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Economy first

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Nepal Economic Summit 2014  organised by the Nepal government and Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI)  kicked off today in Kathmandu to promote Nepal as a  destination for investment.

The summit which has brought government and private sector representatives from over 12 countries including India and China, is the first of its kind event  organised under the public private partnership to encourage foreign investment in Nepal.

“Nepal needs to cash on its potential in hydro power, tourism and agriculture because we have huge emerging economies as our neighbours,” said Nepali Congress leader Ram Sharan Mahat during the opening ceremony of the summit. “Our party is committed to put Nepal’s economy back on track by working on the outcome of this summit to develop framework and policy to attract investment.” Mahat stressed that rapid economic growth was crucial for Nepal to graduate from least developing country to developing country by 2022.

Nepal recently dropped to the bottom of the world and South Asian rankings on the freedom to do business. The Wall Street Journal and Heritage Foundation survey showed Nepal dropping eight points to rank 149 of 178 in the world for ease of doing business. If it’s any consolation, Bangladesh (131) and India (120) don’t fare much better, although Sri Lanka is way ahead at rank 90. But even among South Asian countries, Nepal is at the bottom of the heap.

The score is based on six criteria that include transparency, labour, investment laws, and governance. Needless to say, the report highlights endemic corruption in government, the judiciary, police, and the prevalence of organised crime in Nepal as the reasons behind the poor ranking.

According to United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report released this month, there are more than  500,000 young Nepalis entering the country’s stagnant job market each year. As a result hundreds of young people leave the country for better opportunities abroad.The report says that  least developed countries should take steps to improve GDP growth, through employment generation the generation of employment, particularly work that pays a stable living wage and has safe employment conditions, and encourage investments to produce high value goods and services.

FNCCI President Suraj Vaidya requested all the political parties to put the country’s development and economy on their priority list as mentioned in their election manifesto last November. “Not much has happened in Nepal in terms of economic growth since the 1990s so it is high time to start implementing and delivering on the development front to ensure a vibrant economy that will retain our young workforce in the country,” said Vaidya. “Enough has been said now, what we need is action so that we in business can get back to business.”

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