Panel recommends revision to a dozen laws before investment summitA member says if they sort out the land acquisition, purchase or lease issue, half of the investment-related problems will be solved.
Ahead of the third investment summit scheduled for April 28 and 29 in Kathmandu, a panel has recommended the government amend a dozen laws to attract foreign investments.
The government is convening the investment summit to welcome investors into the country even though the previous two summits did not bring much in the way of investments. In both summits, the investment pledges had run into billions of dollars in various projects, but only a few commitments translated into reality. Officials now say they have devised new measures to rope in foreign investors.
The government formed a panel headed by Ek Narayan Aryal, secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office, to identify laws and regulations that prevent investments from flowing into the country, provisions that repel investors and problems in accessing financing, and suggest ways to streamline laws and remove procedural and structural flaws.
In its report, the panel says legal reforms will improve the investment climate and bring capital into various service and industrial sectors of the country.
The Aryal-led panel has submitted the report to Chief Secretary Baikuntha Aryal. Over a dozen representatives from various government agencies and the private sector discussed issues and made their recommendations to the government. According to a panellist, the onus now lies on the government to implement the recommendations and ensure a favourable investment climate in the country.
The recommendations have been discussed at the top bureaucratic level and the ministers are studying it now, said Chief Secretary Aryal. The ministers are asked to provide their feedback and suggestions by Monday, said Aryal. “Then we will table it in Parliament.”
According to a member of the panel, it has recommended the government amend the Foreign Investment and Technology Act, the Special Economic Zone Act, the Forest Act, the Industrial Enterprising Act, the National Conservation and Wildlife Act, the Land Reform Act, the Land Acquisition Act, the Environment Protection Act, the Civil Aviation Act, the Electronic Transaction Act and two regulations related to foreign investment and technology transfer and forest regulation.
A team of secretaries is preparing the list of projects to be showcased at the investment summit. More than 100 projects have been selected to be presented at the summit.
The government has formed a high-level national directive committee chaired by Finance Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat. The minister wanted to amend more laws and regulations deemed to be hindering investments in the country but when the private sector was okay with amendments to only a dozen laws and two regulations, the government will take the amendments to the House, said the member of the panel.
Ahead of the investment summit, a separate energy-related expo will be organised in Kathmandu to attract investments in sectors of sustainable, inclusive, accessible and profit-oriented energy development and green energy promotion.
Organising a press conference in Kathmandu on Wednesday, Ganesh Karki, chairman of the Independent Power Producers’ Association, said the aim of the energy expo is to solicit foreign investments in Nepal’s energy sector.
The committee’s report has been approved by the minister-led directive committee, said Aryal. Without making reforms in the laws and regulations as recommended, there is no possibility of holding the investment summit, he added.
Investors have complained of several structural, legal and procedural difficulties and the red tape in Nepal. A big question remains over land acquisition or its purchase or lease to set up a factory or service unit, said the panel member. The issue of land acquisition was discussed in detail at the directive committee headed by the finance minister.
If we sort out the issue of land acquisition, purchase or lease, half the investment-related issues will be solved, the member said.
“If our recommendations are implemented, there will be a breakthrough,” said Aryal.