Government move to reopen businesses and industries leaves many scramblingFactory workers who had gone home, mostly to their villages, are still locked down.
Although the government has eased the lockdown measures for businesses, entrepreneurs say that it is difficult to resume operations due to the lack of labour, raw materials and transportation.
On Wednesday, after one and a half months, the government decided to allow more than 40 businesses and industrial enterprises to resume operations on a priority basis.
Factory workers who had gone home, mostly to their villages, are still locked down. Similarly, a global closure of factories and transportation systems have affected supplies of raw materials.
Umesh Prasad Singh, acting president of Federation of Nepalese Cottage and Small Scale Industries, said that the government decided to restart the industry without doing any study.
“It is not easy to start or close the industry according to the government decision,” he said. The government decided to reopen the industry hastily without observing the situation of workers who are struggling to survive, he said.
It would have been better if the government had at least discussed with concerned stakeholders before making a decision, said Singh. As the country has been in lockdown for nearly two months, it will take some time to restart operations, he added.
Lata Pyakurel, former president of the federation, said the move by the government to reopen businesses was the right thing to do in order to gradually revive the economy which has stalled. “However, there are many underlying problems that still need to be addressed and the government should have opened a discussion with entrepreneurs,” said Pyakurel.
Entrepreneurs said that it was nearly impossible to get workers as most of the people had returned to their villages and they had no means of making it back due to the lockdown. Imports of raw materials have also stopped. This means that most businesses have limited supplies to operate for a few weeks.
“With little to no transportation, what is the point of even producing goods?” lamented Singh.
Even though the government has provided safety measures, it is still risky to work in this situation, said entrepreneurs.
Singh said that the government should have created a working environment first to ease the burden on businesses by providing relief on rent, electricity charges and waive bank interest.
“The micro, small and medium industries along with women entrepreneurs should get financial aid from the government as they do not have the capital to restart operations,” he added.
Dharma Raj Shakya, former president of Federation of Handicraft Association of Nepal said it was difficult to sell products during the lockdown, resulting in huge stockpiles of unsold stock. “The government should provide financial subsidies to businesses,” he said.
Entrepreneurs said that from a health perspective, the government should have waited till a coronavirus treatment was developed even if it means paying the price economically.