Businesses await easing of lockdown measures

Kathmandu, June 8

The government’s failure to officially ease the lockdown has left large businesses undecided on whether or not to resume their operations.

The High-Level Coordination Committee for the Prevention and Control of COVID-19 led by Deputy Prime Minister Ishwar Pokhrel has not been able to officially decide on the new lockdown modality, although top-level government officials have been saying that preparations are under way to change the modality of the lockdown and allow business activities to resume.

Consequently, big businesses and industries are in a dilemma about resuming operations.

“It has been long since the government assured us that the lockdown will be eased and resumption of businesses will be facilitated.

However, the government has not yet taken any official decision regarding the new lockdown modality, which is preventing us from operating industries effectively,” said industrialist Pashupati Murarka, who is also the former president of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

As the government has not officially eased lockdown measures and since transportation service still remains halted, industrialists have not been able to run their services due to transportation constraints and lack of raw materials.

“As we have been saying time and again that continuous lockdown is not the solution and businesses and industries must resume, the government should immediately ease the lockdown modality and ensure a favourable environment for businesses to resume operations,” Murarka added.

The private sector has been criticising the government for only extending the lockdown and not doing much in terms of adopting other measures to both combat the spread of coronavirus and gradually restart economic activities.

Earlier, the FNCCI had also officially urged the government to review the modality of the ongoing lockdown.

Meanwhile, sources at the High-Level Coordination Committee for the Prevention and Control of COVID-19 said discussion was on to finalise the new modality of the lockdown.

“The COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre has prepared the draft of the new lockdown modality concept and discussion is on.

“If possible, the draft of the new lockdown modality will be presented at the next Cabinet meeting, which is likely to be held on Tuesday,” said a source at the high-level committee.

Sources added that the government planned to categorise districts into high-, medium- and low-risk zones and ease the lockdown accordingly.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 9, 2020, of The Himalayan Time