By A Staff Reporter Kathmandu, Nov. 29: Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has said that the present era is of the digital economy. Addressing 'Phone Pay Digital Economy Conclave 2020' organised here on Saturday, Prime Minister Oli said that the world's attention was now focused on the exploration and development of the digital economy. "Investment in this sector is increasing, new inventions and innovations are taking place," said the Prime Minister. The Brand Worth Pvt. Ltd organised the conclave to raise awareness and initiate discussions on the digital transformation of the Nepali economy. "As COVID-19 widens the gap between people, digital commerce, digital payments and other aspects are connecting us," he said. He said that digital business and activities, including e-commerce, online shopping, digital banking and e-learning have become part of everyday life not only in the urban areas but also in many places as the ban on physical contact has been imposed to control the COVID-19 pandemic. “Overall, I see the digital sector as a potential medium for the world's newest and fastest growing economy. With the growing commitment to innovation of Nepal's young manpower, which accounts for about 50 per cent of the total population, I see even greater potential for advancing economic development in Nepal through the development of the digital sector,” Prime Minister Oli said. He added that the government has already started the process of integrating information, streamlining works concerning citizens such as managing land revenue, electricity tariff, internal revenue, customs tariff, driver's license and renewal. The government has also initiated making the national identity card as a main basis of service delivery, he said. In addition, expansion of optical fiber and internet access across all local levels in every province has been initiated, he added. “The government under my leadership has made the cabinet meeting paperless, set up action rooms in Singha Durbar and Baluwatar and introduced and practised the use of virtual technology. I also had started virtual meetings with cabinet members while undergoing treatment in Singapore. Although some people at that time did not understand the importance, justification and necessity, the relevance and importance of today has been confirmed in practice,” he said. “We are practicing virtual participation through digital medium not only among the missions abroad and among Nepalis, but also at the international level. Thus, digital technology is being used extensively. The government is also trying to convert all economic and non-economic activities into digital medium under the Digital Nepal Campaign,” the Prime Minister said. Under the Digital Foundation, electronic services will be available for expanding Internet access, digital literacy and good governance, he said, adding that at the same time, there are some challenges in using digital technology. “We need to pay attention to the problems related to cyber security, be accustomed to using digital technology, expanding digital knowledge, bringing it under the purview of taxes and hacking,” he said. He appreciated the role of the private sector in the recent journey of digitisation of the Nepali economy. Fintech companies started by the first generation IT professionals are making Nepalis accustomed to mobile wallets, he said, adding that Nepalis have been taught about cashless transactions and digital banking. In the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic, Nepali banks and financial institutions have started offering the latest digital banking services that can open accounts from home, withdraw money from banks without a check, he said. 70% of government office payment online Finance Minister Bishnu Prasad Paudel said that the government had planned to bring the transaction of all government offices online within the next two years. He said that around 70 per cent of the payment of government offices has gone online so far. On the occasion, Minister Paudel said that the government had already taken steps for the development and highest use of technology in the country by bringing Digital Nepal Framework 2076. For the Digital Nepal campaign, the government has identified eight major areas as the Digital Foundation, including agriculture, education, health, energy, tourism, finance and urban infrastructure. He said that proper coordination with the private sector would be done for the wisest use of digital system and the staff would also be made technology friendly. "We have made a commitment in the current fiscal year's budget to promoting information technology and industry for the development of a knowledge-based economy," he said. "The government wants to move the digital economy forward in a strong, effective way. Now there can be no alternative to digital technology," he said. He said that the government was ready to hold discussion with the stakeholders and concerned authorities over the digital technologies and assured to implement their suggestion based on the capacity of the government. Minister for Communications and Information Technology Parbat Gurung said that the infrastructure for Digital Nepal was under construction. He informed that the work of optical fiber and information highway had been completed in all the provinces and that the establishment of Infrastructure Company, co-company and co-project would also be started. Stating that the digital framework was not what it should be, he said that the ministry would start taking strict action. "We will move forward by making an action plan immediately. No stone will be left unturned to fulfill the responsibility of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology," he said. Mohan Gajurel, Chief Executive Officer of Brand Worth, said that the government should take the lead along with the private sector to promote the use of digital technology.