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Feb 5, 2023

Pioneer banker Himalaya SJB Rana passes away

FA News Desk
Himalaya Shamsher
Himalaya Shamsher

Nepal’s first governor of the central bank- Nepal Rastra Bank Himalaya Shamsher Janga Bahadur Rana passed away on Sunday at the age of 95.

Rana was being treated at Norvic Hospital in Kathmandu, since a few weeks ago, and died at 6:30 am on Sunday. He was suffering from Parkinson’s disease for the past 5 years.

Rana was born in 1928 AD on the Swasthani Poornima full moon day and also passed away on the same day.

After the establishment of democracy on February 18, 1951 in Nepal Rana initiated both economic policy and monetary policy of Nepal. He was appointed as the first secretary at the Ministry of Finance by the then government formed after democracy.

Nepal Government has established Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), the Central Bank of Nepal, was established in 1956 to discharge the central banking responsibilities including guiding the development of the embryonic domestic financial sector.

Rana was appointed the first governor of the central bank. He was only 29 years old when the then King Mahendra appointed him as the Governor. At that time there was a dual currency in Nepal, Indian currency and Nepali currency. At that time Indian currency was in legal circulation.

It was on Rana’s initiative that the Central Bank Act was enacted. Based on that, he worked hard to replace the Indian currency. After almost three years of hard work, the Indian currency was completely replaced in Nepal from the end of March 2016. And Nepali currency came into circulation.

Then another important task he did was fixing the exchange rate. At that time, the Indian rupee was in circulation and its exchange rate was not set by the government. Exchange rates were set by local traders.

As the exchange rate was not the same, there was one rate in the morning and another in the afternoon. This had created problems for the traders. Thus, being a governor Rana took the initiative to remove the rule of that merchant.

He brought in an act to regulate foreign exchange rates. He arranged that Indian currency should be exchanged only by banks. Along with that, he also fixed the exchange rate of Indian currency.

After that, the exchange rate of Indian currency could be fixed only by Nepal Rastra Bank. Similarly, after the provision that Indian currency cannot be transacted with other than banks, the widely used Indian currency in Nepal was displaced in two to four years and only Nepali currency was introduced.

There was a lot of ambivalence about how much to fix the exchange rate of the Indian currency. After much discussion and analysis, he fixed one Indian Rupee at 1.6 Nepali Rupees. The exchange rate he fixed at that time is still on transaction. It can also be considered his foresight.

In this way, the contribution of replacing the Indian currency by using the Nepali currency and determining the exchange rate of the Indian currency are the two major contributions he made for the country in his professional life.

As Rana was the first governor, he was the first person to sign Nepali paper currency as a governor.

King Mahendra took over the elected government on December 15, 1960 and introduced the party-less Panchayati System. Then Rana was also dismissed as the governor of Nepal Rastra Bank.

Then he jumped into the UN job. He had also worked as a representative of the United Nations Development Program in various countries from 1962 to 1986.

Democracy was restored on April 8, 1990. Then again, he came forward to the banking sector. He established the Himalayan Bank, the first private sector bank in Nepal, by integrating local capital. It was he who laid the foundation of the banking system in Nepal. Then only other private sector banks started opening.

Rana is remembered as the person who set the standards of Nepali currency and monetary policies who made the biggest contribution in the Nepali economic sector.

He has made a great contribution to stabilize the economy. He created the basis of publicizing the budget. Similarly, he also did the work of modernizing the customs management and strengthening the internal revenue administration to increase the revenue.

He was also one of the core members to establish the Office of the Auditor General for economic and financial discipline and transparency.

With the passing away of veteran economist Rana, the Nepali economy sector has lost one of the stars and the banking sector has lost a banking pioneer.

Late Rana who was on course to publish books is survived by two sons and two daughters.

Rana was cremated at Pashupati Aryaghat. on Sunday.