May 11: The government’s programme to promote startup business has not been implemented despite being included in the annual budget for the last eight years.
Inspired by the popular startup programme of India, the Government of Nepal has included the programme in the annual budget since a long time. However, it has not been implemented yet. Lack of clarity and coordination among concerned agencies are the main reasons behind the delay in implementation
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a nationwide expansion of startup business in 2015. To make the campaign successful by promoting new entrepreneurs, a fund of Rs 100 billion was set up in 2016 by the Indian government.
The programme has become popular even though it has not yielded results as per the expectations of Modi. Due to the popularity of this programme in India, the then Finance Minister Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat had announced a programme with a similar concept in the budget in the Fiscal Year 2071/72.
A startup fund of Rs 500 million was allocated in that year’s budget. However, the then government did not prepare any work procedure to implement the fund.
Since then, it has not been implemented even though the programmes such as challenge fund, grant, and concessional loan have been brought up time and again.
This programme got continuity in all the three budgets announced by the previous government led by KP Sharma Oli.
In the first year, it was said that a grant would be provided by establishing a challenge fund to those with the new ideas. After the programme was announced that year, a committee headed by a member of the National Planning Commission was formed to oversee the programme.
The government called on interested parties to submit their projects without preparing a draft for the operation of the programme. About 700 applications were received. But no one has been able to receive the fund so far.
In the following year’s budget, the government announced to provide a loan at two percent interest rate under the challenge fund instead of grant. However, as the draft was not clear, the programme could not be implemented.
In the budget brought by the then Finance Minister Bishnu Poudel through an ordinance for the current fiscal year 2078/79, this programme was revised again. After amendment, the government has decided to provide loan at 1 percent interest rate instead of 2 percent to the applicants.
“With the objective of motivating young entrepreneurs to get involved in startup business, seed capital loan of up to Rs 2.5 million at one percent interest rate will be provided against the project as a collateral,” the budget stated.
In the budget brought through the ordinance, it was said that registration, renewal of startup business and other services would be provided free of cost through a one-door system. Nevertheless, the budget has not cleared anything on issues like the process of implementation, while the definition of startup business is also not clear.
The government had pledged to facilitate the programme through policy intervention in order to attract foreign investment in startup business and a challenge fund of Rs 1 billion was to be established for this purpose. As the fiscal year draws to a close, there is no sign of implementation of the programme.
Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Finance Dhundi Prasad Niraula says that the budget has not been released for this programme yet. He is unaware why the programme, which has been in the budget for a long time, could not be implemented. According to him, the concerned bodies should be held accountable for implementing the programme.
Such programmes are being implemented all over the world, including India, to encourage startup business, says the labor expert Dr. Ganesh Gurung. According to him, it is unfortunate that this programme, which encourages employment for a long time, could not be implemented.
Member of National Planning Commission Dr. Ram Kumar Phuyal admitted that it has become too late for the implementation of the programme. He attributed the delay to the existing dilemmas in the work procedure, lack of inter-agency coordination and change of government.
According to Phunyal, a new procedure is being formulated and sent to the Council of Ministers. “We are sending a new procedure to the cabinet. After amending it, we will issue a directive and implement this programme,” he said.