The government formally announced on Monday that fiscal 2012-13 would be observed as Nepal Investment Year (NIY). The first meeting of the National Directory Committee (NDC) chaired by Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai decided to move the campaign ahead as per the government’s plan.
For starters, the NDC has formed four sub-committees and their coordinators. According to Radhesh Pant, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Investment Board, the members of the sub-committees will be selected soon after which they will start work.
The four sub-committees are the Programme Sub-Committee, Investment Promotion Sub-Committee, Investment Sector Identification Sub-Committee and the Act, Rules and Policies Revision Sub-Committee, said Pant. Their coordinators are, respectively, secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office Lila Mani Poudel, FNCCI president Suraj Vaidya, Investment Board CEO Pant and vice-president of the National Planning Commission (NPC) Deependra Kshetri.
“The sub-committees will get four to five months to accomplish their assigned tasks. If they encounter any problems, they will be resolved by seeking political and procedural assistance that NIY will be observed successfully,” said Pant.
The meeting has also decided to conduct a public campaign to create a favourable environment to draw investment from overseas. “We will launch promotional events like road shows, awareness campaigns and presentations on the need for investment to develop the national economy,” added Pant, “We will also soon host an extensive investment forum.”
NIY is one of ambitious programmes of the government that seeks to double foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country. Expediting the preparations for NIY, the government gave the Investment Board its full shape a couple of days ago.
The government expects NIY to attract FDI in 50 mega projects. “We have yet to set the FDI target we expect to achieve during NIY, but the government has aimed at attracting FDI in at least 50 mega projects during 2012-13,” said Industry Minister Anil Kumar Jha.
However, Pant was less ambitious. He said the Investment Board was working to bring FDI in at least 10 mega projects. “Of the 50 potential projects that are being studied, we will make efforts to realize at least 10 of them,” said Pant. “We will sign an agreement with foreign investors and help them to implement their projects at the earliest.”
The MoI in association with the FNCCI has already identified five areas including hydro power, infrastructure, mining and mineral-based industry, herbs and agro processing, tourism and service as the most promising sectors to attract foreign investment.
FNCCI Executive Director Hemanta Dawadi said that on the basis of these areas, the FNCCI would work to identify 50 projects in partnership with the ministry. “These projects will be ready in a couple of months, and they will help foreign investors to be specific,” said Dawadi.
Pant said that apart from these recognized areas, the board will also prioritize areas like health and education to draw FDI.
Industrialists, however, doubt the success of NIY citing delays in revising current industrial laws. Despite the government’s move to update the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Act, Intellectual Property Act, Industrial Enterprises Promotion Policy, Industrial Enterprises Promotion Act and Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Act and Labour Policy to make them more investor-friendly, there has been little progress.
Rameshwor Khanal, economic advisor to the prime minister, said that delays in updating these laws didn’t mean that NIY wouldn’t be successful. “The government has several options to ease the process of facilitating foreign investment, and there’s no need to worry about delays in revising the policies,” he added.
The 42-member NDC consists of representatives from the Ministry of Finance (MoF), Ministry of Industry (MoI), Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoTCA), Ministry of Commerce and Supplies (MoCS) and Ministry of Energy (MoE), among others. In addition, the committee will include representatives from the National Planning Commission (NPC), the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), the Nepal Chamber of Commerce (NCC) and the Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI). (Source:ekantipur)