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Nepal gets investment pledges worth $13.5 billion

China leads the pack of six investors, committing $8.3 billion

Kathmandu, March 4, 2017: The biggest investment summit held in Nepal in years concluded on Friday, drawing investment commitment of record $13.5 billion (approximately Rs 1,444.5 billion) from six countries, with China leading the pack.

The fund that foreign investors are interested in ploughing into Nepal is more than half the country’s estimated gross domestic product of Rs 2,248.69 billion (approximately $21 billion) recorded in the last fiscal year.

“This is the beginning of glorious days for Nepal,” an elated Industry Minister Nabindra Raj Joshi, who played a key role in making the Nepal Investment Summit 2017 a success, told the Post.

This achievement, however, has added more responsibilities on the government’s shoulders, the minister said. “We will have to work hard to foster favourable investment climate and pave the way for every foreign investor to enter and exit the country without facing any difficulty,” he added.

Organised jointly by the Ministry of Industry, the Investment Board Nepal and the National Planning Commission, the summit was attended by around 775 delegates, including over 280 foreign investors.

The inaugural session of the summit saw top leaders of three major parties—the Nepali Congress, the CPN-UML and the CPN Maoist Centre—sharing the stage to make a strong pitch for foreign investment.

Their declaration on Thursday that they were on the same page about foreign investment—despite ideological differences—set the tone for the two-day summit.

By the time the summit concluded, six Chinese companies had pledged $8.3 billion, or 61 percent of the total investment commitment. These companies have expressed interest to invest in sectors ranging from hydropower, smart grid, airport and railways to roads, drinking water, healthcare and mineral.

The biggest investment pledge from among Chinese companies came from China Machinery Engineering Corporation, which is planning to spend over $3 billion to build a hydropower project, a hospital and metro lines in Kathmandu.

This was followed by commitment of $2.4 billion from Bangladesh’s Himadri Foods (Pran-RFL Group). It has expressed interest to invest in food and construction sectors.

Close on the heels was China State Construction & Engineer, which sought to invest over $2 billion in highways and tunnels.

“We have already caught up with five to six investors who have made the pledges. And they are pretty serious about investing in Nepal,” IBN CEO Maha Prasad Adhikari said. “We will follow up on this issue in the coming days.”

The government has set up a high-level committee to monitor whether funds pledged at the summit are entering Nepal. The committee comprises senior officials of the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Finance, NPC and IBN.

“The step that the Nepal government has taken to reach out to investors from across the world, and those in India, will bring positive results,” Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told journalists on Friday.

By Rupak D Sharma