Nepal Investment Summit 2019: Govt officials beat investment drum on the back of policy reforms

Published On: March 29, 2019 09:30 AM NPT By: Sagar Ghimire  | @sagarghi

KATHMANDU, March 29: Minister for Finance Yuba Raj Khatiwada has said that recent legal and regulatory reforms carried out by the government will make investing easier in Nepal. 

While urging the government to do more, private sector leaders and investment experts have also lauded the recent initiatives of the government to ease the doing business environment in the country. 

Speaking at an event ‘Samriddha Nepal: From Dream to Reality’ organized by the KPMG on the eve of ‘Investment Summit Nepal 2019’, the finance minister highlighted the government’s plan to provide one-stop service center to curb bureaucratic hassles and red tape for investors as envisioned in the newly-introduced law governing the foreign investment and technology transfer. 

“The one window policy or one-stop center introduced through the recent legislation will be available for foreign investors to minimize hassles and end the compulsion for them to run one door to another while registering their businesses or getting various incentives and facilities,” said Khatiwada. 

“If every necessary condition is met, we are now bound by laws to approve the business in seven days, no ifs and buts,” he added.

Amid concerns over Nepal’s recent performance on the ease of doing business ranking of the World Bank, he said that the government is minutely looking into the impediments faced by investors in Nepal. 

“Our team has gone through all the steps of investment process. They found some misconception as well as miscommunication about the doing business process. But we are committed and have already begun many reforms to end the constraints that the private sector is facing,” he added, citing various initiative like taking the income tax filing and business registration process online and simplifying repatriation for foreign investors.

Also speaking at a panel discussion ‘Investment Opportunities in Nepal’, Harun Khan, former deputy governor of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Senior Advisor of KPMG, said that Nepal should improve its current account position to attract more investment. “Nepal is one of the highest remittance receiving countries in South Asia while one of the lowest in foreign direct investment,” said Khan, adding that sound macro prudential policies and improvement in the current account position are crucial for attracting foreign investment. 

He said that the lowest non-performing asset of Nepal’s banking sector is something that India can learn from Nepal. “But the hedging market is not fully developed in Nepal. If more infrastructure-related investments are to be lured, there should be hedging facility in the country,” he added.

Similarly, Anuj Agrawal, the chairman of Nepal Infrastructure Bank Ltd, said that Nepal’s private sector is bullish and the positive sentiment for investment is at an all time high. “The private sector has been investing billions in various sectors, lately in cement and steel manufacturing. Private sector must be engaged to leverage their resources and bring more efficiency even in government projects,” Agrawal, who is also a vice president of the Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI), added.

Yam Kumari Khatiwada, Secretary at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, said that the recently-approved laws and policies will make it easier for entry, operations, repatriation and exit for investors. “In addition to that, the industrial enterprises act, which is being amended and integrated, has a long list of incentives,” she added. 

Akhil Bansal, a deputy CEO of KPMG India, said that the summit being hosted by the Government of Nepal will set the tone for economic growth in Nepal.

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