Nepal | July 14, 2020

Budget expectations

Himalayan News Service
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The government is all set to announce the budget for next fiscal year on Thursday and people involved in different sectors have various expectations. Amid this, The Himalayan Times spoke to a few tourism entrepreneurs who were not satisfied with the government’s policies and programmes to learn about their expectations from the forthcoming budget. Excerpts:

The Hotel Association Nepal is expecting the upcoming budget to address the issues of job retention fund, tourism development fund, integrated property tax, bank loans, utility payments and promotion of tourism leave.

The hospitality sector is unlikely to get normal anytime soon due to the impact of the COVID-19. Currently, hotels are struggling to manage their internal cost while also facing difficulties in guaranteeing jobs for their workers. Hence, the government has to establish a job retention fund for the survival of workers.

At the moment the major challenge for tourism entrepreneurs is sustaining their business. So, if the government could establish a tourism development fund to recover from this kind of crisis, it will not only support recovery from the current situation but will also play a crucial role in developing the tourism sector in the long run. The government should also waive several taxes that we have been paying to the local governments under different headings. Another major issue the budget must address is to arrange loans at three per cent interest rate and there should be no penalty levied over delays in paying the interest of the loans. Meanwhile, the government must introduce paid travel leave for civil servants to promote domestic tourism.

— Shreejana Rana, president, Hotel Association Nepal

I hope the budget will not ignore the tourism sector like how the policies and programmes did. We want a stimulus package to be announced by the government for the survival and revival of the tourism industry.

Despite several attempts, we have not got the opportunity to meet the finance minister to talk about our issues.

However, we have submitted our concerns to the tourism ministry. Hopefully the upcoming budget will address our current problems and bring some effective programmes to uplift the industry. As the government has prioritised agriculture in this year’s policies and programmes, we want the government to bring such concrete plans for the tourism industry as well. Most of the investors at this moment are at risk of closing their business which will ultimately affect a large number of workers working with them. Hence, the government must bring programmes addressing the needs of both investors and workers in the upcoming budget.

— Achyut Guragain, president, Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents

The tourism industry is a bit different than other industries.

It cannot revive immediately like the other industries.

As it will take time for the tourism sector to revive, the government has to bring a separate programme for this industry.

It may take at least a year for the industry to recover, hence the government has to bring a long-term plan for the tourism sector. We have been saying that 2020 will be a ‘survival’ year for the industry while 2021 will be a ‘revival’ year and we can hope the industry to be normal from 2022 only. For those investors who don’t have their own property, the government has to arrange a policy whereby they can obtain loans of up to Rs two million at low interest rates to sustain their business. Likewise, for at least one year the government has to arrange alternative jobs for workers involved in the trekking sector.

We also urge the government to provide at least Rs 15,000 per month as loan to workers of the trekking industry for one year. Thereafter they will start paying back their loans. Similarly, the government has to rescind the value added tax and taxes on yaks, mules, porters and climbing Sherpas during mountain trekking.

— Khum Bahadur Subedi, president, Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal

All the tourism associations on the initiative of Nepal Tourism Board have jointly asked the government to allocate at least Rs 20 billion for the tourism sector to bounce back from the impact of COVID-19. Hopefully the government will address our demand while announcing the budget for next fiscal year. Meanwhile, mountaineering guides and other workers are jobless at the moment and this situation may persist for quite a while, so the government should provide some financial relief to those workers by transferring budget of other programmes under the tourism ministry. Moreover, even after the lockdown is lifted we may not receive foreigners for some time, so this period should be utilised to develop our infrastructure. We have urged the government to allocate budget for peak cleaning activities and to study and introduce new peaks. Likewise, the government should allocate budget to build, re-build and renovate toilets and porter shelters in the high mountainous regions. The government should also bring programmes and plans to minimise the risks associated with climbing in the country.

— Santa Bir Lama, president, Nepal Mountaineering Association

A version of this article appears in e-paper on May 26, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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