Private sector rues inadequate relief package

Kathmandu, March 30

Representatives of the private sector have said the relief package announced by the government yesterday was welcome but inadequate.

Though the relief packages brought by both the government and Nepal Rastra Bank are timely, they only partially address the concerns of businesses and actually do not boost the morale of entrepreneurs, especially small and medium scale entrepreneurs, according to them.

“The moratorium set on tax payment and principal as well as interest rate payment is good. However, a few sectors, including the hospitality sector and small industries, have been hit rather hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Though these relief packages have tried to address businesses’ concerns in general, the government should bring special relief packages for sectors hit badly by the spread of the virus,” opined Bhawani Rana, president of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

Yesterday, the government and the central bank had introduced different measures intended to provide relief to crisis-hit businesses and the public.

As a major relief to businesses and individuals who have borrowed from banks and financial institutions, the NRB has directed BFIs to extend the deadline for payment of monthly or quarterly instalments of loans until mid-July.

Similarly, the government has deferred the deadline for tax filing, including value added tax and income tax by one-and-a-half months to May 8. The government had also decided to give 25 per cent discount on electricity tariff to customers who consume up to 150 units of electricity and not to impose any late fee on electricity, water and telephone bills of Falgun (February 13 to March 13) and Chaitra (March 14 to April 12) if they weare cleared by the end of Baisakh (May 13).

Rajendra Malla, senior vice-president of Nepal Chamber of Commerce, said the relief package had failed to properly address the plight of small and medium scale entrepreneurs and daily wage earners.

“Almost all businesses have been affected by the coronavirus. However, small enterprises working at the local level have been affected more. The government should take special care of them,” said Malla.

Satish Kumar More, president of the Confederation of Nepalese Industries, welcomed the immediate relief package of the government. However, he said the government should also plan for short-term and long-term relief packages for businesses and the public, as businesses would take months to revive from the current state.

“The government, in consultation with the private sector, should identify common problems that businesses of all types are facing and introduce measures to address them gradually,” he added.