellor of Exchequer of the new coalition government, George Osborne, announced last month that there will be 81 billion pound cut in the public expenditure. Officials say up to half a million government workers could lose their jobs over the next four years with spending cuts affecting almost all areas of the national socio-economic life.

Nitya Shrestha, a Nepali student, arrived in London in September last year to study hotel management, at a private college in North London. “The whole year has been a nightmare for me,” he said. “My college has been downgraded, I haven’t been able to find a part-time job regularly to support myself and my parents are already in huge debt trying to send me money every two months.”

Not only students like Shrestha, fresh graduates from the British universities are also finding it hard to get full-time jobs. British graduates are facing the most intense scramble in a decade to get a job this summer, as a poll of employers reveals the number of applications for each vacancy has surged to nearly 70 while the number of available positions is predicted to fall by nearly 7%, reported The Guardian daily. “The graduate salaries are frozen, though a revival in banking, the insurance sector and accountancy where vacancies were predicted to rise this year,” the news report said.

For many students difficult days are still ahead. In the first week of November, Universities Minster David Willetts announced that basic threshold of students fee would go from £3,290 to £6,000 per year. He, however, allowed institutions to charge anything up to a £9,000 limit. He described these measures as “progressive” and stated that under the new system one quarter of graduates “will pay less than they do at present”.

On November 10, an estimated 50,000 students marched through the streets of London protesting against the fee hike. Some of them even clashed with police and vandalised the headquarters of the Conservative Party—that leads the coalition.

Experts say as the government has slashed its grants to institutions of higher education significantly, British universities are likely to hike fee for overseas students. As of now, foreign students pay almost three times higher fee than the domestic students.

The only positive news for countries like Nepal is that the new coalition government has decided to raise overseas aid from 7 billion pounds to 11.5 billion pounds over the next four years. UK would, thus, become the first major industrial power to meet its UN obligation to spend 0.7 percent of national income on overseas development assistance, reports said. Britain is the largest bilateral donor to Nepal.

British armed forces, too, faced cut in their expenditure. Officials, however, denied reports that the Gurkha recruitment was likely to be curtailed over the next few years.

While making public the new British national security strategy and a strategic defence and security review, the British embassy in Kathmandu said, “The (British) government has no plans to disband Gurkha units.”

Daily  Express, a British, newspaper, however speculated that if not axed completely, the 3,400-strong Brigade of Gurkhas could be slashed to 2,500 'as planned under the previous defence review.’ On November 10, an estimated 50,000 students marched through the streets of London protesting against the fee hike. Some of them even clashed with police and vandalised the headquarters of the Conservative Party—that leads the coalition.

Experts say as the government has slashed its grants to institutions of higher education significantly, British universities are likely to hike fee for overseas students. As of now, foreign students pay almost three times higher fee than the domestic students.

The only positive news for countries like Nepal is that the new coalition government has decided to raise overseas aid from 7 billion pounds to 11.5 billion pounds over the next four years. UK would, thus, become the first major industrial power to meet its UN obligation to spend 0.7 percent of national income on overseas development assistance, reports said. Britain is the largest bilateral donor to Nepal.

British armed forces, too, faced cut in their expenditure. Officials, however, denied reports that the Gurkha recruitment was likely to be curtailed over the next few years.

While making public the new British national security strategy and a strategic defence and security review, the British embassy in Kathmandu said, “The (British) government has no plans to disband Gurkha units.”

Daily  Express, a British, newspaper, however speculated that if not axed completely, the 3,400-strong Brigade of Gurkhas could be slashed to 2,500 'as planned under the previous defence review.’

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