Nepal Army amending law for commercial activities

(190125) -- KATHMANDU, Jan. 25, 2019 (Xinhua) -- Nepalese Army soldiers practice a parade for the upcoming Maha Shivaratri Festival in Kathmandu, Nepal, Jan. 24, 2019. Maha Shivaratri is one of the major festivals of Nepal, which means "Great Night of the Lord Shiva". (Xinhua/Sulav Shrestha)

Kathmandu: Despite mounting criticism that the Nepal Army was increasingly getting involved in commercial activities not befitting the armed forces, the national defence force is amending a law to allow it to invest in commercial ventures as a promoter, furthering its entry into business.

The Nepal Army Act 2006 acts as a legal barrier for the Army’s investment in mega projects like hydropower, or in the banking sector, reports The Kathmandu Post.

Though the Army is currently making millions annually out of the deposits it has in various commercial and development banks, top officials have expressed dissatisfaction with the returns.

An amendment to the Nepal Army Act would give it leeway to make investments in businesses that yield high returns.

Judge Advocate General Ranta Prakash Thapa, who is in charge of the Army’s legal department, said that the amendment will allow the national defence force to invest as a promoter.

“But there will also be a clause making it mandatory to obtain the government’s consent before making any such investment,” The Kathmandu Post quoted Thapa as saying at a press conference on Friday.

The Army has been pushing the government to make an amendment to the Act for the past few years and it has also prepared an amendment draft.

Once the amendment is approved, it can invest without preconditions, like any other private entity.

The Army’s current investment is in areas including fuel pumps, schools, medical colleges and bottled water companies, all of which it says provide benefits for the Army itself and hence, are not purely commercial ventures.