Officials highlight investment prospectsNepal has gained political stability and has been following a liberal economic policy by giving momentum to policy reform, so this is the right time for private investors to obtain the maximum possible benefit by investing in the country, government officials and stakeholders said at the third edition of the Nepal Investment Summit that kicked off in Kathmandu on Friday
Nepal has gained political stability and has been following a liberal economic policy by giving momentum to policy reform, so this is the right time for private investors to obtain the maximum possible benefit by investing in the country, government officials and stakeholders said at the third edition of the Nepal Investment Summit that kicked off in Kathmandu on Friday. The much hyped conclave has brought together more than 700 delegates and investors from 39 countries.
Moderating the session entitled ‘Investment Opportunities in Nepal’, Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali expressed his commitment that the government would continue the process of policy reform to help investors. “A new Nepal is emerging, is ready to welcome investors from abroad. There is no gab between private sector concerns and government policies,” he said.
Gyawali urged investors to tap the maximum benefit from the country’s potential. “Nepal is a country with a large amount of resources; it may be the demographic dividend or natural resources. In a nutshell, investing in Nepal is highly profitable,” he said.
He also drew the attention of investors stating that the country’s market potential was also growing with a rise in the income level of the people, and the preferential treatment that Nepal is receiving from India, China, the European Union and the US. “In addition, the Indian government’s consent to allow Nepal to use additional sea ports and inland waterways will also help increase market access for domestically produced goods.”
With the hope of signing agreements then and there at the summit, the government has showcased 77 various project areas from eight sectors to attract investors. The government has earmarked total investments of more than $32 billion in these projects.
Showcasing these projects, Suraj Vaidya, past president of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said the summit was not only an event for publicity, but an occasion to show the government’s serious commitment to facilitate the foreign investment.
According to him, the rate of return on investment stands at 6 percent per annum, which the government has targeted to double in the next few years. Vaidya produced instances of Ncell and Unilever Nepal where investors secured a very high rate of return on investment. He also underlined the need of foreign investment for commercial farming and tourism infrastructure.
According to Vaidya, the cross-border power trading guideline that India introduced recently will be added advantage to investment in energy sector as it gives Nepal privilege to export energy beyond India.
Revenue Secretary Lal Shanker Ghimire said the government would be adopting a long-term strategy in the 15th Five-Year Plan to be implemented shortly. “Broader collaboration is expected to meet the target of constructing infrastructure such as a 2,000-km railway line, 2,000 km of paved roads, five international airports and bringing in 5 million tourists over the next plan period,” Ghimire said.
Stating that investment related laws has been made competitive to provide necessary investment services, Ghimire said, “The industrial enterprise act will simplify entry, operate and exit
strategies.” He also informed that the government plans to increase bilateral investment agreement with more countries.
Speakers at the session entitled ‘Energy: Generating 15,000 MW Meeting Domestic and Cross Border Demand for Economic Transformation’ highlighted the institutional arrangements and bilateral agreements that the government had made for investors in the energy sector.
Addressing a session on ‘ Energy for Economic Prosperity’, Energy Minister Barshaman Pun said that the government has put energy in top priority as the sector is the major basis of country’s economic transformation. He said that the government has set a target to produce 15,000-megawatt power within next 10 years and export 5,000 MW.
The government has enforced the hydropower development policy that covers possible losses to investors in the hydropower energy sector. Sagar Raj Gautam, senior divisional engineer at the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation, said the government was preparing to enforce the hydropower development master plan that will ease the licensing process and gear up bilateral agreements in hydropower production and construction of transmission lines.
Sanoj Kumar Jha, secretary of the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission, India, said Nepal needed to make maximum utilisation of cross-border transmission lines for power trading. According to him, the Indian government has adopted a lenient policy by relaxing the cross-border power trading guidelines in December to enhance the tripartite arrangement on cross-border trading of electricity, paving the way for Nepal to export surplus electricity to Bangladesh via Indian transmission lines.
Song Dongsheng, general manager of Power China said Nepal will see more Chinese companies coming in energy sectors. He informed that Power China has already made investment in Upper Marshyangdi Project and looking for investment in two more projects—Lower Arun and Upper Trishuli.
National Planning Commission member Dr Krishna Prasad Oli underscored the need of constructing watershed hydropower projects to reduce impact of climate change. Stating that a bilateral mechanism has been set up for exchange of cooperation among neighbours China, India and Bangladesh, he said efforts were underway to export Nepal’s electricity to the regional market.
Mohabubur Rehman, Chief Engineer of Bangladesh Power Development Board said that the country had been importing 15 per cent of its total demands from neighbouring countries and that Nepal could be an appropriate source for it. According to Rehman, Bangladesh has targeted to import 9,000 MW of power from Nepal by 2040 and that 500 MW was being purchased from the Upper Karnali Hydropower Project.