Nepal | January 17, 2021

EDITORIAL: Heed their plight

The Himalayan Times
Share Now:

It is not easy catering to tens of thousands of applicants, representing different sectors of the economy, all at once

The private sector, in particular the tourism industry, has shown dismay over the cumbersome process and consequent delay seen in availing loans under the government’s refinancing scheme. The government had introduced the scheme to provide succor for the recovery of private industries that were facing difficulties due to the coronavirus pandemic that began with the new year 2020 and continues till today. Tourism entrepreneurs complain of a lengthy process and lack of proper response and monitoring from the government, which are affecting the refinancing scheme. Worse still, there are allegations that only those that are close to the corridors of power are taking advantage of the scheme, while ordinary entrepreneurs who had applied for the facility way back in August last year are still waiting. The government had introduced the refinancing scheme under its Monetary Policy 2020-21 in July. Under the policy, the central bank subsidised interests on loans to commercial banks so that affected borrowers were able to get loans from the banks at a maximum of 5 per cent.

While the COVID-19 has affected all sectors, the tourism industry has been particularly hit badly with few tourist arrivals since the nation went on a prolonged lockdown on March 24 last year. Although the country has opened up for business and tourism, it will be at least a year before tourists start trickling in.

This has made it difficult to retain staff and keep businesses, from hotels to travel and trekking agencies, operational. As a result, many star hotels have shut down or have laid off their staff. Big hotels like the decades-old Annapurna Hotel decided to close down for good with the start of 2021 while other big hotels like the Soaltee have shed hundreds of their staff members. Most hotels have huge debts, and servicing them alone is costing a fortune. The only way they can do so is if the government help comes their way in time. However, the government has lowered the maximum limit on the General Refinance Facility, which does not meet the requirement of the big hotels with huge debts and big staff.

While there are many complaints about the poor implementation of the refinancing scheme, let us still give Nepal Rastra Bank the benefit of the doubt that it will cater to one and all sooner than later. It is not easy catering to tens of thousands of applicants, representing different sectors of the economy, all at once. And there will be many more applications as the second phase of the applications has just been called. As the central bank notes, it is now in the implementation phase of the policy. This is not the first time such a refinancing scheme has been promoted by the government. In the past also, it had provided the facility to export-based industries and enterprises in the productive sector to meet unexpected challenges.

However, the corona pandemic has been so pervasive that literally all businesses and enterprises are in need of funds to stay afloat. Since the needs of different categories of businesses and industries are different, the NRB might do well to raise the refinancing threshold, as requested by certain quarters, to tide them over the demanding period.

Traffic lights

The absence of traffic lights at major intersections of the streets in the capital is one of the major causes of road accidents and traffic jams. Whatever traffic lights have been installed in recent times have also gone kaput for want of timely maintenance. It may be recalled that the solar-based traffic lights were installed at 10 major intersections with support from the Japanese government. They have also remained nonfunctional with the passage of time.

This time around, the Department of Roads has laid a plan to install traffic lights at five more places at Jadibuti, Koteshwor, Thapathali, Durbar Marg and Kaisher Mahal at a total cost of Rs 11.5 million. The project will be completed within this fiscal. So far, the department has already installed traffic lights at 14 places, where there is heavy traffic throughout the day. Installing traffic lights is not a big deal.

The major problem is to keep them functioning all the time so that motorists can navigate the busy roads without any hassle. If traffic lights function without fail, the traffic police do not need to do extra work to manage the vehicles plying the streets. Timely repairs of the traffic lights can help resolve the traffic-related problems.

A version of this article appears in print on January 13, 2021 of The Himalayan Times.

Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

PM slams Dahal-Nepal faction’s ‘lie’

KATHMANDU, JANUARY 16 Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli slammed the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) faction led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Madhav Kumar for spreading the rumour that he had met four justices of the Supreme Court. Addressing a gathering of his faction’s Province 1 chapter cadres in Kath Read More...

COVID vaccine supply, border issues discussed during FM's India visit

KATHMANDU, JANUARY 16 Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, who returned from his three-day India visit today, said that he sought supply of COVID-19 vaccines for essential sectors and India had kept Nepal on priority for supplying the vaccines. Talking to mediapersons upon arrival at Tribhu Read More...

NC stages demonstration in all local levels

KATHMANDU, JANUARY 16 The main opposition Nepali Congress today held demonstrations in all 753 local levels across the country against the government’s December 20 move to dissolve the House of Representative. Majority of senior leaders of the NC flayed the government for dissolving the Hous Read More...

Mount strikes as Chelsea edge 10-man Fulham

LONDON: A late goal from Mason Mount gave Chelsea a laboured 1-0 win at 10-man Fulham in the Premier League on Saturday, easing some of the pressure off their manager Frank Lampard. The result provisionally lifted Chelsea two places up to seventh on 29 points from 18 games, with South Read More...

Nepali Congress senior leader Ram Chandra Paudel

HoR dissolution anti-national, says NC leader Paudel

CHITWAN, JANUARY 16 Senior Nepali Congress leader Ramchandra Paudel today said that dissolution of the House of Representatives was a step against the nation and nationality. Addressing a mass meeting organised by Nepali Congress Bharatpur Metropolitan Committee in Bharatpur, Paudel said that Read More...

CM Raut casts doubt over apex court’s role

RAJBIRAJ, JANUARY 16 Province 2 Chief Minister Lalbabu Raut today said though the Supreme Court verdict should be acceptable, circumstances in which the Parliament was dissolved were suspicious. Addressing the 10th General Assembly of Saptari chapter of Federation of Nepali Journalists at Bana Read More...

Home Minister Thapa defends dissolution of Parliament

DHANKUTA, JANUARY 16 Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa said that dissolution of the Parliament was an imperative for the sake of political stability. Addressing a district-level meeting of party cadres in Dhankuta today, the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) leader claimed that the prime minster h Read More...

Security tightened at border points in Banke

NEPALGUNJ, JANUARY 16 District Administration Office, Banke, has tightened security to prevent the possible spread of bird flu in Banke. The DAO took the decision after bird flu was found in different states of India. The DAO has banned import of birds and poultry-related items from India. Read More...