KATHMANDU, Aug 11: Ministry of Industry (MoI) has started studying applications from 29 business firms, which claim themselves to be sick industry, in a bid to assess whether they are truly ´sick´ and deserve relief package that the government has committed for sick industries.
“We have initiated verification of industries that have lodged applications for the facility,” Surya Kant Jha, under secretary at the MoI told Republica. “We will come up with preliminary findings based on the information that the industries have provided to us.”
However, officials at the MoI failed to clarify how they will judge whether the applicant is sick, for neither the ministry nor any other authority have developed clear guidelines and parameters to do so.
Interestingly, the 29 firms that have applied for the facility include units such as The Fulbari Resort, whose owner is an infamous bank loans defaulter, and Shree Distillery, whose owner is a well-known tax evader.
Going by the existing directives of the government, which bars loans defaulters from any state facility, the ministry should not have accepted their applications in the very first place. But the MoI officials said they are considering their applications for the facility as well.
“It is true we have not developed criteria for sick industries yet, but we will come up with parameters to gauge them based on the preliminary findings of those firms” Jha said.
But other officials raised concern over such approach of the MoI.
“The approach would have been correct had the ministry first developed a set of parameters to gauge and evaluate the industries to ascertain whether or not they are sick,” said an official. "The ministry is now saying it will develop parameters based on the study of applicant firms. This approach is wrong because it raises chances of thus developed parameters to be faulty,” he added.
The sick-industries unit at the MoI and the technical committee had came into existence after the cabinet last year approved a report of the high-level task force that was formed to revive and rehabilitate sick-industries.
Under the relief program, the government has committed to provide multiple relief packages to the sick industries such as tax waiver, extension of loans repayment date, restructuring of bank loans and waiver of interest, among others.
However, the program has not been implemented due to the failure of the government in defining what sort of and which actually are sick industries.