‘New industrial policy must bring competitiveness’

Kathmandu, August 3:

Experts here today stressed on a consensus among all the stakeholders for a new industrial policy at a programme on ‘Economic Development and New Industrial Policy,’ organised by the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), in association with SAWTEE.

They opined that unnecessary political bickering has forced industrial activities to take a back seat.

Dr Ram Sharan Mahat, finance minister said that economy has taken a back seat. “The current problem is greater emphasis on politics which is hurting the national economic gro-wth,” he said, adding that the new industrial policy must help check the flight of labour and money.

In the last couple of years, Nepal has been party to various bilateral and multilateral trade treaties, said Dr Pusparaj Rajkarnikar, member of National Planning Commission (NPC), speaking on the occasion. “This discussion will help form a new industrial policy in the changed context,” he opined, adding that the new policy must encourage local industries to build more competitiveness and let go off their protectionist attitude.

Ratnakar Adhikari, president of SAWTEE, agreed, “Rather than being protectionist, the new industrial policy must help improve quality and build competitiveness.”

Dr Shankar P Sharma, former vice-chairman of the NPC, while presenting a working paper on ‘Industrial Development in Nepal: Challenges and Opportunities,’ said that instability and conflict have affected the manufacturing and the exports sectors badly.

Sharma recommended so-me suggestions like procedural simplification, duty drawback facilities, more foreign direct investment (FDI), encouragement to build competitiveness with the neighbouring countries and formulation of ‘common minimum economic agenda’ amo-ng key players.

According to a report by the World Bank, ‘Doing Business in Nepal,’ it takes 44 days for export procedures and 37 days for import procedures to be completed in Nepal.

Chandi Raj Dhakal, president of FNCCI, said that impractical procedures have left manufacturing and export sectors cold. “The rule of ‘exports from the same customs point of import’ is one of the examples of such impractical procedure that has hit the garments sector hard,” he said, adding that the recent decision to levy VAT — with retrospective effect for the last five years on some industries — is yet an example of such a senseless decision.