You have been appointed the president of the Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI). How difficult do you think will the job be in the current political crisis?
Leading the CNI will be a difficult job, but I am sure that I would do everything in my authority to guarantee that enthusiasm remains high among industrialists. Due to the current prolonged political crisis, the economic sector of the nation is suffering heavily and is not moving in the right direction. Investors’ confidence is also decreasing. However, the possibilities are also very high. So I will work in making the investment environment better by holding talks with all the concerned stakeholders and take steps, which will benefit the whole nation. I will continue with the previous agenda of the confederation, and take additional steps in the direction of attracting foreign direct investment, creating ways for employment generation and try to solve the current issues of the industrial sector.
What are your views on social investments?
CNI would encourage social businesses like in the past. We will further expand the Public Relief Fund that had previously been set up in the CNI. We encourage firms and people for social investments.
What do you think are the challenges for the industries of the nation?
Political instability has hurt the nation a lot. Along with political uncertainties, power crisis and labor issues are other things that are severely hurting the nation’s economy. In Nepal, the investment cost is also high. These issues have directly made negative impacts on the investments. As the investments are costly, production will suffer and so will the economy. There is the need of construction of dedicated grids to ease the current energy crisis for the industries. But we will try in our limits to make the current environment more favorable and will also work continuously to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
How should the labor issues be solved?
As the political parties are split, the unions affiliated to them are also split. The number of labor unions is already high in the country. They seek improper donations from the industries. The labor issues should be solved without delay. Politics should be kept out of the unions. There should be only one trade union.
Should the Nepalese be allowed to invest outside of the country like you have been saying?
In the open market economy, the investment which is sitting idle should be allowed to be invested beyond the national territory. If somebody invests abroad then it will be a pride for the whole nation. We should come out of the mentality that if people are allowed to invest abroad then they will settle outside. Rather, people should be given options to invest abroad, and the government should also organize proper channels to bring in profits from abroad. We have investors in Nepal who are very capable and they should be allowed to compete in the global market. The government should not confine them within local territories.
(Interview based on the Basnet’s views expressed during his press conference)