By PR Pradhan
Very sad! Yet one another government trading house is going to be shut down. The government has decided to close down the National Trading Limited, a government undertaking, which was running in profit until the last days of the panchayat system but became victim of multiparty democracy and presently of “loktantra”.
The National Trading Corporation was established in 1961 to trade with other countries with the plan of trade diversification – to reduce our trade dependency on India. Furthermore, during that time countries such as China and Russia were not giving cash but commodity in their grant projects. Nepal had to import their products and the grant receiving country had to manage funds for such projects by selling products given by the donor countries. For this purpose also, the Corporation was established.
The other idea of the then government was to sell local products at cheaper price than the market price, from which, poor people could be benefited. Along with selling imported products, the Corporation had started to supply local agro-products such as sugar, rice, cement among others at cheaper prices than the market price.
The basic idea of the then government was to help poor people having less purchasing power. Today, the constitution has clearly stated the main goal of the present system is to introduce socialism in the country but the entire trade sector is under the grip of a few businessmen who are running syndicate and fixing market price as per their wish. For instance, recently, without any reason, the market price of construction materials has been increased. There is uncontrolled price hike in daily consumable goods but the government is no more than a silent spectator. Instead of making strong National Trading like company to check the market price, the “progressive” government has dismantled the institution.
Salt Trading is a similar type of trading organization which is not in total control of the government as there is private sector involvement, or say, this is a trading company run under public-private partnership and this organization is still earning profit but why the National Trading Corporation faced loss? The answer is rampant government intervention, recruitment of party workers by the political parties in government and financial exploitation from the government undertakings.
According to the Annapurna Post vernacular daily, the decline of National Trading Corporation started since the government borrowed millions of rupees from the Corporation to pay dues of the staffers in the Himal Cement Corporation after its closure.
Accordingly, prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba gave permission to a private company to trade duty-free drinks at the Tribhuvan International Airport. Earlier, the National Trading Corporation was the only trading company to trade duty-free drinks. Again, when Baburam Bhattarai was the finance minister, without studying international practices, he decided to close down the duty-free shop at TIA without any pre-information. During that time, the Corporation had taken loan worth 50 million rupees from the Himalayan Bank and had imported foreign drinks. When the duty-free shop was closed, the Corporation was unable to sell the imported alcoholic drinks from which, the Corporation faced a heavy loss. After the 1990 political change, the political parties in the government started to recruit party workers in the Corporation. Those people close to political parties started to be rewarded with the post of chairman and general manager. They contributed a lot to spoil the corporation. In its last move, the corporation had submitted a strategic plan of opening exhibition centers in seven provinces by utilizing its own land, trading fertilizer and sugar from such centers at reasonable price, importing petro-products from China and running petrol-pump and gas refilling plants in each provinces and exporting herbs and handicraft to foreign countries. But the finance minister threw this plan in the dustbin. According to the Daily, India was unhappy with the corporation’s plan of importing petro-products from China, therefore, by putting pressure in different levels, India became successful to close down the corporation. Today, the nation is facing negative balance of payment due to decline in its foreign exports. This is the gift of multiparty democracy and corrupt leaders who have made politics as money making tools. Instead of strengthening such corporations in money making and employment generating corporations, the government intends to finish such organs.