After the political revolution, Nepalese businesspersons are looking forward to an economic revolution. And nobody more so than Prasiddha Pandey, managing director of the Shangri-la group of hotels and resorts.
Tourism has long been the mainstay of the mountain nation and this, says Pandey, will prove to the saviour of the new Nepal. “At present we have 500,000 tourists coming in despite all the turmoil. I expect that if things go smoothly, we will attract at least a million a year. This translates into nine million jobs, “ he predicts.
Binod Choudhury, president and managing director of the Choudhury group, which among other things produces the hugely popular Wai Wai noodles brand, has actually entered parliament on the Communist Party of Nepal United-Marxist-Leninist ticket.
“During the years of the Maoist struggle, people like us paid a huge price. Our lives were in danger, our managers kidnapped, our factories bombed, we paid extortion money. I do understand that all this comes from the irrational distribution of wealth and power. But now, people like me are determined that things must work. This is why I have taken the political plunge.”
Both Pandey and Choudhury say that the problems are enormous. Basics like water and power are in short supply, and in many parts, people are living at below subsistence levels. The knee-jerk reaction of any party in power would be to put in place populist and unrealistic economic measures. But, this will only boomerang on the Maoists, says Choudhury.
“It is very important that following this peaceful transition, the Maoists take every step to ensure that they do not seem vindictive. But, the people's aspirations have become so high today, that they will not tolerate any slapdash behaviour on the part of the Maoists,” Pandey believes.
He sees great potential in more business collaboration with India. Choudhury agrees that India is a natural business partner given the historic and geographic ties with Nepal. The business community is also clear that the only way to go is through privatisation.