Fiscal Interview

“No matter what the size, I will always be there for the welfare of any business”

The 54th general assembly and election of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) has been scheduled for November 26, 27 and 28. According to the statute of the federation, the senior vice-president will automatically become the president, meaning that current Senior Vice-President, Shekhar Golchha, will automatically be the next president. As always, this year too there is interest and curiosity on who will be the new senior vice-president of the federation. This year eminent businessman, Chandra Prasad Dhakal, is in the race for the post of senior vice-president. Dhakal, whose business network spans across all seventy-seven districts of the country, is confident of winning the election. Fiscal Nepal caught up with Dhakal to learn more about his preparations for the elections and is vision for the federation. Excerpts:

There are only two weeks left for the election. How have your preparations been?

Our business network literally expands across the country. It is through this network that I have developed a very good relationship with friends from all districts and cities, including members from associates and commodities. This relationship I feel is a strong base for my preparations.

Ever since I was elected to the post of vice president, I have been continuously attending FNCCI programs all over Nepal. Currently, I am actively meeting business friends from all over the country. They have been inviting me and I cannot ignore their request. When I meet them I try to find out about the problems they are facing and try to sort them out. In this manner I have won the hearts of many members. Friends from all walks of life see me as their common candidate.

What are the plans and agendas that you have prioritized?

Much remains to be done to create an industrial and business environment in the country. After a long time, promulgation of the new constitution has ensured political stability in the country. As a result, both foreign and domestic investment started increasing since 2015. Our economy was strengthening before the COVID-19 outbreak. At present, the coronavirus has changed the very structure of the world economy and has had a serious impact on Nepal’s economy too.

We at the FNCCI are looking for a way out through regular interactions with entrepreneurs across the country on the impact of the virus on Nepal’s industry and business and how we need to move forward in the coming days. Our problems need to be looked at and analyzed a little differently, because the smaller the size of our economy, the greater the work or responsibility we have.

Another important issue is the need to develop FNCCI as an expert body. The process of registration, renewal and cancellation of industry is still difficult in Nepal and it needs to be simplified. All these contribute to high production cost.

Similarly, the long process and time involved for environmental impact assessment for construction of industries, projects and warehouses need to be shortened. Necessary infrastructure needs to be developed to increase our export trade. Similarly, the difficulties arising due to lack of cooperation between different government agencies should be addressed.

Government bodies should create an environment for industrialists and traders to collect taxes in a transparent, easy and scientific manner, not by force. The tax dilemmas seen due to misunderstandings between the three levels of government will have to be rectified on time. From strengthening the secretariat of our own federation to the many small, medium and large enterprises, there are lots of works that need to be done.

Similarly, much remains to be done to create an investment-friendly environment to attract FDI in Nepal. The right to private property must be guaranteed, and foreign investment must be attracted by protecting indigenous industries and trade. At the same time, I will play a strong role in advancing the good deeds of the incoming president and raising the credibility of the federation under his leadership.

It is said that FNCCI has given priority to big business but neglected small and medium business. How do you plan to make FNCCI inclusive?

As small and medium enterprises are the basis of sustainable development, such sectors are also the backbone of the economy around the world. We should not forget the fact that such enterprises have remained the basis of sustaining the economy even during the lockdown in the country. Therefore, we will not compromise when it comes to protecting small and medium enterprises. FNCCI is one such organization where even small businesses located in the district are involved in.

The commodity association is also involved in this. It also involves small entrepreneurs. Even small entrepreneurs have the right to come forward and lead FNCCI. For instance, even I started off with a small business. So I can feel the problems, sorrows and the pain of small businesses. I would like to convey the message that no matter what the size I will always be there for the welfare of any business.

How do you plan to coordinate with the government to realize your plans?

The private sector is one of the strongest pillars for the country’s prosperity. We are one among the three-pillar economy as envisioned by the constitution. The private sector still contributes more than two-thirds to the country’s economy. The government has also accepted the need to partner with the private sector while framing its policies, rules and regulations.

Different government bodies and committees have representative of FNCCI. While lobbying for the private sector, the FNCCI should take forward the agendas of all small and large enterprises. The slogan of our group’s candidacy is ‘Base of Prosperity: State-Private Sector Partners’.

There is no precedent in the world where the country has become prosperous on the initiative of the state alone without the strong presence of the private sector. The more the state cooperates with the private sector, the faster is the economic development of the state.

You are involved in many businesses. Will you be able to give sufficient time to FNCCI?

As I said earlier, I am not a person who is involved in FNCCI programs only during the election or during any particular moment. Ever since I became the vice president, I have been continuously attending FNCCI programs all over the country.

I keep in touch with business friends from all 77 districts time and again. I have also attended various programs, general meetings and festivals when called by my friends. I have my own business network in every district and city. Because of this network, I have always remained in touch with other business people.

Another aspect is that all my businesses are run based on a system so it is not difficult for me to give the required time to the federation.

Your journey within the FNCCI seems a bit quick and you do not have a long experience working in the federation. Will this not affect your chances in the election?

I don’t believe that you have to be involved in an organization for a long time to take on its leadership position. I have been elected to the working committee on two occasions with unanimous or popular vote.

Therefore, to take on the leadership of FNCCI I think one does not need to be associated with the organization for a long time. One has to understand the problems of the private sector closely, have the capacity to address the problems and be a conduit for the change sought by the country by embracing the changing challenges. I prefer collective leadership to individual leadership.

Our team will not only be able to overcome the challenges created by COVID, but will also be able to move the entire private sector forward as a campaigner for a prosperous Nepal.

What do you feel leads to a candidate winning the election?

The strongest basis for this is my relationship with business friends. This is not an election relationship but a relationship that I formed during my three decade-long business journey. This is a lasting relationship. My own business network has reached every corner of Nepal. So, we are connected with business friends from every district. As a result, I have a good relationship with industrialists across the nation.

As I am in touch with them all the time, I can better understand their problems and can suggest them necessary solutions. Another thing is that I started from a small business and now I am leading the IME Group. Thus, I am aware of the problems of small as well as large entrepreneurs and businesses.

This is the main basis for me to win the election. Since I am always in favor of business rights, interests and entitlements, all my business friends have urged me to take on the lead role and asked me stand in the elections.

In short, my own business network spread in every district, the role I have played at FNCCI and my good relationship with business associates are the main basis for my victory.

Industrialists, including former FNCCI presidents are also pushing for unanimous election. What is your proposal for consensus?

Former presidents have been trying to make the federation more effective by choosing the leadership through a consensus rather than holding elections. I also support that view.

Moreover, I became the vice president in FNCCI through consensus. While trying to reach a consensus, I would respectfully accept such a decision if it is based on the personal and professional status of the candidate and the aspirations of the voters.

But this does not mean that holding an election is wrong and that an election should not take place at all. Elections do not weaken any institution. Clean and democratic competition strengthens the federation.

Fiscal Nepal |
Friday November 13, 2020, 09:47:38 AM |

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