USAID to Invest $30m in Nepal

Mar 2011
Kathmandu, Nepal, March, 30 2011 - The US Agency for International Development (USAID) on Tuesday (March 29) launched its Nepal Economic, Agriculture and Trade (NEAT) project for improving business competitiveness, food security and microfinance to foster economic growth of the country.

The two-and-a-half-year project will help the private sector in improving the country’s foundations for rapid, sustained and inclusive private sector-led economic growth, the USAID said organising an interaction here.

NEAT will invest US$30 million to strengthen Nepal’s trade competitiveness, expand exports and make the agriculture sector more efficient by addressing challenges to the economic growth and food security.

Speaking at the programme, US Ambassador to Nepal Scott H. DeLisi said the project aims at improving the business environment, strengthening fiscal and trade policies, encourage competitiveness and export, enhance food security and increase access to financial services working together with the Government of Nepal.

“A large number of Nepalis are migrating abroad in search of jobs. However, labour markets are not sustainable in the long run. We want to help the government and the private sector create jobs by making Nepal’s agriculture and trade sector competitive,” said DeLisi.

The programme, however, raised concern about the current business environment in Nepal. During a panel discussion on ‘Improving the Business Climate in Nepal’, Suman Joshi, chief executive officer of Laxmi Bank, pointing out the current social, political and economic scenario, said there is a dire need for capacity building of bureaucrats. On foreign direct investment (FDI)s, Joshi said the country’s financial sector has not been able to inject massive funds in infrastructure development and attracting FDI’s is the need of the hour. Political and policy instability and politicised labour unions, among others, have stood as a major obstacle to attracting FDIs. “Therefore, creating a conductive business environment is necessary for the country’s economic growth.”

The project will work together with the government, business associations, farmer cooperatives, microfinance institutions, NGOs and local research institutions.

NEAT’s food security programme will target the Mid-West and Far-West regions and aims at benefiting some 300,000 people. The NEAT activity is being implemented by Chemonics International Inc., a consortium comprising Fintrac, Land o’ Lakes, Making Cents International, The Kaizen Company and local partners CEAPRED and METCON consultants.


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