KATHMANDU (Nov 27, 2017) -The Ministry of Finance (MoF) has issued a five-day deadline to different ministries to submit list of projects that could be built under China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)—an ambitious plan of Beijing to revive the ancient Silk Road to promote trade and support economic integration across Asia, Europe, and Africa.
The directive was issued by Finance Secretary Shankar Prasad Adhikari during a meeting held at the Finance Ministry on Sunday. The meeting was attended by heads of foreign aid and planning divisions of the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Urban Development, the Ministry of Agricultural Development and the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation.
These ministries have been asked to promptly shortlist projects and submit proposals. The proposals, according to the Finance Ministry, must justify the need to develop the projects, explain how the projects are linked to the BRI and contain implementation modality of proposed schemes.
“Once we get the proposals we will go through them and finalise projects that can improve Nepal’s land, air, energy and ICT connectivity, raise productivity, promote trade and help us in economic transformation process,” said Finance Secretary Adhikari, who heads the steering committee formed to finalise the list of projects to be built under the BRI.
The BRI is a scheme approved by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, under which massive infrastructure projects would be built in around 65 countries and free-trade agreements would be signed to bolster economic cooperation across Asia, Europe,
and Africa. Nepal formally agreed to become a part of the BRI in May with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on a framework agreement.
The MoU was signed by Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi and Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Yu Hong two days ahead of the grand summit on the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.
Since then Nepal has shown interest to put Kerung-Rasuwagadi-Kathmandu railway line, Kerung-Rasuwagadi-Galchhi cross-border transmission line and Sunsari-Marine Diversion Irrigation Project in the BRI basket.
A Cabinet meeting on August 15 has also permitted the Energy Ministry to seek Chinese support to build reservoir projects and transmission lines under the BRI. Nepal is also planning to seek China’s help to upgrade airports in Dhangadi and Biratnagar; execute urban development projects; and build bus terminals and amusement parks to promote tourism.
Also, plans to use Chinese assistance to develop competitive agricultural value chain under the BRI are afoot. “The competitive value chain will not only improve Nepal’s
agricultural productivity but help us promote agro-related trade,” said Adhikari, adding, “The government will make financial contributions for implementation of projects proposed under the BRI.”
The Chinese government is yet to inform the government about investment it intends to make in Nepal to implement projects under the BRI, according to the Finance Ministry.