Inaugural address by Prime Minister Rt. Hon. K P Sharma Oli
At the 2nd edition of KANTIPUR CONCLAVE
Kathmandu, February 7, 2020
Mr. Kailash Sirohiya
Chairman and Managing Director, Kantipur Media Group,
Speakers of the Session and Panelist,
Friends from media,
Ladies and gentlemen:
Good morning and Namaste!
A warm welcome to our foreign guests to Nepal! Hope you will enjoy your stay in this beautiful country.
Thank you, Mr. Sirohiya, and the Kantipur Media Group for giving me this opportunity. This is the second time, within a year, I am attending this platform for sharing my thoughts on development and prosperity.
Running its second edition, the Kantipur Conclave has earned a brand name in the domain of economic and development conversation.
Thank you, Kantipur, for being a platform of stimulating, generating and shaping up ideas when we need them most.
Exactly two years ago this month, I took the oath of office as Prime Minister of Nepal following the elections held under the new Constitution of Nepal. I assumed office with important responsibility:
Little less than halfway through my tenure, we have been able to spark the spirit of optimism.
We have been able to lay the foundation for a take-off. Our country has taken a right course and our march is straightforward.
We have started to witness the dividend of political stability and consequence of having a strong, decisive government, whose only motivation and objective is to advance national interest.
It is not only the Federal Government that takes decisions on development issues.
The provincial and local levels enjoy authority to take decisions and undertake development works within the constitutional framework.
It is an excellent way of ensuring the exercise of democratic right of the people and delivering fruits of development to the people.
‘Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali’ has been our national aspiration’.
For me, a prosperous society is one that is civilized, that nurtures positive feelings, that embraces the principle of harmonious co-existence amidst diversity, that takes pride in national achievements and that thinks beyond the narrow walls of self-interest.
We need dedicated efforts inculcating young minds with a sense of these attributes of civilized society.
Quite unlike the long torturous years of political transition when more time was spent on rancorous political debates, the past two years have offered us different vibe. Conversations on growth, job and welfare have become louder.
Economic development has taken the front seat.
Uncertainty and confusion have become the subject of the past. Policy stability, predictability, consistency and coherence have earned us credibility and trust.
This is what I believe is the right way forward.
Our uncompromising focus on results and delivery have started to pay off.
Our economic policy has started to indicate encouraging results. The country’s GDP is growing at the rate of consistently over six per cent for the past three years.
National saving has increased accordingly and this provides a solid base for capital formation in the country.
I commend the private sector for being an indispensable part of this momentum.
More important than the numbers is the reinforcement of confidence that development is possible and that is certainly in our own life time.
There is a growing sense that what was once thought to be a distance dream could soon be a reality.
Connectivity has been the main thrust of our engagement with our neighbours. We believe that multimodal connectivity with India and Trans-Himalayan Multidimensional Connectivity Network with China offer immense opportunity for our development and prosperity.
Thanks to our vision and commensurate works on the ground, river navigation will start to make our life easier and transportation of our goods less costly.
A landlocked Nepal will soon be waterway-linked and our flag carriers will soon be sailing along our big rivers. Motorboats will not only be fun of our life, but also add value to our tourism.
Rail links with both of our neighbours will revolutionize our transportation system, providing much-needed boost to our economy.
It will make Nepal truly a land-linked country.
There have been several other encouraging results.
This region’s first cross border petroleum pipeline came into operation just a few months back.
The soon to be completed two international airports in Bhairahawa and Pokhara are going to be game-changer in the field of air connectivity.
Cross-border transmission lines are receiving priority. Brighter future lies ahead for power trade on bilateral and sub regional basis.
These developments project a promising future for unleashing our development potentials.
Great Poet Laxmi Prasad Devkota once counselled us to dream big: dream to touch the moon. And, our innovative youths of contemporary time are starting to prove that moon is not too distant.
One of the moments of pride of the past one year for us was the launching of Nepali-Sat 1 by two Nepali scientists. Who would have imagined, until it happened, that Nepal would have its own satellite in the space!
You may count on the government’s total commitment to encourage innovation and create conducive environment by all possible means.
We have, likewise, commitment to complete long-overdue national pride projects within the marked deadlines. To this end, there will be no lacking of means and resources. This is our firm commitment.
Completion of technologically-advanced tunnel construction of the large-scale Bheri-Babai Diversion Project well before the set timeline testifies competence of our machinery and determination.
The national pride Upper Tamakoshi project will be completed soon. This and several other hydel projects of various scales will surely transform the electricity supply scenario of Nepal.
This success will prompt us to undertake similar transformative projects in the future.
As the people’s government, our determination to address people’s hardship has been proven. And our determination is buttressed by required actions on the ground. In 2015, during my short stint as Prime Minister, I pledged to make the country tuin-free.
For me, the pathetic sight of children and women in remote places clinging to a string to cross a deep-gorged river, often with load on their back, meant the extreme destitute and extreme backwardness that had to be ended.
Five years down the line, we have almost reached the goal. One after the other, districts are being declared tuin-free.
Ours is a government that believes in delivery. And we pledge to be even better.
Five years before, we were hit hard by the vagary of nature, the 2015 earthquake. It destroyed our homes, our infrastructure and devastated our cultural icons inherited from our long and glorious history. Staring before us was the colossal challenge of restituting our riches.
Political situation of the initial reconstruction years was not conducive. Past two years have generated a different fervour, nonetheless.
Private homes have been rebuilt; public properties have been restored; cultural sites have been reinstated. In a year’s time, the iconic Dharahara Tower will stand tall in the heart of city again.
Private sector, entrepreneurs and individual innovators are the principal actors in this collective expedition.
We are mindful of the government’s responsibility as a facilitator, enabler and provider of law and order and suitable, competitive atmosphere.
Early days in its functioning, my government diagnosed the presence of cartels and syndicate as detriment to the growth of competitive private sector and quality services to the people.
Let me take this opportunity to urge the private sector to reciprocate the government’s grit to foster healthy, competitive economic environment where everyone has fair chance to grow; to shun the tendency of rent-seeking and seeking short term benefits.
Our expectation is that you invest in productive sector with long term vision; that you adopt the state-of-art technology and become competitive; that you do not unduly seek the comfort of government protection all the time; and that you do not call yourself fledgling forever.
My Government is there to support your initiatives. We have already developed a sound regulatory framework by enacting and amending necessary legislations.
Our country is undoubtedly a fertile ground for investment. Examples are plentiful before us: companies that invested boldly in productive sectors with long term vision are cherishing high rate of return.
My government is committed to ease and facilitate the entry of new players and start-ups in all productive sectors. We have already started one window services for prospective investors. Company registration service is getting smoother; land acquisition is getting more simplified; cost of tax payment is reduced; and dispute settlement is reformed.
We are further expanding reach to E-payment for easy transaction.
The decision to award Commercially Important Person Award mirrors our commitment to honour and encourage the leading figures in the field of industry trade and entire business so that they could become a role model for others.
Measures have likewise been taken to promote micro, cottage, small and medium industries based on local raw materials.
Tourism sector is of Nepal’s unmatched advantage given richness of our natural and cultural assets. VNY 2020 is expected to boost this sector not only in term of the number of tourist arrival but also in expansion of tourism infrastructure and site development.
Comprehensive social security and framework of social safety nets are not only the stepping stone towards the welfare-based society but also the means to promote sound industrial relations. The Integrated Social Security Plan launched a year before has been a hallmark initiative in this direction.
To cut it short, our march towards ‘prosperous Nepal, happy Nepalis’ is well geared.
As the rest of the world braces for the 4th Industrial Revolution, Nepal cannot afford to remain left out in the front of technological quantum leap. Breakthrough in advanced technology, including artificial intelligence, is certain to bring unprecedented disruption in the way we work and manage things.
Electronically acquired data is foretold to be the most valued strategic commodity just like the oil of the 20th century.
There are predictions that production pattern may change and today’s jobs will no more be available tomorrow. And the new jobs will demand a new set of skills, often beyond the reach and grasp of the less educated and those belonging to the higher side of age group.
This is where the youthful segment of our demography becomes the most crucial – to adapt to new required skills; to drive the new production pattern and more importantly, to lead the society enfolded possibly in totally unfamiliar technological ambiance.
Youths, who are well exposed to advanced education and technological sophistication available in places around the world, should be the most valued assets of our country. Many of these enterprising, innovative youths have already set inspiring examples of success stories – be it in IT based service delivery or transforming the barren, abandoned farmland of remote hills into the hub of commercial farming.
Need of the hour is, therefore, to empower youth and encourage them to be equipped with the most contemporary technological know-how.
We have initiated measures to this end. We have planned to establish a national knowledge park to promote IT-based innovation and enterprise.
You all may be aware of the Brain Gain Centre set up by Foreign Ministry with the aim of reaching out to Nepali diaspora and tapping their expertise to the country’s socio-economic development. Our aim is to convert what was once called brain drain into brain gain and gain of technological expertise.
Technology makes life easy and in the meantime, entails risks. We are working to enhance a robust cyber security system in order to identify possible security risk, minimize such risks and make arrangements for any mishaps.
Foundation of progress and modernization is good governance. From day one in office, my message to the entire state machinery is loud and clear: that I will not commit an act of corruption and will not tolerate such acts from others.
The latest decision of the Commission for the Investigation of the Abuse of Authority to file cases against 175 persons speaks volumes of our national commitment to fight against corruption.
Let me assure once again to this distinguished gathering of thought leaders, media-persons, entrepreneurs, captains of private sector, and social activists that no stone will be left unturned to fight corruption and ensure good governance.
I feel encouraged to note country’s gradually improved ranking in the latest international reports. I am fully aware that we have miles to go on this front.
In the ambitious journey towards prosperity, Nepal cannot afford to be a lone wayfarer. We can only achieve what we want with the support, solidarity and goodwill of friends around the world—both from the government and private sector. We seek to actively engage with them.
As a platform for such engagement, Nepal is hosting Sagarmatha Sambaad in the first week of April this year. Initiated as the country’s flagship event to debate contemporary pertinent issues, the first edition of Sambaad which will be dedicated to climate change is expected to bring together political leaders, policy makers, strategic thinkers, intellectuals, media, entrepreneurs and eminent people from various walks of life from all over the world.
As a result of our efforts and outreach, Nepal’s presence in international arena is getting more and more resounding. We seek to keep up the momentum.
With our neighbours, our excellent relations continue. Close engagements at leadership level have been instrumental in generating positive vibe in these relations.
President Xi’s visit in October last year and bilateral meetings with the Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi in the past had provided an excellent opportunity to widen and deepen ties with both of our neighbours.
Exchange of high level visits with other friendly countries are in the pipeline. We want to fully engage with the international community.
Let me conclude by saying this: our country is rich in ideas and knowledge; rich in natural and cultural resources; rich in demography; and has tremendous goodwill and support of the international community.
We have all enabling factors to speed of development and decimate poverty and underdevelopment.
However, this cannot be achieved with the efforts of the Government alone.
What we need is a synergetic partnership among Government, private sector and civil society to harness the tremendous potentials that we are endowed with.
It should be done today, not tomorrow. Time is of essence. We do not have luxury to move slow. We do not have luxury to fail.
We need success at faster pace.
Let us make extra efforts to transform the development landscape of this country.
Thank you for listening patiently.