The Kathmandu Post, 11 Dec 2017
Five different ministries have submitted names of 22 projects that could be built under China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), but they have failed to present detailed proposals as directed by the Ministry of Finance (MoF), preventing the country from reaping early benefits from Beijing’s ambitious plan to revive the ancient Silk Road to promote trade and support economic integration across Asia, Europe, and Africa.
The MoF has so far received proposals for construction of a rail corridor project, a cross-border transmission line project, two regional airport projects, three irrigation projects, six road projects, two drinking water projects, one disaster management project and six tourism related projects under the BRI. These projects were proposed by the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Irrigation, the Ministry of Water Supply and Sanitation, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, and the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transportation.
The names of these projects were submitted following directive issued by Finance Secretary Shankar Prasad Adhikari on November 26. The Ministry of Agricultural Development, however, has failed to submit list of projects that could be built under BRI.
When the directive was issued by Finance Secretary Adhikari, ministries were asked to submit detailed project proposals, including implementation modalities. The ministries were also asked to justify the need to develop the identified projects and explain their linkage to the BRI.
“The ministries have submitted names of projects as per our request. But they have not submitted detailed proposals,” said Adhikari, who heads the steering committee formed to finalise the list of projects to be built under the BRI. “I’ll raise this issue during the next steering committee meeting.” The committee has decided to meet at least once a month.
Detailed project proposals, according to Adhikari, would help the Finance Ministry to assess the feasibility of projects and ascertain whether the government needs support of the Chinese government to build them or can mobilise financial resources on its own. Based on these evaluations, the government would finalise the projects to be built under the BRI, said Adhikari.
Earlier, the MoF had said priority would be given to projects that could improve Nepal’s land, air, energy and ICT connectivity, raise productivity, promote trade and help the country in economic transformation process.
However, some of the proposed projects, like amusement park, and ski and rock climbing training centres, do not seem ideal for construction under the BRI, as the private sector can be roped in to develop such schemes, according to Finance Ministry officials. 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.
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.
Proposed projects under BRI
Ministry of Energy
400kV Rasuwagadi-Kerung cross-border transmission line project
Ministry of Irrigation
Sunkoshi-Marin diversion multipurpose project
Mid-hill tar lift irrigation project
Paanchkhal Valley lift irrigation project
Project on sediment related disaster prevention and climate change adaptation in surrounding areas of Arniko Highway
Ministry of Water Supply and Sanitation
Project on groundwater extraction in Chandragiri Valley
Manadev Khola rainwater harvest project
Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation
Regional international airport in Dhangadi
Regional international airport in Biratnagar
International conference hall
Tourist bus terminal and stop over
World-class amusement park
International ski training and rock climbing centre
Integrated tourist destination development in 7 states
Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transportation
Nepal-China rail corridor
Karnali road corridor (Jamunaha-Hilsa) through proposed Hilsa dry port
Gandaki road corridor (Belhaiya-Korala) through proposed Korala dry port
Thori-Kerung road corridor through proposed Kerung dry port
Kodari-Birgunj road corridor through Kodari dry port
Koshi road corridor (Rani-Kimathanka)
Bhitthamod-Lamabagar-Lapcha road corridor
Source: Ministry of Finance