Friday, May 18, 2012

Government reforms registration, licensing policy to attract investment

The government has reformed registration procedures for approval of licensing and approval of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) eliminating seven steps in the FDI approval process to create investment-friendly climate.
"The Licensing Reform Task Force has completed the two reforms," said joint secretary of the Economic and Infrastructure Development Division of Office of Prime Minister and Council of Minister Mahendra Man Gurung addressing the opening session of 'Doing Business workshop' organised to discuss on how to improve investment climate by reforming the laws to ease doing business.
"Some of the work procedures are also being prepared to simplify herb exports, he said, adding that the government is also launching a licensing electronic portal by the end of this month. "It will be a one-stop-shop for all the licenses, permits, related laws and regulations and necessary documents."
The portal, currently, serves as an information hub for businessmen, though the government plans to make it interactive in future.
At a time, when the regular bandh is hurting the business confidence of the private sector, the government has claimed that it is serious to improve investment climate in close cooperation with the private sector.
The government is also serious in improving ranking in the Doing Business- the World Bank publication, he added.
The government would like to see how it can improve the country's ranking in the Doing Business report, Gurung said, adding that Nepal can create investment friendly climate for both domestic investors and foreign investors by improving the ranking in the report. "Without the private sector’s involvement, rapid economic growth — that creates jobs and economic opportunities — cannot take place,” he added.
Likewise, Inland Revenue Department, Ministry of Finance and Office of the Company Registrar, Ministry of Industry have signed a memorandum of understanding to share data and provide permanent account number (PAN) at the time of company registration reducing a lot of paperwork and hassles for businesses and industries.
The process is in the final stages, according to the Company Registrar Keshav Thapa. "It will reduce the procedures to start a business, which currently comprises seven procedures."
Joint secretary at the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies Naindra Prasad Upadhyaya and director at the Department of Customs under the Ministry of Finance Shyam Dahal presented reform initiatives proposed in trade facilitation, where Nepal’s ranked 162 in Doing Business 2012.
These include harmonisation of customs working hours with India, streamlining and consolidation of trade-related documents — for exports and imports — and preparation of an inventory of trade related fees and charges, and automation.
Ministry of Commerce and Supplies and Ministry of Finance are also working on to reduce unnecessary documents required at the time of export and introducing Any Branch Banking System to ease the burden on businesses to deposit revenue at any of the branches of the bank. It has also requested to map and develop action plans for the coming year to reform in their areas to crease favourable business environment.
Chairperson of Industry Committee of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Dinesh Shrestha, on the occasion said that the private sector has taken the government's reform measures positively.
"The private sector feels encouraged that the government is giving high importance to economic issues," he said, adding that political change should be for economic progress.
The 'Doing Business Workshop' — organised jointly by the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, Ministry of Industry and Nepal Business Forum (NBF) secretariat — also reviewed progress on reforms aiming at improving Nepal's performance against the World Bank’s Doing Business indicators, published annually by the World Bank Group. The annual Doing Business report ranks countries in terms of ease of doing business. Nepal has been ranked 107th on ease of doing business out of 183 economies in Doing Business 2012. Improvement in the ranking due to reforms will help attract FDI because the prospective investors' decide on the basis of country’s ranking in the Doing Business report.
The workshop also discussed on how to support the Investment Year 2012-13 by reviewing reforms in four major areas like Starting a Business, Dealing with Construction Permits, Paying Taxes and Trading across Borders.
International Finance Corporation (IFC) representative Shyamal Shrestha, on the occasion, made a presentation on Doing Business 2012 and strategy for successful reforms while joint secretary at the Ministry of Industry Anil Kumar Thakur lauded NBF’s initiative for undertaking reforms. "Nepal is in the transition phase and the government has not been able to carry out reforms drastically but the scenario is encouraging," he added.
The NBF — created by the government's executive order in May 2010 — provides a platform for public-private dialogue for speeding up reforms and is chaired by the Prime Minister.


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