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UN supports APECF’s Lumbini plan: Xiao Wunan

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on September 14, 2011

REPUBLICA

There has been great excitement, debate and controversy about the plans of the Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation (APECF) to mobilize investment of US$3 billion for the development of Lumbini as a Special Development Zone (SDZ). Purna Basnet caught up with Xiao Wunan, executive vice-chairman of APECF in Four Seasons Hotel, Hong Kong last Friday to shed more lights on the issue.

EXCERPTS:

What is the current position of the Lumbini plan?

It is in the planning stage. Some reports said China is investing US$3 billion but without a feasibility study no one can invest such a big amount. We will hire a professional team for planning, which will take about one year. We hope that will happen faster but it will certainly take at least six months. APECF needs a concrete idea to come to Lumbini. APECF signed the MoU with UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Beijing, for feasibility study. UNIDO is a consultant for planning and framework designer of the project.

Was a MoU actually signed with UNIDO?

Yes, but there has been some misunderstanding and distortion in this regard. The misunderstanding was that UNIDO would get a slice of the profits. But that’s not the case; UNIDO was acting as a consultant for planning.

But the UNIDO headquarters refused to recognize the MoU. What is your take on that?

I cannot answer this question on the record.

Don´t you think that the MoU signed by APECF and UNIDO in Beijing is against Nepal’s national sovereignty?

It is a part of the process. When we wanted to do this project, we needed to get the approval of Nepal. Before signing the MoU with UNIDO, I met more than 10 members of the cabinet of Nepal, including the finance and deputy prime minister and culture minister. UNIDO as a consultant was advising us on whether or not to go ahead with this project and how to carry it out.

We hired five organizations, among them a famous US think tank, to study the possibility of this project and a bank to advise us on the investment risks. So, before all these study reports come out, we would not know what the political, economic and social risks are. The MoU was signed just for feasibility study. Lumbini belongs to Nepal and Nepali people are going to benefit from it. So this is not against Nepal´s national sovereignty. Read the rest of this entry »

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