Biratnagar Metropolitan City (BMC) in association with Samriddhi Foundation, Nepalese Young Entrepreneurs Forum (NYEF) Biratnagar & Bikalpa – an Alternative jointly organized a consultative dialogue program with “Mayor Bhim Parajuli” on 27th of April 2018 to discuss pressing economic policy-related issues that entrepreneurs from the highest growth potential sectors of Biratnagar were facing in their industries, and to deliberate over what role the local government could play to resolve those policy issues—from laying down new policy infrastructures where necessary to breaking barriers where policy hurdles exist—to create a more conducive business environment at local level. The dialogue was attended by 35 participants, including the Mayor of the city, representatives of regulatory institutions and other government agencies, representatives of umbrella business organizations/associations (Morang Chamber of Industries, Morang Merchants’ Association, and sectoral business associations) and entrepreneurs engaging in various business activities. The session was moderated by Mr. Bhim Parajuli, Mayor of Biratnagar Metropolitan City.
The session started smoothly with an introduction. In the first session of the program, Mr. Askash Shrestha from Samriddhi foundations elaborated and explained the objectives of the program. After that, the Moderator opened the floor for discussion to panel, which consisted of key stakeholders. During the session, all the participants put forth their opinion regarding the topic. Some pointed on development of Tourism sector, tax reform system, one- window policy, registration, licensing and access to information systems. Moreover, in the suggestions, the stakeholders pointed that Biratnagar, being an old industrial city, the local government should also focus on development of Special Economic Zone (SEZ) inside the city. Development of SEZ would definitely help in increasing the volume to exports, which will be very beneficial to tackle growing imbalance in trade.
Furthermore, upcoming challenges were also discussed like the lack of infrastructure development that cost the city its industries and businesses which relocated to other cities. Therefore, development of infrastructure like roads, electricity, and drainage among others should be given utmost importance. In addition to that, Mr. Rakesh Surana, Morang Chamber of Industries stressed out that “Biratnagar metropolitan city should co-ordinate with Nepal Electricity Authority for development of transmission lines. Currently, grids are overloaded because of which houses and businesses are getting low voltage electricity. Thus, the people are paying 30 percent additional charges for electricity.” While Mr. Pramod Kumar Jha, lecturer at the PG Campus added that 23% of the city dwellers already live below poverty line. One of the things that the BMC could do, if it had the resources to do so, is to try and create incentives for those people to start micro enterprises on their own. Instead of doling out money to the people, BMC could encourage people by allowing them to qualify for a benefit as long as they could build a business around the benefit package, then that could play a great role in lifting people out of poverty.
At the end of the session, the Mayor remarked that he found the discussion extremely effective and vowed to hold another round of stakeholder’s discussion along with the related Government officials. He also assured the stakeholders to work on the issues identified during the discussion. He also informed about the various works undertaken by the Metropolitan office.