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Nepal, China to remove bottlenecks to aid projects

   December 4, 2018        321        BIBEK SUBEDI


The first ever meeting of Nepal-China joint oversight mechanism concluded in Kathmandu on Monday with respective governments agreeing to put effort to remove the bottlenecks faced by the bilateral and joint venture projects including undertakings in which Chinese companies are involved.

In the meeting jointly led by Foreign Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi and Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Yu Hong and participated by the different government officials, Nepali side participating in the meeting complained about the dillydallying by Chinese contractors hired to execute some of the key projects being implemented by various government authority.

One of such projects is Kulekhani-3 Hydropower Project owned by Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), the state-owned power utility and being executed by two Chinese contractors. Although Sino Hydro, the Chinese company contracted to implement the civil works of the project, has almost completed the task, Jheijian Jialin, another Chinese contractor hired to implement the electromechanical works, has not been working satisfactorily to move the 14 MW project forward.

The project official who participated in the meeting complained about the electromechanical contractor’s inability to expedite the job. “The project official complained that the top officials of the Chinese contractor have remained out of contact for quite some time and requested the Chinese envoy to help establish contact with top brass of Jheijian Jialin,” said a Nepali delegate who participated in the meeting. “The Chinese envoy leading her team noted the problem and said she will try to resolve the issue.”

Similarly, the Chinese side participating in the meeting complained about the various procedural delays that have to deal with at different government offices. One of the major concerns put forward by the Chinese side was the hassles their companies have to face while acquiring land for the infra projects they are undertaking. Another concern from the Chinese was the difficulty in acquiring labour permit by their projects that are hiring foreign workers. Also as per the new labour law, the number of foreign workers at a company shouldn’t exceed more than five percent of the total workforce and the Chinese side raised concern over such clause, according to the source. The Nepali delegates participating in the meeting assured the Chinese side to put forward their concerns to respective authorities in order to resolve the issue.

Multiple sources talking to the Post said it will take some time to see outcome of the meeting. “This was the first meeting of such kind. So we have to wait for some time to see its impact,” said the sources. “If issues raised in the meeting are resolved it will be beneficial for both the countries.”

The two countries formed a joint oversight mechanism to resolve issues and expedite the projects being developed with Chinese involvement after several of them failed to make the expected progress. The decision to form the mechanism was taken during Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s visit to China in June.

The Kathmandu post