Kathmandu, June 6 :

The Nepali business delegation, headed by the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), is all set to raise crucial bilateral issues related to trade and tourism during prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s visit to India beginning today.

Chandi Raj Dhakal, president of FNCCI said that they would talk with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and other business chambers for automatic renewal of the Treaty of Trade that expires in 2007.

Dhakal said that they have already formulated a schedule to hold a joint economic council’s meeting with CII to discuss significant economic issues. Similarly, issues such as the removal of four per cent additional customs duty imposed on Nepali goods, special package for the development of hydropower and tourism in favour of Nepal would be discussed with the Indian business community, he informed The Himalayan Times before leaving for India.

The visit is crucial as the business sector would request India to allow Nepal to use the Indian soil to boost exports to Bangladesh through the Banglabandh route, he said. He also disclosed that the Nepali team would raise the issues of removing countervailing duty imposed by India on Nepali products at least for five years to boost Nepali economy.

The delegation is also going to talk with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for allowing Nepali banks to open their branch offices in Indian states, Dhakal disclosed.

Prakash Shrestha, president of Hotel Association Nepal (HAN), one of the members

accompanying the PM told The Himalayan Times that they would raise the issue of air seat capacity.

As per the existing provision, air-seat capacity is only for 6,000 tourists for Indian tourists and Nepali to visit both the countries per week which should be waived to boost tourist flow, said Shrestha.

Indian tourists’ stay in Nepal should also be extended for at least fifteen days instead

of the present provision of four days, he disclosed.

Shrestha hoped that Indian travellers would be given permission to bring Indian Rs 500 denomination notes for holiday expenses in Nepal as it will boost Nepal-India tourism. He said that the government of India has been providing incentives to government employees and their dependents for travelling favoured countries outside India. However, Nepal has not been included in the list.

In this context, Nepali tourism sector will request India to include Nepal in the ‘favoured list’, he said. He is of the view that a super highway should be developed between the two countries linking Nepali borders to boost tourism.

According to a source in the hotel industry, HAN’s president Shrestha is likely to sign an MoU with the Indian Hotel Association (IHA) to boost bilateral tourist traffic.

Some of the other members in the PM’s entourage are Diwakar Golchha of FNCCI and Arun K Chaudhary, president of Nepal-India Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NICCI).