Last year, three businesspersons reached the upper house of the parliament. Now almost one year and a quarter later three other businessmen have made it into the council of ministers. Naturally, the business sector is further elated.
But in view of the portfolios they have got the businessmen ministers are handicapped to fulfil the expectations of the community they represent. Narayan Singh Pun, the seniormost of the three and who has a background in piloting helicopters for military service and operating a commercial helicopter company, has got the portfolio of physical planning and works. Though Pun is more a politician as the president of Nepal Samata Party, his experience as a former assistant minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation would have been better utilized in Tourism Ministry itself.
While it seems logical for former President of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) Mahesh Lal Pradhan to get the portfolio of industry, commerce and supplies, the same is not the case with incumbent president of FNCCI Rabi Bhakta Shrestha who is only an assistant minister in Tourism Ministry where a Chartered Accountant turned politician is presiding over as the Minister.
The problem before the businessmen ministers is compounded also because of the public statements that they were making till recently. For example, minister Pradhan is known as a vehement opponent of the liberal economic policy. As the President of the Nepal Textile Industry Association, he has been relentlessly arguing for control in the import of the foreign textile into the country. To implement the tricky policy that he has been advocating is a challenge now. A good support from the rest of the ministries is difficult to garner as all those in charge of these ministries come from so diverse background that cohesion is likely to be very difficult within the cabinet.
More challenging situation is for Shrestha. He had not tried to hide his ambition to be a minister and had repeated on several occasions that the businessmen understood the economic problems better, hence they would be better able to find and effect solutions to those problems. Now that his ambition to become a minister is fulfilled, he has to prove himself by delivering some results. But he is handicapped in that being only an assistant minister.
This is perhaps the first time that people have entered the council of ministers with truly businessmen's credential. If the businessmen ministers are not able to live up to the expectation of the people, the risk is that the entire business community would lose its credibility