Private sector under pressure for donations

Kathmandu, October 23

With the provincial and parliamentary elections inching nearer, private sector players in the country have said that different political parties and their wings have started piling pressure on industrialists and businesses for donations.

As a result, industrialists said that the business environment has been deteriorating in the country since the last few days.

As per the mandate of the Constitution, the government is holding the provincial and parliamentary elections in two phases — on November 26 and on December 7.

“Political parties and their wings have already started seeking donations (in an unmanaged way) in the name of elections from industrialists and other businesses. While we are hopeful about a better business environment after the elections, the trend of collecting funds from businesses during every election has been troubling the private sector,” said a senior official of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI).

Seeking anonymity, the FNCCI official said that the government should immediately use its mechanisms to control such activities from political parties. “Moreover, the government itself should fund political parties during elections, not the private sector,” the FNCCI official opined.

In case the government is unable to discourage donation collection from industries during the elections, the private sector players have said that it should then legalise donations and allow such contributions through cheques so that businesses can keep track of their expenses and include their expenditure for donations in their annual balance sheets.

If the donations are allowed to be incorporated as ‘expenditure’ in their annual balance sheets, industries will also get some relief while paying taxes to the government.

Industrialists also said that political parties and their wings have been demanding donations in an unmanaged way, even though the Income Tax Act of Nepal has stated that industries are not obliged to donate more than Rs 100,000 in a year.

Hari Bhakta Sharma, president of Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI), said that there is an urgent need to introduce a system to properly channelise collection of donations during the election period.

“One way to channelise the donations during elections is by allowing industrialists to write a cheque to the political parties,” said Sharma.

Meanwhile, Sharma also floated an idea of the government forming a basket fund for the political parties during elections. “Interested businesses and industrialists could contribute to the fund and the government could disburse the fund to the political parties through an effective mechanism during the elections,” said Sharma.