Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat proposed regional electricity transmission lines to the finance ministers of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

Mahat – speaking during an informal meeting with the SAARC ministers on the sidelines of the 47th annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Astana, Kazakhstan – also stressed on the need for increased expansion of transmission lines in the region

SAARC finance ministers have been getting together on the sidelines of the ADB annual meeting since 2006. Nepal, with its large hydropower potential, expects to export power to other South Asian countries, particularly India, in the future.

The Finance Ministry said in a press release that Mahat said that efforts should be made to increase investment in infrastructure as the entire region faces an infrastructure deficit. He added that investments in infrastructure should be made through the SAARC Development Fund in addition to social sector development.

He also underlined the need of increasing regional cooperation to help boost the economic growth of the region.

Highlighting the achievements in the peace process, which has largely concluded, Mahat said that Nepal was now focusing on boosting domestic and foreign investment. “Economic reform measures have also been initiated,” he said.

Likewise, addressing the annual meeting of the ADB, Mahat appealed for big scale investment from the ADB in infrastructure like energy, irrigation and roads. Considering the energy crisis plaguing Nepal, he also urged the ADB to help the country in this sector in a big way.

Mahat said that the government would sign power development agreements with hydropower projects being funded by foreign investors. He promised that Nepal would be an attractive destination for foreign investors and donors after a year when the constitution making process will be completed.

Earlier, Mahat and his Indian counterpart P Chidambaram held bilateral talks in New Delhi. Mahat also held separate meetings with vice president of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Magdalena Alvarez;, deputy director general of International Monetary Fund (IMF) Nayoki Sinohara and deputy governor of the China Development Bank Li Jiping on the sidelines of the ADB annual meeting.

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