Nepal airport development could benefit Sri Lanka | Sunday Observer

Nepal airport development could benefit Sri Lanka

29 December, 2019

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) which is working towards capacity building, upscaling infrastructure facilities and economic cooperation towards regional economic development while having an outward approach to reach inclusive growth in its development agenda is hopeful that Sri Lanka could benefit from the ongoing development activities in Nepal in terms of infrastructure and tourism promotion.

“The infrastructure development related to road network and capacity building will spur the opportunities for improved connectivity and thereby will fuel the growth in tourist arrivals. The construction of the second international airport in Lumbini, the birth place of The Buddha will attract religious tourism to Nepal while also promoting such places in Sri Lanka, it could reap mutual benefits. To this end collaborative promotional programs are necessary by the two countries,” Country Director ADB Nepal Resident Mission, Khamudkhanov said.

The ADB is supporting the Government of Nepal in its efforts to build infrastructure, develop human capital and transform agriculture to achieve inclusive development. In the development program for Nepal, the ADB also emphasises institutional capacity building, gender equality and social inclusion and mitigating the effects of climate change.

“We are focused to collaborate in developing areas including clean energy, solar power, infrastructure development and improvement of human resource quality. In this regard, we consider Nepal to be a beneficiary where the country is moving towards political stability and sustainable development,” he said.

“With the likelihood of greater political stability over the next five years, Nepal government has focus on accelerated economic development. For this, it has involved the private sector in a big way to achieve the planned upward movement of the economy. However, the binding concerns are the lack of infrastructure facilities and proper regulatory mechanism,” he said addressing the media personnel who participated at the ADB organised South Asia Regional Media Capacity Building Tour on Disaster Risk Management and Regional Tourism in Nepal recently.

“We consider political stability to be the key in propelling growth and overall development of a country. The ADB supports Nepal’s sector reforms and capacity building at federal and sub-national level. It advocates towards improved equitable access to service, development in the areas including of education, health, water supply and agriculture. It has a key focus on climate change, environment sustainability and resilience in order to improve quality of life for people in general,” he said.

The ADB’s updated country partnership strategy for Nepal considers development challenges in a federal system, the strategic objectives and priorities of the government, the activities of other development partners in the country and the best use of the Bank’s limited resources.

Nepal has made notable economic and social progress in recent years. This includes the increase in literacy rate, decline of poverty rate and gender disparities have narrowed. Nepal aims to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. However, poverty is still high in rural areas and among socially disadvantaged groups.

The ADB has been a long term development partner of Nepal since 1966 totaling US $ 5.8 billion and technical assistance of $ 0.2 billion. The current ADB portfolio consists of 36 projects amounting to $ 2.8 billion and 18 technical assistance projects worth $ 26.34 million. In 2018, ADB committed five projects for Nepal, with loans and grants totaling $ 592 million and technical assistance of $ 8.01 million. The ADB will continue to work with Nepal to build sound institutional capacities for sector planning, high project readiness, effective implementation and sustainable asset management to take the country forward, he said.

In going forward in focusing the regional development, the Nepal power sector is looking forward to its export potential.

A tripartite discussion on cross-border hydropower trade needs to start now as Nepal’s power export potential is growing fast with the scope of selling it to Bangladesh as well, he said.

Khamudkhanov said the Manila-based lending agency is supporting three countries in setting up cross-border transmission lines in the context of regional cooperation.

“Power export opportunity by Nepal would be growing very fast. Setting up of hydropower plants would create a scope of exporting power to Bangladesh too,” he said.

“Most of the hydropower plants in Nepal are near the Indian border and ADB and other development partners have already invested in setting up cross-border transmission lines under regional cooperation.

That is why, a tripartite meeting between India, Nepal and Bangladesh is necessary,” he said, adding that power export to Bangladesh is dependent on intergovernmental dialogue and speedy development of transmission lines,” he said.

He also said ADB is financing the backbone transmission line of Nepal along with other development partners and some other cross-border transmission line projects are in the pipeline.

The joint steering committee on India-Nepal cooperation in its seventh meeting in October also agreed to hold tripartite meeting in three months to fix transmission modalities and commercial terms for the use of Indian grid for getting power by Bangladesh.

Nepal has the potential to generate 40,000 megawatt of hydropower due to its geographical location.

Bangladesh now imports 100mw power from India but started negotiations with Bhutan and Myanmar to bring in more due to its growing demand for power in line with the economic growth stated highest among south Asian countries.

The ADB country director said there is a progress in discussion on power trade.

The ADB focuses more on expanding regional cooperation and will be happy to work more on it, he said, adding that the government-level discussion must continue to be beneficiary.

Under South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) and South Asia Tourism Infrastructure Development (SATID) projects, the ADB is assisting south Asian countries including Bangladesh, India , Sri Lanka and Nepal.

In Nepal, the upgrading of east-west highway and Gautam Buddha Airport are going on under SASEC and SATID projects. These development activities will have spill over effect that will benefit regional countries, he said.