By A Staff Reporter
Kathmandu, Sept. 11: Vice-President Nanda Bahadur Pun on Wednesday urged the private sector to act as the bridge in attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the country.
"Double-digit growth as envisioned by the 15th Periodic Plan and the goal of 'Prosperous Nepal, happy Nepali' can only be materialised with the support and investment from the private sector," he said while speaking at the opening plenary of the Nepal Infrastructure Summit 2019.
He also said that prosperity of the country was connected with the development of infrastructure in the areas of roads, energy, water and communication.
"Nepal is ready to learn from the experiences of the successful practices of its neighbours and countries like South Korea and Thailand, and would like to invite investment from the government and private sector of those countries,"
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, who was scheduled to inaugurate the Summit, could not make it to the event venue of the two-day conference. He sent a message to the organisers and said that the private sector was the driver for development including infrastructure.
"The government reiterates its commitment to work with the private sector in the critical infrastructure that will prepare the foundation for development," PM's Press Advisor Dr. Kundan Aryal read out the PM’s statement.
PM Oli pointed towards the need of heavy investment in infrastructure to foster connectivity within the country and neighbouring countries. "Since the government investment is not enough to develop the needed infrastructure, a new policy on public private partnership (PPP) is in practice," he said.
Former Prime Minister of South Korea Dr. Hang Seung-soo said that road connectivity was necessary to enable the growth in the rural areas.
Indian Union Minister of the State at the Ministry of Power, New and Renewable Energy Raj Kumar Singh said that infrastructure not only makes the foundation of development but also creates demand in the economy and helps in job creation.
"If we want to develop our country and raise the living standards of our people and create more jobs, infrastructure plays a key role," he said.
He appreciated Nepal's cooperation in bilateral and multilateral affairs and said that India found a great partner in Nepal.
Money is not a requirement but will and determination, he said. "Investors must have the confidence that they will make required return and people who work would be paid."
According to him, Arun III Hydroelectricity Project will complete by September 2022, a couple of months earlier from the deadline.
"India will extend required support in developing energy and connectivity projects in roads and transmission lines," said Singh.
Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Raghubir Mahaseth said that the government was planning to develop a 3,000 km railway track in the next 10 years.
He said that the country was already on the path of accelerated development and soon would achieve the double-digit growth rate.
Hari Bhakta Sharma, Immediate Past President of the Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) said that Nepal should develop connectivity infrastructure to mainstream the remote villages so that the future generations would not call them 'remote' but make them beautiful mountain destinations.
The country is facing challenges in retaining the talents in the country. "We have made our business and industries more competitive, stop brain drain and fight with the risks posed by climate change," said Sharma.
"We are being punished by natural hazards created by climate change impacts for which we have zero contributions, therefore, I would like to request development partners and global community to provide justice to us," he said.
He urged the foreign investors and development partners that it was the best time to make an investment as the country has a strong federal system, political stability and hunger to develop the country at the earliest.
With continued political stability, Nepal can continue its journey to speedy development of infrastructure, said Director General of the Asian Development Bank Woochong Um.
Jingdong Hua, Vice-President of the World Bank, said that it had been tested that the infrastructure financing could be profitable.
"Though Nepal is a land-locked country, it is not idea -locked," he said. He suggested developing the bond markets in order to manage the much-needed funds for the infrastructure and industrial development.
Binod Chaudhary, President Emeritus of the CNI, urged India to expedite the development of Pancheshwor Project and other cross-border connectivity projects.
"Please demonstrate the spirit as in the cross-border petroleum pipeline which was completed eight months before the stipulated time," he said to the Indian Union Minister of the State at the Ministry of Power, New and Renewable Energy Raj Kumar Singh.
The two-day summit is being attended by about 500 Nepali and foreign investors.