June 25: Two major umbrella organisations of the Nepali private sector have asked the government to remove the powers given to the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority Act (CIAA) in the CIAA Bill (3rd amendment) to bring the private sector under the purview of CIAA. Issuing a joint statement on June 24, the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) and the Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) expressed serious objections to the arrangements in the proposed Bill.
The bill was recently submitted to the National Assembly (NA) after getting endorsement of the Legislative Committee of the Federal Parliament. The Bill, which was supposed to get NA’s endorsement from Tuesday’s meeting, was removed from the agenda of NA after mounting opposition from the private sector and legal experts.
“The existing laws have arranged different regulatory bodies to regulate the activities of the private sector. The bodies themselves are under the purview of CIAA. Despite the existing arrangements, the provision to regulate the private sector through the constitutional body has further discouraged the private sector. We have concluded that it will not create favorable environment for investment in the country,” reads the statement.
FNCCI and CNI claimed that instead of focusing on country’s economic affairs and adding momentum to the pandemic-hit business activities, the proposed provision would interfere with the professional freedom of the private companies and that they would suffer from oppression of government bodies. The government has moved ahead with the process of amending the CIAA Act by bringing private sector run industries, companies, banks medical colleges and other bodies under the purview of CIAA.
Private sector leaders have already met Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, former speaker Subash Chandra Nembang, member of parliaments and other officials in a bid to remove the provisions. Business community members say that though there are positive signals, concrete results are yet to be seen regarding the assurances they have received from the political leaders.
According to private sector leaders, the country’s business sector is already regulated properly by government bodies including Department of Money Laundering Investigation and Department of Revenue Investigation.
Satish Kumar More, president of CNI said that the bill discourages the private sector and the fallout of the parliamentary endorsement of the Bill will lead to the contraction in domestic and foreign investments. “We need investment in the current situation. But, it is certain that the government’s move will not create favorable environment for investment. Independent business decision is necessary for the promotion of investment and businesses,” he commented. He urged the government to reconsider the provisions in the Bill. According to More, it would be appropriate to bring companies that have more than 51 percent of stake of the government under the purview of CIAA.
Senior vice president of FNCCI Shekhar Golchha said that the commission was not necessary as 14 government bodies are already regulating the private sector. “We do not object being monitored and investigated by the 14 bodies including Department of Revenue Investigation and Department of Money Laundering Investigation. But, it is not the job of CIAA to investigate into the affairs of the private sector,” he said, adding, “The commission should effectively monitor those 14 bodies instead.”
Golchha said that passing the Bill in the current form will hamper the ability of entrepreneurs and businesspersons to decide and act immediately regarding the business matters. “The government struggles to spend even 20 percent of its capital expenditure which is basically due to the fears of CIAA among government officials,” he said, adding, “What will happen if our ability is reduced like government agencies? Therefore, the provision to bring private sector under the purview of CIAA needs to be reconsidered.” Furthermore, Golchha said that the private sector should be allowed to work on the concept of open market economy as enshrined in the constitution.
NCP Decides to Hold CIAA Bill
The ruling party Nepal Communist Party (NCP) has decided to hold the amendment Bill after it was vehemently opposed by different quarters of the society. A standing committee meeting of NCP on Wednesday decided to stop all parliamentary processes for the time being to build a consensus for the endorsement of the Bill. The decision was taken as per the talks between NCP chairmen Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal.