KATHMANDU, Nov 20 : Speaker of the Federal Parliament Krishna Bahadur Mahara on Tuesday urged the Nepal government to identify and execute projects to be developed under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative by overcoming some ‘geopolitical challenges’.
Speaking at a talk program on “BRI and South Asia” organized by Centre for South Asian Studies in Kathmandu, Mahara said that this is a right time for the government going for implementation of the projects under the BRI.
Mahara said that this is the high time Nepal implemented infrastrucutre and connectivity projects under the Belt and Road.
“Even if there are some geopolitical challenges, we should not hesitate to executive projects under the BRI as these projects serve our national interests,” the speaker said, adding that he has already spoken with Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada over dilly-dallying in executing BRI projects.
He also recalled that he led a Nepali delegation to Beijing during the Belt and Road Forum after Nepal joined the BRI in May 2017.
Mahara said that some parliamentarians are now talking about holding deliberations at the parlaiement regarding why the BRI projects are not being executed. “I believe that we have go for implementation of the BRI projects which serve our national interests,” he added.
Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada said that regional initiatives like the Belt and Road help meet the investment and physical infrastructure gaps while creating win-win situation for the concerned parties.
“Nepal is ready to go ahead with BRI and find tangible projects as the country has already signed the MoU with China on the BRI cooperation,” he said.
Khatiwada believed that the BRI would help Nepal to grow faster through the enhanced connectivity with other countries.
The minister also stressed the need that the regional initiatives should be financially and environmentally sustainable.
Pointing out that smaller countries like Nepal should get equal benefits through global initiatives like the BRI which seek to promote globalization. “Are we getting equal benefits of the globalization?” he questioned.
On the occasion, Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Yu Hong said that China and Nepal are closely working to deepen cooperation in various fields including investment, tourism, rail-road connectivity and infrastructure development under the overarching framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.
“BRI is an open and inclusive concept proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping five years ago. So far, 113 countries and 29 international organisations have already signed the BRI cooperation agreement with China. It has been emerged as a promising platform for international cooperation,” she added.
She said that the two countries have made significant progress in the implemention of the Belt and Road cooperation. “As part of the BRI, we have signed the MoU on carrying out feasibility study on the railway project during Prime Minister Oli’s recent visit to China,” she said.
Ambassador Yu refuted the allegation that China uses so-called "dept diplomacy" to expand its influence globally.
The ambassador, who is returning home next month after completing her tenure, said that there have been frequent exchange of high level visits between China and Nepal.
“Prime Minister Oli’s successful visit to China, the signing of Transit Transport Protocol and a deal on carrying out feasibility study on Nepal-China railway are some of the major developments taken place between our two countries during my tenure,” Yu said. During the event, experts from Chinese think tanks aired their views on the China-proposed BRI.