AIIB assessing viability of Nepal's projects

By Nandalal Tiwari, Beijing, June 20: The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has said that it is considering infrastructure development projects submitted by the Nepal government.

“Over the course of last year, Nepal has proposed for several projects. The AIIB has signaled great interest in them. Presently we are conducting assessment of the viability of projects as per our criteria,” Joachim von Amsberg, vice president, policy and strategy, of the AIIB said on Tuesday here in Beijing.

“So far we have approved only 16 projects altogether since the bank was opened in January 2016. We have made an investment of two and a half billion dollars in these projects. We have received some 300 projects proposals in this period but only 70 have passed our screening,” Amsberg said at a meeting with a group of journalists from Asian and South American countries at the AIIB headquarters.

Finance Minister Ganedra Bahadur Karki had said that the AIIB had agreed in principle to provide over 100 billion rupees (US $ 1 billion) for different projects in Nepal on Monday upon his home arrival from participating in the second annual meeting of the AIIB Board of Governors in Jeju of South Korea held from 16-18 June.

However, the AIIB official said that the project proposals presented by Nepal were yet to be approved.

When asked about the period for approval and number of projects being submitted, Amsberg, AIIB vice president, policy and strategy, said, “There are different proposals from Nepal and it will take some months for screening and approval.” 

Out of 70 project proposals presented by different countries and companies which have undergone screening, a few are from Nepal, he added.

Saying that the AIIB has three main priorities such as sustainable infrastructure, cross-country connectivity and attracting private capital to infrastructure development, Amsberg said that the AIIB provides loan to the government and also to the private companies for infrastructure development if they meet the AIIB criteria.

Before we finance any project, we make it sure that the project is sustainable including in the face of climate change and that it improves the lives of the people, he said.

Amsberg said Nepal has submitted project proposals on hydro power generation, urban development and roads.

We take each and every country with equal importance, he said when asked if size of a country and its share in the AIIB would make any difference for financing any project.

Talking about the need of around 1.7 trillion US dollar per year for infrastructure development in Asia alone as per the Asian Development Bank (ADB) study report, the AIIB official said, “As we are exclusively focused on infrastructure development in Asia, we will scale up our investment in the days to come.”

Out of 100 billion dollar of its paid-in capital, the AIIB has in the last 18 months since its establishment invested some 2 and a half billion dollars in 16 different projects.

Compared to the huge demand for investment of 1.7 trillion US dollar per year in Asia, we have a small capacity for financing in infrastructure development, he said while lauding the role played by the ADB and the World Bank for infrastructure development.

He said that the AIIB would not limit its projects to countries along the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) although the AIIB was also China initiated multilateral mechanism as the BRI. “We will also make investment in projects that connect Asia with other continents.”

The number of member countries to the AIIB has now increased to 80 from the 57 founding members. Nepal is a founding member country of the AIIB.

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