KATHMANDU – Nepal unveiled dozens of private and public projects worth $30 billion at the start of a two-day investment forum on Friday.
The communist government that was elected a little over a year ago is looking to boost growth in the Himalayan country, which is classified by the United Nations as one of the world’s 48 least developed countries.
“We need to attain a double-digit growth over the next years. A tentative estimation (...) is that the country would require an investment of over 97.77 trillion Nepali rupees (about $88.18 billion) over the next five years,” Nepalese Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli said at the forum’s inauguration.
“Domestic resources alone would not be sufficient to meet this requirement,’’ he added.
More than 600 investors and high-level officials from multinational companies and organizations from 40 countries were expected to take part in the Nepal Investment Summit 2019, Finance Minister Yuba Raj Khatiwada told a press conference on Wednesday.
More than half were expected to be from neighboring India and China, he added, as the Himalayan country looks to capitalize on its strategic location sandwiched between the two Asian giants and stimulate the economy.
The government has relaxed a number of laws to attract increased foreign investment, Khatiwada said.
A 10-year civil war between the Nepalese government and insurgent Maoist rebels from 1996 to 2006 with casualties of around 13,000 contributed to a long spell of political instability that has hindered the country’s economic progress.
Nepal is also often severely affected by natural disasters and is still recovering from the 2015 earthquake that killed nearly 9,000 people.
According to Systematic Country Diagnostic report of the World Bank, Nepal’s growth has been much lower than that of the other economies in the region during the last 20 years, growing at an average rate of 4 percent annually.
To address this, the government has begun looking outward to stimulate its economy following years of instability.
“We all know the investment climate was not favorable in past years due to the unstable political situation, labor issues and the energy deficit,” Bhawani Rana, president of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, told Efe. “Now, the situation has improved. We have a powerful and stable government to deliver optimistic results.”
She said that the summit would be a platform to demonstrate to the international community that Nepal is open for business.