Unclear government policies have destroyed businessmen engaged in dealing with forest products. Furniture imported from foreign countries have adversely affected national industries, while export policies have worked like two-edged swords. The government has opened the market after entering WTO and it is having a negative effect. Products from China, Taiwan and Malaysia would one day displace ours. To stop it, the government should take steps in the forthcoming budget. We are being bogged down by export tax. The budget should prioritise goods and materials of daily usage, rather that security material. The budget should also have a direct participation of citizens. It should decentralise decision-making and resources. The country needs more employment, as millions of youngsters are leaving the country in search of it. The budget should create opportunities for more work. Budgets traditionally give importance to big industrialists. It should give equal importance to all parts for better results.

— Keshav Shrestha, central member, Federation of Nepal Forest Products Industries and Entrepreneurs •••

Continuous bandhs, strikes and insecurity have destroyed the prospects for the business sector. Capacities of both businessmen and consumers have gone down. But even at a time like this, the government does not have any improvement programme for the business sector. The tax imposed upon businessmen is huge and disproportionate. Despite massive difficulties, businessmen have to pay back bank loans and salaries to employees. Donation being asked by the Maoists is another worry. A rethinking on tax policy would be a big plus for the business sector. More than 50 per cent businessmen from districts have left their occupation. To ensure that the othes stay on, the government needs better plans. Mostly, government plans state one thing in the budget, while it implements something else. Hopefully, the forthcoming budget would change this pattern. The government should give importance to security, but not at the cost of development.

— Pawan Kumar Agrawal, chairman, Sunsari Chamber of Commerce and Industry. •••

There has never been a development-oriented budget formulated in Nepal. Hopefully, the forthcoming budget would be different. Some of the previous budgets have been popular, but they did not help the country. The budget should focus on rural development. It should give priority to development through construction of roads, bridges, culverts and dams. It should also be business-oriented to increase consumption of national products, domestically as well as internationally. The budget should also give importance to education. More than 60 per cent Nepalis live below the poverty line. To combat this, education is a must. Direct tax on business is a necessity, but we stilldepend on indirect tax. Instead of applying VAT on businessmen, direct tax as well as income tax should be increased. Implementation of the budget recommendations needs to be improved. An increase in security budget has led to scarcity for development budget. This needs to be reversed.

— Rajendra Sharma, associate professor of commerce, Mahendra Multiple Campus •••

The government should not think of increasing revenues by increasing tax on businessmen. More than half of the hotels in Dharan have closed down. If taxes are increased any further, the remaining hotels would also close down. The government has brought hotel taxes at par between Kathmandu and Biratnagar, although less foreign tourists visit Biratnagar. The forthcoming budget must continue to discount interest on the bank loans taken by hoteliers. Focus must be brought upon the tourism sector so as to increase foreign currency earnings. Budget allocations must be made for public and private sectors for tourism development. The forthcoming budget should work towards decreasing prices of commodities of daily use. Peace and security should get top priority. But using tax collected from businessmen on purposes like security beef up is not acceptable.

— Shankar Man Shakya, vice-chairman, Hotel Association of Dharan