The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies is rushing to revise 22 acts and policies related to industry and trade in a bid to attract foreign investment at Nepal Investment Summit 2019.
According to the ministry, most of the laws on which it is working are targeted at the investment summit scheduled for March 29-30. The Investment Board Act, Industrial Enterprise Act, Anti-Dumping Act and Intellectual Property Rights Act, among others, are marked for revision.
“The government intends to win the confidence of potential investors participating in the upcoming summit by formulating new acts,” the source said. Discussions on the investment potential in five sectors—agriculture commercialisation, infrastructure (road, rail and aviation), manufacturing, energy and information technology—will be held during the two-day conference.
Potential investors often raise concern over the country’s position on the implementation of the new Labour Act and Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Act, said Commerce Secretary Chandra Kumar Ghimire. Last year, the government revised these acts; but the social security schemes and tax compliances in the new laws are still a matter of concern for foreign investors.
Ghimire said the protection of intellectual property rights including patent right and copyright are among their concerns. In the absence of laws protecting intellectual property, such rights are rampantly violated in the country.
The government’s efforts follow a fall in Nepal’s ranking in the Doing Business Index. As per the World Bank’s Doing Business 2019 report, Nepal slipped five places in the latest global ease of doing business index to the 110th position.
According to Ghimire, foreign investors are also keen on the implementation of e-commerce. “In this regard, the ministry is working to formulate a national strategy to regulate e-commerce.”
Ghimire said investors mainly express concern over technical barriers to trade and sanitary-phytosanitary measures in the agri business. “If these measures are changed, problems related to certification and quality assurance can be eliminated which will boost food exports,” he said.
The ministry is working to revise the existing laws concerning child labour in association with other government agencies. Ghimire said most of the countries that are offering duty free facilities ask about the status of child labour and protection of labour rights in Nepal. The ministry is developing a national action plan to start a payment gateway. “For this purpose, we are working in collaboration with the central bank,” Ghimire said.
Nepal last organised an investment summit in March 2017 to showcase the country’s investment opportunities, particularly to large investors. The government signed letters of intent with foreign investors for investments worth a combined $13.50 billion at the summit. But the pledges did not materialise because of unfavourable laws, according to analysts.
Source : The Kathmandu Post