ITC joint venture Nepal’s second highest tax payer


Kathmandu : Despite growing labour trouble, tobacco giant ITC’s joint venture in Nepal remains one of the top tax payers in the Himalayan republic, coming second after the state-run Nepal Telecom.

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Surya Nepal, ITC’s joint venture with British American Tobacco and private Nepali shareholders including members of Nepal’s former royal family, was the second-highest tax payer in 2007-08, according to Nepal’s apex bank Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB).

In the previous fiscal, too, it had the same spot.

Surya Nepal is followed by private mobile telephone service provider Spice Nepal that made its surprise entry among the top 10, and the local Gorkha Brewery at fourth position.

India’s major joint venture in Nepal’s telecom sector, United Telecom, however is not among the top 10 that is dominated by private sector banks.

Telecom and banking are the two fastest growing and profit-making sectors in Nepal, with Standard Chartered coming fifth.

The two Indian joint venture banks in Nepal – Nepal SBI and Everest Bank – are not on the list. Nor is Dabur Nepal, the subsidiary of Indian FMGC giant Dabur.

While not saying how much tax the companies paid, NRB said Nepal’s income tax revenue increased by 21.4 percent to Rs.19.1 billion in 2007-08 with a significant contribution by Nepal telecom, Surya Nepal, Spice Nepal, Gorkha Brewery and Standard Chartered Bank.

Besides being Nepal’s biggest manufacture of tobacco products, the nearly 30-year-old ITC joint venture has diversified into garments manufacturing in Nepal.

Its garments factory in Biratnagar that produces the John Player brand of apparel for men and Miss Player for women, has begun offering tough competition to smuggled goods from China and Korea and also contributed handsomely to Nepal’s revenue.