Ahead of his visit to India next month, Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli on Sunday invited Indian businessmen to invest in the Himalayan nation, saying it had lost a lot due to the agitation in the Terai region and that all steps will be taken to create an investor-friendly environment.
Interacting with a group of visiting Indian journalists here, Oli said Nepal had lost revenue and income due to the more than four-month-old Madhesi agitation in the southern Terai plains of the country.
“I request the business community of India to come here. Of course, due to the unrest in the Terai, we lost a lot… not billions but trillions of rupees. We lost income, revenue… No industry is earning now but we will immediately create an investment-friendly situation,” Oli promised.
The southern plains have been simmering with protests against the new Constitution for more than four months now. Over 55 people, including agitators and police personnel, have been killed during the agitation by the Madhesi community.
The Madhesi protestors are demanding, among other things, a redrawing of the boundaries of the provinces as proposed in the new Constitution and representation in parliament on the basis of population.
Nepal’s Left government has held more than a score of rounds of talks with leaders of the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha, which is spearheading the agitation, but without any breakthrough so far.
Oli said Nepal and India can work together for shared prosperity for entire South Asia.
“We want to work together with India not only for Nepal but for South Asia. We want to make a developed south Asia because this is a very rich and beautiful part of the world. We can develop it. In this 21st century, we can reach the height of modernisation,” he said.
Oli said South Asia had a “huge population” and there were no apprehensions about existence of market for business ventures.
“But we have to develop our feeling in that way… So that we can work together and enjoy better future together. I will like to invite the business community to work together for better future of Nepal, India and South Asia,” he said.
“Nepal is committed and honestly wants to create an investment-friendly atmosphere,” he said.
According to data from the Indian embassy here, Indian firms are the biggest investors in Nepal, accounting for about 38.3 percent of Nepal’s total approved foreign direct investment.
There are about 150 operating Indian ventures in Nepal engaged in manufacturing and services that include banking, insurance, education and telecom besides power and tourism sectors.
Bilateral trade, which was 29.8 percent of Nepal’s total external trade in 1995-96, reached 66 percent in 2013-14. Exports from Nepal to India were worth $605 million in 2013-14 and India’s exports to Nepal were $4.81 billion-worth during the same fiscal.
Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister — and Foreign Minister — Kamal Thapa had earlier this month announced that Oli will in February embark on his first foreign visit post-assumption of office to India.