Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

Ministries told to recommend projects within five days

Published On: November 27, 2017 04:30 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Nov 27: Finance Secretary Shankar Prasad Adhikari on Sunday asked ministries to identify potential projects under Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and submit names of the projects, which are in the process of development, to the Ministry of Finance within five days. 

During the second meeting of Project Development and Coordination Committee for BRI, Adhikari asked officials of the Ministries of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, Irrigation, Energy, Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, and Urban Development to accelerate works for selecting projects along with rationales and their connection to the BRI. He also asked the ministries to recommend possible methodologies for project implementation, according to a statement issued by the ministry after the meeting. 

The government signed a BRI agreement with China earlier in May. However, it has not tabled any project to the China government. 

Kerung-Rasuwagadhi-Kathmandu Railway, Kerung-Rasuwagadhi-Galchhi Cross Border Transmission Line of 400 KVA and Sunkoshi-Marin Diversion Irrigation Project were some of the projects discussed in the meeting. However, the meeting has not finalized the project to be developed by utilizing soft loans provided by the Chinese government, the statement added.

The BRI is a development strategy proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping that focuses on connectivity and cooperation between Eurasian countries, primarily the China, the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and the oceangoing Maritime Silk Road (MSR).

Tunnel road to connect Rasuwagadahi with Kathmandu and upgrading of Beni-Jomsom-Kora La are the other projects discussed in the meeting.

At the meeting, Adhikari put pressure on officials of other ministries to accelerate project selection, considering the importance of those projects to the country's economy. 

Similarly, Gyan Chandra Acharya, economic advisor to the Prime Minister, suggested the officials for identifying projects that help in productivity for taking maximum advantage from the BRI“ "We should proceed in a way that the BRI projects and its activities deliver a direct advantage as well as synergetic positive benefit”," said Acharya. 

The government will make preliminary study of the project recommended for BRI before preparing feasibility study as well as Detailed Project Report (DPR).

Government officials, who were present at the meeting, however, rue that they do not have ready to implement projects and solid projects with pre-feasibility study. 

A 23-member team of National Railway Administration of China visited Nepal earlier this month. It visited the proposed site of Kerung-Rasuwagadhi-Kathmandu Railway and concluded that the project is feasible. The next step is conducting feasibility study, according to government officials.

Once the projects to be build by utilizing Chinese grants are finalized, the government will propose it to the Chinese government for discussion and final selection.

Earlier, preparation was underway to develop the reservoir type Budhigandaki Hydroelectric Project (1200 MW) by utilizing the Chinese grant. But the previous government abruptly handed over to a Chinese company, stirring controversy.  The incumbent government recently scrapped the previous government's decision and awarded the project to Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA).

Nepal's two neighbors, India and China, are competing in infrastructure development front in Nepal. The government is currently implementing road projects worth Rs 35 billion by utilizing soft loans from the Indian government, while Indian developers have bagged contracts two build two mega hydropower plants having capacity of 900 MW each.

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