70,000 jobs go poof!

Kathmandu, January 14:

At least 70,000 jobs in industries countrywide were lost in the recent months.

Though there is no agency in Nepal that has authentic figure of unemployment, data compiled by Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) and the Industrial District Management Ltd (IDM) reveal it may be higher.

Labour dispute over minimum wages, demands of permanent appointment, frequent strikes, increasing load-sheddding and extortion racket by criminal gangs and extremist outfits in the Tarai have cost the country heavily, cutting the employment level by the day.

IDM’s data reveals industrial districts (IDs) have cut 20 per cent of jobs. “Some 14,000 people are employed in 10 industrial districts,” said IDM general manager Giriraj Bhandari.

Ten IDs are operational: Balaju, Patan, Bhaktapur, Hetauda, Dharan, Nepalgunj, Pokhara, Butwal, Birendranagar and Rajbiraj. The 11th in Dhankuta is not. In all the 10 IDs in operation except Dhankuta, 78 industries have closed, 394 are operational and 80 are under construction. More than 3,000 people have lost their jobs in these IDs. “The people of Sunawal want the Industrial District to be expanded to their VDC,” Bhandari said adding that IDM is working hard to create a peaceful environment in IDs. Aside from problems caused by labour unions, increased load-shedding has hit IDs hard. The IDs have no alternative arrangement except feeder. “Hetauda, Butwal and Dharan need separate feeders,” he added.

The five-day power outage by Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) hampered operations in Balaju Industrial District.

“We requested NEA to change the schedule,” Bhandari said adding there will be a two-day weekly power cut there but not for two consecutive days.

“We have also planned to instal a separate feeder in Nepalgunj Industrial District,” he added.

Organised industrial development started in Nepal with the establishment of Balaju Industrial District in 1960, with US assistance.

However, no new Industrial district was established after 1988, according to data given by IDM.