On Tuesday, November 16, Samriddhi Foundation launched the Legislation Repository – a website developed by Samriddhi that brings together all relevant information required for starting and operating a business and bringing in investment in Nepal. The launch was followed by a panel discussion on ‘Facilitating Legislative Harmonization’, featuring Mr. Narayan Prasad Sharma Duwadee, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Supplies, Member Secretary Mr. Kewal Prasad Bhandari, National Planning Commission, Economist Dr. Chandan Sapkota, and Investment law expert Ms. Aayushi Koirala and was moderated by Adv. Semanta Dahal.
The panel discussion on ‘Facilitating Legislative Harmonization’ delved into finding possible alternatives that integrate the myriad policies and laws on regulation, monitoring and compliance and eventually reduce cost of starting and operating an enterprise or bringing in investment in Nepal.
Adv. Semanta Dahal posed different questions to panelists, depending on their institutional background, probing about the barriers they witnessed regarding harmonization of business/investment related laws in nepal. He covered harmonization in both international and sub-national levels, especially in our new federal setup. Further the issues regarding different choice of governing law by foreign investors other than that of Nepal and second generation reforms were extensively discussed.
Narayan Prasad Sharma Duwadee from MOICS reiterated the integration needed at the executive front. As per him, “in fact, integration at the executive front is at complementarity with legislative harmonization concerning multiple departments, agencies, and jurisdictions.” He stressed how divergence is not only limited to the policy level but also at the activity level. He further explained how contradictions appear from divergence in thought processes which later reflect in laws. In the second-half, he mentioned that we needed to learn lessons from international practices but cannot replicate them entirely due to contextual differences.
Chandan Sapkota succinctly described how harmonization is actually a minimum requirement and its basic level is necessary. But beyond that, laws can provide incentives to ensure healthy competition between investors and private enterprises. In terms of legislative harmonization at sub-national level, he explained that federalism should have both competitive and cooperative elements. Cooperative federalism can support harmonization at the foundational level but the spice of competitive federalism is necessary to find a growth-enhancing scenario modeled by productivity and efficiency.
Aayushi Koirala stressed on the level of uncertainty felt by foreing investors which determines their choice of governing law. In the federal setup, she commented that responsibilities are taken by subnational governments through coordination. Coordination is leveraged to take projects forward.
Kewal Prasad Bhandari expounded on second generation reforms which focused on facilitating and increasing foreign investment, of which, the instigation of one stop service was a milestone. He also confessed, however, that the one stop service center is currently not functioning as imagined. He also informed that creating harmonization between plans and programs of different levels of governments is a role that NPC is currently involved in areas of harmonization in general.
The panel discussion was followed by a Q/A session with participants. The program ended with concluding remarks of Kewal Prasad Bhandari mentioning that if we don’t formulate laws and policies addressing problems faced by entrepreneurs then we cannot promote entrepreneurship.
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