By Mahendra Subedi
BEIJING, April 29: The second International Belt and Road Forum (BRF) that concluded on Saturday has spread rays of hopes while raising the aspirations of the participating countries for their development and deeper integration.
The Chinese flagship ambitious project, Belt and Road Initiative or BRI, that aims to make large investments for infrastructure development, connectivity, deepening cooperation and bolster people-to-people relations has opened new space for Nepal’s economic growth too and thereby materialize the current government’s slogan of ‘Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali’.
The BRI is poised to become one of the top international cooperation initiatives for offering a wider platform for economic development, industrial development and technology transfer for the countries like Nepal.
Hence, good-preparation, selection of projects, financing modality, negotiations on them and dealing for the projects should remain Nepal’s top priority henceforth.
Upon completion of the BRF, President Bidya Devi Bhandari and other Heads of state and governments attending the BRF signed a joint communiqué to reach several milestones.
As per the communiqué, the Nepal-China Trans-Himalayan Multi-dimensional Connectivity Network, including Nepal-China cross-border railway is being identified for development. This means that cross-border railway between Nepal-China is a priority, and is a key issue for our development.
Now, the governments of Nepal and China are supposed to carry out the detailed homework to advance the project ahead.
Earlier, in her address at the High-Level Meeting of the second BRF, President Bhandari had pointed out that the development of ‘Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network’, including Nepal-China Cross-Border Railway, to boost connectivity not only between Nepal and China but with other countries in the region as well.
In her remarks, President Bhandari added that the BRI carries huge potential and it is an important framework for collaboration, for cooperation and for connectivity.
“It lays emphasis on boosting connectivity, developing infrastructure, connecting markets and enhancing cooperation among the nations in diverse sectors in the region and beyond,” she said.
Talking to RSS in Beijing, former Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, said the BRI is aimed at connecting the entire world for mutual benefits, prosperity, mutual learning and to resolve the country-specific and global problems.
The former Prime Minister, who attended the second BRF at the invitation of the Communist Party of China, said that BRI assists comparatively poorer nations in their development endeavors, thus Nepal too can take maximum benefits out of this China-forwarded project.
Regarding the issue of the possible debt trap, the former PM brushed aside the allegation adding that we need lending to meet our financing gap but should be cautious to finish the projects on time and repay the loans.
Furthermore, Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Management Raghubir Mahaseth observed that BRI is not only for China and its people but for the whole world given that peoples from around the world are brought on board.
He believes that this initiative is aimed at making BRI countries and partners prosperous after their participation. “Now, Nepal can take more benefits if we could realize Nepal-China cross-border connectivity,” he said.
As a partner of BRI, Nepal should expedite its efforts carefully given her location in between the two giant economies and embrace the BRI projects for its benefits since the BRI has aroused global vibrations and deliberations on development, partnership, collaboration and shared benefits.
In his inaugural speech, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced to welcome financial institutes around the world to participate in financing the BRI projects adding that multiple participations will bring common benefits.
If this is to follow, Nepal can easily meet the financing gaps to build any projects under the BRI framework, even from different other multilateral and bilateral agencies.
As a result, Nepal should speed up its pace to strike deals to tap the technology and investment opportunities developing from the BRI. Since there is a high-level commitment to the BRI, the government mechanism too should work in tandem to bear fruits for our prosperous future and strike deal with the Chinese government to further some key projects under the BRI framework.
The sooner we work, the sooner we end our infrastructure paucity, by keeping the national interests at the top the quicker we shall fulfill the people’s long-held desire for development and prosperity.