SMEs seek immediate relief package from govt

Kathmandu, April 19

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that have been affected by the coronavirus have urged the government to provide immediate relief package.

Issuing a press statement today, the Federation of Nepal Cottage and Small Industries (FNCSI) has urged Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada to arrange a provision for small entrepreneurs allowing them to pay their loan instalments and interest within one year starting from the day the lockdown is lifted.

“Entrepreneurs might need to utilise their current capital to operate industries after the lockdown ends. Hence, the government should guarantee the loan provision that we have mentioned for them,” said Umesh Prasad Singh, acting president of FNCSI. “And for entrepreneurs who have not taken loans till date and want to obtain loans after the lockdown the government should introduce a provision whereby they can avail loans at a maximum interest rate of two per cent,” he added.

Meanwhile, for existing loans interest rate should be reduced by four percentage points, he added.

Singh further said that the government should extend the deadline to renew their industry operation licence for at least the next six months.

The federation has also requested the government to either waive their loan interests of six months or just waive all the interests accrued during the lockdown for cottage and small industries.

“The government should also ask landlords not to seek rent from entrepreneurs and should also provide discount on customs tax on import of raw materials. Likewise, the federation strongly urges the government to waive income tax for at least two years,” reads the statement submitted to Ministry of Finance today.

The federation has further stated that the implementation process of the relief package should not be lengthy and various private sector associations should be included in the implementation process of relief packages although the local government will be implementing the work plan.

Likewise, the federation has also sought a waiver of electricity bills till the lockdown ends. Meanwhile, the federation has stated that loans arranged for women entrepreneurs should be provided without any hassle and interest rate for such loans must be waived for six months.

FNCSI has also urged the government to promote local products during this crisis to reduce imports. “This will also set a trend of using local products in the future. Migrant workers stranded in Nepal due to the lockdown and youths who have returned from abroad due to the coronavirus must be utilised in the country by providing them opportunities to develop their entrepreneurial skills,” Singh said.

He further said that skillbased training can be provided to such youths during this lockdown so that they can utilise this skill to become self-employed later. “This could help the government to cover losses caused by the coronavirus as a large number of youths have returned home at the moment,” he added.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 20, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.