House panel directs govt to expedite IBN projects

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    Kathmandu, December 25

    The Finance Committee of the Legislature-Parliament has instructed Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal to expedite the projects initiated by the Investment Board Nepal (IBN) citing that the delay in holding the meeting of the prime minister-led board has been affecting the performance of the projects.

    The board meeting of the IBN has not been held since the formation of the Dahal-led government on August 4, reportedly, due to the busy schedule of the prime minister.

    In the meeting of the parliamentary panel today lawmakers raised doubts on the continuity of the structure of PM-led high-powered board if the prime minister cannot manage time for board meeting since nearly five months. “The high-powered authority was formed in a bid to facilitate the projects from large scale investment approval to implementation of the projects,” said lawmaker Bidur Sapkota, adding that the government has been harping on bringing in foreign investment but in reality the head of the government has shown little interest in development projects.

    The IBN is authorised to approve foreign direct investment of above Rs 10 billion and deal with power projects of above 500 megawatts.

    Negotiations with some crucial projects like Kathmandu Valley Integrated Solid Waste Management Project, Upper Marsyangdi II hydropower project and Kathmandu mono rail project, among others have been put on hold as the board meeting of the IBN has remained stalled since long.

    “Selected bidders of the projects are reluctant to sit for negotiations because of the high service fees — 0.2 per cent of the total project cost as per the provision of Investment Board Regulation — and we have proposed to differ the service fees till the commercial operations of the projects begin, which needs to be approved through the board,” Maha Prasad Adhikari, CEO of IBN said in the meeting. “We have briefed the prime minister regarding progress of projects and agendas of the meeting and he has assured us to sort out the issues in the next board meeting.”

    Apart from said projects, deadline of financial closure of Upper Karnali hydropower project being developed by GMR Energy of India and Arun III hydropower project being developed by Indian government owned entity, Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd (SJVNL) also need to be extended.

    Both the developers have sought a year’s extension for the financial closure as both entities have yet to sign power purchase agreement with Indian power utilities as both of them are export oriented hydroelectric projects. “The developers of Karnali and Arun have sought a year’s extension under force majeure provision of project development agreement (PDA) citing earthquake and supply line disruptions and the delay in transfer of land for the project,” as per Adhikari. “The government has yet to resolve the issue of land covered by forest area in both the Upper Karnali and Arun III projects.”

    Both projects were supposed to achieve financial closure by September 19 and November 26 of 2016, respectively as PDA was signed with GMR in September 2014 and with SJVNL in November 2014 and PDA has extended a time of two years for completion of financial closure.

    In the meeting today, lawmaker Madan Kumari Shah laid emphasis on proper evaluation of downstream irrigation benefit of the Karnali project citing major irrigation projects like Ranijamara Kulariya and Rajapur irrigation projects should not be affected by the project. The downstream benefit report prepared by the developer is also scheduled to be discussed in the next board meeting of the IBN.

    The House panel also instructed the government to resolve the issue of land covered by forest in the project site and access road and facilitate in resolving other hassles that have occurred while implementing the projects.

    The PM-led board also comprises ministers for finance; industry; forest and soil conservation; energy; physical infrastructure and transport; information technology and communications; and culture, tourism and civil aviation. Vice chairman of National Planning Commission, chief secretary, Nepal Rastra Bank governor, three representatives from the private sector umbrella organisations —  Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Confederation of Nepalese Industries, Nepal Chamber of Commerce — and secretary from the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers are also involved as permanent invitees and members. The CEO of the IBN is the member secretary in the board.

    Source: The Himalayan Times