Road to becoming a millionaire was not an easy one
Sesh Ghale, a Nepal-born Australian millionaire, was in town to participate in the Non-Resident Nepali (NRN) Day 2069 last week. Ghale, who left his birth place in 1990 to pursue higher studies in Australia, has made remarkable achievements in the last two decades and enrolled himself in the list of top 200 millionaires Down Under. Ghale, who owns Melbourne Institute of Technology (MIT), recently announced to invest Rs 6.14 billion in Nepal´s tourism sector. Bhoj Raj Poudel of Republica talked to Ghale about his investment plan and other issues pertaining to investment climate in the country, particularly from NRNs. Excerpts:
What are the potentialities that you found in Nepal?
My investment has come to Nepal after a rigorous research and risk-analysis. We observed the market here and conducted an independent research. After that, we ultimately decided to invest in the tourism sector.
Nepal is a tourist destination. But it lacks hotels that could cater to high-end tourists. We will try to fill that gap. Our target is to attract business tourists and not backpackers.
You have decided to invest in Nepal when most of the international investors are shying away from making investment here. Is this the beginning of inflow of foreign investment from NRNs?
I can´t say about others´ investment. But if you are talking about my project, we have already made a commitment to invest in Nepal and project implementation is already in preliminary phase. I express commitment to make additional investment in the country in the course of expanding the project.
Though we originated from Nepal, we are foreign citizens. Investment from NRNs is definitely going to encourage other international investors to come here and invest. I am optimistic that international investors will view this step taken by an NRN as an indicator of improving situation of investment climate in Nepal.
How much are you going to invest in Nepal and who would be other partners in this investment venture?
I am going to invest 75 million Australian dollars (equivalent to Rs 6.14 billion) to establish a five star hotel in Kathmandu. The actual construction will begin from next year and will be completed by another three to three and half years. This is solely an Australian FDI from MIT Group based in Australia.
What do you think the government should do to promote the FDI inflow in the country and encourage NRNs to invest in Nepal?
The governments all over the world are competing to channel FDI flow to their respective countries. Hence, the government of Nepal also should be pro-active in luring foreign investment to the country. For this, the government has to play the role of a facilitator. Foreign investors worry about how to take back dividend to their home countries. They look for an easy bureaucratic process and seek commitment from the government on taking back investment and returns anytime they want. But for NRNs, that might not be a problem. We don´t worry too much about taking the investment and dividend back to the country where we are residing. So there is a difference between other foreign investors and NRNs.
You said you were negotiating with some chain hotels to oversee the management of the hotel? Is it possible to give us names?
I can´t disclose that now. But I can tell you that we are negotiating with chains such as Paris Hilton, Marriott, and Sheraton, among others. But I can´t tell you which hotel will come here.
What do you expect from the government as an NRN?
I think the government is aware that NRNs are the only people who can bring investment into the country at the moment. So there should be a one-window policy. Investment Board is in existence and it should give priority to projects of NRNs. The government should be working on easing the bureaucratic hurdles and facilitating investors.
Let me change the topic and put some personal questions. How does it feel to be a millionaire?
Everybody asks me this question. To be honest, it´s normal; I don´t feel much different. A millionaire is person whose wealth creation has been appreciated by the society. And once you become a millionaire others start believing in the values that you hold.
How was the journey that led you to become a millionaire?
It was not an easy one. I took risks and changed the direction of my life by moving to Australia. Consistent hard work and passion led me there. But I don´t believe in cutting corners in life. However, you should not be afraid of taking risks