Industry sector on road to south

Kathmandu, December 21:

The unjust minimum wage policy and prolonged hours of load shedding have rendered the future of industries completely dark. Industrialists are in a dilemma as to whether to continue or not while the entire industrial sector is in distress.

Though the budget made tall claims about introducing a new policy for the carpet, jute and garment industries nothing has been done yet said Deepak Bhattarai, acting president of Nepal Carpet Exporter’s Association adding that if the government does not act fast, within two months the carpet industry will shurt down.

Talking about the wage policy, Bhattarai said, “The state should have decided the minimum wage policy according to the different natures of different industries. Already the carpet industry was staggering and now due to the arbitrary wage decision, it faces shutdown. We give labourers wages according to size of the item, that is Rs 600 per meter. Therefore, we need a different wage policy.”

Due to the global financial crisis purchasing capacity of the American people has dwindled, said Bhattarai. He added that even the hopes created by the budget about a new policy for the carpet, jute and garment also never materialised.

During 2007-08. 11 lakh square metres of carpet were exported. Now it has dropped to 6 lakh square metres. Bhattarai said, “We lack government support. Nepali carpet is an export-based item but the government shows no concern for it. The carpet industry will be facing great problems within two months, and within this year around one lakh workers will lose their jobs.”

“Time and again, we are hard hit. Earlier, it was insecurity and violence obstructing our export business. Now, it is frequent power cuts and the uneven minimum wage policy. Our future is dark,” said Uday Raj Pandey, first vice-president of Garment Association of Nepal (GAN).

“ We even do not know what kind of policy the government will to make and what kind of facility we will get. We are suffering due to high electricity charge and we even do not have the facility of incentives for exporters as a whole at a time when the global financial crisis is another factor creating doldrums.”

“We are utterly frustrated. The government is least bothered. The new power cut schedule will bring many industries to a complete shutdown situation. Right now, there are only 10 garment industries going on and around 50 industries have not yet reopened after operations stopped during Dashain,” Pandey said adding that his associatiobn would remind the government about implementing the new policy as mentioned in the budget. During November, there was a 41 percent decrease in the export of Nepali readymade garment (RMG) to the US was observed. The total value of Nepali RMG exported to the US in November

was $421,850.90.

Meanwhile Ang Dendi Sherpa, president of the Federation of Nepalese Cottage and Small Industry (FNCSI) said, “We will agree with the minimum wage policy but it is hard to afford it. There must be different wages according to the level of the industries or else small industries will be finished.”

According to Sherpa, though small industries need small capital investment, which is Rs two lakh-50 lakh, they provide greater employment opportunities. He pointed out that if only two small industries shut down it would leave a great many people from many households unemployed.