Ram Khatry I 31 March 2019: Speaking at the closing ceremony of Nepal Investment Summit 2019, Japan-based businessman Bhaban Bhatta has urged potential investors to use non-resident Nepalis as the “Sherpas of investment in Nepal”.
Mr Bhatta called on foreign delegates participating in the Nepal Investment Summit (NIS) 2019 to make avail of expatriate Nepalis’ in-depth knowledge of both the countries they were born and reside in. This, he pitched, will help them navigate Nepal’s “investment roads”.
The president of the Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA), a global network headquartered in Kathmandu, pointed out that NRNs have both the expertise in Nepalese business sector as well as the world-class skill sets which could come handy as potential investors make their early investment journeys in the Himalayan nation.
He seemed to indicate that just as the indomitable Sherpas have helped mountaineers realise their dream of scaling Mt Everest since 1953, NRNs stand ready to work with any foreign investors willing to make Nepal their next investment destination. “The foreign investors who are looking at investment possibilities in Nepal can use the Nepalis from the diaspora community to negotiate the business roads of Nepal,” Mr Bhatta said during his remarks at the NIS’s closing ceremony, “NRNs can be your Sherpas for business in Nepal.”
NRNA and the Government of Nepal have signed a Memorandum of Understand (MoU) in order to effect the creation of a common fund which will be invested in innovative ventures as well as infrastructure projects in Nepal. “With this initiation, we plan to use small savings to execute big projects. It will be a special purpose vehicle which will allow investors to get a return and let Nepal have access to significant fund,” the NRNA president stated.
The global network would attempt to raise some Rs 10 billion to kick-start the ambitious project, Mr Bhatta said.
The NRNA would raise the funds by selling shares to Nepalis working abroad as well as to foreign nationals of Nepali origin.
This common investment fund of the NRNs is going to be different from other investment projects run by non-resident Nepalis, the NRN leader clarified, as it is not an investment in one particular project. Instead, it will be an investment in a common fund which in turn will invest in any number of projects.
“In order to assure liquidity to the investors, the shares of the proposed company will be tradable in the stock exchange of Nepal. We hope to make this company a game changer in capital mobilisation and corporate governance,” Mr Bhatta further said. He urged the government and Nepali business communities to look at NRNs as a link with the outside world, “Many of us have transformed ourselves from teller to manager, from attendants to owners and from research assistants to team leaders. This allows us to believe that we can be a link between Nepal and the countries we reside and operate in.”
With the participation of over 735 delegates from 40 different countries representing 300 companies, the Nepal Investment Summit has gotten the government representatives’ adrenaline pumping.
Excited organisers of the Nepal Investment Summit have called the gathering a “historic” occasion. Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and other government dignitaries repeatedly promised that now nothing will stop the mountain nation from creating one of the most investment-friendly environments in South Asia.
Maha Prasad Adhikari, the CEO of the Nepal Investment Board, highlighted that 600 local business leaders from over 100 Nepalese companies as well as experts exchanged ideas with the visiting delegates about investment opportunities in Nepal. According to Mr Adhikari, potential investors were briefed about domestic as well as cross-border and global markets for Nepali products and services, they were apprised of potential and investible FDI projects in the country and the interested parties have been made aware of the incentives and policy reforms that the young republic has undertaken to create conducive investment environment for foreign investment.
The government’s efforts have paid off in that a total of 16 MoUs were signed during the Summit.
Nepalis, however, are not easily buying it as they are usually in the habit of comparing “promises” with the track records of past governments.
The only saving grace this time could be the fact that the current government is a two-third majority. If the communist leaders want it then they can do everything and anything that needs to be done in order to facilitate foreign direct investment in Nepal. The country is crying for it as brain drain dogs the country due to the obvious reason – acute lack of employment opportunities at home.
Perhaps the skepticism of the ordinary Nepalis was reflected when billionaire Binod Chaudhary warned that the real work begins now. “It’s been a great success, Nepal is now being seen all over the world as a probable destination. But for Nepal, the real job begins now. People are going to watch how we move forward after the conference in terms of deliveries of our promises. How these joint ventures which have been signed are going to move forward, how these…the parties who are involved become the ambassadors of Nepal to take the message to the entire world that indeed now the time has come. Don’t be late, you are going to miss the bus,” the Chaudhary Group stalwart said during the closing ceremony.
KP Sharma Oli’s “vision” and a paradigm shift in Nepal’s investment climate
“The government is pulling all its efforts to materialise the Rt Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision for Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali. This is the reflection of the country’s vision as well as of all the Nepalis,” NIS coordinator and Nepal’s finance minister Dr Khatiwada pitched to the foreign delegates. He also reiterated his government’s efforts to develop a “single stop mechanism of services” to facilitate foreign investment in Nepal.
With the interest, commitment and offer of business from the participating foreign delegates, Nepal can well be the “new investment destination” in the region, Minister Khatiwada said. He further remarked that Nepal is overwhelmingly encouraged from the response of the participants in the bilateral or panel discussions who want to see Nepal “as a rising star in South Asia” and to see Nepal having “a paradigm shift in terms of investment climate”.
The minister assured delegates that Nepal is united across the political spectrum in welcoming foreign investors in the country. The successful Nepal Investment Summit meant the country was united across all political parties in bringing about a prosperous change in the country, the former vice chair of Nepal’s National Planning Commission pointed out.