Political stability key to attracting FDI
Interview Maha Prasad Adhikari Kathmandu Post Jun 27, 2016- The Cabinet on Thursday appointed Maha Prasad Adhikari as the new chief executive of Investment Board Nepal (IBN). Considered close to the ruling CPN-UML, Adhikari played a significant role in a series of corporate reform initiatives that Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) took during the then Governor Yubaraj Khatiwada’s tenure. The Post’s Bibek Subedi caught up with Adhikari to talk about his immediate priorities, challenges ahead and his plans to increase investment in the country. Excerpts:
What are your immediate priorities?
Since IBN is the government’s special purpose vehicle (SPV) to attract large foreign direct investment (FDI), my first priority would be pushing up the government’s programmes and attract FDI in those areas. My second priority would be to materialise the development of existing projects under the IBN. I would like to diversify the areas of investment and have a bank of projects in IBN’s portfolio. For that we might require reforms in certain policies. In that case, I would hold consultations with different government agencies and push for such reforms in policies. I will strengthen human resources of the IBN. I will prepare proper job description for every employee and make sure there is optimum utilisation of our human resources.
What are the major challenges you expect to face?
As an organisation, we don’t have much resources and our operation is funded by donor agencies. Such an arrangement can’t go perpetually. So sustainability could be one of the major challenges of IBN. Political stability is key to attracting bigger foreign investment. Since this organisation came into existence as a result of a political vision, it requires continuous political commitment from the highest level for its effective functioning. Another challenge would be coordination among various government agencies.
Your appointment came from the CPN-UML-led government. Do you think your position as CEO would be acceptable to other governments should the government change?
The previous CEO worked under three different prime ministers and his position was accepted by all three governments. So I don’t think my case would be different. Moreover, since I will be working for national interest, it does not matter whichever party leads the government. I would also make sure that each and every job of the board is executed in a transparent manner.
What will you do to attract large FDIs during your tenure?
I will deal with this issue strategically. For example, there are a large numbers of projects under different ministries and many such projects are in limbo due to the lack of resources. We will hold consultations with officials of those ministries and bring such projects under IBN. Once we have a large number projects under us, we will find foreign investors interested in developing those projects. We will also give high priority to marketing and promotion of projects as well as Nepal as an investment destination. I will initiate sector-wise research and find out different avenues for investment so that foreign investor would have numerous choices for investment. Also, as I said earlier, we might require reforms in certain policies in order to attract more foreign investors.
While the financial closure of hydropower projects like Upper Karnali and Arun III is nearing completion, land acquisition has become another impediment in taking projects to the construction phase. How will you make sure the issue is resolved and the projects are expedited?
I have read about of those issues in different media. I need further study on those issues which I will start as soon I resume office. I will do whatever I need to get those projects moving.