Nepal Economic Summit 2014, a high-profile conference with participation of government officials, domestic and foreign investors and experts, kicked off in the Capital on Monday.
The three-day meet, being organised by the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), aims at attracting investment in agriculture, tourism and energy sectors. It is first of the two high-profile economic events the FNCCI is organizing, with the next event—“Business Conclave”—scheduled to take place in March.
Inaugurating the meet, mi-nister without portfolio Ram Sharan Mahat said the country is in a greater need for the second phase of economic reforms after it was first in initiated in the early 1990s.
The Nepali Congress (NC)-led government had spearheaded the reforms in the early 1990s that paved the way for the private sector to flourish and contribute to the national economy.
Mahat said bolder and irreversible reforms is the need of the hour after a few years of blurredness regarding economic policies. “The government is committed to do so in partnership with the private sector,” he said.
With the economic summit focussing on three areas for investment — agriculture, tourism and energy — Mahat said the country has the potential in all the three areas due to the country’s unique topography and abundant natural resources. “Nepal’s topology is favourable for various types of crops, while the natural beauty, cultural mosaic and places for adventure activities have created space for tourism development.”
He said commercialising the agriculture sector is the need of the hour and added there is huge investment potential in agro-processing industries. “There is high potential for investment in hotels in the tourism sector,” he said. “In energy, there has already been huge investment commitment.”
Mahat said Nepal needs annual investment of Rs 600 billion to achieve 7-8 percent economic growth. “As domestic investment is not sufficient to achieve the goal, foreign investment is necessary and the government is committed to create favourable investment climate,” he said.
Finance Secretary Shata Raj Subedi said recent political developments (CA election and formation of the new government) have sent a positive message to prospective invest-ors. Asking the potential investors to put money in agriculture, hydropower and tourism sectors, the secretary said investment in hydropower is secure and profitable due to the market for domestic consumption and export.
Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) President Des-ignate Ajay Shriram stressed on closer economic integration and more balanced trade relations between Nepal and India. Highlighting how reforms initiated in the early 1990s in India heralded a new era in the Indian economy, Shriram said they were ready to share their leaning. “When import taxes were brought down from 350 percent to 30 percent, there was a hue and cry in India, but it ultimately helped enhance competitiveness of Indian industries.”
FNCCI President Suraj Vaidya stressed on the need for putting the economic agenda at the centre stage, and asked if the government and political parties were serious enough to do so.
Given the two biggest political parties—NC and CPN (UML)—competing to get home and finance ministries, he asked why the parties do not compete to take ministries like industry, commerce and tourism, if they are really serious on economic agenda.
Stating that two dozen legislations are pending in the parliament, Vaidya asked why the government has been failing to bring them when it could introduce Anti-Money Laundering law overnight.
source: ekantipur, 25 Feb 2014