Kathmandu, September 11
The private sector has urged the agitating Tarai-based political parties and the ruling parties to resolve their disputes through talks citing the protests are causing more damage to the country’s fragile economy.
“The private sector has already lost billions of rupees due to the protests in the Tarai, as a result of the ripple effect on the economic activities across the country,” said Pashupati Murarka, president of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI).
With the imported goods stuck at Kolkata port, border points, rail and in container freight stations, the country has been losing Rs 100 million every day only on demurrage charged by port authority, shipping liners and other related parties. It is reported that there is a long queue of trucks and containers loaded with imported goods stuck at the border points, where major customs points are located. The line has now stretched to 60km in Birgunj-Raxaul border, as per FNCCI. On the other hand, the export sector has been hit hard due to delays in the delivery of orders to their buyers.
Similarly, the strikes have adversely affected almost all sectors, including productive, industrial and agricultural sectors.
“Industries located in the Tarai have been closed due to the strikes and protests, which in turn is causing shortage of raw materials in other parts of the country,” Murarka said.
Similarly, agricultural output is expected to go down due to the scarcity of chemical fertilisers. Supply of chemical fertilisers has been affected due to the ongoing protests and various districts of the Tarai and other parts of the country have reported of acute shortage. As a result, paddy production — which is likely to decline due to less than normal rainfall in Tarai districts — may drop further this fiscal, and subsequently hit the economic growth of the country.
Likewise, the tourism sector — which has been facing numerous challenges for its revival after the massive earthquakes of April and May — has also been badly affected due to the protests in the Tarai. The flow of tourists has dropped in the peak season (September to October) due to the protests and strikes.
“A few days ago, I met a group of Sri Lankan tourists at Bhairahawa airport, who were returning to Kathmandu as their planned visit to Lumbini had been cancelled due to the protests,” Murarka said, adding, “We can only imagine the sort of message they will carry to their country, when we need to do all things possible to bring in more tourists to the country.”
FNCCI has also condemned the incident of recent physical attack on industries and business houses in the Tarai. Industries of Sunsari-Morang Corridor and Lumbini Corridor have been vandalised by agitating groups.
Industries, namely, Reliance Spinning Mill (Sunsari), MM Plastic (Biratnagar), Goenka Steels (Bhairahawa), Jagadamba Spinning Mills (Bhairahawa) and Arghakhanchi Cement (Bhairahawa) have been vandalised by the protesting groups, as per FNCCI.
FNCCI has also said that due to the strikes, businesses have been forced to bear heavy losses. It would be difficult to pay back the loans of banks and submit tax to the government if the situation prolongs, warned the largest private sector umbrella body of the country.
A version of this article appears in print on September 12, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.