Sunil Bahadur Bhattarai is the newly elected Chairman of the Nepalese Young Entrepreneurs’ Forum (NYEF) Pokhara. He has been involved in many businesses including hotel, restaurant and paragliding for years. We have talked to him on the telephone about his future plans and some other issues. Excerpts:
Could you please tell us your future plans as NYEF new chairman?
Well, the development of entrepreneurship, the continuation of old programs that NYEF conducts every year, and the network building among the entrepreneurs are some of my future programs. We will also support the entrepreneurs who need guidance to grow their businesses.
Nepal is reeling under Covid- 19 pandemic; what difficulties are the private sector facing?
We are facing lots of challenges due to this pandemic. How could we sustain our businesses in this tough time is a key issue for the private sector. The business sector faced hardship as the government imposed a months-long lockdown in the April of 2020; however, the situation was getting better following its removal but again, the situation is worsening day by day due to zero business situation. Moreover, the tourism sector began to see the negative impacts even before entering the coronavirus in Nepal but later, this sector happened to be the most affected business.
The government presents a yearly budget on May 29; what suggestions do you have as a young entrepreneur?
As Covid- 19 is the main problem for the country now, the government should announce some relief plans to the private sector. The issuance procedures of government loans and aids should be simplified and practical. Likewise, the budget should also focus on the development of small and medium-sized enterprises.
Some relief programs were included in the ongoing budget too, what is your take on this?
Of course, we saw such an announcement but due to unnecessary banking hurdles, very few numbers of entrepreneurs were provided Covid- 19 related loans from that Rs 50 billion fund which was announced in the ongoing budget. Likewise, the same thing happened in the case of the Byabasaye Jeevan Rakshya loan program of Rs 1 billion that was announced by the Gandaki Province Government in the ongoing fiscal.
Besides Covid- 19, what other problems are the private sector tackling now?
Payment of government taxes even in this pandemic time, banking loans, and their fines also are the harassment factors for the private sector in this difficult time. The Ministry of Finance and Nepal Rastra Bank should look into such issues.