Kathmandu, March 15
With the global spread of coronavirus expected to severely hit Nepal’s economy, the country’s private sector today urged the government to declare ‘economic emergency’ and take necessary measures to cope with the situation.
During a meeting with Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada, private sector representatives said that the country’s tourism and manufacturing sectors had already been hit badly by the coronavirus, while revenue and remittance sectors were also expected to be adversely affected. They urged the government to take immediate measures to minimise the impact on the country’s economy.
“The level of impact that the coronavirus is going to leave on global and Nepal’s economy is anybody’s guess. In such a context, the government should declare state of economic emergency and introduce measures and packages to support businesses and the economy,” said Shekhar Golchha, senior vice-president of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
According to Golchha, the fear of coronavirus outbreak in Nepal has already affected the market sentiment and the demand for non-essential goods has come down sharply. “Should the situation in India deteriorate, the Indian government could even announce a lockdown. If that happens, the supply of goods will be directly affected,” he said, adding that the government should coordinate with the Indian government and raise the supply of both essential and non-essential goods in the domestic market.
Golchha stressed the need to immediately announce packages to support entrepreneurs working in hotels, cinema theatres, restaurants and aviation.
Rajendra Malla, vice-president of Nepal Chamber of Commerce, said the government should announce interest subsidy and tax clearance flexibility in sectors that were badly affected by the coronavirus. “The tourism sector is facing cash shortage. Entrepreneurs are finding it difficult to pay staffers. The government should immediately announce relief packages for sectors affected by the virus, including the tourism sector,” said Malla.
Satish Kumar More, president of the Confederation of Nepalese Industries, added that the government should give relief to industrialists by bringing down interest rates on loan.
Meanwhile, Khatiwada said the government was studying the impact of the coronavirus on industrial and other sectors. “Effective measures will be taken to support businesses in this crucial phase after holding consultations with other government agencies,”
A version of this article appears in print on March 16, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.