EPF trade union chiefs urge more investment in energy

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    DOLAKHA (LAMABAGAR), NOV 12 –

    Buoyed by the progress of the Upper Tamakoshi Hydro Project, trade union officials of the Employees Provident Fund ( EPF ), which is bankrolling the venture, have vowed to urge the management to invest in the energy sector.

    The EPF is one of the major financiers of the 456 MW project located in Dolakha district in north central Nepal. It has completed 38 percent of the construction so far.

    An inspection team led by the presidents of the EPF ’s three trade unions recently visited the project site at Lamabagar, Dolakha.

    They said that they would submit a proposal to the management to make further investments in the sector provided the government becomes a guarantor.

    The EPF has invested Rs 10 billion in the Upper Tamakoshi Hydro Project. It has agreed to invest a total of Rs 27 billion in the energy sector as the country is facing a serious power crisis. The EPF possesses total deposits of around Rs 135 billion.

    “Considering the rapid progress achieved in the construction, there will not be any problem to invest in the hydro sector if the government comes up with a clear vision,” states a press release issued jointly by Nepal Financial Institution Employees’ Association president Dharma Prasad Khanal, EPF Employees’ Association president Gopal Shrestha and Nepal National Employees’ Association president Shankar Prasad Aryal. “Provided a favourable situation exists, the EPF can finance the 335 MW Upper Arun project too,” they said.

    The EPF had invested Rs 800 million in the 22 MW Chilime Hydropower Project, and after recovering its investment, it agreed to invest Rs 16 billion in four other ventures under the project. Three years ago, an inspection team of trade union leaders had recommended to the EPF to invest in the Tamakoshi Hydro Project after making a field visit.

    The EPF collects Rs 10 billion in deposits annually from government and other employees. It plans to provide additional benefits to the depositors out of the returns from its investments in the energy sector.

    Meanwhile, Ram Prasad Rimal, president of the Nepal Electrical Authority Employees’ Union and a member of the inspection team, said lack of a clear government policy, and not investment, was the real problem. “The Upper Tamakoshi Hydro Project is being constructed with domestic resources due to continued pressure from trade unions,” he added.

    Source : The Kathmandu Post