Nepal Infrastructure Conference, 2019 has kicked off from today. The meet is organized with the objective of emphasizing on the construction of infrastructures which are the basis for the country's prosperity.
The conference is jointly organized by Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport and the Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI). It will explore avenues for investment in the infrastructure sector of Nepal, challenges and opportunities in group discussions. The conference will have seven sessions.
Addressing a session entitled 'Infrastructure Scenario' as part of the conference today, former Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai said the state itself should invest in big projects in the context of the private sector still not being in a position to invest in big infrastructure projects. He gave an illustration of projects started with the private sector investment in the past remaining in limbo and suggested the private sector not to invest in big infrastructure projects. "Some years back, the private sector tried its hands in the construction of the Kathmandu-Hetauda tunnel way but it could not," he said and gave examples of developed countries where the state has invested in infrastructures like road, transport and communications.
According to him, the investment by the private sector did not produce results due to the failure to make the right assessment of the complex geo-political situation. "However, the private sector can invest in the construction of international airport and fast-track in partnership with the government," he said and suggested the private sector investors not to hurry in investing in big infrastructure projects like railway construction, without the required capacity.
The private sector can invest in the energy sector in Nepal at present but as their investment capacity is low one cannot be confident of them, the former PM said. He urged the private sector to pay attention to the production of goods and services and maximize revenue from it. Stressing on the need of moving ahead by taking the two neighbouring countries which are rising as economic super powers into confidence, the former PM suggested moving hand n hand with both neighbours and not by intimidating them.
"Let us construct roads connecting India and China through the Koshi, Gandaki and Karnali corridors. We will not have prosperity until we link Kathmandu with the Tarai. Let us decentralize the capital-centred population, development and economy," he suggested. National Planning Commission (NPC) vice chair Dr Pushpa Raj Kandel, pointing out the need of investment for achieving the sustainable development goals, said there was the need of cooperation of the private sector in infrastructure development. He urged the private sector to increase investment in the agriculture, tourism and energy sectors on the basis of public-private partnership.
Finance Ministry secretary Lal Shankar Ghimire said the private sector has an important role to play in reducing the burgeoning trade deficit in the country. He added that the government has revised various Acts, laws and policies to build investment-friendly climate in the country. Ghimire also referred to the operation of one-stop service centre to facilitate the investors in providing all services to them from a single point. "The government has created the environment for bringing investment of the private sector and the foreign investors. There is appropriate situation for earning profit through investment in Nepal," he assured.
Asian Development Bank (ADB)'s director-general Uchung Un stressed on building infrastructures which can withstand the climate change. He also underscored the need of taking ahead development in a participatory way. Stating ADB is a partner institution in Nepal's development, the ADB director-general recalled that the Bank has invested in big infrastructure projects of Nepal. Former vice-chair of ADB, Dr Bindu Lohani urged the government to create investment-friendly environment to ensure the investment from the private sector.