KATHMANDU, Sept 12: Economic experts have said that Nepal should focus on local and regional connectivity for development.
Addressing Nepal Infrastructure Summit 2009 in Kathmandu on Wednesday, Swarnim Wagle, economist and 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.
Also speaking at the program, former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai said that Nepal must focus on projects like Koshi Corridor, Gandaki Corridor and Karnali Corridor to better connect with India and China.
During the program, Bhattarai also said that government has to build road projects as the country is least-developed. “In Nepal, time has not come yet for the private sector to invest in road projects,” he said. He also said that there is huge potential for private sector to invest in the energy sector. “Private sector must invest in health care and education as a part of its philanthropic activity,” said Bhattarai.
The former prime minister also said that the government should take loans from international development partners rather than expecting investment from developed countries.
Similarly, Sanjay Poudyal, deputy resident country director of Millennium Challenge Corporation, Nepal, said that no country can be self-sufficient and self-reliant by themselves. “Developed countries know how to trade and they utilize the comparative advantage that they have and other countries have,” said Poudyal.
Experts also stressed the need for strong local connectivity for long-term planning. “The government must urgently bring Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) and metro rail for integrated mobility development,” Rajeev Malhotra, former chief regional planner, National Capital Region Planning Board, Government of India, said.
Also speaking at the program, ADB Director General Woochong Um, said that ADB will prioritize investment in resilient infrastructure as per its new strategy.
Experts also emphasized the need for the government to improve governance, and work on social and environmental responsibilities for building resilient infrastructure. “We should not hurriedly talk about signing projects. Enhancing the ease on doing business has to be our priority,” said Radhesh Pant, former CEO of the Investment Board Nepal.
The two-day summit organized jointly by the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport and the Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) will conclude on September12.