When the President presented the government’s plans and policies for the year 2077/78 BS, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) were hopeful for the announcement to include some respite for them.
However, except for ambitious long-term plans for large-scale industries, the government had nothing to offer to SMEs.
The extended nation-wide lockdown, which has been stretched beyond two months, has hit SMEs the hardest with the government doing zilch to revive economy.
According to a draft report of the study commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Nepal titled ‘Rapid Assessment of Socio-Economic Impact of Covid -19 in Nepal’, every three in five employees have lost their jobs in micro and small businesses in Nepal, with their average monthly revenue plunging by 95 per cent.
The study says that these businesses can sustain for only around two months if the lockdown is stretched.
Temporary workers, migrant workers, and daily wage labourers are among the most vulnerable based on income, and their ability to sustain through the economic slowdown.
But the government yesterday directed that businesses involved in goods supply and home delivery service must submit their tax clearance proof in order to obtain vehicle passes.
These are the businesses that jumped into action to provide services at people’s doorsteps from the very beginning of the lockdown.
Meanwhile, vehicles carrying industrial raw materials, readymade products, petroleum products, animal feed, livestock, fruits and vegetables, ambulances, mortuary vans, and vehicles transporting medicines as well as medical equipment will not require passes to operate.
Nepal Dairy Association (NDA) issued a press statement on May 10 requesting the government to revoke the time card system as the system had made it difficult for dairy firms to supply their items to the market.
Inability to work within the time stipulated by the government has forced several dairy firms to destroy their products.
Addressing concerns raised by lawmakers during the pre-budget discussion in the House of Representatives on May 13, Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada said, “With limited resources at hand, the budget will focus on sorting out challenges caused by the Covid-19. While existing projects will be reprioritised, priority will be given to national pride projects and other priority projects that are near completion.”
Again, no mention of small and medium-scale businesses.
Though we still have to wait for the budget announcement on May 28 to see what the government has in store for small businesses, people are hopeful that it will bring some respite.
Let us know what kind of plans and packages you think the government should announce to encourage and revive SMEs.