Govt plans to let industries operate from next week

Kathmandu, April 21

With economic activities across the country at a standstill for almost one month, the government is preparing to allow industries to open gradually by adopting precautionary measures against the spread of coronavirus.

As the country has been under a lockdown since March 23 and economic activities have been completely halted, the government is holding discussions on allowing industries to operate cautiously from next week, a source at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies told THT. “As economic activities are completely down and availability of essential goods, including food items is limited, prolonged closure of industries might break the supply-demand chain of essential goods in the market. An option is to allow industries to operate cautiously,” said the MoICS official.

Industrialists have been pressuring the government to allow firms, especially production-based enterprises, to resume operations. They have been saying that the indefinite shutdown of businesses is not only hurting industrialists and workers, but also the entire economy. “With the lockdown being prolonged, the country is facing daily losses worth billions of rupees. It is better to reopen businesses gradually by adopting precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” said industrialist and former president of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Pashupati Murarka.

Meanwhile, Baikuntha Aryal, secretary at the MoICS, said that businesses will be allowed to resume operations soon, as the month-long lockdown has brought economic activities to a grinding halt. According to him, businesses will be allowed to resume operations only after ensuring that they fully comply with all the necessary precautions against coronavirus. “Prolonging the shutdown of businesses will not only affect the market and the economy but also the daily lives of people. We should allow businesses to restart operations to give momentum to the economy and the market,” said Aryal.

However, he stated that businesses must comply with precautions against coronavirus, including the need for workers to wash their hands at regular intervals and use hand sanitisers. Aryal said social distancing among workers must also be maintained and the use of masks and other protective equipment must also be ensured. Moreover, the government will also introduce a monitoring mechanism to inspect whether or not businesses are complying with effective precautions against the pandemic. The government in India has been allowing businesses to open partially, depending on their nature by adopting necessary precautionary measures.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 22, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.