Nepal will use the Investment Summit this week to present projects on 63 categories including hydroelectricity, agriculture, tourism, and infrastructure. Investment Board Nepal CEO Mahaprasad Adhikari (pictured above) speaks to Nepali Times about prospects and challenges. Excerpts:
Nepali Times: Some MPs have themselves said investment-related bills were brought for ratification without sufficient debate. What is your take?
Mahaprasad Adhikari: Old bills were amended and new bills were registered in Parliament. We were hoping they would create a feasible environment for policy improvement during the Investment Summit. Bills regarding Public-Private Partnership and Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Act have already been passed, and both were vigorously debated. In fact, the Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Act was firsts discussed there years ago. If there are any changes, they can always be amended in future.
How are the new laws more investment-friendly?
There were no laws about public-private partnership (PPP) before. The act creates a legal foundation and provides fundamental tools to advance PPPs. Investors can now have more clarity about the process. Provisions related to transportation and infrastructure help strengthen the public-private partnership through the ‘Viability Gap Fund’ that enables the government to promote the private sector. The Investment and Technology Transfer Act will help expedite the investment process, increase security, and station a one-point service centre for efficiency.
But critics say the new acts instead of strengthening the Investment Board increases the government agencies who need to give approval.
The Investment Board has been functioning as a one-window service centre, and served as a bridge between investors and government agencies. The idea is that investors no longer need to visit different government offices once they contact the board. In the longer term, we hope to ensure that all government agencies communicate their decisions online. We are looking to expedite the process, and want investors to expend energy on development rather run around for documentation.
We heard the same things at the 2017 Summit, but not much changed. How will this one be any different?
This year’s summit follows a different model, we are pushing policy improvements, and then present well-researched, attractive proposals to investors. Some of the investments commited in the last summit have arrived while the remaining is in the pipeline. Work and research has already commenced for a fourth of the investments worth Rs375 billion.
What are your expectations this time?
It is an invaluable opportunity to make international investors aware about Nepal’s efforts to create investment-friendly environment. We have studied many projects thoroughly to showcase them at the summit, and that is an outcome by itself. We will also propose private sector projects to international investors. The message is that Nepal is ready and open for business.