Private sector concerned about delay in stimulus packages

Kathmandu, March 27

While countries across the world have unleashed unprecedented stimulus packages to help cushion the economic blow from the coronavirus pandemic, the government’s reluctance to announce such packages has made the domestic private sector edgy.

“It is unfortunate that businesses have to request the government to bring in relief packages amid such a crisis.

The government should itself have announced immediate relief to businesses as they are linked to daily lives of millions of workers,” says industrialist and former president of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Pashupati Murarka.

He added that the morale of businesses was completely down following the government’s delay in introducing stimulus relief packages.

Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada has been defending the government, stating that unpredictable nature of the coronavirus and the complexity in assessing the fallout from the pandemic have been making it difficult for the government to bring in relief packages.

However, Murarka believes that the government should announce immediate relief packages targeting the public and businesses considering what other countries have been doing.

Countries across the world, including India and the United States, have announced relief packages worth billions targeting the coronavirus-hit public and businesses. Just today, India’s central bank announced it would slash interest rates in an emergency move to counter the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic after the federal government locked down the country in order to slow the spread of infections across the region.

Other countries have given tax payment relief and relief on principal amount and interest rate payments to the public and businesses.

Even though the government of Nepal has set the moratorium on principal and interest payments till mid- April for businesses, the private sector has stated that the period is too short as it will take time to contain the pandemic.

“It is high time the government showed its presence to businesses and the general public,” added Murarka.

Rajendra Malla, vice-president of Nepal Chamber of Commerce, said the government should announce sector-specific relief packages immediately.

“Daily wage earners have been hit the worst by the coronavirus.

Hotel, manufacturing and aviation sectors have also been victims of the situation,” said Malla, adding that stimulus package of the government should address all crucial concerns related to tax and interest payments of businesses.

Meanwhile, economists have suggested that the government should not wait for the pandemic to affect businesses further, but should announce necessary relief packages soon.

“Other economies have already launched such packages and Nepal should follow suit. As of now, the government should bring in immediate relief packages for the public and businesses, such as deferring the tax and interest payment period. Later on, the government should bring in short-term and longterm economic packages,”

Biswo Poudel, an economist, told THT.