Just ahead of the second Investment Summit, Nepal and France have signed two separate memorandums of understanding—one of which is aimed at setting up state-of-art security printing facilities in Nepal with the French assistance.
In the absence of a dedicated security printing, the government and private firms are spending billions of rupees abroad annually.
Once Nepal sets up its own security printing, items like passports, banknotes, all kinds of smart cards, question papers and stickers among others can be printed in Nepal.
Bikal Poudel, head of the security printing division under the Ministry of Information and Communications, who signed the memorandum on Saturday on behalf of Nepal with INGROUPE, a French government undertaking, said the security printing is likely to be set up at Information and Technology Park in Banepa, Kavre. “A detailed project report has already been prepared,” he told the Post.
Separate printing blocks will be set up at the project site, including one bullet-proof structure where banknotes will be printed, according officials familiar with the project.
The officials said once negotiations are completed on financial modality—whether it will be technology transfer based on build-operate-and-transfer model or foreign direct investment or French loan and aid—Nepal and France will sign the final agreement during Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s upcoming visit to France, most likely in June.
Earlier, the Ministry of Information and Communications had held negotiations with the German government to set up security printing facilities, but the deal could not move forward due to reasons related to financial arrangements and others.
The French company then came forward, showing its interest to assist Nepal in setting up security printing facilities.
“We have yet to conclude detailed negotiations on the security printing project. It is yet to be negotiated with the French side on investment modality, technical details, among others. As of our estimates, it would cost around $300 million to set up the facilities,” said Poudel.
Similarly, France is also set to provide concessional financial aid and technical support to Nepal in order to materialise its plan to operate and manage the country’s own satellite in the orbital slot provided by the International Tele-communications Union.
According to the Ministry of Information and Communications, the ITU has provided orbital slot (123.3 E) to Nepal for its dedicated satellite, but due to the technological and financial constraints, Nepal has not been able to utilise it.
Investment for the two projects are estimated to be around Rs50 billion. Though the final breakdown for the two projects are yet to be ascertained, officials said Rs30 billion will be required to set up security printing facilities while over Rs20 billion will be required for the satellite project.
The memorandums of understanding for both were signed during the visit of Minister for Information and Communications Gokul Baskota’s visit to France.