Seize the current momentum of FDI pledges

Published On: January 18, 2024 07:19 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

In a welcome development, Nepal is poised to see significant growth in the inflow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Foreign companies have pledged investment of Rs 22.33 billion in the first half of the current fiscal year. According to the Department of Industry (DoI), a total of 226 foreign firms have expressed their commitment to inject the amount in Nepal. The amount is 29 percent more than the investment committed by the foreign firms in the same period last year. During mid-July and mid-January of the fiscal year 2022/23, Nepal received foreign direct investment (FDI) worth Rs 17.30 billion. In one month between mid-December and mid-January this year, the DoI approved FDI of Rs 1.72 billion from 27 foreign firms.  It included investment in 22 small enterprises and five medium level firms. In the first half of the current fiscal year, FDI has been pledged for a large number of small firms. While the foreign investors expressed their interest to open 211 small firms, they made commitments for only three big firms and 12 medium-level firms. While this development signals a positive trajectory for the country’s economic landscape, there is still a long way to go in making Nepal truly conducive for FDI.

The recent move by the government to streamline the FDI approval process for investments up to Rs 500 million is a step in the right direction. But there is still a pressing need to take additional measures. According to Nepal Rastra Bank, the recorded FDI realization is disproportionately low compared to the pledged amounts. This disparity between commitment and realization makes it necessary for a comprehensive review of the existing policies and the introduction of targeted reforms to bridge this gap. To capitalize on the current momentum and unlock Nepal's true economic potential, the government must consider taking several other measures including policy reforms, incentives for diversification of FDI, infrastructure development, investor outreach and promotion campaigns. Fostering collaboration between the government, private sector, and international organizations is equally important in this regard. A coordinated effort involving all stakeholders is necessary to create a conducive ecosystem to achieve sustainable economic growth.

As the country receives an impressive growth in the FDI pledges, it is imperative that Nepal seize this opportunity to implement strategic measures. The government's commitment to simplifying procedures is commendable, but a more holistic approach is needed to make Nepal a preferred destination for foreign investors. It is crucial for the government to streamline and simplify regulatory procedures to make them more investor-friendly. Clear and transparent policies will instill confidence among foreign investors and expedite the realization of FDI commitments. Another critical aspect is the development of infrastructures to create an enabling environment for businesses. Robust infrastructure, including efficient transportation and communication networks, will not only attract more FDI but also facilitate the growth of existing enterprises. The government should also consider taking necessary measures to attract FDI across various sectors, not just in tourism. Offering targeted benefits for industries like manufacturing, information technology, and infrastructure development will contribute to a more balanced and resilient economy. These measures will ultimately pave the way for sustained economic growth, job creation, and prosperity for citizens in Nepal.

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