KATHMANDU, May 8: Former prime minister Baburam Bhattarai has said that the COVID-19 pandemic should be taken as an opportunity to rebuild the country's economy.
Bhattarai made the statement while addressing a meeting of the Finance Committee under the House of Representatives (HoR) at Singha Durbar on Thursday.
"Today, we are passing through a difficult period created by the coronavirus outbreak. But, we can take it as an opportunity to rebuild our economy," he said.
The former prime minister stressed the need for collaboration between the government and the private sector to address the challenges triggered by coronavirus. "We should also closely observe the global economic situation while chalking out our domestic strategy to face the challenges to be emerged due to the coronavirus pandemic," Bhattarai, who is also a former finance minister, said.
On the occasion, former finance minister Surendra Pandey urged the entrepreneurs to make a list of entrepreneurs, classifying them based on their economic vulnerability to the adverse situation created by the novel coronavirus, and submit it to the Finance Committee of the HoR. "Based on the list, the government can prioritize and provide relief to the most vulnerable entrepreneurs," he viewed.
Another former finance minister Gyanendra Bahadur Karki said that remittance inflow to the country is expected to drop as thousands of Nepalis may return home in the coming days. "On the one hand, there will be more unemployed youths, while on the other hand the country will lose remittance. Therefore, we have to make a plan to deal with this situation accordingly. We can think something on how to make our youths self-employed at home," he said.
During the meeting, representatives from the Federation of Nepali Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Nepal Chamber of Commerce, Confederation of Nepalese Industries, Construction Entrepreneurs Association of Nepal, and Federation of Nepal Cottage and Small Industries shared a number of problems that the country's private sector is currently facing due to the coronavirus outbreak.
They also urged the government to bring a separate relief package for industrialists. "If the government does not bring a separate relief package, the industries will not be able to revive in the post-COVID-19 situation. At the same time, millions of workers affiliated to various industries will lose their jobs," they said.
The entrepreneurs also shared that the manufacturing industry is having a difficult time even as the country is facing food shortage.