Restructuring of Public Enterprises
Once considered to be a pride of the nation, Gorakhkali Rubber Industry remains closed for a long time. According to the data maintained by the Department of Transport Management, there are a total of 2,783,428 vehicles registered with the department by the end of the last fiscal year. Out of these vehicles, 2,189,099 are motorcycles. It is estimated that nearly 80 percent of the registered vehicles ply the roads in the country.
It is anybody’s guess that the number of vehicles will only increase in the days to come because of the increasing road network in the country, growth in the income of the general public, inadequacy of public transport, and the common people’s wish to have their own private vehicles.
Billions of rupees go out of the country every year for importing tyres, spare parts etc for the vehicles being used in the country. According to the Trade and Export Promotion Center (TEPC), Nepal imported tyres worth Rs 4.16 billion in fiscal year 2015/16. Apart from this, more than Rs 100 billion goes out of the country for the import of fuel for the vehicles every year.
As establishing industrial units to manufacture vehicles and their spare parts requires huge amounts of investment, there is no possibility of such industries in Nepal at present. Though Hulas Motors had started selling assembled vehicles in the country by importing spare parts, the company pulled down its shutters citing high manufacturing cost and unfriendly revenue policy of the government.
After the Gorakhkali Rubber Industry established in 2041 BS with the purpose of meeting the tyre demand in the country was closed down, hundreds of thousands of Nepalis have been affected directly or indirectly. To supply raw rubber to Gorakhkali, rubber plantation was done in several eastern districts including Jhapa. As the industry remains closed for the past two years, the farmers producing rubber have been affected adversely.
Though the government has been spending Rs 10 million every month to pay salaries to the Gorakhkali employees who have been doing nothing except marking their attendance for the past two years, it has done nothing to address the problems of the rubber farmers. Not only the rubber farmers but also thousands of other farmers who had been producing raw materials such as jute, cotton and tobacco for several other public enterprises have been affected as these public enterprises were closed down one after another.
When the Birgunj Sugar Factory was closed down, sugarcane farmers of Bara, Parsa, Mahottari and Dhanusa districts were not affected that much as they could supply their sugarcane to private sugar factories. But when the Janakpur Cigarette factory was closed down, tobacco farmers in districts like Dhanusha, Mahottari and Sarlahi were badly affected.
There is still the relevance of Gorakhkali Rubber Industry. If the industry is revived based on modern technology, it will not only play a big role in meeting the internal demand of tyres but also save a lot of money going outside the country for the import of tyres. It will also do well to the environment as rubber plantation will help conserve greenery in the country. Therefore, reviving public enterprises like Gorakhkali Rubber Industry through public-private partnership or by awarding management contract to the private sector has become very essential.