March 20: The government is preparing to announce relief package for certain sectors badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The government is considering renewal of loan, restructuring of loan, extension of time to pay tax among other measures to provide relief to the affected sectors, according to Finance Minister Dr Yuba Raj Khatiwada.
The finance minister said that sectors like aviation, transportation, hospitality, travel and tourism, trekking, and handicraft were badly affected by the global outbreak of coronavirus.
Finance Minister Khatiwada said that the government will study the relief package announced at the time of the 2015 earthquakes and provide similar relief to bail out the sectors reeling under the effect of COVID-19, which has killed more than 6500 people across the world and is fast spreading across the globe.
Minister Khatiwada dismissed the claims that the ailing tourism industry would cripple the entire economy of the country as this sector contributes only 3 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“The tourism sector is facing difficulty in paying the loan so the government can assist this sector in rescheduling the repayment of loan,” he said, adding that the government was doing necessary homework for this.
Speaking at a press conference organized at the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology on Thursday (March 20), Minister Khatiwada said that the is preparing to welcome offseason tourists from the neighbouring countries to support the tourism sector.
Likewise, Finance Minister Khatiwada urged the aspirant migrant workers to get enlisted and work under the Prime Minister Employment Programme within the country.
The finance minister opined that the reduction in the inflow of remittance won’t immediately impact the country’s economy as the remittance inflow has remained quite high since a long time.
The banking sector has investible capital of Rs 70 billion and the increase in government expenditure would not have much impact on the currency and capital markets.
He further said that the government was studying the lack of raw materials in some industries. He also said that the import of goods hasn’t been affected in any of the entry points except Rasuwagadhi and Tatopani customs points.
"Efforts are underway to bring goods-laden containers from the Chinese border within 14 days. Therefore, extreme problem is unlikely," said Khatiwada.
He admitted that the some major projects involving foreign workers were facing some problems but efforts were underway to return the workers after proper health check.
Despite government’s assurance of relief package, the private sector seems highly skeptical of the government’s efforts to prevent the possible spread of the disease.
President of the Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) Satish Kumar Moore says the government’s lip service is not adequate to handle the current crisis. He suggested that the government must immediately implement its commitment.
“The government has every right to study the long-term effects of coronavirus and seek solution to it, but it must take immediate action to address the current issue,” he said.
Former Finance Minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat says that although the government has taken formed a committee to study the impacts of coronavirus on the country’s economy, it has been dilly-dallying in distributing relief to the affected sectors.
He said that the government should not delay in announcing relief package to bail out the troubled industries.
“It is the responsibility of the government to protect the industrial sector. It cannot back-track from its responsibilities,” he said.