Federation of Handicrafts Association of Nepal suggests the following for the coming budget.


• Conducive environment creation

a) Addressing labour problem — Handicraft enterprises are tortured by labour unions who put forward unjust demands. Unless this problem can be solved, it is useless to talk about business growth.

b) Energy crisis — Unless the budget shows the government’s commitment to resolve the current power crisis, increasing production

of handicrafts is

impossible.

c) Maintaining Law and Order — There is no industrial climate. Bandhs, strikes and disruptions have to checked. Otherwise, we cannot think of sustaining industries/business while working only half the total working days in a year.


• Industrial Infrastructure Development

a) Establishment of laboratories — Handicraft industry is handicapped by inadequate facilities for quality testing as per the requirements of importing countries. Without a Fumigation/Heat Treatment lab and cadmium testing lab, we have not been able to assure our buyers of the quality of exports. The market may crash anyday. The budget should arrange for adequate funds for the operation of such facilities either in the government or private sector.

b) Handicraft Village — This issue has entered the seventh year since the government announced to give land and facility to FHAN to manage all investments to operate the village for adding at least one tourist attraction for Nepal Tourism Year 2011. We look forward to a positive response in the forthcoming budget.

c) Handicraft Design and Development Centre — The commercial policy 2065 has stated that the Handicraft Design and Development Centre would be converted into handicraft design institute. The centre was established by us with token initial support from the government. Despite resource crunch, we continued its operation for the fifth year in the hope of cost sharing with the government as announced in the budget. The budget should make adequate funding provision to operate the institute with its own funding.


• Expansion of Vocational education

In view of the current state of unemployment and its social costs, the budget could allocate funds for expanding vocational education (VE). As the present scope of Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT) is too narrow, VE should be included in the curriculum of universities and schools to improve access to technical education and ensure self-employment.


• Export facilitation

There are a lot of issues in export and the budget cannot address all these. If just two things are addressed by the forthcoming budget, handicraft export will be facilitated.

The forthcoming budget should address the issue of Tribhuvan International Airport Authority’s decision

to increase its service charges from 900

per cent to 2500 per cent from the coming fiscal year.

As most of the

handicrafts are exported by air, this exorbitant rate will halt handicraft export and substantially increase unemployment.

The budget should reflect the government’s commitment to revise the Archaeology law promulgated in 1956 that still requires handicraft products to undergo museum pass certification for export. The law assumed that this is the only way to check outbound goods of archaeological value. And, we know the fate of many articles having high archaeological value.


• Foreign Market Promotion

If we look at the budgets, they never allocate adequately for promoting Nepali products abroad. Handicraft, a symbol of Nepal’s identity, has to be promoted abroad as to withstand competition. The focus should be on:

a) Special promotion in trade deficit countries — Nepal has trade deficit with many countries. If we focus on promoting our products, including handicrafts, in those countries, our deficit will be reduced.

b) Mobilisation of embassies — Our embassies are still old style bureaucratic set-ups without economic orientation. They can be mobilised in many ways to promote our country and products abroad. For this, our embassies have to be allocated adequate funds and a strong performance measurement system for reward and punishment.

Otherwise, they will still be the waste of our scarce resources.

Showcasing Nepali products in embassies is a brilliant idea. But, lack of adequate fund to purchase such products has resulted in empty shelves in our embassies.

Embassies can also organise single country exhibitions in principal markets. But, the way our embassies organize such events expose Nepal as a resource-constrained country.

Shakya is Federation of Handicrafts Association of Nepal president