Speakers at a session in the Nepal Infrastructure Summit 2019, which kicked off in Kathmandu today, said that Nepal can achieve its desired economic growth and development goals through the development of infrastructures.
Addressing the mega event on infrastructure development, which is being organized jointly by the Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) and the Government of Nepal, former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai said that the current Kathmandu-centric urbanization has to be linked with Tarai-Madesh, Bhattarai urged the government to take development activities also along Tarai.
However, Bhattarai said that the private sector might not be able to develop and operate all planned mega infrastructure projects in the country. "We gave private sector the project to develop various tunnel projects, but they failed. This shows that the private sector of the country today is not in the position to invest and develop mega infrastructure projects," said Bhattarai.
Leader Bhattarai also stressed on the need to connect every village with road network in a bid to expand market and raise economic activity. As per him, the government should give due priority to completing the Postal Highway, Mid-Hill Highway along with East-West Highway based on Koshi, Gandaki and Karnali river basin. "Once the government builds necessary road networks and ensure markets, the private sector will set a base for higher revenue to the government by producing products and services," he said.
Bhattarai lamented that though the world today is in 4th industrial revolution, Nepal has not been able to properly complete the first industrial revolution. "As Nepal's economy still today is based on livelihood-based agriculture, the government should promote industrial and service-based economy by developing necessary infrastructure and markets," he said. At the present context, the private sector has ample prospects to raise their investment in the hydropower sector, he opined.
Addressing the session, Pushpa Raj Kandel, vice chairman of National Planning Commission (NPC) said that the government has made attempts to ensure business climate in the country at present by making regulatory provisions friendly to doing business. Similarly, Kandel also informed that the government is doing necessary groundwork to improve country's position in doing business index. "Against these backdrops, investors from India, China, USA and Norway, among other countries are willing to make investment in Nepal," he said.
On the occasion, Woochong Um, director General of the World Bank said that countries including Nepal should focus on development of resilient infrastructure projects considering the rising global temperature and climate change issues. Similarly, Um said that Nepal should prioritize community-based infrastructure development process so as to link Nepal's development aspirations and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations. Along with this, Um also stressed on the effective coordination and partnership between the government and the private sector in the development.
At the session, participants including vice president of CNI Bishnu Kumar Agrawal, former revenue secretary Lal Shankar Ghimire, among others said that business climate in Nepal has been improving in the recent years and urged investors to make investment in different sectors.
Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation YogeshBhattaraitoday urged foreigners to invest in Nepal citing that the country has become a favourable destination for investment at present.
Speaking at the Nepal Infrastructure Summit 2019, Minister Bhattarai said that along with friendly policies, political parties today does not have any differences on country's development which has made Nepal the appropriate destination for investment.
Citing that the flow of air passengers in Nepal is increasing every year, Bhattarai informed that two more international airports would start operation in the country in the recent future. "While the Gautam Buddha International Airport is nearing completion, we will complete the construction of Nijgadh International Airport within next five years and preparations are underway to complete both these projects on time," said Bhattarai. Along with this, Bhattarai also informed that priority has been given to enhance connectivity with the Southern and the Northern neighbour through new entry points and road networks.
CMs appeal for investment in the provinces
Chief Ministers of different provinces, at the Nepal Investment Summit 2019, have urged domestic and foreign investors to inject investment in different sectors in their respective provinces.
Citing that their provinces are comparatively lucrative and offers wide range of opportunities to investors, they have also expressed their commitments to facilitate businesses in their respective provinces.
Speaking at the event, SherdhanRai, Chief Minister of Province 1 said that assured that necessary infrastructure related to agriculture, energy, industries, satellite city, among others would be developed in the province. Informing that the provincial government has identified game changer projects in Province 1, Rai urged investors to inject investment in such projects.
Similarly, Province 2 chief minister LalBahadurRautsaid that country cannot achieve desirable growth bypassing the private sector and investment from them. Citing that Province 2 have been identifying business hurdles in the region and addressing them gradually, Raut too appealed investors to invest in Province 2.
Province 3 chief minister DormaniPoudelexpressed his commitment to address and improve all issues for business and investment growth in the province 2 and informed that the provincial government will work together with the private sector to develop various infrastructure projects in public-private-partnership modality.
Chief Ministers of other provinces too expressed their commitment to facilitate businesses and investors in their respective provinces.
Meanwhile, Bhattarai also said that discussions are underway with the European Union (EU) to lift the ban being imposed on Nepali airlines in the European skies.
Addressing the session entitled Infrastructure and Regional Connectivity ;experts suggested the need to focus on strengthening regional interconnectivity for desired development of infrastructure in Nepal. SwarnimWagle, former vice chairman of the National Planning Commission said that landlocked nations like Nepal should highly focus on development of infrastructure, interconnectivity, information and technology to generate its own assets. "The government should raise investment to fill the development gap between cities and rural regions in Nepal," he said. Citing that Asia has become the centre of global economy today, Wagle said that Nepal should effectively take benefit from its strategic location in between India and China.
"For this, the government should reform some policy and practical issues," he added. He stated that the government has been subject to criticism due to some plans and projects that has been introduced without enough groundwork. In a bid to address the ballooning trade deficit, the government should increase investment in the productive sector and focus on export of high-value price, as per him. Along with this, Wagle stated that Nepal also needs to enhance air connectivity, execute railways plans, promote digital economy, ensure market for energy along with increasing production of electricity. Nepal also should make its presence in regional forums like SAARC,BIMSTEC, IBBN and BRI among others and take benefits, as per him.
Speaking at the session, former general manager at World Bank Noritada Morita said that interconnectivity is the current need of South Asia. "Prior to this, peace was important agenda in South Asia. However, the need of South Asian nations today is development of infrastructure and raise per capita income of people," he said.
Shankar Das Bairagi, secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that Nepal has enhanced trade relationship with neighbouring countries in the recent years. "The government is also expanding its network among regional forums to enhance power connectivity, interconnectivity of transmission line, telecommunication, railways, waterways and airways," he informed.
Informing that the government has prepared long-term action plan to develop the energy sector, Energy Secretary Dinesh Kumar Ghimire appealed investors to invest in the hydropower sector. Moreover, Ghimire said that Nepal will start exporting energy to neighbouring nations in the recent future.