Kathmandu, December 1
The government has again expressed strong concerns regarding the ‘Doing Business’ report, which was published by the World Bank (WB) on October 31.
At a programme organised by the Society of Economic Journalists-Nepal (SEJON) to mark the SEJON Day in the Capital, Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada, said that the report had reflected a negative picture of the country’s economic condition and investment environment.
“We had spoken to the World Bank about our concerns over the report and the WB mission officials have already arrived in Nepal and have started reviewing the report,” he informed.
Minister Khatiwada rued the fact that the WB had been using data that was six months old to compile the report. “While preparing the report the World Bank must use the latest data as much as possible if it wants to provide a relevant report,” he emphasised, adding that it should include data till at least October. As per Khatiwada, the World Bank collects data till May only and this the major reason why the report does not provide a factual picture.
Nepal stood in the 105th position in the ‘Doing Business’ ranking last year but this year the country has dropped to the 110th position, hinting at a weakening state of trade and investment climate in the country as it has failed to simplify the tax payment process.
Minister Khatiwada reiterated that the government in recent months had created an investment friendly environment by taking the initiative to strengthen existing policies and the system of the government but the report does not reflect that. “WB thus needs to change the methodology of its research.”
He also took the opportunity to inform that import in itself is not a bad aspect of the economy. “We recently acquired two wide-body aircraft for Nepal Airlines Corporation and there has been criticism on why so much money was spent,” he said, adding that one also needs to look at the long-term benefit whereby those aircraft could help in bringing in more tourists thus boosting earnings.
The minister also cited the example of hydropower projects where two-third of the cost of developing them actually goes into importing necessary machinery and equipment. “We have a vision to generate 10,000 megawatts of electricity in the next decade and for that we have to import machinery and equipment, so import in itself should not be taken as a negative development,” he stated.
Khatiwada further added that it was time to focus less on only imports and also start looking into ways to increase exports. “I feel that the problem does not lie solely with imports but the fact that we have not been able to increase exports.”
He also informed that the government will soon formulate a new act to attract foreign investment in the country. “We need investment of at least Rs 15 billion every year to achieve the eight per cent growth target that we have set and for that we will require foreign investment,” Khatiwada said, adding that the government is set to organise the second investment summit in Nepal soon.
On the occasion, SEJON also felicitated Rudra Khadka of Nagarik Daily and Subash Yonjan of Capitalnepal with the SEJON Award and provided fellowships to three other journalists.
A version of this article appears in print on December 02, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.