Govt may float dual citizenship

Kathmandu, October 11:

Deputy prime minister K P Sharma Oli today hinted at amending a provision in the existing Citizenship Act in order to promote investment and technology transfer of non-resident Nepalis. He said that a need has been felt to amend a provision in the law that bars

any Nepali citizen to hold two different for citizenships, which he stated is a hindrance to attract NRN investment to the country. “Though there is no provision of allowing dual citizenship, a need has been felt to amend the existing law,” Oli said. He was speaking at a programme organised to mark the third NRN Day. The programme was jointly organised by the NRN Association and the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) under a theme of NRN’s contribution to remittance and dual citizenship.

“The government has taken the issue seriously, as two bills regarding Citizenship Act and NRN Act are under discussion in the Parliament,” he said, adding that the hindrances and problems would be sorted out during the parliamentary discussions.

Making a keynote speech, Kul Chandra Gautam, assistant secretary general of UN, urged the government to address those issues that hinder NRNs’ contribution to Nepal. He said that the NRN movement has already emerged as an important partner in overall development efforts of the country.

Referring to the cases of ex-British Gurkha soldiers, who are abandoning Nepali citizenship to get British citizenship, Gautam said that the issue would soon become a serious problem, if it is not addressed in time. “Any special consideration made for NRNs in terms of long-term visas, dual citizenship and other investment facilities would be of mutual benefit, both for NRNs and Nepal,” he added.

Gautam further urged the government to strengthen and expand its diplomatic services to additional countries where there is a large concentration of Nepalis. “It is in the interest of both the government and NRNs that Nepal’s diplomatic services be restructured and strengthened,” he said.

Nepal should also establish bilateral agreements with countries to ensure that NRNs benefit from minimum wage, social protection, medical care, humane working conditions and can avoid unfair double taxation, Gautam added. While making a presentation on remittances, Mallika Shakya, NRN working at the World Bank, Washington DC highlighted multi-facetted benefits of remittances and how they have become the life-line of Nepal, keeping Nepal’s economy afloat.

Besides monetary contribution of remittances, which stand up to an approximately 23 per cent of the GDP, she said that the money sent in by the Nepali diaspora has played a crucial role in social transformation back in the country. “We cannot disregard the value of ‘social remittances’ that come in the form of new ideas, improved technical skills and greater openness in attitudes and behaviours that has helped build social capital,” Shakya said. In his presentation on dual citizenship, Girija Gautam, NRN from the US said that the government should examine the issue with an open mind and creative spirit about what is truly in the best interest of Nepal. He also presented examples of dual citizenship provisions such as the Overseas Citizens of India and asked the government to take a step to attract NRN investment.

Bhim Udas, coordinator of NRN International Coordination Committee, Sagar Nepal, NRNA vice-president for Middle East Asia Region and Ram Pratap Thapa, NRNA vice-president for the Europe Region also expressed their views on the occasion.