Laxmi Capital News
Experts suggest govt to have clear agenda before PM's China visit

Experts have urged the governmentto have a clear agenda that serves the national interest in regard toNepal-China cooperation instead of acting upon the agenda set by others.

Theymade such remarks during an interaction program programme on ‘Nepal-Chinarelations and Contours for Economic Cooperation' organized by South Asia Watchon Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE), on Friday, June 15.

Whiledeepening cooperation with China, Nepal should have substantial freedom ofchoice by ensuring that it does not become overly dependent, pointed out GyanChandra Acharya, former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, duringthe interaction program.

Inhis presentation, he cautioned that greater Nepal-China relations should nothowever mean shifting dependency from India to China.

Inthe name of connectivity, if Nepal only builds infrastructure withoutcorresponding improvement in productive capacity, then the roads and railwayswould become like white elephant, he warned.

"AlthoughNepal currently has comfortable debt level, caution should be taken to avoiddebt trap," he added.

RajanBhattarai, member of Nepal-India Eminent Persons Group, also pointed out thatNepal needs to lay foundation for developing mass-transit system referring torail connectivity.

Healso informed that the current government’s emphasis appears to be on grantmodality, rather than loans,for the construction of prospective railwayprojects.

Formerforeign affairs secretary Madhu Raman Acharya, however, opined that road tonational prosperity cannot be on grant alone and thus alternative modalities offunding projects like concessional loans can be utilized provided that theprojects offer substantial benefits to Nepal.

Heasserted that Nepal should also contemplate upon factors that have beenpreventing implementation of the existing agreements between the two countries.

DrPosh Raj Pandey, chairman of SAWTEE, emphasized that strategic independencemust be ensured during the negotiations while reiterating that Nepal should becareful not to shift dependency between neighbours.

GyanendraLal Pradhan of FNCCI pointed out the need for balancing relationship betweenIndia and China, for which Nepal could emulate Bangladesh as an example.

Giventhe expertise of Chinese in railway engineering, transport infrastructureexpert Dr Surya Raj Acharya pointed out that Trans-Himalayan railway istechnically feasible but the government’s lack of experts in the area  hasbeen a major obstacle.

Referringto PM KP Oli’s visit to China, Dr Jagadish Chandra Pokharel, former vicechairperson of National Planning Commission, insisted that national consensusshould be reflected in agreements that the two nations pursue.

Theparticipants present in the discussion program had a consensus view that Nepalshould have a clear agenda for its national interests and also echoed the viewthat agreements reached with the neighbours have to be followed through witheffective and timely implementation. The round table brought together across-section of stakeholders, including policy makers, diplomats, scholars,and private-sector to identify priorities for Nepal in upcoming negotiationswith China.

Source:NewBusinessAge, 17th June 2018

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