Visiting World Bank country director for Nepal and Bangladesh Ellen Goldstein called for prudence among all stakeholders to avoid an overly expansionary budget.
Showing concerns over delays in reaching agreement on a full-year budget, she said from the perspective of a development partner, uncertainties over the budget seriously undermine absorptive capacity within the country, and reduce the scope for commitment of future foreign assistance.
Goldstein also reiterated the World Bank's commitment to support hydropower development. "The World Bank Group stands ready to significantly ramp up its support to develop Nepal’s hydropower potential provided that the government urgently addresses implementation bottlenecks in ongoing power sector operations," she said, during her meeting with caretaker prime minister Baburam Bhattarai yesterday.
"Protracted implementation delays are holding back the World Bank Group and the private sector from investing substantially in affordable power generation and transmission," she added, while discussing the World Bank’s programme of assistance and its future assistance strategy for Nepal, currently being developed.
Bhattarai, on the occasion, noted the need for urgent resolution of the current challenges and acknowledged transformational investments in hydropower are critical pathways out of poverty and unemployment for Nepal.
He said he had decided to form a steering committee across government, chaired by the chief secretary and including the private sector and development partners, reporting to him to accelerate hydropower development.
Goldstein also met finance minister Barshaman Pun and senior officials of the government, including the chief secretary and finance secretary. World Bank country manager for Nepal Tahseen Sayed accompanied Goldstein during the meetings.
Goldstein visited World Bank supported projects in areas of education and agriculture commercialisation in Kaski district before concluding her visit.