HISTORIC VISIT: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with his Nepalese counter- part, Prachanda, in New Delhi on Monday.

NEW DELHI: Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda) on Monday said his country’s relationship with India was “unassailable” and could not be compared with any other country. With history having created a “new atmosphere,” Nepal would like to “start afresh” on issues of discord such as water resources. “Nepal is in a very delicate and sensitive transition period. I have full confidence that we can create very conducive conditions in a very short span of time,” said the Maoist leader, who became Nepal’s Prime Minister a month ago.

“Due to our specific history, geography, cultural ties and tradition of economic interdependence, our relationship with India is crucial. Although we wish to develop ties with China, there is no question of comparison,” he said at a luncheon organised by India’s three leading chambers of commerce and industry.

Mr. Prachanda earlier placed a wreath at Rajghat and met External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee. He called on President Pratibha Patil and interacted with Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani.

Asked about India’s security concerns regarding the spillover of Maoist influence in Nepal, Mr. Prachanda said Kathmandu appreciated New Delhi’s apprehensions but it had its own anxieties. “We would like to go ahead collectively,” he said.

Mr. Prachanda addressed Harshpati Singhania’s complaint of labour unrest, uneven tax structure, industrial security and dumping of third country’s goods from Nepal into India.

“Without the presence of a vibrant private sector, the government alone cannot accelerate its development efforts. The Government of Nepal remains committed to adopting every possible measure to provide investors the necessary securities including repatriation of capital and profit earned by them in the country. We will do all we can to ensure industrial security in Nepal and also a fair collaborative relationship between labour and industry as well,” he said.

Mr. Prachanda said he would head a high-level investment board to reform the industrial policy, simplify procedures and encourage investments that would reduce trade deficit and prioritise exports. These measures would be harmonised with the new economic policy to ensure a “judicious distribution” of economic benefits to the people and accelerate economic growth.
Admitting that the economy was sluggish in the transition process, he said additional opportunities for Indian industry lay in reconstruction of damaged facilities and building of infrastructure.

In the hydel sector, seen as a big growth sector by the Indian industry, he was of the opinion that big projects instead of small ones should be undertaken. He accepted a draft report prepared by an industrialist for hydel policy reforms.

Ranbaxy’s representative sought simplification of procedures. The Nepal Commerce Minister assured him that his request would be examined.