‘Policy must address energy sector’


Kathmandu, June 25

Stakeholders have recommended introducing economic policy that could revive the infrastructure sector as it has been adversely affected due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Taking part in a virtual dialogue organised by Society of Economic Journalists Nepal here today, stakeholders called for reforms in policy, easy interest loan and renewal of loans so that entrepreneurs could pay the interest and instalment of the loan.

Entrepreneurs of energy producing sectors stressed on addressing problems of the energy sector through economic policy.

They suggested extending the volume of renewal of loans with stable interest from banks and financial institutions. The monetary policy should attract foreign investment in the energy sector as it was nominal in volume.

On the occasion, Finance Secretary Suman Prasad Sharma opined the need to review the interest rates in energy sector. He pledged to address problems in the energy sector as this sector had been severely impacted. Sharma also agreed in the proposal to attract foreign investment in the energy sector as capital to revive the sector was needed and this problem could be addressed with increased foreign investment.

“A majority of Indian labourers have returned home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s slim chance of their return at this moment.

Amid this, the monetary policy should consider engaging Nepali labourers returning from abroad and those at home rendered jobless in the physical infrastructure sector,” he suggested.

Stating that around 80 per cent of the development budget was occupied by a handful of construction entrepreneurs, he urged the government to ensure more construction entrepreneurs got jobs proportionately. “Now is the opportune time. To create jobs in the local level, we have suggested that the government allow construction works with budget up to Rs 50 million to be carried out at the local level,” he said.

Since the government has aimed to upgrade the country to mid-income country by 2030, it is imperative that physical infrastructure be further strengthened, he said.

“Earlier we had undertaken works with budget of Rs 8 billion in collaboration with the government and private sector. It is estimated that Rs 3 billion expenditure will be incurred this time,” he said, urging the government to enable favourable working environment in the physical infrastructure sector and to change the perspective towards entrepreneurs.

Energy entrepreneur Gyanendra Lal Pradhan said the government should bring a policy that encourages optimum use of energy generated in our country. He recommended the monetary policy must consider providing grant at five per cent interest and allowing the signing of power purchase agreement for those Chinese and Indian investors willing to invest in the energy sector in their own currencies.

He argued that if PPE was signed in Nepali currency, we could barely attract foreign investment in the country. Asserting that the monetary policy should play a facilitating role in inviting foreign investment, he pressed for setting up hedging fund at the earliest.

Computer Association of Nepal’s former Vice-president Sunaina Ghimire Pandey opined that the internet should be considered as a basic need and waiving tax imposed on it should be considered.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 26, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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