Inability to define 'Sick industry' delays relief packages
BHOJ RAJ POUDEL
KATHMANDU, May 6: Relief to sick industries, a program touted by the government since almost two-decade ago, is likely to go unimplemented this year as well, as a Technical Committee formed at Ministry of Industry (MoI) to define ´sick industry´ and chalk out criteria for distribution of relief package has diverted away from its core responsibility.
Over these years, multiple governments have consistently floated numerous offers like tax waiver, loans structuring and soft loans targeting the sick industries.
However, those have remained unimplemented mainly because neither MoI, which is supposed to implement the package, or other related agencies know exactly what the sick industries actually are.
“For any relief package to be implemented, foremost thing we need is a clear definition, criteria and types of sick industries,” said a MoI official. "However, as various task forces did not clearly say which and what sort of industries can be termed as sick industries, the Prime Minister´s Office had asked the MoI to form a technical committee to work out the definition to pave the way for the implementation of relief measures."
Though MoI formed the technical committee more than a month ago, it has shied away from carrying out the assigned task, saying it has no clear authority to define and set criteria for sick industries.
“It is true the PMO issued us instruction. But the basic document -- report of Sick-Industries Rehabilitation High-Level Task Force (SIRHLTF) formed in 2011 -- on which the the instruction was based has no legality in itself. It is neither owned by the cabinet nor the cabinet issued us the instruction to define the sick industries,” said Anil Kumar Thakur, joint secretary of the MoI, who is also leader of the technical committee.
Sources at MoI, on the other hand disagreed with Thakur´s approach. “As the ministry formed the team on PMO´s instruction, he should first complete the assigned task and forward the definition and criteria to the cabinet for approval,” said a source.
If Thakur had acted in the way sources thought right, it would have paved way for an early implementation of the relief package. However, Thakur told Republica he was forwarding the SIRHLTF report to the cabinet to gain legality of the ministry-formed committee and carry out tasks assigned by the PMO.
Such dilly-dallying on the issue, meanwhile, has irked a committee formed by the government to monitor and carry out the follow up actions to ensure that the report made by the SIRHLTF is implemented.
“It is already six months since the PM instructed for the implementation of the report. Sadly, MoI is dragging feet for no good reason,” said Deependra Bahadur Kshetry, vice chairman of National Planning Commission and coordinator of the monitoring team.
Expressing his dissatisfaction over MoI´s slackness, he said the committee would soon seek explanations from MoI, PMO, Nepal Rastra Bank and Ministry of Finance for the lack of implementation of the report.
Kshetry also lambasted Thakur for his stance that the report should be endorsed by the cabinet for implementation. “It was endorsed by the prime minister and the PMO and instructed the MoI to implement it six months ago. I wonder what he is trying to prove by again forwarding the document to the cabinet,” he said .