PM tells Parliament: Past pacts in priorityPrime Minister KP Sharma Oli has said implementing past agreements between Nepal and India would be the priority as he visits the southern neighbour from Friday.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has said implementing past agreements between Nepal and India would be the priority as he visits the southern neighbour from Friday.
Briefing Parliament on Tuesday on the agenda of his three-day state visit to India, PM Oli however did not rule out the possibility of signing some new agreements on bilateral trade and transportation with New Delhi. But he was not simply in favour of making longer the list of deals that go unimplemented.
Oli said he would have “intense” discussion with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi for creating an environment for enforcing the deals long overdue. New agreements would concern developing cross-border waterway, railways and support for modernising agriculture. According to the PM, lessening ballooning trade deficit with India would be the focus of every agreement and interaction.
PM Oli told parliamentarians that he would discuss with India about expediting the Pancheshwar Multi-purpose Project, setting up integrated border checkpoints and completing construction of the Postal Highway. He would also take up in New Delhi the issue of delay in releasing funds pledged by India for expediting post-earthquake reconstruction. Signed two decades ago, there has not been much headway in undertaking the Pancheshwar Project on Mahakali River.
India, at the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction held in June 2015, had committed $1 billion (Rs100 billion) for quake recovery efforts. Almost three years down the line, hardly 25 percent of the funds has been released in an arrangement facilitated by the United Nations Development Programme.
“Forgetting past agreements and just adding new ones will take us nowhere. I’ll talk about issues hampering implementation of previous agreements and ways to expedite them,” said PM Oli. “There will be no agreements that go against national interests and disgrace our country.”
PM Oli will be meeting with PM Modi, President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and senior ministers in Delhi. He will also hold discussion with Indian industrialists, inviting them to invest in Nepal. He will wrap up his three-day visit after observing the Govind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture and Technology in Uttarakhand, which is credited with producing human resource for modernising the Indian agricultural sector.
Stating that strengthening centuries-old friendship is the major focus of his visit, PM Oli told the House that every discussion and agreement would be based on the principle of mutual benefit. Finding long-term solution to the perennial problem of flood and inundation in the Tarai, getting access for Nepali gas bullets in India and increasing the number of entry points for international flights are also on the agenda. Oli would also take up the issue of defunct Indian banknotes of 500 and 1000 denominations.
“I’ll talk about resolving the problems in holding the Saarc summit while also discussing measures to expedite the BBIN [Bhutan, Bangladesh, India and Nepal] forum,” Oli said. The 19th summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation scheduled to be held in Islamabad in 2016 was postponed after some member states showed reluctance to attend the event amid rising tension between arch-rivals India and Pakistan.
PM Oli, who chairs the largest party CPN-UML, told both the Houses of federal parliament that he would listen to genuine concerns of the Indian side on combating terrorism, circulation of fake currency notes and cross-border crimes. In parliamentary practice, top delegates inform the House before and after their international visits.
Cabinet approves prime minister’s visit
A Cabinet meeting on Tuesday approved Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s state visit to India. Oli is scheduled to embark on April 6 on his first international visit since taking office in February at the invitation of his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi. The meeting held at the prime minister’s official residence in Baluwatar endorsed the three-day visit, according to Information Minister Gokul Prasad Baskota. Ministers Pradeep Gyawali, Matrika Yadav and Raghubir Mahaseth will accompany the PM. The meeting also decided to accept grants worth Rs1 billion to be provided by the Asian Development Bank for the drinking water project. (PR)
Inland waterway deal likely
Nepal and India are mulling over inland waterway navigation between the two countries and a pact is likely to be signed in New Delhi during the state visit of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.
“We have initiated preliminary discussion on introducing such facilities particularly on the Koshi that meets the Ganga river in India,” said an official. With this, three pacts on agriculture, railway and waterway connectivity between Nepal and India would be signed during Oli’s visit.
It remains unknown which route will be identified for waterway but there is consensus between the two countries that some alternatives to road, rail and air connectivity should be explored, an official privy to the developments said.
Under the BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal) initiative, according to officials, Nepal and Bhutan are interested in the initiative as inland waterways are swifter and less expensive ways of freight movement. Bangladesh is also said to be interested in the proposal.