Indian firms welcome to Nepal without fear: Commerce Minister

By Rajeev Ranjan Roy,IANS,

New Delhi : India Inc. should step forward to set up units in Nepal without any fear and contribute to the country’s all-round development, says the country’s Commerce and Supply Minister Rajendra Mahato.

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“We are into a new era, and expect active participation from Indian firms in our economic enhancement. We are determined to strengthen our economy by taking up major infrastructure projects, and want Indian firms to participate,” Mahato said in an exclusive interview to IANS.

The Nepali minister advised India’s corporate sector not to harbour any fear of insecurity and instability in his country, as “Nepal has drawn a new roadmap to achieve lasting peace and stability, which will provide conducive environment for industries.”

“We want Indian firms to come to Nepal without any fear. They should come with determination, and become a party to our economic growth. We always look forward to India with optimism,” he said during the interaction.

Mahato was a member of a high-level delegation led by Nepal Prime Minister Pushp Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”, which visited India earlier this month to give a new dimension to Indo-Nepal relationship.

Prachanda, while interacting with the representatives of Indian chambers here Sep 15, had also spoken of “peace, stability, security, industrial reforms” and urged the Indian corporate sector to invest in building the Himalayan nation’s fledgling economy.

Nepal’s economy is growing at two percent, and is faced with an inflation rate of nearly 13 percent.

Mahato said given Nepal’s huge water resources, hydro power is an area that offers tremendous scope for Indian investors. “At the same time, Indian industry players can help us in developing special economic zones as well,” he added.

Nepal has an estimated potential to generate 83,000 MW of electricity, which remains untapped due to resource constraints.

According to him, education and tourism are other areas Indian firms could look at.

On the fate of Dabur Nepal – the wholly-owned subsidiary of Indian healthcare major Dabur – Mahato said he did not foresee the company to move out of Nepal on account of a dispute with its labour union, and leaving nearly 52,000 people directly and indirectly employed in the lurch.

“I do not think Dabur Nepal is moving out for any reasons. It is a highly unlikely proposition,” Mahato told IANS, adding there were some complications, and the government was working on modalities to end the crisis.

An industry chamber estimate puts Indo-Nepal trade at around $3 billion by 2010 against compared to the $1.4 billion bilateral trade currently.

As per a joint declaration, Indian commerce secretary G.K. Pillai and his Nepali counterpart will meet next month to initiate a comprehensive review of the existing trade and rejuvenate economic ties between the two countries.