House panel tells IBN to finish pending jobs

- BIBEK SUBEDI, Kathmandu

Dec 1, 2016-

The parliamentary Development Committee has told Investment Board Nepal (IBN) to hold regular board meetings since delayed decisions might hold up major infrastructure projects.

A meeting of the House panel on Wednesday also asked the board to take care 

of pending tasks by calling board meetings as and when necessary. 

“IBN was established with the aim of boosting the country’s infrastructural development by attracting and facilitating foreign direct investment (FDI),” said Rabindra Adhikari, chairman of the committee. “However, it has been learnt that IBN has been struggling to conduct its daily activities.” 

IBN last held a board meeting four months ago on July 22 under the chairmanship of the then prime minister KP Oli. Current Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has not spared time for IBN since assuming office. 

The board has to make two major decisions related to two 900 MW hydropower projects—Arun III and Upper Karnali. 

The last date for the financial closure of both these projects has passed with neither being able to arrange the necessary financing. 

They have applied for an extension of the deadline to complete financial closure. IBN hasn’t decided whether to grant them time extensions or not, and is planning to pass the buck to a board meeting which is chaired by the prime minister. 

“IBN has repeatedly asked Prime Minister Dahal to set time aside to hold a board meeting so that decisions can be made,” said an IBN official. “We see the prime minister attending petty inauguration functions, but he has no time for us.” 

Such apathy by the prime minister sends a negative message among the general public that this government is not serious about development work, the official added.

“Project developers have been making repeated calls asking for a quick decision, and it has become embarrassing for the IBN management to keep putting them off,” said the source. “If the board’s own chairman doesn’t show interest, we can’t expect much from other government agencies. Against this backdrop, how can IBN provide one-stop service to foreign investors?” 

Apart from deciding the fate of the Arun III and Upper Karnali projects, there are a few other important issues that require immediate attention, and they are also in limbo as no board meeting has been held.

IBN has to make some amendments to the Investment Board Act, and this task has been pending for a long time. 

Similarly, another action that has been held up is approving the recently prepared draft Project Investment Agreement (PIA). 

The PIA is a ‘marketing document’ to show that Nepal is an FDI-friendly country, and it contains a list of facilities to lure potential investors. 

After signing the agreement, investors will get various benefits such as tax exemptions and procedural help to set up and operate projects, according to IBN.

Published: 01-12-2016 08:40

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