Friday, 17 September, 2021

Boosting Investment

As Nepal is bracing for graduating to a middle-income country and achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, the nation now needs to focus on implementing a variety of development projects by mobilising domestic as well as foreign investments. These goals can be met only by making great strides in the economic, social and ecological sectors. No doubt, the country offers a lot of opportunities for investors to invest. Some of the potential areas of investment include energy, communication networks, agriculture, tourism, information technology, education and health, construction materials and financial sectors. With drastic reforms in investment-related laws and policies, Nepal has now become a more investment-friendly nation. Many mega development projects with the involvement of foreign direct investment (FDI) are running in the country.

With the objective of facilitating and promoting investments in big infrastructure and service sectors, the Investment Board of Nepal (IBN) has been working hard since its inception in 2011. During its first 10 years, the IBN has been able to promote Nepal as an attractive investment destination by organising the Investment Summits. The IBN now has a project bank of 34 projects while about Rs. 700 billion has been invested in 27 various projects. It has also facilitated some mega projects like the Arun-III Hydroelectricity Project in Sankhuwasabha, Huanxi Cement in Dhading, Hongsi Shivam Cement in Nawalpur and Upper Karnali Hydroelectricity Project at the border of Achham, Dailekh and Surkhet. It is noteworthy that the IBN has launched a five-year Strategic Plan (2021-2026) with a business plan to endorse investment worth US$ 10 billion during the period. The one-door investment facilitation body launched this plan to mark its 10th anniversary on Wednesday.

Under this plan, the IBN targets to manage Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects worth about US$ 6 billion. It is also determined to move ahead tackling the adverse situation created by COVID-19, natural disasters such as floods, landslides, inundations and numerous other challenges. Amidst the public health and economic crises facing the nation, the plan also aims to generate some 100,000 jobs in five years, contribute to improved investment climate through effective investment promotion and develop IBN as an excellence centre of PPP. According to a news report carried by this daily on Thursday, the plan has four-pillar concepts: project development and management, investment promotion, institutional development, and coordination, collaboration and partnership.

Launching the plan at the 10th anniversary function of the IBN in the capital on Wednesday, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba said that Nepal now focussed on the economic growth and development with the political issued settled. The government has realised the need to encourage the private sector to invest in various national priority projects, including infrastructure development, to accelerate the economic growth and attain SDGs. Through promoting the idea of PPP, the IBN wants to mobilise more resources for building up infrastructures. The country reels from an annual fiscal gap of Rs. 558 billion on an average. This needs to be bridged with the contribution from the private sector and the FDI. The government should not delay in addressing the remaining legal and other procedural issues associated with investment promotion so as to take potential investors into confidence.