FNCCI expresses concern about burgeoning black marketing

Kathmandu, December 18

The blockade in some of the southern border points has resulted in acute shortage of all essential goods. Refilling stations have pulled their shutters, and yet traffic congestion can be witnessed on the streets. Gas bullets have entered the country, but people have been unable to procure cooking gas.

In this backdrop, the private sector has expressed serious concerns about the burgeoning black marketing of all essential goods, including fuel.

The Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) — the largest umbrella body of private sector organisations — organising a press conference today has warned of the possibility of institutionalisation of a parallel economy if all unethical and illegal activities like black marketing are not controlled.

“All concerned stakeholders, including the government, agitating parties and major political parties should be aware of the ramifications in the economy in allowing the black market to flourish,” said Pashupati Murarka, president of FNCCI.

Warning of the looming recession, he urged the government and agitating parties to resolve the current crisis through dialogue. Asserting that no constitution ever promulgated in the world is absolute and has been amended time and again in tune with the times, Murarka said, “Nobody has the right to ruin the country by refusing to budge from their stance.”

According to him, more than 2,000 industries in the Tarai region have been forced to close and products worth billions of rupees continue to be stranded across the border due to the blockade. The demurrage charges have already shot through the roof and a lot of raw materials and food products in the stranded cargoes have become unusable or inconsumable. “The strikes and border blockade have already resulted in losses amounting to over

Rs 200 billion,” said the FNCCI president.

Although the Madhes-based parties had started their protest four months ago, they blocked the Birgunj customs point three months ago after the constitution was promulgated stating it systematically discriminated against them. Even as a few customs points have reported of ease in supply in recent days, Birgunj — the major trade point with India and third countries — continues to be blocked and supply through Bhairahawa-Sonauli remains erratic.

“Because of acute shortage of fuel and raw materials, industries, businesses, construction, tourism, education and health, among other sectors, have been at a standstill. Those that are somehow managing to operate are also on the verge of collapse.”

He informed of the harsh realities of acute shortage of raw materials and fuel, increasing load-shedding hours, lack of security along the industrial corridor, problems in transporting manufactured materials and compulsion to pay higher price for imports. He further highlighted the plight of industrialists, who have had no option but to pay their staff, bank interest and electricity demand fees in a timely manner though the industries have remained shut.

“The rise in price of all products is understandable in this situation, when the production cost has gone up significantly,” said Murarka, adding traders are, however, hesitant to hike up prices for fear of being accused of promoting black marketing.

The general public had hoped that the promulgation of the constitution would herald an era of peace, stability and prosperity in the country. “However, their aspirations have been shattered due to the irresponsible behaviour and inaction by government as well as the agitating parties, which has resulted in the citizens all over the country

having to suffer the biggest crisis in history,” he added.

The country’s economy that was already in the doldrums due to the massive earthquakes of April and May has been further devastated by Tarai turmoil, as per Murarka. “Around 1.4 million Nepalis could be pushed below the poverty line due to collective adverse impact of the quakes and Tarai agitation.”

Stating that the negative message about Nepal had already started to adversely affect local and foreign investment, Murarka further said, “The depressing news of the country likely to record negative economic growth this fiscal and Nepal being ranked the poorest country in South Asia have already made the headlines.”