Army to invest in hydro if legal hurdles removed

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    hydro_armyKATHMANDU, AUG 27 – The Nepal Army (NA) said on Tuesday that it would be willing to invest money from its welfare fund in the hydropower sector if legal barriers were removed.

    The Army Act bars the NA from becoming a promoter to any development project or business firm as the Army Welfare Fund is a non-profit making body.

    If the army is to invest in hydropower projects, the act will have to be amended, it said.

    The NA said that it had prepared a number of plans for making investments in the hydropower sector, but it didn’t divulge the details. The army has been scouting for opportunities to diversify investments as the Army Welfare Fund is flush with cash. Currently, it has assets amounting to Rs 26.88 billion deposited in various banks and financial institutions.

    The welfare fund’s main sources of income are interest on bank deposits and contributions by the UN Peacekeepers deployed in various countries. The Army Act also bars the army from investing in shares.

    The NA said it is currently doing study to prioritize the possible areas in the civilian sector for the investment after the removal of legal hurdles. It said that consultations were underway with the concerned bodies for the possible investment, particularly with the government.

    The NA said that it needed to spread out its investments to make the welfare fund sustainable and long-lasting.

    “We have prepared a plan to invest in the hydropower sector, and consultations are being held at various levels,” said Brigadier General Dhani Das Karki, director of the welfare fund, on Tuesday.

    Considering the large amount of money in the welfare fund, the NA has been diversifying its investments in various areas in recent days. One of its latest projects is the construction of a hospital to provide health services to the general public.

    The NA has been providing health services to incumbent and retired army officials, but the upcoming hospital will serve the general public too. The NA said the services would be a little more expensive than government hospitals and cheaper than private hospitals. Meanwhile, the NA has started providing training to retired personnel.

    Source : eKantipur