KATHMANDU: In what is undoubtedly a strong signal to the government with respect to the need for vastly improving the quality of development projects, the World Bank has substantially scaled down the level of its financial assistance to Nepal. The current level of assistance that comes in the form of soft loan for the bank’s current fiscal year (July 1, 2001, to June 30, 2002) is $23 million for the telecommunication sector reform project. The telecommunication project has the twin objective of strengthening policy and regulatory capacities and the licencing of a private rural operator to provide telecommunication services in 534 village development committees (VDCs) in the eastern development region.The bank’s credit will enable the government to provide minimum capital subsidy to the private sector in order to make the investment commercially viable.
The project targets low-income, rural and disadvantaged people who will be the beneficiaries of the telecommunication and information services. “It is a new way of doing business,” Kenichi Ohasi, country director of the World Bank in Kathmandu, told The HimalayanTimes. The financial sector reforms project will also attract between $16 million and $26 million during the same period. The precise amount the bank will eventually offer will be known only after Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) tells how much it will chip in. Taking everything into account, the annual World Bank lending will be less than $50 million this fiscal year.