Three associations representing trade and industry on Wednesday criticized the revised draft of the new constitution claiming that it did not address the concerns of the private sector.
They have stepped forward to express their disappointment after references to a socialism oriented economy and labour rights were not removed from the revised draft constitution as they had demanded.
The Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) and Nepal Chamber of Commerce (NCC) said at a joint press meet that if the constitution was promulgated in its current form, it would not promote an investment environment in the country.
“The draft has failed to include the major economic issues of the country, rather it has tried to curb the norms of a liberal economy by introducing the possible provision of socialism,” said FNCCI President Pashupati Murarka.
“We have been surprised that none of the political parties took our suggestions seriously.”
The associations said that since Nepal had already adopted a liberal economic setup and since economic freedom of a person could not be ensured through socialism, the constitution should clearly state a free market economy to increase investment and boost the morale of investors.
While the FNCCI has demanded removing the provision related to labour rights from the list of fundamental rights and including it under the Labour Act, the CNI has asked that the rights of employers be listed as fundamental rights to permit them to hire and fire workers.
Article 39 of the draft constitution states that 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 a trade union, participate in it and organise collective bargaining.
The private sector has also been demanding full rights to own private property, a provision allowing investors to invest in the production sector and a provision permitting foreign investors to repatriate profits.
The private sector has strongly condemned the provision making it mandatory to involve employees in the management team of business organisations.
“As only the investors assume the risk of their investment, the involvement of workers in the management could affect the relationship between management and labour,” he said. “It will also discourage investment.”
Another demand of the private sector is ensuring free flow of labour, capital, raw materials and manufactured goods across federal states. They also showed their concern over the tax structure in the current draft constitution.
“The tax structure to be enforced by the federal, state and local governments should be clearly defined ,” said Murarka.
The private sector associations also stressed the need to prevent possible disputes due to the uneven distribution of natural resources. “The inhabitants of one state should be allowed to enjoy the benefits from the natural resources situated in other states,” he said.
Likewise, CNI President Narendra Basnyat said that the new constitution must accommodate the issues raised by the private sector to enhance the country’s competitiveness in the international arena.
Chandi Dhakal, former president of the FNCCI, said the concerned body should consider making the necessary changes to the draft prior to the final approval of the constitution.
“Once flaws enter the constitution, it will take years to amend the provisions in the future,” he said.