‘Forceful’ pre-poll donations test the nerves of businessmen

Kathmandu, November 7

Domestic businessmen are currently adopting different measures to escape the unmanaged collection of donations from different political parties and their wings ahead of the provincial and parliamentary first-past-the-post elections slated for November 26 and December 7.

In a bid to dodge the ‘forceful’ calls for donation from different political parties and its leaders in recent days, Nepali businessmen are either switching off their cellphones or going for foreign trips until the election, an industrialist informed seeking anonymity.

“Industrialists have come under immense pressure for donations from the political parties in the last couple of days. Different political parties and their leaders are separately asking for ‘contribution’ for the election from industrialists in a very unsystematic manner,” said the industrialist.

In fact, the industrialist did not take the call when The Himalayan Times tried to contact him through landline. Later when he was contacted via mobile phone, the industrialist shared that businessmen these days are having to think twice before responding to any phone calls.

“While some businessmen are scheduling their foreign programmes until the election, those who are abroad are extending their stay to avoid the pressure for donations here,” the industrialist said, adding that political parties and their leaders are asking for ‘donations’ amounting to millions.

Meanwhile, different private sector representative bodies like the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) and Confederation of Nepalese Industry (CNI) have been appealing to the government to either discourage ‘unsystematic’ donation collection during elections or legalise all forms of donations.

“Firstly, the government should make donation collection more systematic. After that the government should introduce legal system to allow such contributions through cheques so that businesses can keep track of their expenses and include their expenditure for donations in their annual balance sheets,” a source at FNCCI said seeking anonymity.

If the donations are allowed to be incorporated as ‘expenditure’ in their annual balance sheets, industrialists believe that they would get some relief while paying taxes to the government.

However, CNI officials are of the view that the government should form a basket fund for distribution of donations for political parties during elections.

“Establishing such a fund will systematise donation collection and distribution during elections. The government, and interested businesses and industrialists will contribute to the fund and the government could disburse the fund to the political parties through an effective mechanism during the elections,” said Hari Bhakta Sharma, president of CNI.