Nepal | June 03, 2020

Private sector threatens to take to the streets if demands not met in budget

Himalayan News Service
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If the situation continues, industrialists will be compelled to commit suicide under financial pressure: Bhawani Rana, FNCCI president

Kathmandu, May 18

The private sector today warned the government that it would take to the streets if the government failed to address the plight of businesses through the budget for the next fiscal.

Representatives of the private sector have blamed the government for not bringing any special plan to support businesses that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown. They have also alleged that the government’s policies and programmes for the next fiscal have not prioritised the issue of revival of industries battered by the contagion.

Addressing a virtual press conference organised by the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry today, its President Bhawani Rana said the government’s failure to incorporate the private sector’s suggestions to facilitate businesses and help them recover from the crisis in the recently announced policies and programmes was unfortunate.

“The private sector, instead of seeking relief, is looking for effective support from the government to cope with the situation. As almost all businesses are fighting to sustain today, they will be compelled to completely shut down and take to the streets if the government does not introduce effective measures to support businesses in the upcoming budget,” she added. Rana said the private sector had already submitted its suggestions and concerns to the finance ministry and Nepal Rastra Bank.

“Economies across the world, including India, have been doing their best to help businesses cope with the crisis and revive gradually, while the government of Nepal has done nothing special to support industries at this crucial time,” she lamented.

“The government should introduce a stimulus package for businesses through the budget, which is worth at least five per cent of the country’s gross domestic product,” added Rana.

Informing that industries, regardless of size, are not able to repay bank loans, interest, rent and other taxes to the government, Rana said, “If the situation continues, industrialists will be compelled to commit suicide under financial pressure.”

FNCCI’s Senior Vice-president Shekhar Golchha said though the government had allowed 42 types of industries to operate by adopting precautionary measures during the lockdown, they were not in a position to resume operations due to multiple factors, including lack of workers, raw materials, transportation problems and market access.

“While the government has allowed operation of certain industries, inter-district movement has been halted across many districts, which directly affects access to the market and supply of raw materials,” he said. “Just allowing certain industries to open is not enough. The government should ensure a favourable environment for them to operate,” added Golchha.

Golchha added that the immediate problem that industries were facing was paying the salaries of workers. “As industries are completely shut, they cannot also take the responsibility of their workers for any health problem or death due to the current pandemic as required by the Labour Act,” he said.

The FNCCI has already submitted its suggestions to the government for the next budget, urging the government to revise income tax slabs, bring value added tax rate to 10 per cent, scrap excise duty on goods, reduce demand charge of electricity, defer tax payment period by at least four months and ensure availability of special loan facilities.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on May 19, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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