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Investment Board seeks support of diplomatic missions



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By Modnath Dhakal
Kathmandu, Feb. 20: Targeting the investors that pledged to bring in a huge amount of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), the Investment Board of Nepal is planning to get the support from the diplomatic missions and development partners.
It is roping in the missions and international development partners to reach the investors that had expressed commitment to investment in large infrastructure and industrial projects in Nepal during the Nepal Investment Summit organised in March 2019 but could not bring in investment to Nepal due to the COVID-19 pandemic that affected the world for the past one year.
When the pandemic began to force the governments to announce restriction on movement and lockdown, the IBN was in the process to finalise the FDI deal with the foreign and domestic investors.
"The board was in communication with the foreign investors even during the pandemic. Currently, discussions are underway to create connections with the investors through the missions and development partners," said Ramesh Adhikari, under-secretary of IBN.
However, the pandemic delayed the project screening and application evaluation process as well as the approval of the investment and project implementation.
At the same time, the one-window institution for large investment is also set to interact with the investors of the projects that are under implementation. Adhikari said that the IBN wants to get the updates from them and hear their grievances, if any, in order to address them.
Recently, it conducted stakeholders meeting with the key agencies concerned to the investment approval and facilitation including the Department of Industry, Inland Revenue Office, Company Registrar's Office and Nepal Rastra Bank.
Since there is still confusion about the one-spot solution and investors had to undergo various bureaucratic hurdles, the board wants to offer on the spot solutions to the projects and provide prompt response to their needs.
Despite multiple efforts, the inter-agency coordination is not happening smoothly, this is what investors had told the IBN.
This has demanded further strengthening the institutional structure of the board so that it could have the say on financial and human resources and implement better facilitation and monitoring of the on-going projects, said Adhikari.
Although the board is chaired by the Prime Minister, other concerned agencies had responded to the FDI rather weakly.
Meanwhile, the IBN is preparing project note and project bank of the Public-Private-Partnership and Private-Investment projects. The complete details of the projects would be collected within a year. The projects include those that were showcased at the investment summit. About 77 projects, 50 government and 27 from the private sector, were showcased at the summit of which 17 from transport, energy, agriculture, education and health, and logistic infrastructure sectors received application during the summit. The summit was attended by 700 delegates from 40 countries and more than 300 companies.
By July 2019, the IBN had received 71 applications for 31 projects. Till now, the board has approved large infrastructure projects--Freight Station Bulk Handling Terminal in Butwal and Birgunj, World Buddhist Exhibition Park in Lumbini, 550 MW solar projects in seven provinces, China-Nepal Friendship Industrial Park in Damak, Jhapa, Muktinath Cable Car, Multimodal Logistics Park in Biratnagar, and Railway Linked Private Freight Terminal Project in Janakpur. 

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