Naysayer Mahat rues lack of foreign, domestic investment

Kathmandu, October 23:

Former finance minister and NC CA member Dr Ram Sharan Mahat said yesterday that foreign and domestic investment would not pour in the country in the absence of peace and security.

Commenting on budget allocation for the Ministry of Water Resources and Ministry of Industry,

the CA member accused the government of failing to provide security around the West Seti Hydropower Project site.

“There has been an attack on the project, which is being commissioned with foreign investment. Equipment belonging to the project has been looted,” said Dr Mahat. “How can the government attract foreign investment in the hydropower sector when it is unable to provide security to under-construction plants?” he questioned. The government has envisaged generating 10,000 MW of hydroelectricity in 10 years.

“Generation of even 2,000 MW of power within the said period will be a tall order if the government does not provide security to power projects,” said he.

“How can the government ensure security for hydropower projects at a time when it has failed to provide security for holding a beauty pageant in the capital?” he questioned.

He criticised the government’s plan on revival of state-owned industries. “The cost of production in Nepal is very high due to frequent strikes. Therefore, products of the state-owned industries cannot compete in the international market,” said Dr Mahat.

Bhim Rawal, a CA member from the CPN-UML, a member of the ruling coalition, said the government should come up with a long-term water resources policy in keeping with national interests. “We must know how much benefit the country can draw from the West Seti and Upper Karnali projects before we decide to commission mega projects with foreign investment,” said the UML CA member.

He also stressed the need to review the Mahakali Treaty. “There’s a provision to review the treaty every 10 years, but we have not even been able to finalise the detailed project report of the proposed Pacheshwor High-Dam Project,” Rawal maintained