June 26: Generally, there should be one level difference in customs duty rate between raw material and finished goods. However, the new customs rate announced in the budget of the upcoming fiscal year (FY 2022/23) has been fixed in such a way that it makes it cheaper to import finished goods than raw materials. This has compelled the industrialists and entrepreneurs of Province 1 to start agitation.
As part of the protest, the entrepreneurs picketed the Inland Revenue Office in Biratnagar on Friday.
The industrialists and entrepreneurs of Province 1 have been protesting since the first week of June accusing the Finance Minister of fixing the tariff rates in the interest of certain industries and importers.
Stating that he would hold talks with the agitating entrepreneurs, Finance Minister Janardan Sharma had called on the chairpersons and office bearers of Morang Trade Association, Confederation of Nepalese Industries, Province 1 and Chamber of Industries Morang for talks on June 11.
Although the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) and the Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) issued a statement on June 10 welcoming the budget, they had also expressed solidarity with the demands raised by the agitating entrepreneurs.
After the budget was announced by the Finance Minister, President of FNCCI, Shekhar Golchha, President of Morang Merchants Association, Naveen Rijal, General Secretary Anil Sharda, former President Pawan Sharda, President of Chamber of Industries Morang, Suyash Raj Pyakurel, President of Province 1 chapter of the Confederation of Nepalese Industries, Bhim Ghimire, Finance Minister Janardan Sharma and Finance Secretary Madhu Kumar Marasini, had a verbal agreement to solve the issues raised by the entrepreneurs on June 15. The entrepreneurs, who postponed the protest after the verbal agreement, resumed it once again after the minister did not fulfill his promises.
While picketing the tax office, Naveen Rijal, president of the Morang Merchants Association urged all to oppose the anti-industrial and anti-labor tax provision issued by the government.
Bhim Ghimire, president of the Province 1 chapter of the Confederation of Nepalese Industries said that the government brought the budget against its commitment. He said that the provisions in the budget affected the GI wire and sanitary pad industry and demanded revision in the tax rate.
Chamber of Industries Morang chairman Pyakurel expressed outrage saying that the government discussed the issue with them before preparing the budget at various stages, but it was all just for a show.
President of Samajwadi Trade Union Province 1 Mohammad Nasrul said the government should pay attention to the fact that thousands of workers will lose their livelihood if the industries get shut down.