House panel okays Industrial Enterprises Bill amid protest by minister

Published On: August 24, 2019 07:31 AM NPT By: Ashok Dahal  | @ashokpillar

KATHMAMDU, Aug 24: Industry, Commerce, Labor and Consumer Rights Committee of parliament has endorsed the Industrial Enterprises Bill paving way for renewing license for industries repeatedly missing deadline for operation and production, amid reservations from the concerned minister and a lawmaker. 

The decision of the committee comes amid strong discontent from Minister for Industry and Commerce Matrika Yadav who was for scrapping licenses of those industries failing to start production after repeated extension of their deadlines and also involved in producing goods without renewing their license. 

Sources said that some brewery entrepreneurs had extensively lobbied with the lawmakers and the government for inclusion of a legal ground in the bill for renewing license of their distillery companies established without meeting standard criteria or letting their license expire after failing to start production. 

Section 60 of the bill, soon to be tabled at the House of Representatives, reads that ‘those industries failing to start operation, commercial production or transaction within the given deadline or extended deadlines could apply for extension of their deadline within three months after the commencement of the law.’ 

Sources said that the provision was included in the bill under influence from the brewery industrialists. Earlier, Minister Yadav had registered the bill proposing attractive initiatives to lure private investments in industries prior to the Nepal Investment Summit in March, but withdrew the bill reportedly under pressure from Prime Minister K P Oli. 

The government registered a second bill in April with some changes to appease the industrialists and paving way for renewing license for industries not starting operation due to various reasons. Ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmaker Dil Kumari registered amendment on the provision demanding renewal of permission from the Department of Industry for those industries failing to commence production within their deadlines. The main objective behind the amendment was to compel those industries getting license under political influence and without meeting the criteria to meet the criteria. 

Minister Yadav stood in favor of accepting the amendment from Dil Kumari during deliberation in the committee. 

But she was almost alone in the committee to lobby for tightening up on those industries. Kumari was surprised when she found that her amendment was rejected by the committee in her absence. “I have strong reservation over the committee report and I have also informed the committee chairperson about registering note of dissent from my side,” she complained to deputy parliamentary party leader of NCP Subas Nembang on Friday. But Nembang instructed her not to do so because most of the NCP lawmakers in the committee had voted in favor of the bill.

NCP lawmakers Devendra Paudel, Krishna Shrestha and Nar Bahadur Dhami, who are also members of the same parliamentary committee, also requested her not to register the note of dissent. Lawmaker Paudel said that he urged her not to go against the party line because it was the official line of the party to endorse the original provisions on the issue registered by the government. 

According to the bill, private firms and foreign companies cannot invest in arms and ammunition or nuclear related industries in Nepal. With the revised provision a cabinet decision is required for establishment of such industries in the country. The bill will be tabled at the National Assembly after endorsement from the lower house.

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