Kathmandu: Nepal will seek a USD one billion soft loan from India, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai said Wednesday as he sought to allay fears of Indian investors about doing business with the Maoist-ruled country.
On the eve of his four-day maiden visit to India, Bhattarai said he would like to focus on increasing economic cooperation and development with the neighbouring country apart from building trust on political and security related issues.
"I would like to focus more on building trust on two issues, basically political and security related issues between the two countries and second economic cooperation and development," he said in an interview.
"Personally, my focus will be to foster more closer development partnership with India. The new paradigm of Indo-Nepal relations will be to foster development partnership between the two countries.
"I will also ask for a USD 1 billion soft loan from government of India during my talks," the Prime Minister said.
India had announced a similar loan for Bangladesh during the New Delhi visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in January 2010. The billion-dollar soft loan deal, the biggest credit package New Delhi has ever earmarked for any nation, was inked when Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee visited Dhaka in August last year.
Asked how his government would protect foreign investments in Nepal, especially when Indian joint ventures like Dabur were frequently targeted and attacked, Bhattarai said he would do his best to attract foreign capital and secure those investments.
"I see tremendous scope and the Indian investment coming to Nepal is very important for us. But unfortunately because of the transitional stage of politics in our country, for some years it has been stalled.
"So I will do my best to build confidence in the investors and we will try to remove any fear they might have regarding the security of their investment. So, to promote and protect the investment will be one of the major focus on economic issues," he said.
His remarks came as both sides are discussing the possibility of signing an investment protection agreement.
Bhattarai expressed confidence that there will be political stability in Nepal with the completion of the peace process which was initiated in 2006 after the Maoists joined mainstream politics following a decade-long insurgency.
"There will be very soon a breakthrough in the peace process," he said.
An agreement will be reached among the parties for integration and rehabilitation of the Maoist combatants and then the process of regrouping will start, Bhattarai said, adding "that will speed up the process."
First Published: Wednesday, October 19, 2011, 18:00