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Opposition cautions Nepal government on BRI loans

Opposition warned the government not to take loans under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of China….reports Asian Lite News

The lawmakers from the Nepali Congress warned the government against BRI loans and proceeded forward without consultation during the parliamentary meeting on Thursday.

Opposition lawmaker and former foreign minister Narayan Prakash Saud, while addressing the house session, warned the government not to take loans under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of China. The former foreign minister rather suggested the government accept the grants but in line with the provisions that Nepal has with other countries.

“In regards to BRI, we should be clear that we should accept the grant like we have been doing with other countries. Talking about the loans, there are priorities that determine the need to take them; there should be potential plans, management of the finances, and a feasible market. Until and unless no feasible market has been ensured, big projects shouldn’t be taken forward depending on the loans, if we move forward with it, then it would be a trap for ourselves,” Saud said.

The former Foreign Minister also took a jibe at the government for recalling the ambassadors despite the dilute geopolitical situation and ongoing tension, claiming it has diluted the image of the nation. Lawmaker Saud also suggested the government make decisions about BRI only after holding consultations with the opposition and all the parties present in parliament.

“The Prime Minister had stated that the percentage of the interest on loans will be in equilibrium with the ADB and World Bank but the negotiation, whether it is progressing in that direction or not, should be taken into confidence in this regard. It would be good to proceed further on this matter only after forging a national consensus,” Saud added.

The reaction from the opposition comes two days after the Nepali Prime Minister informed the parliament that the government intends to take loans, promising they won’t exceed interest rates above 1 or 1.5 per cent.

“Our focus will be on obtaining grants. We want the projects to come under the framework of BRI in the form of grants, which would be our first priority, second would be concessional loans, whether they are from the ADB or the World Bank, Even if we take loans, we will not accept interest rates above 1 or 1.5 per cent. However, our main emphasis will be on obtaining grants and I have conveyed it to the Chinese sides as well,” the Prime Minister said on June 25 while addressing the parliament.

On May 12, 2017, Nepal and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on bilateral cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. The then Foreign Secretary of Nepal, Shanker Das Bairagi and Chinese Ambassador Yu Hong had signed the MoU.

Despite the signing of the BRI framework, a copy of it is not available in the public domain. Raising the issue, Nepali Congress lawmaker Rajendra Bajgain on Thursday demanded a copy of the agreement signed between Nepal and China be made public.

“Discussions are going on about the Belt and Road Initiative. It also is called the New Silk Road Project and is a major strategic project. In the year 2017, on May 12, Nepal and China signed on the MoU; that framework, that document, is not available in the records of our parliament, I expect a ruling from the house so that all the sovereign Nepali can go through the documents,” lawmaker Bajgain said. (ANI)

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