The country is plagued by the Covid-19 pandemic. The health system has reached a critical stage where lack of oxygen and other health supplies has led to premature loss of life. In such a dire situation, the private sector has extended a helping hand to the government to manage the situation. Here’s an excerpt from conversation with Surendra Silwal, deputy managing director at Gorkha Brewery, a company that has stepped up to assist the government and the people to save lives.
What kind of support has Gorkha Brewery provided under its corporate social responsibility program to help those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic?
With support from Temasek Foundation, Singapore. and the Lotus Life Foundation, Gorkha Brewery has provided the government a variety of health products worth about Rs 250 million. The goods that arrived in Nepal on May 22 were handed over to Health Minister Hridayesh Tripathi on behalf of Gorkha Brewery the very next day.
We also expect additional medical supplies to arrive from Singapore in a few weeks. I would personally like to thank Benedict Cheong, chief executive officer of Temasek Foundation International, who played a vital role in providing the health care equipment.
What other activities is Gorkha Brewery conducting under its corporate social responsibility?
Under our CSR programs, we have run a myriad of different types of programs around the country. We run a school for children under Mukundapur Village Development project with the help of the Rotary Club. We provide all the expenses needed to run the school.
Apart from that, we have also been conducting free health camps at different times at the local level. We have been providing necessary assistance to other local schools from time to time. Similarly, we have provided and continue to provide necessary assistance for sports.
We also try to step in with whatever assistance possible during natural calamities and epidemics.
What role can a private company like yours play to keep the country’s economy afloat?
Our company, first of all, has contributed to keeping the country's economy afloat. In terms of production, we are producing something that would otherwise be imported. We are also trying to use local raw materials as much as possible. We try to reduce imports and that helps the economy.
In addition, we are also creating thousands of jobs and also making huge contributions to the country’s tax revenues.
Why do you think industries are failing to flourish in Nepal?
The role of the government is also important for the prosperity of industries. The government's policies should be industry-friendly to make industries and businesses flourish. We need long-term policies in our favor but we have a problem in this regard. Our policies keep on changing and we cannot keep up to them. There is too much bureaucracy and red tape that discourages industrialists both new and experienced.