Industrialist SURAJ VAIDYA is contesting the elections for the post of FNCCI president .Shrestha spoke to NEW SPOTLIGHT about his agenda.
Why did you vie for the post of FNCCI president?
Nepal is going through a transition and I think every Nepali who wishes to lead the country in a certain direction should come forward. We'll probably face the hardest time in the coming days. With the new constitution which is expected to come in the next two and a half months, there will be laws and by laws which will totally change our way of working, and, therefore, private sector's voices and views must be accommodated in these new laws. I believe that FNCCI leadership will have an important role to play and I feel I can give contribute my 25 years of experience with FNCCI by choosing to lead it.
What are your agenda?
I've six agenda. They are to initiate the private sector-led economic programs. Right now we believe that all the economic programs are led by political institutions. And this change must be brought about by FNCCI. Within six months of my coming, we will present the political leadership by with our fast track rebounding approach to the nation's economy. And, hopefully, we will be able to implement that through the government that will come in the future.
What are other areas?
In the area of energy, we will try and create an atmosphere to make sure that the investment will come in as it is required. Laws have been seating in the parliament for the last two and half years. We will lobby that the laws come into force as soon as possible. We believe that in energy it is all a supply and demand situation. And, therefore, the government of Nepal needs to look at giving incentives in attracting investment in this area. That is something we will lobby for. There are trade unions. We need to create an environment in Nepal that helps productivity grow. We want to provide social security with flexibility. And these two agendas can be accepted by the trade unions. We believe that we can create a better environment for investments in a year. These will be the major points I'll be working for.
Labour unrest has been badly damaging Nepal's industries. What is your take on this?
We have worked on the political agenda that political parties and leadership have. But we think the political frame has limitations. What we need is work in partnership with these people in convincing where we can address their concerns without affecting investment. So, I think the approach should be to work with the trade unions as partners.
Don't you think there is a competition within FNCCI at this crucial juncture?
The beauty of democracy is we get stronger when we have differences. New ideas emerge out of differences. Therefore, I think the FNCCI style of management over 46 years by electing leaders through the process of countrywide elections has strengthened the apex industrial association and it has weaknesses as well. So, I think election is healthy as long as we practice it in a healthy manner.
What are the prominent issues?
I think the prominent issue is FNCCI looks after the interest of the national economy and its development. The priority in the last ten years and twelve years for the international community and the political leadership has not been economic development. It's been peace and security. I don't believe that any of these questions is less important than economy. But it’s the priority of the time and time today demands that we have a situation where we have peace and security. And that being the focus, we think economy has been second to these issues. But again unless you have people who have a job, who have employment, who can send their children to schools, who can have better care when they go back home; what we are all looking forward to is not going to come. Therefore, we stress, we request to the international community to change their focus from peace and security to economy as the fundamental engine to drive peace and security and this is something FNCCI is going to work on under my leadership with the international community.
How do you see the state of Nepal?
Nepal is not a poor country. It is a rich country. We have tremendous potential. We need to focus, we need to be more energetic in approaching the problems together. Differences will strengthen us. We must look at the nation as the fundamental thing and keep our self interests out of it. Nepali people need to build this country by promoting both whereby we all will then benefit from having a prosperous Nepal in the long run.
In the context of globalization, what role do you want to see the role of FNCCI?
The total import is at about 4.6 billion US dollars and export is about only 1 billion dollars. The foreign reserve has diminished from an amount covering 9 months to 5 months. This is alarming. And, therefore, we doubt the possibility of bringing more FDI investment in this country. It is not possible for Nepal to create the kind of environment that we expect and to create the wealth that we need for this country. The government of Nepal needs to be more open to FDI, invite more of it by giving more incentives to try and reignite the industrial process in Nepal. So, therefore the only way Nepal can really come out of this depression of the moment is to invite large multinational companies to invest in this country which are running in a very professional manner and thereby create investment options in this country. And I think this is going to help Nepal tremendously.
Most of your senior colleagues have been in politics, don't you think you are left alone?
No! I am a businessman and I think my work, my ethics is business. I believe that profit motivates people to get involved in investments. We need to create the environment so that profit will increase more revenue for the government and create more employment. Politics is not my cup of tea.