KATHMANDU, June 24: Former foreign minister Prakash Saran Mahat has said that Nepal should ask both India and China to build railway links to the country on grants instead of investing national budget in such projects.
A key leader of the main opposition Nepali Congress (NC), Mahat claimed that Nepal cannot pay back the loan if such a loan is taken for constructing railways in the country as the cost of such projects would exceed the annual capital expenditure of Nepal.
Comments from the opposition party leader have come within days of the Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli-led Nepali delegation striking a deal with northern neighbor China for building railway link between the two countries.
“We should urge both China and India to build railways in Nepal under their grant assistance. We can't pay the loan back if we start constructing railway on our own it would need a huge investment and it would take decades or even a century to get returns from such mega projects,” said Mahat in an interaction in the capital on Saturday.
Mahat was of the views that both China and India should gift the railway projects to Nepal as they are economically strong and as Nepal's limited resources are inadequate for building such mega projects. The former minister also drew the attention of the government toward the fact that many district headquarters are yet to be connected with blacktopped roads.
He also claimed that connectivity efforts with China were initiated by the NC-led government in the past and most of the agreements during the Oli's China visit were not new. He opined that Nepal should lobby for tax free export of Nepal-made goods to minimize the trade deficit with China. “We can examine whether the agreements will be in Nepal's interest or not only after studying the conditions and requirements mentioned in the agreements and their implementation,” he said.