Mr. Nabindra Raj Joshi is the Minister for Industry in the current Council of Ministers. The Ministry of Industry and Investment Board Nepal (IBN) organized 'Nepal Investment Summit 2017' in the first week of March under the leadership of minister Joshi. The Summit created an opportunity to display Nepal as one of the best destinations for investment. Talking to IBN Dispatch, Joshi views that the Summit heralded the beginning of glorious days for Nepal.
As the Minister for Industry and head of organizing committee for the Nepal Investment Summit, how are you assessing the recently concluded summit?
In my view, the Summit's main achievement is to showcase Nepal as an ideal place for investment. We have been able to send the message that Nepal is ready and committed to welcoming Foreign Direct Investment. At the Summit, we demonstrated our seriousness to create a conducive environment for doing business. International community offered overwhelming response to our commitment for investment-friendly climate in our country. We also sent a message to investors that we want capital and technology to harness our resources. I want to thank international community for their wholehearted response and goodwill extended to us. There was an enormous amount of intents for investment in Nepal. Now ball is in our court to realize the intended amount of investment into actual investment.
What will be the effective mechanism to translate the letter of intents ( LoIs) into real investment ?
It is the fact that investors sign LOIs after they are convinced that Nepal is suitable for investment. LoIs show their interest to put money in Nepal after assessing the potential profit, investment security and other incentives offered here. After their immense responses with interest in investing in Nepal, now it is our responsibility to create investment friendly environment with policy stability, policy predictability, administrative and legal reforms to remove existing bottlenecks in operating business in the country.
Keeping in view that we have more responsibilities, we have formed different committees for an effective follow up mechanism. The mechanism will coordinate with the investors who signed LoIs at the Summit along with other potential investors. A high-level committee under my leadership has been formed, along with three sub-committees to support it. Three sub-committees have also been set up to support main committee. The policy reform sub-committee led by National Planning Commission, Industrial Promotion Sub-committee headed by Industry Secretary and Project Development Committee led by CEO of IBN have been constituted and those committees have already started their respective tasks in coordination with the high-level committee. The committees will recommend suggestions to resolve the problems in bringing in FDI into the country.
Similarly, in an effort to minimize legal hurdles in attracting FDI, we have amended and introduced new laws. We have already passed Special Economic Zone Act, Industrial Promotion Act and Company Act. The government has also passed Industrial Promotion Policy and Intellectual Property Policy. We are at a final stage to introduce new Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Act (FITTA). These laws and policies are crucial for creating favorable climate to invest in our country. We are committed to introducing and amending other laws and policies to facilitate investors to do business here in Nepal.
But, how can we remove other obstacles for FDI ?
The best way to facilitate FDI is to introduce a one-door service system. We are seriously doing a homework to see the best way in which investors can get a one-stop service regarding registering, operating and exiting. It is quite pathetic that investors have to spend as much as two years to get the process of registering business done under existing procedure. We must introduce a mechanism wherein investors need not wait for more than two months if not a week for the entire process. To speed up the investor service process, we are soon introducing online and digital system that will minimize the time and maximize the work efficiency of concerned agencies. We are also talking with senior officials of concerned government agencies to establish a strong coordination to provide investor service in an effective and efficient manner.
We recently organized the Nepal Investment Summit as a key part of promoting Nepal as an ideal investment destination. How can we continue promotional activities in coming days as promotion is a continued process?
The Summit is the beginning of glorious days for Nepal. If we successfully translate the Letter of Intents, (LoIs) signed at that time into actual investment, I am sure Nepal can leap-forward in economic prosperity. Top leaders of major political parties demonstrated their commitment for economic prosperity utilizing private investment. Their common views regarding the significance of investment for economic transformation has sent strong message to the world that Nepal is ready to welcome investment. Investors, experts, bureaucrats, and donor community representatives present at the two-day events also acknowledged that Nepal is emerging as a suitable destination for investment.
How do you relate Nepal Investment Summit and a vision for making Nepal a prosperous country?
I am proud that we completed the Nepal Investment Summit flawlessly. It became an event that all Nepali people felt proud of. As our great leader, BP Koirala used to say that dignity of citizen lies on the dignity of their respective nations. We can't attain dignity without economic prosperity. Another great leader Ganeshman Singh also was of the view that political stability needs economic revolution. We have to learn from the rapid economic development achieved by Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea which were once not in better off position than Nepal. This Summit has provided me with immense strength to move ahead with a notion that everything is possible for Nepal's prosperity. I view that Nepal need to utilize FDI and domestic investment and promote Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to achieve economic development with sufficient employment generation.