Private sector representatives on Sunday met Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and other senior political leaders demanding the assurance of “liberal economy” in the upcoming constitution.
With the preamble of the draft statute talking about leading the country towards socialism, private sector organisations have been demanding the provision be removed and replaced by “liberal economy”. They also expressed concerns over the “right to labour” provision in the draft.
Initially, the private sector bodies, including the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) and Nepal Chamber of Commerce (NCC), made public their opinion separately. But they have now started a joint campaign.
The FNCCI, CNI and NCC representatives also met former Prime Minister Babu Ram Bhattarai, CPN-UML Chairman KP Oli and Madheshi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik Chairman Bijay Kumar Gachhadar. The delegation had met UCPN-Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Saturday.
They handed over their views and reservations over the provisions in the draft statute to the leaders in written. “The private sector has some concerns provisions in the draft constitution. We have put forward our views,” said Bhawani Rana, senior vice-president of FNCCI.
She said the political leaders assured the private sector’s feedback would be seriously considered and incorporated in the constitution.
CNI Senior Vice-president Hari Bhakta Sharma said the private sector had concerns over the mention of texts like “socialism oriented economy”, and “right to labour”, among others. “For the private sector, “socialism oriented economy” holds a different significance,” he said. “We want the government to be clear over the economic issues.”
The private sector is of the view that instead of “socialism-oriented economy”, the constitution can mention “committed towards democratic and prosperous Nepal adopting liberal and free market economy”. Since Nepal has already entered into a liberal economic setup and economic freedom of a person cannot be insured through socialism, the government should clearly mention about open market for increasing investment and boosting the morale of investors, the private sector bodies said in their joint memorandum.
Rana said the “right to labour” mention has created doubts whether it meant “against the interest of the private sector”. “There is no need of mentioning the “right to labour”. It can be incorporated in the labour act,” she said.
Sharma said if the government mentions the “right to labour”, it should also mention the “right of employer”.
The Article 39 of the draft constitution states every labourer shall have the right to proper work practices; every labourer shall have the right to appropriate remuneration, facilities and social security; every labourer shall have the right to form trade union, participate in it, and organise collective bargaining.
The CNI has demanded that the employers be granted the right to be organised, open and close industries and hire and fire workers.
On the Article 22 (2f) of the draft that has ensured freedom to engage in any occupation or be engaged in employment, industry and trade, the private sector is of the view the constitution should mention freedom to engage in any occupation or be engaged in employment, industry, industrial establishment, operation, expansion, layoff and closure.
The private sector has also demanded the Article 30 (2) of the draft which mentions “the state may impose tax on a person’s property, as required, on the basis of the norms of progressive taxation”, should be removed entirely.
Rana said the private sector has a common view regarding the provisions in the draft. “The FNCCI collected views of the industrialists and entrepreneurs across the country. The same idea was worked out together with CNI and NCC to make sure we had a common voice,” Rana said.