Investment summit kicks off in RupandehiConference targets to woo Rs50 billion in new investments across various sectors.
Organised by Tilottama Municipality, the summit aims to attract Rs50 billion in new investments to carry out development projects in sectors as diverse as agriculture, tourism, infrastructure and production, among others.
Investors from Nepal, India, China and Bangladesh, among other countries, political leaders and businesspersons attended the conference. Federal and provincial ministers, representatives of local units and representatives of diplomatic missions also participated in the event.
The municipality had planned to propose 22 projects for investment. But 30
different projects, including an industrial village, integrated agricultural
products collection and processing centre, integrated waste management centre, city college, children and women's hospital, integrated Dhakrebas tourism area, meat processing centre, business hub, provincial-level bus park, and an integrated milk collection and processing centre, were proposed during the summit.
Mayor Basudev Ghimire said agreements for 10 projects were signed. According to Ghimire, investors pledged to invest more than Rs15 billion at the summit.
Addressing the conference, former prime minister and Nepal Communist Party Co-Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal said it would be wishful thinking to expect miraculous changes within one and a half years. He said that it would take time to change a 250-year-old political system and ideology.
“The political system has changed in the country, but the thought and style have not changed. A suitable environment for investment cannot be created unless the private sector is provided security and independence to make a profit,” said Dahal.
Saying that the investment climate would not be favourable if the private sector didn't feel secure and didn’t see prospects for reaping profits, Dahal praised the initiatives taken by Tilottama Municipality and said all local levels should follow suit. He underscored the need to accord priority to the private sector for national prosperity.
Dahal also urged opposition parties and anti-republican forces to not be too critical of the government as if no change had happened in the country. He said that with the construction of Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa, the six-lane Butwal-Bhairahawa highway and the Butwal-Narayangadh highway, there was adequate infrastructure for investments.
Addressing the function, Province 5 Chief Minister Shankar Pokharel urged investors, both national and foreign, to be assured of security for their investment in the province. He argued that investors would make a profit as the area is the birthplace of Lord Buddha and has easy border access and various infrastructures. “The province has been preparing a master plan with the aim of turning Siddharthanagar, Tilottama and Butwal into a megacity. Invest here and we won’t let your investment go in vain. The provincial government guarantees security for your investment,” said Pokharel.
Similarly, federal Finance Minister Yuba Raj Khatiwada said all three tiers of government must work together to plan and prepare the necessary infrastructure needed to increase investments.
Province 2 Chief Minister Lal Babu Raut and Province 3 Chief Minister Dormani Poudel also addressed the summit, encouraging investors to invest at the provincial and local levels.
Nepal Communist Party General Secretary Bishnu Poudel, Nepali Congress chief whip Bal Krishna Khand, members of the House of Representatives Ghanashyam Bhusal and Chabilal BK, among others, also addressed the function.
Speakers at the summit advised everyone to ensure security and create a favourable climate for investment. They also called on investors to remain assured and invest in Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautam Buddha, and Tilottama Municipality.
Even though the government has been holding various summits to attract investors, little progress has been made on the ground.
Nepal Investment Summit 2019, which witnessed the signing of 15 deals and memorandums of understanding between Nepali and foreign companies, has not been able to deliver as per expectations.
This was because of 'various institutional and procedural impediments that dissuaded all but the most risk-tolerant investors', said a US State Department report titled 2019 Investment Climate Statements: Nepal. The report also mentioned ‘petty bureaucracy-based hindrances' as the reason for tepid investor interest while alleging 'that the issues remain unaddressed in the absence of pay-offs or personal interventions with cabinet-level officials'.