US envoy calls for right policies to boost economy
Kathmandu Post, May 17, 2012
US Ambassador to Nepal Scott H DeLisi said on Wednesday that Nepal has an opportunity to gain double-digit economic growth over the next decade provided there are right policies and leadership.
Speaking at an interaction entitled ‘The Nepali Economy—Challenges and Potential’ organized by the Nepal Economic Forum here, the US envoy said that Nepal’s economy was changing and transforming along with its political system. “Transitions are always tough, but Nepal can get through this.”
However, according to him, Nepal’s economic sector has three major challenges—integrating into the world economy, attracting foreign investment and changing the business culture.
The first challenge on integrating Nepal into the world economy is the most important and complicated. In today’s world, no country can develop its economy in isolation. “To build the economy, Nepal must compete in the region and the world, looking for new markets and new opportunities,” he said. “Nepal must carefully think about its competitive advantage in today’s globalised economy.”
He said that Nepal’s image as yam between two boulders conveys a sense of helplessness and vulnerability, and seems to suggest that Nepal, instead of controlling its own destiny, will forever see its interests shaped by larger neighbours.
He said that Nepal possibly needs to think about its neighbours in new ways. “Perhaps the partnerships are not only with Delhi and Beijing, but also with Patna and Lucknow—and even Lhasa are necessary,” he said. “Building economic partnerships with India and China—and other countries around the world—requires Nepalis to think and act logically, not emotionally.”
Regarding attracting foreign investment, the US ambassador said that besides security and an enabling environment for investors to get their money out, they also look for stability and predictability in economic policy and regulatory decision-making. “The government should be serious on the issue,” said DeLisi.
Terming the creation of the Investment Board as an important signal to international investors, DeLisi insisted on providing right incentives and protection to investors given that they are not looking at investing in Nepal in isolation. “They are comparing opportunities in Nepal with those in Bangladesh or Cambodia or Burma or Uganda,” he said.
DeLisi described Nepal’s business culture as the third challenge which he said should be adjusted to modern realities and the global environment.
He insisted that businesses need professional managers and transparent accounting systems.
“Labour unions should promote the interests of workers, not political causes or individual leaders,” said the US ambassador. “The stability of the domestic labour market is a crucial factor for potential investors deciding whether to come to Nepal.”