EDITORIAL: Make the most of it

We have now realised the potential of cottage, small and medium enterprises. They should be encouraged to team up with big-scale enterprises

Although the economy is in doldrums there is something to cheer about considering the boom of micro, small and medium enterprises.

Although it is hard to find investors, both foreign and domestic due to the prevailing unfavorable business environment it comes as a matter of surprise that these enterprises are doing commendably well.

There is a surge in the number of cottage, small and medium enterprises. The number of such entities has increased by a staggering 360.89 per cent to 320,000 by the end of the fiscal 2015-16.

A decade ago (fiscal 2005-06) the number of such enterprises was only 69,431, according to the figures made available by the Department of Cottage and Small Industries (DoCSI). Due to the effort of the government to promote such enterprises through political intervention appears to have paid off.

Another reason for the surge in the number of these enterprises is due to the contributions made by the migrant workers who have returned home with skill and capital to finance them.

This is regarded to be one of major causes for the rapid growth of the micro, small and medium enterprises. The growth in their number is also attributed to the support extended by some big industries and corporate houses for the development of the same.

The government has also done well to contribute to the growth of the cottage and small industries. For instance, the fiscal budget of this year has set aside an increased allocation for women entrepreneurs with funds from Rs. 60 million to Rs. 180 million.

This has helped in a bid for inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

However, although the outlook looks good for these small and medium enterprise, their contributions to the gross domestic product (GDP) has not been increased in a significant manner.

Moves made by various business houses to brand their enterprises as ‘social business’ in December 2012 also appears to have paid off. These businesses are without owners and operating in the remote parts of the country.

The profit accruing from such businesses is reinvested to set up more new ones thereby providing more job opportunities sorely lacking at present. The reason for these enterprises not contributing to the GDP could be that many of them were registered merely to reap in the benefits from the incentives provided by the government.

Moreover, many enterprises are no longer in operation because their term has concluded.

Meanwhile, there are those who find loopholes and apply for visas to a foreign country as a businessman as they have better chances for acquiring them.

Therefore, there is a need to crack down such unscrupulous activities and to book the culprits and only the genuine entrepreneurs should be provided with such financing.

Now that the we realize the potential of cottage, small and medium enterprises they should be encouraged to team up with big-scale enterprises thereby making handsome profits.

They should be collaborating with similar enterprises in neigbouring countries like India with which it already has a trade treaty providing for extended preferential relief in duty for the produce of the small industries in Nepal.

Public toilets

The government has launched a nationwide campaign to declare all VDCs and municipalities open defecation-free zones to meet its millennium development goal by 2017.

Let alone making all the VDCs and municipalities open defecation-free areas even the capital city of the Kathmandu Valley lacks enough public toilets suitable to use whenever needed.

A disturbing fact is that the Kathmandu Metropolitan City has over one million population spread over around 50 square kilometers but it has only 16 public toilets, that too, which are not suitable to be called toilets.

The public toilets available in the capital city are so dirty that they cannot be used in any circumstances. These public toilets are located in and around the bus parks and other areas where a large number of people gather every day.

But they cannot be used due to lack of running water and staff to clean them all the time. If the condition of the public toilets in the Valley is so pathetic one can easily imagine what the condition of public toilets would be in other VDCs and municipalities.

Declaring any area ODF is not enough. The public toilets must be suitable to use and they must maintain a minimum standard.