The Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) has demanded that the number of public holidays be reduced by amending the constitution as the government cannot do so due to the diverse social groups seeking holidays during their festivals.
Claiming that the number of days off in Nepal was unreasonably high, the apex body of the private sector said that too many holidays affected economic growth as people were devoting less time to work. The FNCCI said due to a complex social structure, one-third of the days in the year were being spent as holiday apart from the work days lost due to strikes, and that it was not good for the country’s development process.
As per the notice published in the Nepal Gazette on February 24, the country has 50 public holidays in addition to 52 Saturdays in this fiscal year. FNCCI officials told the parliamentary Industry, Commerce and Consumer Welfare Committee that the state should take a “political risk” and cut down the excessive number of holidays as this situation was adversely affecting the economic sector.
The committee had invited the FNCCI to explain why the country’s economy that is largely dominated by the private sector had not been able to create jobs and boost investment. During Monday’s meeting, lawmakers also asked the private sector to advise them what kind of laws and policies were needed to boost the country’s economy.
Private sector leaders told the lawmakers that one of the biggest problems, one that has persisted for many years, was the country’s unstable policy.
“Each time the government changes, the policy too changes. And this instability further creates a policy uncertainty that ultimately becomes too costly,” said FNCCI President Pradeep Jung Pandey.
Moreover, the new constitution should provide an essential framework for establishing commercial freedom and promoting the development of the private sector, he added.
“The state should guarantee the protection of property rights, the right to market entry and exit, free competition, investment and trade through constitutional provisions to establish a free market economy.”
The FNCCI said that the power trade agreement with India had obviously opened up new avenues of commerce for Nepal in the South Asian region, but there were other areas like agriculture and tourism that have been neglected.
“Though the country will be able to reduce the trade deficit significantly in the coming years after energy is traded, we should still think that we are growing fast in consumerism,” he said.
“Our dependence on farm products is growing at an alarming rate, and this eye-opening fact should be realized immediately.”