As the recently held special general meeting of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) â€“ the largest private sector umbrella body of the country – amended its statute, it has closed doors for all the potential candidates to contest for the top post of the organisation. The amended provision of the FNCCI Constitution allows only senior vice presidents to take that post. There will be no election for the post of President from the next time as the incumbent senior vice president will be promoted as President in the next term.
The statute was amended despite strong reservations from few of the past presidents; six of them boycotted the special general meeting. “The recent provision has killed the democratic exercise in electing the President of the largest umbrella body of the private sector,â€ one of the past presidents said under anonymity, “The recent provision has barred all potential candidates from outside to contest for the post of President and has raised question on the value of it being a democratic institutionâ€. He further commented, “As FNCCI is going to handpick the Senior Vice President as President of the institution, it has posed the risk of monocracy due to the strong nexus between
President and Senior Vice President because the latter will not have to face elections.â€
Earlier, there was provision to elect the Senior Vice President from the executive committee. The amended statute however has provisioned direct election for 69 posts of FNCCI executive committee out of 71, these are the positions of President and Treasurer. As per the current provision, the Treasurer will be elected from the executive committee in the way the Senior Vice President used to be elected in the past.
As the Senior Vice President of the organisation is going to be chosen by direct election there will be fierce competition among candidates for the post; especially now that the Senior Vice President will automatically become President. The annual general meeting (AGM) to elect the new executive committee is scheduled in mid-April, 2017.
Similarly, the amended statute provisioned seven provincial offices of FNCCI. Additionally there will be Provincial Presidents in each proposed province starting with the next election. They will automatically be executive committee members of FNCCI.
This amendment of the FNCCI constitution is not free from criticism and controversies. Six former presidents namely, Mahesh Lal Pradhan, Padma Jyoti, Anandraj Mulmi, Pradeep Kumar Shrestha, Binod Bahadur Shrestha and Kush Kumar Joshi boycotted the special general meeting citing the incumbent executive committee had not consulted with its predecessors regarding the amendment of the statute. Many believe that the statute amendment proposal could have be submitted at the annual general meeting in April. Pradeep Kumar Shrestha, former president of FNCCI commented, “If there was good intention the statute amendment proposal would have been carried out in the AGM.â€
Pashupati Murarka, President of FNCCI said that a majority of the members of FNCCI have approved the statute amendment and now all members should accept the decision of the majority. “While annual general meetings require only 40 percent of members to be present to fulfill the quorum, a minimum of 50 percent members need to be present for validity of special general meetings. A special general meeting is equally relevant as the annual general meetings and it called for a particular purpose,â€ he said.
He defended the allegation of the past presidents that FNCCI has lost its democratic values and principles with this statute amendment. “The executive committee had carried statute amendment proposal not to favour any one person. It is to end the excessive politics to achieve the top post of the organisation,â€ he explained, “Too much politics in FNCCI has been making the organisation weak, and our strength to lobby in the interest of the private sector is gradually declining.â€
Time and again, disputes in FNCCI have started appearing in the court. A group led by former senior vice president Bhaskar Raj Rajkarnikar have filed plaintiff at the Patan High Court against the FNCCI executive committee just few days before the special general meeting citing the executive committee had not fulfilled the criteria to hold the special general meeting. The court however refused to issue an interim order but the final verdict is yet to come from the court. An earlier case against then president Pradeep Jung Pandey was also suspended. FNCCI has been losing ground mired in such politics and controversies.
An organization that should be spurring economic activity and growth in the country is in malfunction according to many groups of young entrepreneurs who do not see themselves represented by the apex business body. However, it is anticipated that should this statute amendment bring progress, the change is always welcome.