Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat became the new Finance Minister of Nepal in February 2014, his sixth stint in this job intermittently since 1994. Prior to this, he was Deputy Chairman of the National Planning Commission for three years. He is widely acknowledged as one of the key architects of the economic reforms in the Post 1990 period which brought significant improvements in Nepal's economy with higher growth, progress in human development indicators and decline in poverty level. His tenure also saw many reforms in the public expenditure management, finance and banking, and revenue reforms including the introduction of the Value Added Tax. He was the principal author of Nepal's Eighth Plan which brought about sweeping policy changes in the economy, with greater role to the private sector in economic activities. During his time as Finance Minister, Nepal was elected chairman of the IMF/World Bank Board of Governors for 1998/99. He also served as Minister of Foreign Affairs for about a year in 1999-2000.
Dr. Mahat represents a rare combination of political and technocratic backgrounds. A political activist since his student days, he was imprisoned several times while fighting for political freedom and human rights during the Panchayat era of Nepal. A gold medalist in his college and university life, he did his Masters in Economics from Tribhuvan University in 1972, and received his Ph. D. from Gokhale Institute of Economics and Politics in Pune, India in 1979. Dr. Mahat was also a recipient of US Government's Hubert Humphrey Fellowship 1987/88 and was associated with the School of International Studies of the American University, Washington DC, USA.
In early years, he worked as a high school headmaster in a remote district of Nepal, and later on lecturer in Economics Department of Tribhuvan University. He joined UN service in 1980, and served at UNDP office in Kathmandu, New York and Pakistan. In his last assignment, he coordinated UNDP cross border humanitarian programme in Afghanistan (1989-1990). After the restoration of democratic politics in Nepal 1990, he left the UNDP job to join electoral politics in his country. He was elected Member of Parliament first time in 1993 from constituently 2 of Nuwakot district, which he has successfully retained to date. He won that seat for the fourth time in November 2013 general election for the Constituent Assembly/Parliament.
In Nepal’s turbulent political transition following the decade long Maoist insurgency in Nepal, Dr. Mahat also served as member of the Special Committee for the Integration and Rehabilitation of Maoist Army Combatants, which saw the successful resolution in 2013 on the future of some 17,000 former combatants. He has also served in the Board of Trustees of the Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok (1993/4). He was a recipient of the Francis Humbert Humphrey Award for leadership role in the Public Service by the USIA and the Institute of International Education, USA. He is an honorary fellow of the University of Connecticut/Bridgeport. He has several publications to his credit including a widely acclaimed book In Defence of Democracy (2005). He writes frequently on contemporary issues of political economy and development.