Kathmandu, Oct. 26: Happy with the 16-position climb in the global Doing Business Index 2020, Finance Minister Dr. Yuba Raj Khatiwada, announced on Friday that the government had set 80 as the target for the next year's ranking. "Nepal has entered in the first half of the countries to have good business environment. With reforms that the government is making this year, we hope to ascend to 80th position next year," he said while speaking at a 'Conference on Doing Business Reforms' jointly organised by the Ministry of Finance and the World Bank Group (WBG). He said that in any situation the country would go up at least 90th position the following year. According to the minister, the government had executed various reforms, including the online-system for the social security provisions and enactment of business-friendly laws in May this year which will support the country to make further improvement in its position. The Doing Business Report includes the reforms and data till May end every year. Minister Dr. Khatiwada said that the digitisation process that is underway at multiple fronts of the business and government services would remove many problems and facilitate the investors and businesspersons. "We want to reduce the cost of business by implementing the digital signature through the reforms in the existing Information Technology laws or enacting a new one," he said. He also pointed out poor transportation and logistics infrastructure as the major obstacles in doing business and said that poor roads and syndicate have contributed to the increased cost of doing business in Nepal. Dr. Khatiwada shared that the last year's Doing Business position – 110th – had frustrated him and the policy makers. "If a hard-working student doesn't get good marks in the exam, it frustrates him/her. We were in the same position. Scoring and evaluation are critical in your career path. Improved result this year has encouraged us," he said. He promised to address the over-taxation and double-taxation issues at the earliest and simplify the insolvency law as well. Secretary at the Prime Minister's Office Shishir Kumar Dhungana commented that the country was on the right track. He said that a new Business Advisory Council was formed at the PMO, chaired by the Prime
Minister, which will work to coordinate with the private sector and the World Bank to make further reforms. "We have formulated action plan for next three years to improve the doing business climate in the country. The PMO will extend required support to all stakeholder ministries and departments working in the sector," said Dhungana. Vice-President of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) Shekhar Golchha said that the improved Doing Business ranking would be a new tool of confidence for the foreign investors in investing in Nepal. "Nepal desperately needs Foreign Direct Investment since our own capital is not enough to meet the economic growth target. Therefore, we need to focus on reducing the cost of doing business. He appreciated the improved labour relations stating that it was perhaps at the best in the last 10 years and hoping that the new Labour Act might make it better. However, he suggested addressing the practical challenges in implementing the Social Security Act. According to Golchha, unavailability of financing for the Small and Medium Enterprises and banks’ hesitation to mobilise loans to the sector, and shortage of skilled human resources for all kinds of industries were the major challenges to the private sector. He also suggested addressing the problems in acquiring land for business and industries. Reforms are not possible overnight, but we have got a direction. Improvements should be continued, he said. Country Manager of the World Bank Group for Nepal Faris H. Hadad Zervos commented that the journey had just begun, and the things had moved forward. "Over the past few months, the amount of works that has been done by the government is commendable," he said. President of the Confederation of Nepalese Industries Satish Kumar More said that the biggest hindrance in creating business environment in the country was the mind-set of the people in the government and the private sector which should be changed to make the country an attractive destination of foreign investment. Secretary at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supply Baikuntha Aryal said that the government was working to improve trade relations with the major trade partners to attract more investment in manufacturing industries. Under Secretary at the Prime Minister's Office Mahesh Bhattarai said that the reforms such as introduction of one-stop service centre, digital payment system, digitisation of land administration, electronic court administration system and establishment and functioning of Electricity Regulatory Commission will help Nepal to move ahead in the ranking next year. According to him, merger of similar types of taxes, introduction of new act for Credit Information Bureau, safe loan facility and establishment of dedicated commercial court or commercial benches in district courts and independent and dedicated authority to look after complaints against land management are the major reforms the country needs now.