Kathmandu: Former Foreign Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat, who is also the spokesperson of the ruling Nepali Congress party, has said that Nepal needs to avoid taking loans so as to keep the country’s economy from meeting the fate of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka, the South Asian island nation, is currently facing the worst economic crisis in the country’s history.
Mahat raised the alarm bells while addressing a high-level policy dialogue on National Interests organized by Policy Research Institute, a think tank of the government of Nepal, on Friday.
Mahat said that promoting economic development and prosperity should be a part of Nepal’s national policy and national interests. However, he also said that Nepal needs to be really careful about loans in the name of economic development. “We are not in a position to receive loan-based assistance. Debt burden is increasing,” he said. “We have seen what has happened in Sri Lanka. There is a fear among us that Nepal may meet the same fate as that of Sri Lanka.”
The Congress spokesperson was of the view that Nepal must avoid taking loans at commercial interest rates. Hinting at the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects–which are in limbo due to several technicalities including whether the projects should be built on grant, soft loan or loan schemes–the Congress leader said, “We cannot take loans on commercial interest rates for infrastructure development. This is not in favor of national interests.”
“If we ever have to take any loan, it has to be a soft loan. If we cannot do this, we will be headed to the fate of Sri Lanka,” he warned.
While addressing the policy dialogue program, Mahat also said that to secure our national interests Nepali leaders need to develop the habit of raising our concerns with the right person.
While recalling his January 2017 visit to New Delhi as Foreign Minister of Nepal, he claimed that he raised several matters of Nepal’s national interests with the Indian leadership during the visit. “I raised the issue of inundation, border and Gandak treaty. I raised the issues point by point,” he said. “Nepal was not benefiting from the irrigation facility from that treaty. I raised this issue. They agreed to look into this matter.”