KATHMANDU, November 11, 2012 – World Bank Country Director for Nepal and Bangladesh Ellen Goldstein met with Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai to discuss the Bank’s program of assistance and its future assistance strategy for Nepal, currently under development. She also met with Finance Minister Barsha Man Pun and senior officials of the Government of Nepal including the Chief Secretary and the Finance Secretary. World Bank Country Manager for Nepal Tahseen Sayed accompanied Ms. Goldstein during the meetings.
During her meeting with the Prime Minister, Ms. Goldstein said the World Bank Group stands ready to significantly ramp up its support for the development of Nepal’s hydropower potential provided that the government urgently addresses implementation bottlenecks in ongoing power sector operations
“Protracted implementation delays are holding back the Bank Group and the private sector from investing substantially in affordable power generation and transmission,” said Goldstein.
Prime Minister Bhattarai noted the need for urgent resolution of the current challenges and acknowledged transformational investments in hydropower are critical pathways out of poverty and unemployment for Nepal. Prime Minister Bhattarai said he had decided to form a steering committee across government, chaired by the Chief Secretary and including the private sector and development partners, reporting to him to accelerate hydropower development.
Ms. Goldstein also conveyed concerns over delays in reaching agreement on a full-year budget. “From the perspective of a development partner, uncertainties over the budget seriously undermine absorptive capacity within the country and reduce the scope for commitment of future foreign assistance,” she said. Ms. Goldstein called for prudence among all stakeholders to avoid an overly expansionary budget.
Ms. Goldstein visited World Bank supported projects in the areas of education and agriculture commercialization in Kaski district before concluding her visit.