Nepal Today

Thursday, June 20, 2013

ZOO TO GET A FEMALE HIPPO Kathmandu, 21 June: A female hippo is being exchanged with a pair of chir bagh [ leopard]. The hippo will be kept at the Central Zoo in Jawalakhel, Annapurna Post reports. Nepal and India recently signed an agreement for exchange of rare animal species. The zoo already has a male hippo The female is being brought from a New Delhi zoo. Nnnn [ INDUSTRUES SEEK EMERGY Kathmandu, 21 June L At a time when the election-government is not in a position to make big changes in economic policies, the private sector which has been hit hard by different adversaries has high hope of getting some relief from the upcoming budget, BHok Raj Poudel writes in Republica.. Finance Minister Shankar Koirala and other ministers have been publicly announcing that the government, whose prime mandate is to hold the proposed elections for the Constituent Assembly (CA), is not coming up with new populist programs like previous governments would. But, representative organizations have been putting pressure on the government to roll out at least a few programs that will create a conducive environment for doing business by instilling a sense of confidence among business people. As the government is working on drafting a budget for the upcoming Fiscal Year 2013/14, business people have intensified their lobbying and interaction programs with government officials to get their suggestions incorporated in the government’s upcoming policies. Two representative organizations of the private sector, the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) and the Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI), have been separately holding pre-budget discussions seeking a host of incentives, including rebate in taxes as well as industrial facilities for bringing the slowing industrial sector back on track. The business community has requested the government to increase the income tax threshold to Rs 400,000 for individuals and Rs 500,000 for families from the current threshold of Rs 160,000 and Rs 200,000, respectively. Additionally, CNI has asked the government to scrap the additional 40 percent tax that is imposed on corporate firms having disposable income of more than Rs 2.5 million. “Our request is to make Nepal a country with low income tax so that business can flourish. Though the government is mandated mainly with holding the upcoming election, it must try to address the problems facing the Nepali private sector,” Hari Bhakta Sharma, the vice-president of CNI said in a pre-budget discussion. The government itself has formed a committee at the Ministry of Industry (MoI) to come up with recommendations that can be instrumental in stimulating economic activities and boosting investment in the country. The committee led by the chief of Industrial Promotion Division (IPD) at the MoI has submitted a proposal to the government with a bundle of recommendations. Finance Minister Koirala is been publicly making clear that the government will focus on energy, infrastructure, agriculture, tourism and export in coming fiscal year. Private sector organizations have demanded government support for reviving the industrial sector. “We request that the government provide a 50 percent grant to install an alternative energy plant in the firms that have been badly hit by the acute power shortage,” reads the written suggestions that CNI has presented to the government. The businessmen have also put forth their suggestions on infrastructure development, export promotion, customs duty revision, VAT reform, financial sector management and the capital market. The first and only Forbes billionaire Binod Chaudhary, who is also President Emeritus of the CNI, has suggested the government to not just focus on revenue collection. “The government should put more effort on increasing development expenditure in the country so that economic activities would happen,” Chaudhary said. “Our economy is heavily dependent on remittance and revenue, which is not good for prosperity in the long run.” Meanwhile, businessmen have also asked the government to introduce multiple VAT rates. Among other demands, industrialists have requested for different customs duty rates on import of raw materials and finished products. “It’s unfair to pay the same rate on import of raw material and finished products,” Sharma said. Finance Minister Shankar Prasad Koirala has clarified that the government would not change the threshold of VAT. “It would not be possible to introduce a multiple-VAT system in the budget for upcoming fiscal year,” Koirala said. Highlighting the importance of having adequate power available for industrial development in the country, Koirala said the government would allocate a substantial amount of budget in developing transmission lines to evacuate power from the hydropower plants. “The government, through the budget, will also push for signing power purchase agreements (PPAs) for different small, medium and large-scale hydropower projects,” Koirala said, interacting with the businessmen. MoI, which is assigned to facilitate industrial development in the country, has also suggested that the government take different measures to uplift industrial advancement. “The MoI has recommended that the government announce subsidies and waive-off income tax and rebate VAT in a bid to leverage industrial development and attract fresh investment from the private sector,” Bishnu Dhakal, under secretary at MoI said. The committee at MoI has also asked the government to provide subsidy on seeds to jute farmers. Other suggestions include: provision of VAT rebate for dairy firms, customs duty waiver on imports of machines by small and cottage industries and subsidized loan to factories aiming to substitute import of meat and meat products. The moribund economy that desperately needs sufficient power has been announced as a first priority of the govern- ment and businessmen are looking for it. nnnn


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