The Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry on Monday submitted its suggestions for the new constitution, which include assurance of property rights, institutionalisation of two-pillar economy, guarantee of freedom to conduct business in all federal states and protection of investment.

FNCCI, which submitted its suggestions to the Constituent Assembly Chair Subas Chandra Nembang, has sought some changes in Preamble and Articles of the draft constitution, saying they ‘are necessary to achieve economic prosperity in the country’.

FNCCI has said that the Preamble of the Constitution should clearly mention ‘Democratic Socialism’ instead of just ‘Socialism’, to ensure and promote free market economy.

Preamble should clearly mention Democratic Socialism

“A socialism-oriented constitution cannot ensure free market economy, wealth creation and property rights,” said Pashupati Murarka, president of FNCCI, adding, “As the country needs to attract a lot of investment to attain economic prosperity, such provisions could dissuade investors as they indicate their property can be nationalised.”

FNCCI has also requested removal of Article 20 (2), which states, “The State can impose taxes on the property of a person as necessary on the basis of principles of progressive taxation.” FNCCI has also advocated two-pillar economy (public and private) rather than a three-pillar economy (public, private and co-operatives) as stated in the draft constitution ‘because the public-private partnership is the proven and established model for a country’s development’.

“In a liberal economy, a level playing field needs to be ensured for all businesses, and the state cannot adopt a protectionist approach towards co-operatives, which are also a part of the private sector,” FNCCI added. As the private sector has experienced bitter experiences of strikes, FNCCI has also sought constitutional guarantee to compensate the loss caused by the strikes, in a bid to protect the investment of entrepreneurs.

It has also suggested to incorporate the Right to Labour under directive principles rather than under fundamental rights, citing this provision will hamper the justifiable, healthy and productive labour relations in companies. As per FNCCI, Labour Act itself can address the issues of labour and labour relations.

Moreover, the private sector has sought guarantee of freedom to conduct business in all federal states and removal of tax duplications. The draft constitution has extended authority to both central and provincial governments to levy some major taxes like excise duty and individual income tax. Likewise, tax headings have also been duplicated between local and provincial governments.

CA Chair Nembang assured the umbrella body for private sector that he would forward the suggestions of the private sector to the concerned CA committees, which would duly consider them.