Accusations of private sector: government not interested in Karnali investment conference

SURKHET: As soon as the Karnali government was formed three years ago, the provincial government had announced to hold an investment conference. Even after bringing three full and one supplementary budget since then, the investment conference has not been held yet. Allocation has also been done in all the budgets for the investment conference. However, this ambitious project is in limbo. 

From the Minister to Chief Minister of the Karnali government, dreamt of attracting foreign and domestic investment in Karnali. The government, which has frozen the budget allocated for the investment conference in two years, is sure to do the same with this year’s budget as well. 

The government had allocated Rs. 10 million in FY 2075/76, Rs. 5 million in FY 2076/77 and Rs. 10 million in the current Fiscal Year. Last year, Economic Affairs and Planning Minister Prakash Jwala had announced to hold an investment conference in January, but the government could not hold an investment conference even after that.

The private sector says that the Karnali Investment Conference could not be held as the government is all talk and no play. Karnali Pradesh Federation of Industries and Commerce President Padam Shahi said, “A cat’s job is to kill a mouse, whether white or black. That is all we are asking for. We just want the government to do its job.” However, he complained that the implementation side of the current investment conference was weak.

Shahi explained, “Looking at the three years of experience, we have lost hope that this government will hold an investment conference in Karnali and make a significant contribution to the business sector.”

The leader of the main opposition party Jeevan Bahadur Shahi said that the Karnali provincial government had brought the policies and programs only for cheap popularity. “The main task of this government seems to be to gain cheap popularity and give false assurance to people,” he said.

Stakeholders are seeking the government’s activism to attract investors as there is more potential for investment in Karnali. Adequate investment can be made in many sectors including hydropower, agricultural production, tourism, and herbal processing.

Member of the Karnali Planning Commission Yogendra Bahadur Shahi said that the construction work of the project bank has reached the final stage for holding an investment conference. “It was not possible last year because of COVID. Prior to that, the project bank had not been made. Five-year plans were yet to be drawn up. Now the project bank is in the final stages and if the political climate remains the same or if a new government is formed, we can hold a conference by the end of April or the first week of May.” 

According to member Shahi, the recommendations of the five-year plan have been included. Of which, 70 projects are being invested by the government and donor agencies and about 40 projects are being done by the private sector. According to him, the commission has sought investment in hydropower, mining exploration and excavation, herbal processing, tourism and other sectors.

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