Friday, August 30, 2013

Private sector urges CPN-UML to adopt minimum economic agenda, focus on employment generation, economic prosperity

The private sector is on a mission to convince major political parties in minimum economic agendas at least for the next five years until the country gets a new Constituent through the second Constituent Assembly (CA) election slated for November 19.
After Nepal Congress, Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) team today met with the CPN-UML leaders and urged them to include the common economic agendas – giving emphasis on employment generation and economic prosperity – in their election manifesto.
The CPN-UML has invited the private sector representatives to its headquarters to discuss on the economic agenda that could be included in the party’s manifesto.
“More than 415,818 youth left the country for foreign employment in the last fiscal year alone,” the umbrella organisation of the private sector said, adding that the migration has fuelled scarcity of potential and trained manpower for industries, also hurting the agriculture output.
The FNCCI has also suggested short- and long-term strategies for the economic development with focus on arresting rising rate of unemployment, trade deficit, energy crisis, unequal development, weak infrastructure and corruption.
The private sector has urged the CPN-UML to focus specially on energy generation as it is a engine of economic growth. It has asked the liberal communist party – that has been in power many a times in past too – to help complete various hydropower projects in different regions for equal and justifiable development of the country. The FNCCI has asked to help complete 900-MW Upper Karnali Hydro Project in the Mid-western region; 750-MW West Seti Hydro Project in the Far-west; 600-MW Budhi Gandaki and 900-MW Upper Tamakoshi in the central region; 600-MW Upper Marsyangi Hydro project; Lower 400-MW Tarun and 415-MW Upper Tamor Hydro projects in the Eastern region on time.
Earlier, the CPN-UML was opposed to the market economy and foreign investment on hydropower development that has pushed the country two decades back with chronic power shortage in the country.
The private sector representatives also urged the party to prioritise at least two storage projects –including Budhigandaki Hydroppower – in the next five years as the run-of-the river projects only cannot help reduce power outage.
“Instead of promising of generating 10,000 MW of electricity, the party should have clear agenda on infrastructure development like big storage projects for energy generation that will give a boost to the economy,” FNCCI president Suraj Vaidya said, during the meeting.
“The CPN-UML seemed serious on economic development and creating investment-friendly environment,” he said, adding that the party is also prepared for the CA election on scheduled date of November 19, which is a great relief for the private sector. “The election will give some momentum to the economy.”
“The party is also positive on a fixed date for the budget presentation as in the past six years the budget came only twice on time due to frequent changes in the governments, which has hit not only the private sector but also the economy hard,” Vaidya added.
The party has realised that it is the time for economic revolution unlike in the past, when it was focused on political revolution, said the CPN-UML chairman Jhala Nath Khanal after receiving the 16-page recommendations from the private sector.
“It is high time we concentrate on economic development and industrialisation,” he said, adding that commercialisation of agriculture sector by mobilising domestic and foreign investment and tourism promotion through key infrastructure projects like the Mid-hills Highway are on cards.
The party has taken the private sector’s concerns seriously, said CPN-UML Standing Committee member Bharat Mohan Adhikari, who was finance minister during the late Man Mohan Adhikari and Madhav Nepal governments.
“The party will incorporate their recommendations in the election manifesto, he added.
The private sector has been lobbying to include minimum economic agendas in the political parties election manifesto and implement it, as in the past there was confusion on the economic agenda among the political parties due to frequent changes in the governments from liberal democrats Nepali Congress – that has been avid supporter of liberal market economy – to the hardliner communists UCPN-Maoist – that was opposed to liberal market economy, economic freedom and foreign investment in the hydropower. The frequent policy changes has discouraged the potential domestic and foreign investors.
But the UCPN-Maoist has also been slowly reforming itself and accepting that they can reach their goal of socialism only through the capitalism, though it has become too late to develop the country.
After they realised that they lost chances to develop country and pushed it to almost two decades back due to their opposition to the foreign investment on hydropower development and liberal market economy, CPN-UML and UCPN-Maoist –along with other five major political parties – have also agreed and committed to the hydropower development without hindrance on any hydropower projects.
On April 11, during the FNCCI annual general meeting, the top leaders of the seven political parties have committed to the hydropower development, though the country has already lost many opportunities and chances to economic development.
“Though, the political parties have committed private sector promotion and focus on economic agendas in the past, politics have always pushed the economic agendas to the back seat,” Vaidya said, adding that this time the private sector wants them to walk the talk.
The Nepal Inc also plans to hold similar meetings with all the major political parties to ask them to include economic agenda in their CA election manifestos.

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