By Modnath Dhakal Kathmandu, Jan. 10: The private sector has demanded for immediate implementation of the government-announced relief and rehabilitation packages to revive businesses, and sought extension of the deadline to submit financial report and pay the income tax. Saying that the COVID-19 related restrictions did not allow them to prepare the documents in time, they urged the government to extend the deadline to submit the financial statements and pay the income taxes by three months until mid-April. According to the rule, they must submit the financial details to the tax offices within six months after the end of the fiscal year. With the opening of schools and entertainment businesses, the life and business in Nepal have come to normalcy nine and a half months after the country announced the first lockdown in March last year to save lives from the deadly coronavirus. But government announced relief and rehabilitation programmes are not yet fully implemented. Business community says that the provisions made in the budget and the monetary policy of the current fiscal year were not effectively implemented while Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that lacked access to banking service were unable to obtain the state-announced benefits. Business associations said that the economic activities had begun to increase since the festival season in November last year. As the businesses remained closed for 4-8 months, they couldn’t prepare the financial and other reports. The Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) had urged Finance Minister Bishnu Prasad Paudel to extend the period to conduct the annual audit of the enterprises and time to pay the bank loan by at least three months. Likewise, the Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) issued a statement on Saturday urging the government for the same. The two private sector representatives also demanded to extend the company renewal and bank loan payment deadline by at least three months from mid-January. “Implementation of the relief package is poor and many SMEs are not able to avail of the facility. They are reeling under the crisis of poor cash-flow. Therefore, the government should extend the deadline for company renewal and loan repayment,” said Hari Bhakta Sharma, immediate past President of CNI. He had long been advocating for an economic stimulus and told The Rising Nepal that still it was not late for the announcement of such step. According to him, the
entrepreneurs have not been receiving the facilities announced in the budget such as discount in electricity demand charge. “It takes time to gather all financial data and prepare reports. Meanwhile, government organisations like the Nepal Rastra Bank and Department of Industry have asked for various statistics which is an extra burden for the businesses,” said Sharma. Senior Vice-President of Nepal Chamber of Commerce Rajendra Malla expressed concerns that the SMEs’ poor access to finance had resulted in having no relief or business rehabilitation support at all. “The SMEs, agri-enterprises and women-run businesses would be affected for about one and a half years to two years but after more than six months of the announcement of relief, they have got nothing,” he said. “Relief and support should not only be available to those who have access and influence,” he added. According to the latest data of the central bank, about 57 per cent enterprises are running in their full capacity and it happened in post-Dashain period. The FNCCI said that many SMEs were not been able to resume their business due to fear of the virus and low demand in domestic as well as international market.