Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Investors hail reforms in FDI approval process, complain of red-tape, sluggish service delivery

Investors today suggested the government to take immigration, labour and industry issues seriously for smooth service delivery that will ensure more foreign investment.
During  an interaction with foreign investors organised by Department of Industry and International Finance Corporation (IFC) here today, they also sought one-window facility for the company registration and tax services, apart from relaxation of visa regime for the foreign investors.
However, director general at the Department of Labour Krishna Hari Pushkar asked the foreign investors to follow law of the land and donot depend on  middlemen to get visa.
He also committed that the investors will be issued non-tourist visa within a week, if they apply with all required documents directly. "But the investors, who are working in Nepal as full-time employees must get non-tourist visa,” he said, adding that more than 50,000 foreigners are working illegally in Nepal. "They come to Nepal on tourist visa and work here without seeking work permit illegally."
According to the law of the land, foreign investors can come to Nepal on tourist visa and they can apply for a non-tourist visa after getting FDI approval from the Department of Industry.
Currently, the process of granting non-tourist visas to foreign employees has been reduced to two weeks – unlike earlier when it used to take almost six months – and only requires the involvement of four government agencies.
Similarly, the government also provides business visa of five years to investors and foreign employees on different categories based on their size of investment, income tax paid, employment generation in different categories including national priority projects.
Foreign investors including the representatives of Himal Power, Ncell, ZTE Corporation and Unilever Nepal though on the occasion hailed the reforms in FDI approval process, they complained of sluggish service delivery and red tape.
The Department of Industry has – under the reform programme – has recently streamlined the FDI approval process from 21 steps to 15 shortening the time period to 10 days from earlier around a month, director at Foreign Investment Section of the Department of Industry Bipin Rajbhandari informed.
Likewise, the investors also sought transparent and time-bound service delivery, work permit and repatriation of earnings.
“There is not much restriction on repatriation of earnings provided the companies present the required documents like clearance of annual general meeting and audited financial statements,” said director at Nepal Rastra Bank’s Foreign Exchange Management Department Bishnu Raj Dhungana.
Investors should bring investment through banking channels, he said, adding that it will make easier for repatriation in the future as they will get investment certificate from the commercial banks at the time of bringing investment.
Industry secretary Krishna Gyawali, on the occasion, said the government is introducing Integrated Industrial Information Management System by the end of this fiscal year to discourage middlemen and facilitate the foreign investors.
Though FDI commitments have been increasing in recent years, actual investment is far lower compared to the commitments. In the last fiscal year 2012-13, the government had received FDI commitments worth Rs 19.93 billion for 317 projects, according to the central bank statistics.

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