Doing Business In Nepal «

Doing Business In Nepal

The government, the most powerful and stable government in the recent history, has been claiming to create some 500,000 employment, which is a welcome move. But the government has last week closed Bajeko Sekuwa – a chain restaurant – claiming that its one of the owner Chetan Bhandari has connections with the notorious gold smuggler Chudamani Upreti aka Gore. The move has made some 200 people – employed in the chain – jobless. Of course, the law will take its course and no one has the right to influence the legal procedure but closing the business saying that one of its owner is absconding has raised serious questions on doing business in Nepal. According to the Constitution of Nepal – for which Nepalis fought for more than 6 decades – no one is above the law. The government has to treat anyone who breaks the law, but at the same time, it also has to differentiate between a person and a business. A person could be involved in crime and be punished but a registered and tax-paying business could not be a ‘criminal’.  
Bajeko Sekuwa has been providing direct employment to some 200 people. Out of the 9 outlets, the investigation team sealed 6 outlets and asked the franchise of 3 remaining outlets to change the brand name. If one of the owners has committed crime, he should be punished according to the law. The government has every right to search and investigate the business but should not seal it, without any solid evidence as a registered and employment generating and regular tax-paying business has committed no crime. Therefore, the closing of the outlets and asking to change the brand name makes no sense. A point not to forget here is also that service sector’s copntribution to the Nepali Economy has been increasing lately also due to such chain restaurents and eateries across teh country.   
Earlier, too some of the higher management some of the banks and financial institutions (BFIs) have been arrested and punished too. But the BFIs were not touched and closed as the institution does no crime. The incumbent Finance Minister and former governor used to say that the person can be guilty but not the BFIs. However, closing the outlets of Bajeko Sekuwa and asking the franchise to change the name has created terror among the business people. The government, on one hand, claims to create employment and stop the out migration and on the other, closes a business that has been employing 200 people. The case has sent a negative signal to not only the domestic investors but also the foreign investors. The government has to better correct its move as soon as possible and differentiate between a business and a person. Otherwise, it will take no time to vanish the investment from the country.