Ahead of the third investment summit scheduled for April 28 and 29 in Kathmandu, a panel has recommended the government amend a dozen laws to attract foreign investment.
The government is calling the investment summit to welcome investors to the country even though the previous two summits did not bring much investment. At both summits, investment pledges had reached billions of dollars in various projects, but only a few commitments turned into reality. Officials now say they have drawn up new measures to connect with foreign investors.
The government formed a panel chaired by Ek Narayan Aryal, secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, to identify laws and regulations that prevent investment from entering the country, provisions that deter investors and problems in accessing finance, and suggest ways to improve laws and to removed procedural and structural defects.
In its report, the panel says the legal reforms will improve the investment climate and bring capital to the country’s various service and industrial sectors.
The panel headed by Aryal has submitted its report to Chief Secretary Baikuntha Aryal. Over a dozen representatives from various government agencies and the private sector discussed the issues and made their recommendations to the government. According to a panelist, the onus is now on the government to implement the recommendations and ensure a favorable investment climate in the country.
The recommendations have been discussed at the highest bureaucratic level and ministers are now studying them, said Chief Secretary Aryal. The ministers are asked to give their comments and suggestions by Monday, Aryal said. “Then we will table it in the Parliament”.
According to a member of the panel, it has recommended the government to amend the Foreign Investment and Technology Act, the Special Economic Zone Act, the Forest Act, the Industrial Enterprises Act, the National Wildlife and Conservation Act, the Reform Act of Land, the Law on Land Acquisition Act, the Law on Environmental Protection, the Civil Aviation Law, the Electronic Transactions Act and two regulations related to foreign investment and technology transfer and forest regulation.
A team of secretaries is preparing the list of projects to be exhibited at the investment summit. More than 100 projects have been selected to be presented at the summit.
The government has formed a high-level national directive committee headed by Finance Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat. The minister wanted to change more laws and regulations that were considered to hinder investment in the country, but when the private sector was okay with changes to only a dozen laws and two regulations, the government will take the changes to Parliament, the panelist said.
Ahead of the investment summit, a special energy-related expo will be organized in Kathmandu to attract investment in sustainable, inclusive, accessible and profit-oriented energy development sectors and the promotion of green energy.
Addressing a press conference in Kathmandu on Wednesday, Ganesh Karki, chairman of the Association of Independent Power Producers, said the purpose of the energy expo is to seek foreign investment in Nepal’s power sector.
The committee’s report has been approved by the guideline committee headed by the minister, Aryal said. Without making reforms in laws and regulations as recommended, there is no possibility to hold the investment summit, he added.
Investors have complained about some structural, legal and procedural difficulties and bureaucracy in Nepal. A big question remains about acquiring land or buying or leasing it to set up a factory or service unit, the panel member said. The issue of land acquisition was discussed in detail in the directive committee chaired by the finance minister.
If we solve the issue of acquiring, buying or leasing land, half of the issues related to investments will be solved, the member said.
“If our recommendations are implemented, there will be progress,” Aryal said.