Nepal Infrastructure Summit 2019 was held on 11-12 September 2019 in Kathmandu, organized by Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) and Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, Government of Nepal.
The two-day summit witnessed robust discussion and deliberation on Nepal’s current scenario on infrastructure development, challenges, opportunities and necessities of policy reforms, legal reforms and institutional reforms to bridge the infrastructure gap in the country by Nepali and International experts.
The main focus of the summit was to discuss on issues that shape incentives for investment and enable the private sector to partner for sustainable prosperity. The summit discussion was focused on the global and regional megatrends, including climate change, and their relevance to the local context, issues surrounding infrastructure project delivery, financing modalities, and opportunities for cross-border economic cooperation and investments.
Inaugurating the summit Hon. Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun said that the government is bringing programs to attract foreign investment in different sectors. He stated that “Nepal is a virgin land for investors. The present government is doing its best to bring in foreign direct investment and technology to drive the country’s growth eyeing its economic and social transformation.”
The President of CNI Mr. Satish Kumar More said that private sector is seeking effective coordination and partnership with the government to drive the country’s development and growth.
Dr. Baburam Bhttarai, Former Prime Minister of Nepal, stressed on the idea of being Nepal a vibrant bridge between China and India. “Nepal must focus on projects like Koshi Corridor, Gandaki Corridor and Karnali Corridor to better connect with India and China,” he said.
Addressing the Summit Mr. Woochong Um, Director General of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said that Nepal has Institutional policy barrier and policy constraints in financing the infrastructure projects. He said that the ABD is focused on some major projects on Energy, Transport and Water Supply along with other infrastructure projects. He suggested that Nepal should learn by doing and needs more regional cooperation and should focus on development of resilient infrastructure projects considering the rising global temperature and climate change issues.
The experts stressed on the problems of foreign exchange mechanism. Hon. Dr. Yubaraj Khatiwada, Minister of Finance said that the Foreign Exchange Regulatory Act is soon to be introduced in the Parliament which will make easy to invest in Nepal for foreign investors. He said that, while financing companies are allowed to come in Nepal on the other hand Bond Market is not attractive in our scenario.
Dr. Swarnim Wagle, Former vice-chairperson of National Planning Commission (NPC) said that landlocked countries without abundant oil or minerals need to be connected with the region to catch up with other economy. "Only six out of 40 landlocked countries are prosperous and all of them are in the heart of Europe – the largest common market of the world," he added. "As Nepal is a small market, the country is in need of resilient transportation connectivity."
He further said that resilient transport connectivity integrates market which enlarges size of the market. "This also leads to low price volatility and helps to allocate resources in such a way that they tend toward reflecting comparative advantage," he added. Wagle added that Nepal needs to prioritize on policies including relocating industries to lagging regions, digitization, and meeting environmental obligations while working for development.
Mr. Rajeev Malhotra, Former Chief Regional Planner, National Capital Region Planning Board, Government of India, said “The government must urgently bring Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) and metro rail for integrated mobility development.”
On the session Opportunities in Provinces Chief Ministers from 6 provinces urged for investment from domestic and international investors in their respective provinces in which they have comparative advantage.
Speaking at the panel discussion Hon. Mr. Raghubir Mahaseth, Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport said that until and unless we develop the infrastructure of our country we cannot achieve economic growth. He stated that “the connectivity between Nepal India and China has been taken seriously different infrastructure projects on highways will be completed within five years.” He sincerely invited foreign investors to invest in Nepal insuring their protection.
Hon. Minister of Energy Water Resources and Irrigation Mr. Barshaman Pun talking on hydropower energy stated “we have plans to develop 50,000 MW in the next 9 years with the objective to export around 5000 MW to our neighboring countries. We also plan to increase per capita consumption 700 KW within the next 4 years and to 1500 KW within 9 years.” “To achieve this target we need huge investment and this not possible without foreign investment adopting PPP model,” he added.
Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat, Former Minister of Finance said that, “today’s main issue is climate change so we need clean energy. India and Bangladesh use huge amount of fossil fuel for energy and Nepal has huge potential for clean energy and replacing the fuel energy”. He also added “Nepal need to have good bilateral cooperation with India, sub regional cooperation with India and Bangladesh and regional cooperation beyond.”
Mr. Andrew Goodland, Program Lead of the World Bank Group said that, “for Nepal to achieve its growth aspirations, it must close its massive infrastructure gap and sustainability of infrastructure services need to improve which will require substantial and efficient investment.” He said that it’s the time for private sectors inclusion to closing this infrastructure gap.
Industrialist Mr. Binod Kumar Chaudhary conveyed to foreign participants at the event that Nepal is on the path to developing a favorable environment for business after decade-long political transition. “It is high time for investors to invest in various sectors in Nepal, including education, health, energy, aviation, financial markets, roads, among others,” he said. He said that we don’t need to find new innovation for development, we just can learn from the success of our neighbors and copy or replicate the model. “Private sectors need to work with state government with the help of federal government,” he added.
Speaking at the Closing Ceremony Hon.Mr. Matrika Prasad Yadav, Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies urged the investors to invest in Nepal and stating that the phase of uncertainty on profit return has been gone. “Almost all the investment sectors in Nepal are vacant so come and invest in Nepal,” he added.
Earlier speaking at a panel discussion, Dr. Er. Hareram Shrestha Chairman, Advisory Council, Nepal Engineers Association (NEA) said that completion and delivery of infrastructure projects has been delaying in Nepal. He said that to improve this situation there must be synergy between client, contractor and consultant.
The Country Representative of WWF Nepal Dr. Ghana Shyam Gurung stressed that if the development is without integrated conservation the booming hydropower industry won’t last for long.
The two-day summit was joined by Nepali as well as foreign investors and other stakeholders. The discussion suggested various reforms on policy, legal and institutional level and various ideas and financial models in order to bridge the gap of infrastructure development in Nepal. This summit will surely help in achieving the ambition of Government of Nepal, “Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali” and also achieving Sustainable Development Goals.