Industries mull over a separate platform

Kathmandu, August 8

Downhearted with the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), industries within the country’s industrial corridor are preparing to set up their own platform to tackle industrial issues within the region.

Stating that FNCCI has overlooked the concerns raised by industries in industrial corridor, especially while determining minimum wage for industry workers, industries located in Bhairahawa, Butwal, Biratnagar and Birgunj have come up with the concept of ‘4B’ to represent the industries within this region.

Om Prakash Sharma, president of Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry, criticised FNCCI for not holding discussions with the industries in the industrial corridor while determining the minimum wage for industry workers at Rs 13,450. “Despite majority of the country’s factories being located in this region, it was surprising that the FNCCI did not feel the need to hold a single consultation with us on minimum wage for the workers. If FNCCI continues to ignore our concerns, the only option for us would be to form a separate platform,” informed Sharma.

According to him, the Nepalgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry has also recently expressed interest to join the 4B. “If FNCCI does not coordinate with industries while planning industry-related programmes and policies, formation of a separate platform of industries is inevitable,” added Sharma.

The underlying tensions among bodies representing the private sector have gradually surfaced in the recent times, even as major private sector players continue to claim that they have a common agenda. On Monday, Nepal Chamber of Commerce — the umbrella body of Nepali traders — had formally withdrawn its membership from the FNCCI.

Mukesh Upadhyaya, president of Morang Chamber of Commerce and Industry, opined that the minimum wage was determined without proper groundwork. “FNCCI should have taken inputs from district chambers while agreeing to the minimum wage,” he said.

Seeking anonymity, an executive committee member of FNCCI acknowledged that the 4B concept and NCC leaving FNCCI’s membership are testimonies to the widening gap between industries, traders and various bodies representing them. “This rift among private sector bodies will certainly impede industrial growth and development,” he added.

Meanwhile, Bhawani Rana, president of FNCCI, dismissed the notion that industries are unhappy with FNCCI, although she admitted that a few have expressed their reservations against the new minimum wage for workers.

“The newly-fixed minimum wage for workers is scientific as it was determined after holding ample discussions with industries, trade unions, Employer’s Council of FNCCI and the government. Instead of criticising the decision, we should now focus on the measures to increase productivity of industries,” she said.

Commenting on NCC’s withdrawal of FNCCI’s membership and the concept of 4B, Rana said that formation and expansion of organisations is a normal practice in democracy. “However, we all should move ahead with a common goal — the betterment of private sector and the country — despite institutional divisions,”

she added.