Tuesday, March 29, 2011

USAID helps $30 million

The US is helping Nepal strenghten fiscal and trade policies.
"The US Agency for International Development (USAID) through Nepal Economic, Agriculture and Trade (NEAT) project will also encourage competitiveness and exports, enhance food security and increase access to financial services," said US ambassador Scott H DeLisi at the launching the NEAT programme here in the Valley today.
"Development assistance alone cannot improve lives of Nepalis, DeLisi said, Lauding the private sector's role. "The private sector could transform the economy and create opportunities for youth not the international donors."
NEAT will invest $30 million to foster a conducive business environment for private sector-led growth, encourage competitiveness and exports in selected agriculture and non-agriculture commodities or services, initially tragetting lentile, ginger, orthodox tea and vegetables, said NEAT's chief of Party Phil Broughton.
The programme will help improve trade and fiscal policies and practices to facilitate trade and increase revenues without distorting the economy, he said, adding that the programme will also strenghten microfinance policy and institutions to increase access of women, poor and disadvantaged to financial services.
Broughton also emphasised on the need to create Credit Information Bureau (CIB) for microfinance institutions to check multiple lending -- that has been observed recently -- as the over lending could create systemic problem in the microfinance sector.
The two-and-a-half year NEAT programme also targets to work in selected districts in the Mid-West and far-West regions. "Working with a broad range of partners including the government agencies business associations, farmers' cooperatives microfinance institutions, NGOs and local research institutions, the programme is expected to impact millions of lives in the rural areas, he added.
Similarly, taking part in the panel discussion Laxmi Bank CEO Suman Joshi said that marriage of technology and microfinance can help expand reach of financial access to rural youths and reverse the trend of increasing informal economy.
"Capacity building of bureaucracy, professional trade union and policy stability can help propel economic growth," he said, advising to reform capital market to attract Foreign Institutional Investors as without foreign direct investment, the country cannot invest on huge infrastructure projects.
"The national savings is too low to fund big projects leaving no alternatives to attract foreign direct investment," he added.

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