Monday, December 2, 2019

NOC jacks up petrol, diesel, kerosene prices by Rs 2 per litre

Though, the price of petroleum products have been decreasing in the international market, the state oil monopoly has increased the price of petrol, diesel and kerosene by Rs 2 per litre effective from midnight.
Nepal Oil Corporation spokesperson Birendra Goit confirmed that petrol will cost Rs 109 per litre, while the price of diesel and kerosene has been adjusted to Rs 97 per litre effective from tonight. “The prices were adjusted with the increase in fuel prices in the internal market.”
The NOC, however, claimed that the raise in retail prices of petrol, diesel and kerosene is in line with the revision in the price list forwarded by the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) – the sole supplier of petroleum products to Nepal.
The NOC increased the prices of petrol, diesel and kerosene nearly three months after lowering their price. Earlier on September 10 – coinciding with the formal launch of the India-Nepal cross border petroleum pipeline (Motihari-Amlekhgunj – it had lowered the price of petrol, diesel and kerosene by Rs 2 each.
On September 20 again, the NOC has slashed the price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) – popularly known as cooking gas – by Rs 25 to Rs 1,350 per cylinder. Likewise, it has also lowered the price of ATF by $50 to $1,000 per kiloliter (kl) as an incentive for international airlines on the eve of Visit Nepal Year 2020 (VNY2020) campaign, and also in the wake of growing complaints from airlines companies that the fuel in Nepal was very expensive.

OYO elevates Aditya Ghosh to the board

OYO Hotels & Homes – one of the leading global chain of hotels and vacation homes – today announced the elevation and addition of Aditya Ghosh, currently chief executive officer at the India & South Asia for the hotels and homes business, to the company’s board of directors.
Aditya is joining founder and Group chief executive at the OYO Hotels and Homes Ritesh Agarwal. OYO has continuously been investing in further strengthening its corporate governance. The recent appointment of independent director Betsy Atkins on the board, who earlier invested in Yahoo and eBay and now Aditya, who hails with a depth of experience in running successful public companies, will both tremendously benefit the company.
Reflecting on the development founder and Group chief executive at the OYO Hotels and Homes Ritesh Agarwal said that Aditya’s strong business acumen, problem solving capabilities, passion for building an organisation with strong corporate governance and a high performing work culture that thrives on principles of diversity and inclusion, makes him the perfect choice for this larger and more strategic role, at a global level.

DRI files cases against 50 tax evaders

Over the first four months of the current fiscal year, the Department of Revenue Investigation (DRI) filed cases against 50 – firms and individuals – on charge of revenue evasion.
Most of the cases are related to the use of fake value added tax (VAT) bills and evading excise duty and customs duty, according to the director general of department Dirgha Raj Mainali. “The department took action against 15 firms that were found using fake VAT bills to evade taxes,” he said, adding that the department is investigating many defrauding firms over the past year. “The department has been investigating against 25 cases related to the use of fake VAT bills by the big players that are suspected to have evaded large amount of taxes.”
The department last month investigated four cases related to evasion of taxes worth Rs 360.27 million, whereas the department last week had filed cases against 26 tax evaders. “Of them, some 25 traders are facing action for submitting fake VAT bills to evade taxes, while one is involved in smuggling of gold,” he added. “Proprietor of Lumbini Pan Masala and Tobacco Products Abdullah Musalman and proprietor of NS Traders and Suppliers Dujman Thapa were found to have evaded taxes worth Rs 13.25 million by using fake VAT bills.”
Likewise, the department filed case against proprietor of Prabha Enterprises Ram Prasad Chaulagain and proprietor of PC Traders Ram Krishna Dhakal for evading taxes amounting to a combined Rs 8.67 million under the same charge.
In a separate case, some 21 traders, including Binod Kumar Agrawal from Dhobighat, Lalitpur, and Bikas Agrawal from Hattiban, were also found to have evaded taxes amounting to Rs 1.29 billion. “The accused allegedly issued fake VAT bills through 13 different firms,” claimed the department that is responsible for investigating revenue theft.

Masatsugu Asakawa elected ADB President

Masatsugu Asakawa has been unanimously elected President of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) by its Board of Governors. Asakawa, 61, currently special advisor to Japan’s Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, will assume office as ADB's 10th President on January 17, 2020. He will succeed Takehiko Nakao, who will leave office on January 16, 2020. Asakawa will finish the unexpired term of President Nakao, which ends on November 23, 2021.
“Asakawa’s extensive and diverse experience in international finance and development will serve ADB well in pursuing its vision of a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific,” said deputy prime minister and minister of Economy and Finance of the Republic of Korea and chair of the ADB Board of Governors Hong Nam-Ki. “The ADB Board of Governors looks forward to working with Asakawa.”
In a career spanning close to four decades, Asakawa has held a range of senior positions at the Ministry of Finance of Japan, including vice minister of Finance for International Affairs, and gained diverse professional experience in development policy, foreign exchange markets, and international tax policy.
He served as finance deputy for the 2019 G20 Osaka Summit and the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in Fukuoka, Japan. Furthermore, in the immediate aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis, he took part in the first G20 Leaders’ Summit Meeting in his capacity as executive assistant to the then Prime Minister Taro Aso. Asakawa has had frequent engagement with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), including as chair of the Committee on Fiscal Affairs from 2011 to 2016.
Asakawa served as a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo from 2012 to 2015 and at Saitama University from 2006 to 2009. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Tokyo in 1981 and MPA from Princeton University in 1985.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty, it claims in a press note. “In 2018, it made commitments of new loans and grants amounting to $21.6 billion.”
Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members, 49 from the region.

ADB's first satellite financing to expand internet access in Asia and Pacific

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed a $50 million agreement with Kacific Broadband Satellites International Limited (Kacific) to provide affordable satellite-based, high-speed broadband internet connections to countries in Asia and the Pacific, especially in remote areas of small island nations in the Pacific and larger island nations like Indonesia and the Philippines. This is ADB’s first satellite financing.
The Asia-Pacific Remote Broadband Internet Satellite Project will help make broadband internet connections more widely available to countries in the region, where more than 2 billion people do not have reliable internet access due to inadequate infrastructure, geographical challenges, and the high cost of services.
“Better access to reliable, high-speed internet can help improve education services, expand access to information, attract investments, reduce rural–urban development gaps, enhance trade and connectivity, and stimulate local economies,” said ADB director general for Private Sector Operations Michael Barrow. “It will also help improve communication, especially during emergencies and times of disaster when terrestrial networks might be damaged.”
“ADB’s role was key in getting this transaction closed,” said Kacific Founder and chief executive Christian Patouraux. “ADB’s involvement has helped secure the necessary financing for this highly developmental project,” he said, adding that the benefits of connectivity are life-changing, from increased tourism, access to information, financial services, to health care and education for many remote communities in the region.
The project will support the construction, launch, and operation of a shared geostationary earth orbit, high-throughput satellite. Kacific-1 is scheduled to be launched by SpaceX in December 2019 and will be operational in early 2020.
The financing comprises loans from ADB and the Leading Asia’s Private Infrastructure Fund (LEAP), which is administered by ADB. Established in March 2016 with support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, LEAP is one of ADB’s cofinancing vehicles dedicated to private sector infrastructure in Asia and the Pacific.
ADB will be working with GuarantCo, a Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) company, to guarantee additional private cofinancing for the project. GuarantCo provides credit solutions for infrastructure development in lower income countries in Africa and Asia and is funded by the governments of the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia, and Sweden through the PIDG Trust and the Netherlands through FMO, the Dutch Development Bank, and the PIDG Trust. PIDG is a development and finance organisation delivering pioneering infrastructure in the poorest and most fragile countries.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. In 2018, it made commitments of new loans and grants amounting to $21.6 billion. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members; 49 from the region.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

TAAN to introduce new trekking routes to promote VNY2020

Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) is preparing to introduce new trekking routes next month.
It is in the final phase of introducing new routes, claimed TAAN, which is conducting studies of five new trekking routes outside Kathmandu valley. “TAAN is planning to introduce new trekking routes with an aim to make the Visit Neal Year (VNY) 2020 campaign successful,” it adds. “The new routes will include places close to Annapurna region that have been neglected despite having the potential of good trekking routes for adventure-seeking tourists.”
The members of TAAN will also provide special discount packages on the new routes during VNY 2020. “The trekking agencies will provide 20 per cent to 30 per cent discount on trekking packages for trekkers booking trekking packages to new destinations,” it said, adding that the TAAN members will also provide 15 per cent discount to both foreign and domestic tourists on regular trekking packages.
According to the TAAN secretariat, around 40 per cent of tourists travelling to Nepal visit the country for trekking and a majority of them are from China and Japan. TAAN has also set a target to encourage 70 per cent of total tourists travelling to Nepal to go trekking in 2020. “Last year, TAAN had issued trekking permits to around 76,700 group trekkers, while Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) had issued trekking permits to a total of 20,685 individual trekkers.”

Some 21 local bodies yet to present budget for current fiscal year

Against repeated direction – by Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration and Financial Comptroller General Office – to present their budget on time, some 21 local governments are yet to present their budget for the current fiscal year 2019-20.
Despite repeatedly circular to the local governments to present their budget, the 21 local bodies – 2 from Province 1, 8 from Province 2, 4 from Province 3, 2 from Province 5 and 5 from Karnali Province mostly village municipalities and few municipalities – have failed to present their budget even after more than four-and-a-half months of the current fiscal year. Apart from village municipalities the four municipalities – 2 from Kapilvastu and 1 each from Sarlahi district and Udayapur district – have failed to present their budget so far.
According to the Intergovernmental Fiscal Management Act, the local bodies must to present their budget by Asadh 25 (July 10). But according to the Financial Comptroller General Office (FCGO)’s latest report, some 21 local bodies have still not presented their fiscal policy. Most of the local bodies are facing internal conflicts in budget allocation apart from lack of trained manpower to formulate the budget.
As the local bodies have failed to present their budget, they have also not been able to receive the grant assistance from the federal government.
However, according to the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration also, only 732 out of 753 local governments have presented their budget so far. The local governments cannot spend or mobilise revenue without presenting budget, which means those 21 local bodies do not have any money to spend for this fiscal year, though they have been spending and mobilising revenue on thoe own, which is not only illegal but also unconstitutional. “Thus, the 21 local bodies are utilising their budgetary expenses from the first tranche of the budget, which is automatically sent to their respective accounts after the fiscal year begins,” the ministry confirmed, adding that the heads of village municipalities and municipalities are still negotiating with Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration and Financial Comptroller General Office for a possible way out. “They are using their budget under ‘extraordinary’ or ‘emergency’ title only.”
However, inability to present the budget, will not be pardoned as the FCGO will put such budgetary expenses under the heading of arrears, according to the FCGO.