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IBN to issue survey licenses for mega solar plants

Investment Board Nepal (IBN) has decided to issue survey licenses for building two solar power plants — one of 150 MW in Lomanthang of Mustang district and the other of 125 MW in Chilime of Rasuwa district — to Dolma Fund Management, a European developer.

The 33rd IBN meeting on Sunday led by Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli decided to this effect for building the mega solar power plants under the public-private partnership model. The IBN had earlier approved an investment of US $ 200 million to the developer for the purpose. The project comprises of grid-connected solar photovoltaic as well as battery storage facilities.

Likewise, the IBN has also decided to organize the second investment summit in March next year to bring in foreign investment to the country. A committee led by Finance Minister Yuba Raj Khatiwada has also been formed for organizing the summit. The meeting also decided to mobilize Nepal’s diplomatic missions abroad to make the summit a success.

A similar summit held in 2017 had drawn an investment commitment of nearly Rs 1400 billion from different countries, but little has been materialized so far.

The board and government agencies have been criticized for being lethargic to materializing the commitment of foreign direct investment for achieving higher economic growth and creating more jobs.

The first Nepal Investment Summit held on March 2-3 last year had brought 500 participants, including over 250 investors from 23 countries. The participating foreign investors representing 26 companies from eight countries had even pledged through the letter of intent to invest $13.74 billion in 10 various sectors of Nepal.

The board also discussed ways of creating an investment climate in the country by amending existing laws and making new investment policies.

PM Oli has directed the board to prepare a draft of Public-Private Partnership and Investment Bill as well as a separate directive for Project Infrastructure Development.

Extending deadline for the financial closure of Upper Karnali Hydropower project was also in the agenda of the IBN meeting on Sunday, but it was not discussed.

Indian developer GMR has already missed its deadline of two years and an additional one-year extension provided by the project development agreement signed in September 2014 for gathering financial resources to build the mega plant. But the company has not yet signed financial closure for building the project. A press release issued by the IBN on Sunday was silent on the matter.

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