KATHMANDU: The over-stay of a Chinese investor in Nepal has put a brick industry on the verge of collapse.
The Ganapati Brick Industry at Bardaghat in Nawalparasi (Susta West) is on the verge of collapse after the Immigration Department decided to deport Chinese investor Chang Xingchong for overstaying in Nepal.
The decision taken by the Department has led to the closure of the brick industry run by Chinese citizen Xingchong at Bardaghat for the last five years with an investment of Rs 140 million.
According to the management of the industry, as many as 50 workers will lose their jobs, if the industry is shut down.
This is how the Chang couple was expelled
Last year, when international flights were closed due to Covid-19, the Immigration Department extended the visa period of Chang and his wife, Wang Xaisu, the industry’s main investor, until July 9, 2020.
After this, the Department decided that the Chang couple should return to China and not be allowed to come to Nepal for one year.
How did the industry come to a standstill?
When the international flights were suspended due to the COVID-19 last year, the Department of Immigration extended the visas of the main investors of the industry Zhang and his wife, Wang Caixiu, until July 9, 2020.
Stating that they had overstayed in Nepal, the department had decided that they should leave Nepal and return to China. It also said that the Chinese couple would not be allowed to come to Nepal for one year.
The decision of the department has led to the closure of the foreign-invested Ganapati brick industry. Earlier, Director General Ramesh Kumar KC had decided to send them back to China. However, they have not returned home so far.
When inquired what the department would do to the couple, the officials said it would calculate the fine and collect it from them. “The Department will collect the fine after calculating the visa fee, suspension fee, fine and the period of overstay,” Jhanka Nath Dhakal, an information officer of the Department told Khabarhub.
Similarly, according to the Immigration Act, 1992, foreigners expelled by the Government of Nepal are not allowed to re-enter Nepal during the expelled period. Sub-section (2) of Section 10 of the Act has the provision of a fine of up to Rs 25,000 or imprisonment for up to two years for the first time if a foreigner re-enters the expelled period.
Repeated violation is punishable by a fine of up to Rs 50,000 or imprisonment for up to five years or both.
In this case, if Zhang and his wife Wang have to return to China, they may have to shut down the industry, says Sunil Magar, manager of the industry.
“We have sent a letter to the Department of Industry (One Point Service Center) and Ministry of Home Affairs requesting the authority to reconsider the decision made by the Immigration Department. The passports have been taken control by the Immigration Department,” he told Khabarhub.
According to Magar, the industry management has requested the now transferred Director General Narayan Prasad Bhattarai to reconsider the issue, but all in vain.
“Although there are many Chinese overstaying in Nepal, we hear that the immigration officials facilitate ‘overstay’ provided the latter becomes part of their setting. For such people, the visa will be updated, but our investors are facing problems as they continue to do business by paying taxes to the state,” he told Khabarhub.
Magar also blames Nepali business partners for the problems.
“We reluctantly paid millions of rupees in fines and kept the visa updated at the Immigration Department,” he said, adding, “This situation has arisen today because the Nepali partner did not update the company and the tax dispute arose.”
“Due to the controversy prompted by the Nepali partner, the Chinese couple had to stay,” Magar offered the clarification, and complained, “The investors are bound to overstay, obtain a tourist visa for a certain period after paying the fine and in the meantime, are unable to extend the visa due to COVID-19.”
Meanwhile, Sandeep Adhikari, the Nepali partner in the business did not come in contact.
Although Khabarhub obtained his number from the industry, the attempt to contact him was not successful.
The employees of the industry replied that they are not in touch with the industry at present.
Baburam Bahri, the landlord of the area covered by the industry, said that the brick industry had gone well for 2-4 years. However, the bad days started due to internal disputes.
“There was a dispute earlier as there was the same signature in the internal account and the bank,” the landlord said.
Baburam informed that Adhikari, the Nepali partner has sold all the shares but there is no information about his whereabouts.
He further added that though the industry could come into operation as long as the Chinese are there, once they are gone, the industry will come to a closure.
Meanwhile, the Department’s information official Dhakal says that the Chinese couple was deported because they were overstaying in Nepal.
‘No Chinese citizen can stay in Nepal after the visa expires. That is why we deport any foreign national who stays even after their visa expires,” he said, adding “Just because they have invested in Nepal, they cannot overstay here.”
He said that Zhang couple’s visas must have expired for everyone is deported after their visas expired.
The audit report of the company is missing
“Zhang couple had run the brick industry in partnership with Nepali partner Sandeep Adhikari. The brick industry, which had been operating well in the early days, has been deteriorating since 2018 due to the disputes with Nepali partners,” the industry management stated.
Adhikari, the Nepali partner of the industry, has not signed the audit report and many other documents held mandatory for the renewal and smooth operation of the industry.
Zhang had brought foreign investment to Nepal from his company Rongcheng City Heng Yun Decoration Engineering Pvt. Ltd in China.
The company has been operating the industry in collaboration with its Nepali partner Sandeep Adhikari by approving foreign investment in the Ganpati Itta Udhyog in Nepal in 2016.
Resolving all the disputes with the Nepali partner, the Chinese investors have transferred their ownership to their names now. The foreign-invested industry has now updating its share data from the office of the Company Registrar.
However, the overstay dispute is still not resolved.