Kathmandu, Apr. 1
The much-awaited Youth and Small Entrepreneur Self-employment Fund is likely to get its momentum as discussions with the three state-owned commercial banks: Agricultural Development Bank Limited, Rastriya Banijya Bank Limited and Nepal Bank Limited, to implement the programme have taken a positive twist.
Earlier, Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, during his term as Finance Minister, had introduced the Youth and Small Entrepreneurs Self-employment Programme with an aim of creating self-employment opportunities so as to alleviate the rampant poverty in the country.
However, due to the change in the government and lack of clear policy, the programme was in soup for the past three years.
As much as Rs. 5 billion fund of the pooled by various banks and financial institutions has been inactive for years.
The programme had only employed 3,000 youths in the past three years.
"Now, the discussions with the state-owned commercial banks are underway and they are positive. The banks are interested in implementing the programme," Prof. Dr. Punya Prasad Regmi, vice-chairman of the Youth and Small Entrepreneur Self-Employment Fund told The Rising Nepal.
He informed that the process of preparing a common basis for investment was underway.
"The discussions with the commercial banks are underway. It may get a shape within this week," he added.
The programme was conceptualized with the aim of providing self-employment opportunities for the youths who were unable to run their businesses in the dearth of a mechanism providing them with loans without any collateral.
He said that the involvement of the state-owned commercial banks was essential for successfully implementing the programme.
"As the programme is to be run through banks and financial institutions, the banks that have larger stake of the government should implement the programme. This will help meet our target easily," he said.
Tej Bahadur Budhathoki, Chief Executive Officer of the Agricultural Development Bank Limited, echoing the voice of Dr. Regmi, said that all the three state-owned commercial banks would implement the programme.
"The process of preparing a common work plan and making policy related to implement the programme are underway," he said, "Once the confusions regarding the policy and procedures are cleared, the programme will move forward."
He also said that a committee, including representative from the Nepal Rastra Bank, the Fund and the three commercial banks was working on clearing all types of impediments to implement the programme.
He informed that the discussions regarding the allocation of districts among the three commercial banks were underway.
Prof. Dr. Regmi also said that if the commercial banks did not agree to implement the programme, the Fund would launch the programme through cooperatives.
"If not, we will go through cooperatives. The cooperatives should be used as a means to enforce this programme. As per the present economic policy, three-pillared economy---public, private and cooperatives, embraced by the state, we have accorded equal footage to the cooperative sector, which has larger presence in the rural areas," he said.
Therefore, the implementation of the programme through cooperatives becomes equally important to meet the target and at the same time to make it accessible to the needy people, he added.
The then Prachanda-led government had proposed the programme with an aim of generating self-employment opportunities for around 700,000 youth across the country.
More than 622,000 youths have applied for the programme across the country.
Around 326,000 youths have been waiting for the government’s decision for commencing their businesses taking necessary orientation training conducted by various subsidiaries of Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the districts.
Around Rs. 120 million of the funds was already invested in providing orientation training to the youths who had applied for the programme.