Nepal | June 04, 2020

Industries may operate on priority basis

Himalayan News Service
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Kathmandu, May 5

With the extended nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus slated to end on May 7, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Supplies Lekhraj Bhatta today said discussion was under way to allow industries to open on priority basis.

“We are doing necessary groundwork to allow industries to open gradually.

While top priority will be given to industries related to food, industries related to manufacturing and exports will get second and third priority, respectively,” said Bhatta while addressing a video conference organised by the Society of Economic Journalists–Nepal.

According to him, talks are on with the business community on resuming operation of industries that have been shut for months.

“Though Kathmandu is not regarded as a red zone for coronavirus, it is a zone prone to the spread of the disease due to its high population density. However, industries have to be allowed to operate and the government is discussing the appropriate modality to allow businesses to resume,” added Bhatta.

He said the government would possibly slot districts into red, yellow and green categories and allow industries to operate in the green and yellow zones by adopting precautionary measures to combat the spread of the virus.

“The Cabinet meeting scheduled for Wednesday is likely to take a decision on these issues,” he told THT. Bhatta added that intra-ministry talks were on to address the concerns of workers affected by the pandemic and to support small and medium scale enterprises.

The government is also working on reviving a few sick public enterprises and operating them under public-private partnership modality, he added. “All these issues will be addressed in the policies and programmes of the government and the budget for the upcoming fiscal year,” said Bhatta.

The minister claimed that the government had ensured uninterrupted supply of essential goods in the market and kept prices of essential goods under control during the crisis. “However, prices of some essential goods that were recently imported might have gone up slightly due to higher value of dollar,” he said.

Bhatta added that the government itself had fixed the support price of wheat for this year and asked the private sector to continue purchasing agricultural products to ensure that farmers did not face problems related to price and the market even during the crisis.

Meanwhile, State Minister of Industry, Commerce and Supplies Motilal Dugad said the government was in talks with the private sector to help revive their businesses.

On the occasion, Vishnu Agrawal, senior vice-president of the Confederation of Nepalese Industries, said the government should help industries sustain workers as this was the immediate problem that businesses were facing.

“Sustaining workers is the responsibility of employers, government and workers themselves. Industries are operating on huge loans and their businesses have been completely shut down for months,” he told THT.

Agrawal added that the government should allow industries to operate as soon as possible by adopting precautionary measures against coronavirus.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on May 6, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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