Saturday, July 7, 2018

स्वीस बैंक, कालो धन र लगानीको वातावरण

स्विट्जरल्यान्डका बैंकहरूमा नेपालीको निक्षेप बढेको छ । स्वीस नेसनल बैंक (एसएनबी) ले गत साता सार्वजनिक गरेको २०१७ को वार्षिक प्रतिवेदनका अनुसार सन् २००८ मा त्यहाँका बैंकमा करिब ९ अर्ब (८ करोड ६२ लाख स्वीस फ्य्रांक) बराबरको नेपाली रुपैयाँ रहेकोमा १० वर्षमा चार गुनाजति बढेर करिब ३३ अर्ब (३२ करोड २८ लाख स्वीस फ्य्रांक) पुगेको छ । नेपालमा स्वीस बैंकको प्रसंग आउनासाथ कालोधनसँग जोडेर चर्चा गरिए पनि स्वीस बैंकमा रहेको सबै निक्षेप कालो धन भने हुँदैन ।
एकातिर नेपालका बैंकमा लगानीयोग्य रकमको अभाव प्रत्येक वर्ष दोहोरिइरहँदा निक्षेपकर्ताका परिचय नखुलेको स्वीस बैंकको पैसाले गैरकानुनी आर्जनको रकम हुन सक्ने प्रशस्त आधार भने दिएको छ । गोपनीयताकै कारण स्वीस बैंक संसारभरको कालोधन जम्मा हुने बैंकको रूपमा परिचित भएकाले पनि विश्वभरबाट कमिसन तथा भ्रष्टाचारजन्य क्रियाकलापलगायतबाट आर्जित गैरकानुनी आर्जन तथा कर छल्नका लागि स्वीस बैंकमा रकम जम्मा गर्ने होड चल्ने गर्छ ।
अवैध सम्पत्तिको त कुरै छोडौं, नेपाली कानुनअनुसार वैध रकम पनि नेपाली नागरिकले नेपाल राष्ट्र बैंकलाई जानकारी नगराई विदेशी बैंकमा राखेको प्रमाणित भए जरिवानासहित कैद सजाय हुने कानुनी व्यवस्था छ, तर पनि स्विट्जरल्यान्डको केन्द्रीय बैंकका अनुसार स्वीस बैंकमा अवैध ढंगले आर्जित गरि लुकाएर पैसा राख्ने विश्वका २०० मुलुकमा नेपाल १०९ औं नम्बरमा छ ।
पञ्चायतकालका अन्तिम वर्षहरूमा नेपालका सडकमा पम्फादेवीको नामका धेरै नारा लगाइन्थे । तत्कालीन राज्यशक्तिको केन्द्रमा रहेकी एक महिला पात्रलाई नेपालीको सम्पत्ति अवैध रूपमा स्वीस बैंकमा लगेर आफ्नो नाममा राखेको भन्दै सडकदेखि सदनसम्म नारा लगाउनेहरूमध्ये धेरैजना हाल मन्त्री भैसकेका छन्, तर ती महिलापात्र विस्मृतिमा पुगिसकेको अवस्थामा आज सत्ता जनताको हातमा छ र स्वीस बैंकमा बर्सेनि अबैध सम्पत्ति बढिरहेको छ । कसको हो त त्यो सम्पत्ति ? प्रश्न सरल छ तर उत्तर जटिल ।
नेपालजस्ता अति कम विकसित मुलुकदेखि अमेरिकाजस्ता विकसित राष्ट्रहरूका विशेषतः विभिन्न नेता, व्यवसायी, कलाकारलगायतकाले अकुत सम्पत्ति स्वीस बैंकमा थुपार्ने विषय नौलो नभए पनि पछिल्ला दिनमा यस्ता अकुत सम्पत्ति स्वीस बैंकमा थुपार्ने क्रम बढिरहेको तथ्यांकले देखाएकाले अवैध सम्पत्ति कानुनी रूपमा लुकाउन स्वीस बैंक प्रयोग बढिरहेको स्पष्ट छ । झन् नेपालजस्ता अल्पविकसित तथा कानुनलाई बटारेर आफ्नो स्वार्थमा प्रयोग गरिने सकिने देशहरूबाट अकुत सम्पत्ति थुपारिनु नौलो विषय नभए पनि यसले देशमा व्यावसायिक वातावरण नभएको तथा राजनीतिक दलका नेता भ्रष्टाचारको आहालमा चुर्लुम्म डुबेको सहजै अनुमान लगाउन सकिन्छ ।
कमिसन तथा भ्रष्टाचारजन्य क्रियाकलापबाट आर्जित धन देशभित्रै राख्दा कुनै असल र स्वच्छ छविको नेताको उदयले कानुनी रूपमै जफत हुने र कारबाहीमा परिने खतरा मोल्न नचाहेर स्वाभाविक रूपमा गोपनीयता कायम रहने विदेशी बैंकमा थुपार्नु नौलो कुरा रहेन । तर, एक दृढ निश्चयी तथा साँचो अर्थमा राष्ट्रवादी नेतृत्वको सरकार कुनै दिन यस देशमा बनेछ भने संविधान र कानुनअनुसार कारबाही त हुन्छ नै । विदेशको त कुरै छोडौं, पछिल्ला एक दशकमा नेपालभित्रै पनि धेरै असम्भवझैं लाग्ने घटनाहरू सम्भव भइसकेका छन् । यस्तै, गत साताको मलेसियाको घटना नेपालको सन्दर्भमा एउटा गतिलो उदाहरण हुनसक्छ । मलेसियाका पूर्वप्रधानमन्त्री नाजिव रज्जाक गत साता पक्राउ परे । भ्रष्टाचार अनुसन्धान गर्ने निकायले उनलाई मंगलबार पक्राउ गरेको थियो । सरकार भ्रष्टाचारमा लिप्त भएपछि गत महिनामात्र मलेसियामा ९२ वर्षीय महाथिर महोम्मद फेरि प्रधानमन्त्री चुनिएका थिए । महाथिरले निर्वाचनमा आफ्नै पार्टीका नाजिवलाई पराजित गर्दै प्रधानमन्त्रीमा निर्वाचित भएका हुन् । मलेसियामा बढ्दो भ्रष्टाचारसँगै महाथिरले आफ्नै पार्टीका नाजिवविरुद्ध नयाँ पार्टी स्थापना गरी आन्दोलन छेडेका थिए ।
मलेसिया स्वीस बैंकमा धेरै रकम जम्मा गर्ने देशको सूचीमा पाँचौ स्थानमा रहेको छ । यस्तै, स्वीस बैंकमा धेरै रकम आउने देशमा पहिलो नम्बरमा चीन पर्छ । चीनपछि रूसबाट धेरै रकम आउने गरेको स्वीस बैंकको प्रतिवेदनले देखाएको छ । त्यसपछि धेरै रकम आउने देशमा मेक्सिको तेस्रो र छिमेकी भारत चौथो स्थानमा छ ।
संयुक्त राष्ट्रसंघको तथ्यांकअनुसार विकासशील देशबाट मात्रै वार्षिक १ खर्ब डलर रकम स्वीस बैंकमा जम्मा हुने गर्छ । पछिल्ला १० वर्षमा विकासशील देशबाट बाहिरिएको रकम ती देशहरूले प्राप्त गर्ने आर्थिक सहयोग र प्रत्यक्ष वैदेशिक लगानी भन्दा धेरै रहेको पनि राष्ट्रसंघले जनाएको छ ।
अर्थात्, जुन देशमा भ्रष्टाचार धेरै छ, लगानीको वातावरण छैन र सत्ताको आडमा अकुत सम्पत्ति कमाउन सकिन्छ त्यस्ता गैरकानुनी आर्जन सहजै नक्कली कम्पनीको नामबाट ट्याक्स हेभेन देशका कम्पनीमार्फत स्वीस बैंकमा जम्मा गरिन्छ । यसको अर्थ विकसित देशबाट स्वीस बैंकमा पैसा जम्मा हुँदै न भन्न खोजिएको होइन, तर प्रतिवेदन सरसर्ती हेर्दा अविकसित अवस्थामा रहेका देशहरूबाट यस्तो अवैध रकम गैरकानुनी रूपमा बाहिरिने क्रम बढिरहेको देखिन्छ ।
नेपाललगायतका विकासशील देशहरूमा स्वीस बैंकमा पैसा पुर्याउन ‘हवाला कन्ट्र्याक्टर’ अर्थात् ‘मध्यस्थ ठेकेदार’ रहेका हुन्छन् । भारतीय पत्रिकाहरूका अनुसार, भारतमा यस्ता ठेकेदारहरूले केही कमिशन लिएर जुन देशमा जुन व्यक्तिको बैंक खातामा पैसा पठाउन चाहेको हो त्यस खातामा पैसा पुर्याउने काम गर्छन् । यस्ता ‘मध्यस्थ ठेकेदार’हरू नेपालजस्ता देशमा पनि जोसुकै सत्तामा रहे पनि निरन्तर सत्ताकै वरिपरि भेटिनु अचम्म होइन ।
यसरी अवैध रूपमा कालोधनलाई लुकाउन वा सेतो बनाउन धेरैजसो राजनीतिक व्यक्तिलाई आवश्यक पर्छ । किनकि स्रोत नखुलेका कमिसन वा भ्रष्टाचारजन्य क्रियाकलापबाट आर्जित अकुत धन देशभित्रै राख्दा कुनै पनि दिन सत्ताको उलटफेरमा गुम्न सक्ने खतरा रहेकोले पछिल्ला वर्षहरूमा अकुत सम्पत्ति देश बाहिर राख्ने चलन चलेको बढेको देखिन्छ ।
अर्को, व्यवसायीहरू पनि स्वीस बैंकमा अकुत सम्पत्ति राख्ने गरेको बताउँछन्, तर जसरी २०४६ सालपछि बनेका कुनै पनि सरकारले पम्फादेवीको स्वीस बैंकको सम्पत्तिका बारेमा कुनै प्रमाण प्रस्तुत गर्न सकेनन्, त्यस्तै व्यवसायीले स्वीस बैंकमा पैसा राख्ने बजार हल्ला पनि जनतालाई झुक्याउन वा पपुलिस्ट हुन मात्रै चलाइएका हुन् भनेर किन नभन्ने ।
२०५२ सालदेखि नेपालमा सुरु भएको माओवादी द्वन्द्वले सयौंको संख्यामा नेपाली उद्योगमा मजदुरलाई शोषण गरेको नाममा आफ्नो राजनीतिक स्वार्थ पूरा गर्न ताला लगाउनेदेखि आगो लगाउनेसम्म गरे । उद्योगी–व्यवसायीहरू त्यसपछि कम जोखिम भएको व्यापारतिर लागे, उद्योग खोल्न छोडे । हैन भने नेपालमा कुनै समय प्रतिष्ठित घरानाबीच उद्योग खोल्ने होडबाजी नै चलेको थियो । केही उग्र विचारधारा बोक्ने दलका कार्यकर्ताहरूले दोषरोपण गरेझैं उद्योगी–व्यवसायीले मानौं कर छलेका नै रहेछन् भने पनि यदि देशमा औद्योगिक वातावारण छ भने उक्त पैसाबाट उद्योगीले फेरि अर्को उद्योग खोल्छ र रोजगारी सिर्जना गर्छ ।
तर राजनीतिक प्राणीले भने अवैध रूपमा कमाएको सम्पत्ति देखाउन पनि नमिल्ने र नेपालभित्रका बैंक तथा वित्तीय संस्थामा राख्न पनि नमिल्ने कारणले विदेश पलायन गर्ने गर्छ । नियमित लोडसेडिड, लगातारको मजदुरको आन्दोलन, महँगो तर चाहिएझैं योग्यता तथा सीपविहीन कामदार, नियमितझैं नेपालबन्दजस्ता कारणले पछिल्लो एक दशकमा नेपालमा औद्योगिक वातावरण थिएन, उद्योगधन्दा बढेका थिएनन्, युवाहरू रोजगारीको लागि खाडी तथा मलेसिया पलायन भइरहेको थिए, तर उच्च राजनीतिक नेतृत्वको सम्पत्ति भने बढि नै रहेको थियो र बढिरहेको थियो— स्वीस बैंकमा पछिल्लो एक दशकमा नेपालीको निक्षेप चार गुनाले, घामझैं झर्लङ्ग छैन र ?
यस्तै, देशभित्रै पनि कालो धनलाई सेतो बनाउन सम्पत्ति शुद्धीकरणमार्फत दायर भएका मुद्दामा सरकार धमाधम हार्दै गइरहेको छ र सानादेखि ठूला डन फटाफट अदालतबाट शुद्धीकरण हुँदै निस्किरहेका छन् । अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय दबाबले गर्दा नेपालले जबर्जस्ती ल्याउनुपरेको सम्पत्ति शुद्धीकरण ऐन, कानुन तथा विभागको हालत के छ, त्यो पनि सबैलाई थाहा छ ।
यसै सन्दर्भमा, केही वर्षअघि कालो धनबारे संसद्को अर्थसमितिले यसबारेमा छलफल पनि चलाएको थियो । तत्कालीन संसदीय समितिका सदस्यहरू हाल मन्त्री भइसक्नुभएको छ ।
नेपालमा आजका प्रगतिशील तथा प्रजातन्त्रप्रेमी सबै राजनीतिक दलका कार्यकर्ताले पञ्चायतलाई गाली गर्दा भन्ने सबैभन्दा प्रचलित एउटा शब्द थियो, ‘प्रतिक्रियावादी राज्यसत्ता’ । करिब ७ दशक लामो राजनीतिक संक्रमण सकिएर स्थिर सरकार बनेपछि नेपालीको आशा अब आर्थिक क्रान्ति हुन्छ र समृद्ध नेपाल बन्छ भन्ने अझै छ । तर, सरकारका पछिल्ला गतिविधि हेर्दा प्रगतिशील राजनीतिक दलको सरकार पनि प्रतिक्रियावादी हुन लागेको त होइन भन्ने ठूलो आशंका उठेको छ । दशकौंदेखि बालुवाटारको प्रतिक्रियामात्र सुनेका र भोगेका तर क्रिया नदेखेका नेपालीका लागि करिब दुईतिहाइको बहुमतको सरकारले केही क्रिया गर्ला, देशमा काम गरेर खाने वातावरण बन्ला, देशभित्रै रोजगारी सिर्जना होला भन्ने आस गर्नु अपराध त होइन होला । तर, सरकार समृद्धिका गफ मात्रै गर्ने, समृद्धिका लागि गर्नुपर्ने अत्यावश्यक व्यावाायिक वातावरण बनाउन चाहिने कानुन निर्माणजस्ता क्रिया गर्न छोडेर समाज तथा बजारमा भएका क्रियाकलापमा प्रतिक्रिया मात्रै गरिबस्दा नेपाल कसरी समृद्ध हुन्छ, प्रश्न सोध्न त पाइन्छ नि ?

Monday, July 2, 2018

Government honours returnee migrant workers

The government has today honoured eight returnee migrant workers, who have stayed back in the country and operating their own enterprises. They were honoured for setting an example of entrepreneurship in the country. Most of the entrepreneurs, who were honoured are involved in the agriculture sector.
According to the Labour Ministry, the returnee migrants were felicitated for their dedication in the agriculture sector. They are also a source of inspiration for those who return from foreign jobs and want to start a business in Nepal, said labour minister Gokarna Bista, on the occasion.
Bista honoured owner of Aarava Nepal Modern Agriculture Company of Lamjung Sonam Lama, who was selected as the most excellent returnee migrant entrepreneur of the year. He was awarded a cash prize of Rs 100,000.
Lama had worked for two years in the UAE – before starting his own business in Nepal – apart from working for another two years in Israel. He has invested Rs 160 million in his firm in Sundarbazzar of Lamjung.
Bista on the occasion also honoured Devi Prasad Khatri of Baglung, Hari Luintel of Khotang, Khoj Raj Katuwal of Kathmandu, Ganesh Pun Magar of Parbat, Prem Prasad Lamichhane of Bardiya, Drona Prasad Nepuane of Rupandehi and Ramdepal Tharu of Bardiya, who are all returnee migrant workers and have started their own business after returning home.
"This felicitation of the returnee migrant workers is just a small step to promote entrepreneurship among those who return from foreign employment," Bista said, adding that the government is planning to introduce other measures also to encourage returnee migrant workers to start their own business back home. "It will also discourage the outflow of Nepali youth."
The ministry has asked the returnee migrant workers to apply for the award. The ministry has also set the criterion of use of local resources, amount of investment, tax compliance, employment creation, energy consumption, feasibility and whether their goods were exportable items, for the award.

Nepal has half a million differently-abled people: UNICEF

Two per cent of Nepalis or about half a million Nepalis are living with some kind of disability, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said as it called for providing greater opportunities to differently-abled people and children to help them reach their full potential.
People with disabilities are active members of society and when given right opportunities, they can significantly contribute in its betterment, minister for women and children Tham Maya Thapa said, during a conference 'Disability in Nepal: Working together for an inclusive society' here in Kathmandu today.
The Constitution of Nepal clearly prohibits all kinds of discriminations on the grounds of disability and has a provision for equal access to differently-abled people to basic services and rights including healthcare, education, social assistance and employment, she said.
"People and children living with disabilities face huge barriers in reaching their full potential and experience the worst forms of discrimination," said head of the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) Nepal Rurik Marsden.
The conference draws on the existing data, evidence and initiatives by and for people and children living with disabilities.
"The conference will contribute to further strengthening understanding of disability issues in Nepal and fostering commitment to address them as an integral part of all sectors and areas of development in Nepal," UNICEF representative to Nepal Tomoo Hozumi said, on the occasion.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

TVET Career Fair shows growing enthusiasm among career seekers

A two-day TVET Career Fair 2018 was organised by the Council of Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT) and its Research and Information Division with the support from the European Union (EU), the Swiss Development Cooperation and the Pokhara Technical School on Friday and Saturday followed by a panel discussion on Sunday. The fair is the first of its kind in the TVET sector organised in Pokhara.
The fair had a total of 22 stalls consisting of CTEVT affiliated private institutes in Pokhara, Dhaulagiri and Chitwan among others. Around 6,500 people comprising of parents, relevant stakeholders and students, mainly fresh SEE graduates visited the event.
The Career fair provided a unique opportunity and a common platform for students, parents, trainers and employers where they exchanged ideas and information about technical and vocational education and career opportunities.
The career fair played a crucial role to highlight the importance of TVET among the general public. It helped them identify their career choices and to network with prospective employers.
A career path in the technical field is becoming increasingly attractive for many Nepali students and has also drawn attention and support of the government, because it can offer promising professional opportunities and is crucial for the development of the country.
"We have not been able to effectively utilise raw materials and resources in Nepal," minister for Social Development of Province 4, Nardevi Pun, who was the chief guest of the programme, said.
"We need to focus more on production and for that, we need skilled human resources," she said, adding, "For Nepal to generate qualified human resources, the government needs to help, and I assure to bring in efforts from my side as the minister for the development of skilled human resources."
Likewise, member secretary at the CTEVT Pushpa Raman Wagle said that it is necessary to focus on developing skilled human resources according to the needs of the country and to increase the productivity by using the maximum amount of natural resources available. "Vocational training can be a very smart investment," she said, adding that a committed and qualified self-employed plumber or electrician, for instance, can earn a better livelihood than many university students would even dream of.
"The EU feels privileged to partner with CTEVT,” said the head of Cooperation at the European Union (EU) in Nepal, Andreas Roettger. "This fair provided a wealth of inspiration to show how crucial vocational training is for Nepal," he added. 

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Nepal-India EPG agrees to update all bilateral treaties

The Eminent Persons' Group (EPG) – in a major breakthrough – has agreed to update all the bilateral treaties and agreements reached by Nepal and India in the past in line with the current reality of both the two countries.
The ninth meeting of the EPG that concluded in Kathmandu today prepared a single joint report that will soon be submitted to the prime ministers of Nepal and India.
The single report became possible after both sides agreed to replace the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship by a new one, to regulate the Nepal-India border by making people produce identity cards while crossing over to either side, and to jointly tackle common challenges in areas of combating terrorism, extremism and all kinds of trafficking, according to the nembers of the group.
Though the group had the mandate to review the entire gamut of Nepal-India relations and recommend updates in the bilateral agreements and treaties including Nepal-India Friendship Treaty 1950, it had to look into five broad areas of bilateral relations – politics, government-to-government ties, development cooperation, economic deals, and cultural relations – between Nepal and India. The formation of the EPG was first agreed during the Nepal visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August 2014, and formed in January 2016.
They said that the report will be submitted to prime ministers of Nepal and India soon. "The group will submit the report to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and then to Nepali Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli," according to a member of the group.
"This is a step forward in reviewing and resolving various bilateral issues," he said, adding that the group has succeeded in preparing the joint report in consensus. 
There are four members each from Nepali and Indian sides in the group. Bhekh Bahadur Thapa, Nilambar Acharya, Suryanath Upadhyay and Rajan Bhattarai are from Nepal and Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Mahendra P Lama, Jayanta Prasad and B C Upreti are the members from India. "Both sides have agreed to suggest the governments of Nepal and India replacement of the 1950 Treaty by a new one," according to Nepal coordinator of the group Bhekh Bahadur Thapa.
On the 1950 Treaty, which Nepal considers unequal, both sides have suggested replacing it with revision to articles 2, 5, 6 and 7," another member of the group said, adding, "On the issue of national treatment for citizens of the other country, both sides have agreed to consider the nations’ sizes of geography and population."
After the EPG submits the report, both the governments will be responsible for the implement the recommendations.
Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali had couple of weeks ago also said that only ‘two issues’ remained to be sorted out to finalise the report. The eighth meeting was held in New Delhi on April 12 and 13. The meetings used to be held alternatively in Nepal and India.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Danuwar wins top US honour

Sunita Danuwar from Nepal is among the ten activists working against human trafficking selected by the US Department of State for 2018 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) honour’s list.
Danuwar – the co-founder and executive director of the anti-trafficking NGO Shakti Samuha –  works to elevate survivors’ perspectives and raises awareness about human trafficking in poor and rural communities.
Issuing a press note today, the US Embassy in Kathmandu congratulated Danuwar for her efforts in the face of serious challenges to protect victims, punish traffickers, and raise awareness on human trafficking.
The US Embassy in Kathmandu also said that Danuwar was recognised for her commitment to providing services to survivors and at-risk communities across Nepal. “The report assesses governments around the world on their efforts to combat modern slavery and presents an updated, global look at the nature and scope of trafficking in persons," the press note reads.
US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo joined the advisor to the President Ivanka Trump to release the US Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report 2018 in Washington, DC. During the ceremony, secretary Pompeo also honoured the State Department’s 2018 TIP Heroes including Sunita Danuwar.
Danuwar is one of the only 10 anti-trafficking TIP Heroes selected from around the world to receive the international honour, which celebrates the work and achievements of exceptional individuals, who have devoted their lives to the fight against human trafficking. Danuwar was recognised for her commitment to providing services to survivors and at-risk communities across Nepal.
"Modern slavery has no place in the world, and I intend to ensure, through diplomatic engagement and increased action, that the US government’s leadership in combating this global threat is sustained in the years to come," said secretary Pompeo speaking on the occasion.
The report assesses governments around the world on their efforts to combat modern slavery and presents an updated, global look at the nature and scope of trafficking in persons. This year’s report also focuses on the effective ways local communities can address human trafficking proactively and on how national governments can support and empower them.
The report also recognises that Nepal has made progress to eliminate human trafficking through increased efforts to prevent it, as well as modest improvements in law enforcement and victim protection efforts.
It has recommendaed for improvements that Nepal can make to meet the minimum international standards for the elimination of trafficking. The recommendations include acceding to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol, which would send a strong signal of Nepal’s continued commitment to fighting human trafficking. The UN TIP Protocol – also known as one of the Palermo Protocols – has already been ratified by 173 countries.
The US Embassy in Kathmandu is committed to continue its support to Nepal government and people of Nepal in their efforts to combat trafficking in persons, the statement further reads.

Buddha Air begins Kathmandu-Varanasi scheduled flight

Domestic private air carrier Buddha Air today started scheduled commercial flights on Kathmandu- Varanasi-Kathmandu route to cash in on growing religious tourism between Nepal and India. The airliner has been operating chartered passenger services on the sector since 2012.
Varanasi – in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh – is a holy city for Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. The Kathmandu-Varanasi-Kathmandu flights will be operated twice weekly, on Fridays and Mondays.
Tourism Minister Rabindra Adhikari flagged off the flight today at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA). "We also have to focus cross-border flights to other Indian states to increase India footfalls in Nepal,” Adhikari said, adding that the airports in the bordering areas will be upgraded to international standards.
"The government has announced Visit Nepal 2020 with the aim of attracting 2 million tourists," the minister said, adding, "such initiative will help to realise the government’s goal."
"The plan to conduct scheduled flights is to promote religious tourism as the number of pilgrims has been growing," informed managing director of Buddha Air Birendra Bahadur Basnet. "The direct flight connectivity is not only to bring Indian pilgrims to Nepal but also to provide affordable packages for Nepalis going for a holy tour," he added.
Buddha Air will be operating a 45-seater ATR aircraft for the 50 minutes flight.
Buddha Air has also developed three different packages – Varanasi-Sarnath package at Rs 32,500, Varanasi-Bodh Gaya package at Rs 34,000 and Varanasi-Allahabad-Ayodhya package at Rs 41,500, according to the airliner.