Nepal invited fresh bids on Sunday for the sale of a state-owned power company as part of a plan to boost its privatisation drive, according to a Reuters report.

A Finance Ministry statement said bids for purchase of a 75 per cent stake in the Butwal Power Company (BPC), a hydropower firm that owns two plants generating 17 MW of electricity were requested by November 20.

The Nepal government will retain a 10 per cent stake while 12 per cent will be sold to employees and the public, who already own three per cent of the company.

Nepal has made several attempts in the past to privatise BPC but officials said the efforts had failed, as potential buyers did not meet sale conditions.

The Finance Ministry statement said the sale is in line with the government’s policy to promote “private participation in the development of the country’s vast hydropower resources” for domestic consumption and export.

“Priority will be given to Nepalese bidders or to bidders with Nepalese involvement where evaluated bids are equivalent,” it said.

Impoverished Nepal has some of the richest water resources in the world as its numerous rivers are capable of producing up to 83 000 MW of hydroelectric power.

But in the absence of funds and technology, Nepal uses less than 0.5 per cent of the potential and only 15 per cent of its 23.21 million people have access to electricity.

In 1992, the cash-starved nation embraced liberal economic policies and invited foreign investors to boost economic development and pledged to sell sick state firms to the private sector.

The privatisation drive has, however, progressed slowly and only 16 state-run firms have been privatised in nine years.

Analysts blame this on a lack of consensus among political parties on how to sell public enterprises and political instability that hurt the decision making process in the kingdom.

The Himalayan nation has seen 11 governments in as many years of multi-party democracy established in 1990.