KATHMANDU, Oct 30: Investors have hailed the recent reforms made by the government in the procedure to approve Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and issue visa for their employees to work in Nepal.
Speaking at an interaction between foreign investors and representatives of concerned government agencies held here on Wednesday, they also sought one-window facility in the company registration process and for services provided by tax offices.
The interaction, which was probably the first of its kind in Nepal, was organized in support of Nepal Investment Climate Reform Program of International Finance Corporation (IFC).
The DoI had recently shortened the FDI approval process to 5-10 days. Earlier, the FDI approval process used to take around a month
David Rutherfurd, director at Lotus Energy - the supplier of solar systems, said the reform initiative by the government is positive. “However, there still is room for further improvement,” he added.
Investors have also urged the government to bring concerned units of three departments -- immigration, labor and industry -- for smooth and quick service delivery. A representative of Ncell sought transparent and time-bound service delivery in terms of visa issuance, expansion of business and the repatriation of the returns on investments.
Responding to investors´ queries on visa, Krishna Hari Pushkar, director general of the Department of Labor, urged foreign investors to follow rule of the land. He said investors were sending middlemen to apply for visa. “Also, investors are working here as full-time employees which is illegal,” he said. He expressed commitment to issue non-tourist visa within a week when all the required documents are duly submitted.
“More than 50,000 foreigners were working illegally in Nepal. They come to Nepal on tourist visa and work here without seeking work permit,” he added.
As per the existing provision, foreign investors can come to Nepal on tourist visa. They can apply for non-tourist visa after getting FDI approval from DoI. The government also provides business visa of five years to investors and foreign employees on different categories - size of investment, income tax paid, employment generation in different categories including national priority projects.
While the government agencies expressed dissatisfaction over use of middlemen by foreign investors while dealing with government agencies, foreign investors complained about sluggish service delivery and red tape, among others.
Industry Secretary Krishna Gyawali said the government is introducing Integrated Industrial Information Management System by the end of this fiscal year. “It will discourage middlemen,” he added.
Though FDI commitments have been increasing with each passing year, actual investment is far lower than the commitments. In fiscal year 2012/13, the government received FDI commitments worth Rs 19.93 billion for 317 projects.