SEZ Bill passed by house panel

Published On: July 6, 2016 02:30 AM NPT By: Sujan Dhungana

The Bill has provisions that ban protest, strike in SEZ
KATHMANDU, July 6: Employees and trade unions of industries operating in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) have been banned from organizing protests and strikes.

The Industry, Commerce and Consumer Welfare Protection Committee of the parliament on Tuesday passed the draft of SEZ Bill. The bill will now be forwarded to the full house of parliament for endorsement.  
Clause 43 of SEZ Bill states: “Regardless of the provisions in existing laws, employees of industries in SEZ are not allowed to hold activities like strike and protest that adversely affect the industry and its production.”

The earlier draft of SEZ Bill, which was endorsed by the cabinet in February last year, only prohibited employees of industries in SEZ from carrying out activities that adversely affect the industry and its production.  Though the preliminary draft had clearly stated that activities like protest and strike will be banned in SEZ, the then government had removed words like 'protest' and 'strike' from the draft due to political pressure.

Talking to Republica, Minister for Industry Som Prasad Pandey said that the provision to ban activities like strike and protest has been included in the Bill itself as the operating modality of SEZ is different compared to other industries. “The primary aim of SEZ is to increase production and export of domestic goods. Activities like strike and protest will hamper industries which is against the spirit of SEZ,” Pandey said, adding: “Activities like protest and strike will be illegal in SEZ.”

Meanwhile, country's private sector has welcomed the decision. “Activities that affect the industry and its production have to be banned in all industrial estates not only in SEZ.  The decision to put a ban on such activities in SEZ is a positive beginning,” Hari Bhakta Sharma, president of Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI), said.   

Stating that activities like strike and protest are banned in SEZ all over the world, Sharma said: “Industries in SEZ will have to compete with industries operating in SEZs of other countries.”

As per the new draft, industries in SEZ can renew their leasing period within 35 days of the end of the leasing period. It has also given industries additional 15 days for renewal by paying a certain fine. The earlier draft had given industries only 35 days to renew their leasing period.

Similarly, Clause 19 of the new draft envisages appointing a representative of Federation of Women Entrepreneurs Association of Nepal (FWEAN) in the 19-member SEZ Management Team which includes representations from both the government and the private sector.

SEZ is a separate space provided by the government to industries for smooth industrial operation as guided by the SEZ Act. The government is working to set up 14 SEZs in different parts of the country.

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