08/03/2015, 00.00
NEPAL
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Nepalese companies reject "socialist" Constitution, claim free market only way to guarantee prosperity

by Christopher Sharma
The draft of the new Constitution contains the term "socialism" instead of "free market". Entrepreneurs believe that "developed countries have become such thanks to the involvement of their nationals in production and sale". They fear a return to planned economy of the 1990s.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Nepal’s business community yesterday presented a petition to the Prime Minister in asking the government and the Constituent Assembly to delete the word "socialism" and replace it with the definition of "market economy" in the new draft constitution.

Entrepreneurs believe that free trade is the only way to ensure prosperity and development to the country, rebuilding itself after the devastating earthquake 100 days ago.

According Pashupati Muraraka, President of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Nepal (Fncci), the Constitution must guarantee economic freedom to all citizens. "Lawmakers - he added - must immediately replace the word 'socialism' in the present draft if they want to avoid the likely social conflict between rich and poor." "Only economic freedom resulting from free trade, unlike the socialist economy, guarantees the right to choose how to produce, sell and use one’s own resources, while respecting the right of others to do the same."

After over 240 years of an absolute Hindu monarchy, in 2007 Nepal became a secular state. The country was then ruled by a coalition government and faced continuous pressure from the Maoists. The political and economic instability that ensued has strengthened pro-monarchist Hindu movements who dream of the king’s return to power.

Private entrepreneurs believe that a liberal economy would create new job opportunities and a better standard of living. They explain that "the developed countries have become such thanks to the involvement of their nationals in production and sales. This has not only increased their earnings, but has also helped to improve their life expectancy and human development in general. "

The draft of the new Constitution, presented in late June after years of disagreement and parliamentary tussles, is causing continuing controversy. The latest came in the form of recent protests about discriminatory provisions vis-à-vis women, the rights of non-residents, representatives of the Christian minority who complain of religious discrimination and, just a few days ago , tribals and Dalits who oppose the choice of the cow as a national symbol.

Finally Muraraka argues that by using the term "socialism" lawmakers have taken a step back to the 1990s, when the country adopted this economic orientation. The proof is given by the rules of the draft that encourage cooperatives rather than the private sector. According to Keshab Acharya, an expert in the field, the provision of both forms of trade reflects the confusion within the party system in Nepal, as it combines different positions.

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