Exclusive Interview with Nepal's Minister of Industry

Exclusive Interview with Nepal's Minister of Industry

Investment climate finally a priority for Nepal

The energetic and ambitious Minister of Industry Nabindra Raj Joshi left a big impression at the Nepal Investment Summit earlier this year. Last week, One to Watch director Willem Grimminck met the Minister in person to discuss how the government of Nepal plans to attract more foreign investments.

Minister Nabindra Raj Joshi is not afraid of setting bold ambitions. “In ten years time, no Nepali needs to go to another country to find a job. That is my mission.” Currently 25%of Nepali’s work abroad, because Nepal lacks opportunities for them. The lucky ones are in well paid jobs in the US, Europe or Japan, but most of them work in abominable labour conditions in the Middle East.

So how does the minister plan to turn the situation around? More specifically, how does he want to create millions of jobs in Nepal by 2027? “Nepal is not just a tourist destination, it is a great investment destination,” Nabindra Raj Joshi says. “In the past the government of Nepal has not been able to communicate that it is serious about attracting foreign investments. Political parties rarely talked about the economy and even if they did, it was never the prime focus. Now, after the investment summit, all political parties talk about it. And rightly so.”

Minister Nabindra Raj Joshi is serious about attracting investment and his ministry started working on that very actively last year. “While there continues to be political instability, we want to create policy stability for investors. In the new acts and policies that are coming up, like the Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Act (FITTA), the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Act, the Company Act and Industry Promotion Act, you can see our seriousness. We are building the right environment to attract investors.”

The Ministry of Industry is especially keen on attracting investments in manufacturing. “I want to give the impression that Nepal has the capacity to produce quality products, because manufacturing companies will become the great job creators for Nepal. Until and unless our industrial sector grows, we cannot create jobs.”

In order to attract investments the Ministry is going to reach out specifically to Non-Resident Nepali’s (NRN’s) around the world. “When they want to establish companies in Nepal and create jobs, land will be made available to them. We have also started digital registration, online registration and online payment, to accommodate investors. But it is not only NRN’s who are welcome to invest here. I want to create a level playing field for all investors. I do not care if you are from the Netherlands or Nepal. I just wish that you invest here, make profit, create jobs and pay taxes.”