Govt announces economic relief measures to support poor, businesses hit by Covid-19

Published On: March 30, 2020 10:00 AM NPT By: Sagar Ghimire  | @sagarghi

To transfer budget, seek international financial assistance to meet resource gap

KATHMANDU, March 30: The government has come up with a relief measures that aims to extend support to poor and vulnerable hit by the Covid-19 and government lockdown as well as measures to support the businesses and economy from the impact of the pandemic.

The government has also decided to transfer budgets allocated in the annual expenditure program, tap into various funds like natural disaster fund and mobilize international assistance from development partners to meet the resources needed for these relief measures.

These economic steps announced by the Minister for Finance Yuba Raj Khatiwada immediately after the cabinet meeting on Sunday evening ranges from fiscal measures like deferment of tax filing and relaxation on compliance to supply of free or subsidized foods to those who have lost livelihoods to waiver on tariffs of internet, electricity and other supplies.

The government has come up with over a dozen relief measures after a week of the lockdown that has thrown many out of jobs or works, disrupted supply system and battered businesses.

According to the announcement of Finance Minister Khatiwada, those poor families and informal sector workers who have been facing livelihood problem can access relief from the ward. He said that local unit through their Covid-19 fund will keep the record of such people and provide them relief by taking into consideration their daily food requirement. The federal government could transfer budget if they lack the fund, he said.

Similarly, the government has extended the deadline for the tax filing by one and a half months. The value added tax (VAT) and income tax filing deadline has been extended till May 7. Similarly, the deadline to submit the report and other details by companies to Office of Company Registrar has been extended until mid May. Even if driving license, route permit and other licenses have expired, they can be now renewed by mid-May without any penalty or fine, according to the relaxation.

Those companies who donate to the Corona Virus Control and Treatment Fund of the government will be allowed to deduct such donation as expenses for the tax calculation purpose.

Even those employees whose companies have been shut down in Chaitra (mid March to mid April) will get their salary or wages, according to the government decision. Such companies could utilize their welfare fund to pay wages or salary to their employees. In return, the government will deposit the contribution of this month that they have to make for their employees in the Social Security Fund.

The government has also decided to provide 10 percent discount on all food items like rice, sugar, flour and oil sold by Salt Trading Corporation Ltd and Foot and Trading Management Company Ltd. While offering 25 percent discount on internet and data package by Nepal Telecom during lockdown period, Finance Minister Khatiwada said that arrangement will be made toward making private sector service providers offer similar discount.

The government will also request house owners to waive the rent of one month for the informal sector workers, he said, adding that such house owners will not have to pay the rental tax of that period.

The government has also decided to mobilize returnee migrant workers and those workers who could not go for foreign employment even after acquiring work permit due to Covid-19 under the Prime Minister Employment Program and pay them the financial benefit through Employment Service Center in each local unit.

To meet the resource gap, the government has decided to hold negotiation with the World Bank to receive Rs 3.48 billion of concessional loans, Rs 13.9 billion interest-free financing support from the International Monetary Fund as well as seek financing support from other development partners including Asian Development Bank.

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