KATHMANDU, OCTober 14 – Minister for Commerce and Supplies Sunil Bahadur Thapa has said the government is amending the current trade policy to boost exports and to make it more private sector-friendly.
The current trade policy, which was introduced in 2009, is inadequate to address the ballooning trade deficit and encourage the private sector, the minister said at a programme to mark the 62nd Chamber Day organised by Nepal Chamber of Commerce (NCC) in Kathmandu on Monday.
The country faced a trade deficit of Rs 631.42 billion in 2013-14. The deficit has doubled over the last five years, with imports massively overtaking exports. The deficit has been rising at the rate of 20.3 percent over the last five years.
Thapa said lack of inter-ministerial coordination has also contributed to the trade deficit, with ministries failing to facilitate the private sector. â€œOur ministry is preparing a white paper on how the lack of coordination between the ministries can be checked and balanced,â€ said Thapa.
He also said the private sector should be more active in realising the countryâ€™s business potential while the government would play the role of facilitator.
Minister for Industry (MoI) Mahesh Basnet stressed on the need for one-window facility to the business community to attract investment, both domestic and foreign. â€œA prospective investor needs to make rounds of several
ministries for getting their job done. This needs to be changed,â€ he said.
Basnet complained about the limited budget allocated for the Industry Ministry despite the big tasks assigned. â€œOnly 0.5 percent of the total budget is allotted to MoI which is responsible for encouragingÂ the private sector as well as attracting multinational companies,â€ said Basnet.
The government has allocated Rs 3.48 billion to the ministry for the current fiscal year. The total budget for the year is Rs 618 billion. Chief Secretary Lila Mani Poudel stressed on the need for proper coordination between the government and the private sector in order to attract investment, which necessary for attaining double-digit growth.
â€œThe country needs additional investment of Rs 400-500 billion for achieving 10 percent economic growth rate,â€ said Poudel. â€œThe necessary investment figure might be quite big for now. But it can be worked out in three to four years if the government and private sector work together,â€ said Poudel.
NCC President Rajesh Kaji Shrestha highlighted the chamberâ€™s contribution to boosting investment climate and bridging the gap between the private sector and the government. â€œAs one of the oldest business associations of the country, our role has remained instrumental in shaping up the economic, financial and monitory policies of the country. There is a need for functioning more effectively in the future,â€ Shrestha said, adding NCC has partnered with 40 chambers across the world.