Monday, January 28, 2013

Nepal offers huge return: Vaidya

Despite its share of problems, Nepal is offering good returns to its investors, according to the chieftain of private sector.
Inviting the potential investors to invest in Nepal during CII Partnership Summit organised by Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) in Agra, India today, Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) president Suraj Vaidya said that Surya Nepal — the subsidiary of the ITC — has continuously been the highest corporate tax payer in Nepal and has undertaken a massive expansion process.
"Uniliver pays highest dividends, whereas a Norwegian company — which was the first to invest in hydropower in Nepal — has taken back returns many times its original investment," he said, citing an example of the Ncell — subsidiary of Telesonera — that has pumped $500 million investment in the last four years. "Daburs, Asian Paints and Dansburgs all are doing exceptionally well in Nepal."
Despite the region having huge potential of energy, it is still power-starved, Vaidya said, urging the South Asian regional leaders to join hands in harnessing sources of energy like hydropower and gas. "The region cannot progress without harnessing hydropower in the region that is estimated to have a shortfall of 50,000 MW," FNCCI president said, urging the SAARC states to join hands in exploiting power, connecting regional transmission grids and devising mechanisms that allow trade in power freely across the borders.
However, lack of seriousness on part of governments of the South Asia to pursue regional cooperation and free flow of goods, capital and people has resulted in low share of intra regional trade, he added.
"The intra SAARC trade is still hovering around six per cent which is way below the similar figures for other regional blocks like ASEAN (28 per cent), EU (58 per cent) and NAFTA (62 per cent)," he said, presenting a paper on 'South Asia Economic Integration: On a New Path of Progress and Hope', during the summit.
"It shows that the trade in the region over the last 15-20 years is almost stagnant," he said, adding that South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) though came into existence in 1985, trade and economy were not in the forefront during the initial years pushing the intra-regional trade backwards. "Still in many of South Asian countries, there is widespread poverty, underdeveloped infrastructure, poor connectivity, visa woes, preoccupation with security anxieties and political instability that have hit our joint aim of creating a customs union and common currency eventually leading to a South Asian Union as envisaged by the leaders of SAARC member states."
Vaidya said that the region's efforts should focus on restructure, revitalise and re-energise SAARC that could function as a common stage of hopes and aspirations of the people of South Asia as a symbol of an emerging, economically vibrant, politically important and strategically crucial region.
However, connectivity is key in joint prosperity of the region, he opined, adding that building and upgrading connectivity between the member countries will be the first and foremost step towards the new path of common progress and hope. "Connectivity through land, water and air is a must for any business to materialise as with easy movements of people, goods and services across borders would benefit the general mass with a real progress in trade and economy."

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