Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Prime Minister Bhattarai fails to deliver

All talk and no work has made Dr Baburam Bhattarai a failed prime minister.
Bhattarai could neither gain the confidence of entrepreneurs nor the common public, despite tall claims of creating an investment-friendly environment in the country and providing relief to the common man.
"He was bound to fail due to his political illusion and confused state of mind," according to senior economist Prof Dr Bishwhambher Pyakuryal.
"He could not bring about any structural changes but distorted the policy," he said, blaming him for spoiling the investment climate and lengthening political instability that is bound to cost the country dearly.
"The PM also politicised the Investment Board and commitments for foreign direct investment have come down in the last one year," the senior economist added.
Since Bhattarai came to power on August 29, 2011, the country also witnessed an out flux of some 530,250 youths — from July 16, 2011 to July 15, 2012 — in search of greener pastures to Gulf countries and Malaysia, and a section of entrepreneurs have started lobbying for being allowed to invest abroad, which proves that neither of them have confidence in the Bhattarai-led government.
"The government should have created an investment-friendly environment in the country, instead of letting entrepreneurs invest abroad," said president of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) Suraj Vaidya.
He was of the view that the indicated-move of allowing entrepreneurs to invest abroad will discourage foreign investors from coming to Nepal as envisioned by the Investment Year.
The current fiscal year that was announced as Investment Year by the incumbent premier Bhattarai to attract some Rs 600 billion also seems to fall flat like his Mustang-propaganda, which neither encouraged entrepreneurs to invest in the country nor created employment.
Last September, he brought a relief package promising the moon to the people, but failed to 'walk the talk' and not a single promise could be implemented. "His good governance measures also failed miserably as his party itself is involved in corruption, let alone his coalition partners," according to former finance minister Surendra Pandey.
Dr Bhattarai has let the people down, said Pandey, adding that it will also cost the premier as his image as an intellectual, who can lead the country to prosperity has failed. "Dr Bhattarai could not implement his own agenda and toed others' agendas," he blamed.
Former finance minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat is of the view that Bhattarai has maintained the economy, neither could he attract foreign investment nor fulfill people's expectations.
However, economist Dr Dilli Khanal claimed that the prime minister has tried to bring in changes with his programmes and packages. "But people had higher expectations from him and he has not been able to fulfill their expectations."
Similarly, Dr Uma Shankar Prasad opined that the Bhattarai government seems to be going in the right direction in terms of new economic policies. “The government established the Investment Board and made some bold decisions regarding the development of hydropower but the implementation of those policies remained poor, and he also failed to control corruption,” he said, adding, “As far as good governance is concerned, Nepal is behind almost all South Asian countries.”

Performance evaluation
KATHMANDU: On the basis of doing business environment, investment-friendly climate, inclusiveness of private sector and economic growth, eminent economists, politicians and private sector leaders ranked the incumbent prime minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai at an average of 4.34 out of 10.

Former finance minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat — 4/10
Former finance minister Surendra Pandey — 0/10
Prof Dr Bishwhambher Pyakuryal — 3/10
Prof Dr Madan Dahal — 5/10
Dr Bhola Chalise — 2.9/10
Dr Bimal Koirala — 2/10
Dr Uma Shankar Prasad — 6/10
FNCCI president Suraj Vaidya — 7/10
NCC president Suresh Basnet — 7.5/10
CNI vice president Hari Bhakta Sharma — 6/10

International arrivals in Asia increase in April but growth rate slows

Collective international arrivals into Asia Pacific destinations grew by four per cent year-on-year during April 2012, according to preliminary data released today by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA).
In percentage growth terms, this result was relatively constrained across the region compared to the robust expansion achieved during the first quarter of the year. A number of factors underlie this result including a comparison with the high numeric base of April 2011, which in turn was influenced by a rebound in travel demand following a number of major natural disasters in the region, and an earlier Easter holiday period in 2012 shifting some visitor volume to March. For the first four months of 2012, Asia Pacific recorded a collective gain of seven per cent year-on-year.
South Asia registered a positive but slower aggregate gain of five per cent during April 2012. Growth was uneven across the destinations and ranged from a one per cent decrease for the Maldives to a massive (in relative terms) 43 per cent increase for Bhutan. India (up by three per cent ) and Sri Lanka (up by nine per cent) posted somewhat slower results compared to the first quarter of the year while Nepal joined Bhutan in posting a double-digit gain in arrivals (14 per cent).“Global economic conditions continue to be trying, yet travel demand for Asia Pacific destinations continues to generally remain positive albeit with a wide range of performances at both destination and origin market levels," PATA chief executive Martin J Craigs said, adding that during the first four months of 2012, Asia Pacific destinations added close to nine million additional international arrivals to the collective count putting the region well on the road to yet another record year in terms of foreign inbound numbers. "However, the dynamics of these flows are changing and it will be interesting to see just how these play out in the months ahead.”Foreign inbound growth to North America was weak at 0.5 per cent. This softening however, comes on the heels of 126 per cent, growth in March where travel demand was supported by the Easter holiday period. Both the US and Canada reported positive growth of two per cent, whereas Mexico saw a decline of six per cent, largely as a result of diminishing demand in air arrivals from the US and Canada. Intra-regional flows within North American destinations and travellers from Japan and China were the main contributors to growth in April 2012.
International arrivals to Northeast Asia grew by five per cent during the month. Foreign travel flows softened in China and contracted in the two SARs pushing the overall growth in international visitor arrivals to the Mainland into a decline of four per cent. Foreign arrivals however, remained positive with a gain of four per cent for the month. Macau SAR recorded another slow month with a two per cent year-on-year increase while, the remaining destinations in the sub-region all recorded robust growth – Chinese Taipei (up by 26 per cent), Hong Kong SAR (up by 14 per cent), Japan (up by 164 per cent) and Korea (ROK) (up by 28 per cent).
The large intra-regional flows were behind this main boost to tourism growth coupled with Japan’s comparative position relative to April 2011. Positive trends have continued for arrivals from the Americas and Europe to Northeast Asia despite the uncertainties in the Eurozone. It is also interesting to see that during the first four months of this year, while foreign arrivals to Japan were still four per cent lower than for the corresponding pre-tsunami period of 2010, Japan outbound demand was flourishing and set a new record with more than six million departures during the first four months of 2012. Most destinations across Asia Pacific have benefited from this strong increase in outbound demand from Japan, especially Korea (RoK), Chinese Taipei and the USA.
Southeast Asia retained its position as the fastest growing sub-region in Asia Pacific with a nine per cent increase in international arrivals during the month. The smaller volume destinations, notably Cambodia (up by 24 per cent), Myanmar (up by 35 per cent) and the Philippines (up by 10 per cent) maintained a strong growth rate in April 2012, while Singapore (up by nine per cent) and Thailand (up by seven per cent) grew at a moderate pace. Despite the more moderate growth levels for these latter two destinations, collectively they added around 200,000 additional international-visitor arrivals to the sub-region for the month, virtually half of the total volume gain for Southeast Asia.
Travel demand to the Pacific was up by six per cent during April 2012. Growth to the sub-region was boosted by strong arrivals as in Guam (up by 24 per cent) and Hawaii (up by nine per cent) where the recovery of the Japanese outbound market had a positive impact. On the other hand, foreign arrivals to Australia and New Zealand were sluggish with those destinations recording +one per cent and –one per cent growth, respectively. Nonetheless, both destinations have continued to see travel demand holding up well from the Chinese market, particularly New Zealand. Other smaller Pacific destinations recorded somewhat slower performances with the exception of the Northern Marianas (up by 42 per cent), where once again arrivals from China are having a significant and positive impact.

Surya Nepal to hold Asha Social Entrepreneurship award

After an inspirational start last year, Surya Nepal Asha Social Entrepreneurship Awards 2012, has officially begun today with a ‘Call for Applications and Nominations’.
The award, sponsored by Surya Nepal, organised by ChangeFusion Nepal, and supported by National Business Initiative (NBI), is the only event of its kind in the country.
"It gives social entrepreneurs a way to positively impact the communities in which they live," according to the organisers. "The aim of this initiative is to encourage social entrepreneurship at the grassroots level as well as to support projects which create positive social/environmental change, and are sustainable, innovative, scalable and credible."
Last year, Surya Nepal Asha Social Entrepreneurship Award recognised five such winners for their achievements and encouraged others to follow the examples of individuals creating social, environmental and economic impact.
Chhahari Production, one of the winners of the Asha Social Entrepreneurship Award last year, is a project that empowers women through capacity building and income generation training. Selected from among 66 applicants, the project staff say the award not only gave them the much needed financial aid, but also built public awareness about the project and its work through media coverage.
"This year too, we announce the call for nominations/proposals for, the first and only one of its kind award, to recognise Nepali social entrepreneurs, who create value for people, planet and profit," the organisers said, adding that the award aims at encouraging people to become ‘job creators’ instead of ‘job seekers’.
The award will also bring those hidden heroes out to the public, award the best ventures, and provide all our applicants the opportunity to join our network and promote their products and services, they added. "The vision of the award is not only to celebrate the hidden heroes for their great initiatives, but also to showcase their ventures and the impact they have made on their communities."

Monday, July 30, 2012

Kathmandu-Dhaka direct bus service on cards

Nepal and Bangladesh today agreed to finalise Dhaka-Kathmandu direct bus service agreement as soon as possible and seal a deal on modalities for Carriage of Transit Cargo for trade facilitation by December, apart from finding possibilities of payment in local currencies for bilateral trade simplification.
On the second and the final day of the fourth secretary level talks that started here in Kathmandu yesterday between the two South Asian countries, both the countries signed the decisions of the bilateral trade talks, according to which Dhaka has principally agreed to provide duty free access to around 100 primary commodities and agriculture products like fruits and vegetables, according to joint secretary of the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies Naindra Prasad Upadhaya, who is also the coordinator of the technical committee of the trade talks.
The Carriage of Transit Cargo agreement will help Nepal access Chittgong and Mongla Port, he said, adding that Dhaka has also committed to improve infrastructure like road and railway at the border for the smooth transit connectivity to the Port that is a key hurdle in boosting bilateral trade.
Apart from working day and hour haromonisation on border, the technical committee will soon finalise standard of certification for quality measurement, quarantine and health hazards that will help issue uniform certification for their exports, according to the agreement.
Both the countries also agreed to ask their central banks to prepare necessary ground for the payment in the local currency that will smoothen the export.
The countries will organise single country trade fair to boost the exports between the two countries, decided the meeting.
"We have also decided to promote tourism jointly through combined tourism package," Upadhaya added. "The guests asked Nepal to import medicines from Bangladesh."
"Bangladesh has also reciprocated Nepal's move of providing visa on arrival facility to Nepalis," he said, adding that the fifth secretary level meeting will be held in Dhaka in February 2013.
Meanwhile, the Bangladeshi delegation called on caretaker Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai at the latter's office in Singha Durbar today afternoon. The eight-member team led by commerce secretary of Bangladesh Mohamed Ghulam Hussain appriased the premier of the progress on bilateral trade talks.
The guests familiarised the premier about numerous possibilities of joint projects between Nepal and Bangladesh in hydropower and tourism.
Ambassador of Nepal for Bangladesh Dr Neem Chandra Bhaumik was also present in the meeting.

Tara Air starts Bhojpur flight

Tara Air aircraft landed at Bhojpur airport today on its first scheduled flight making it a 16th destination.
"Tara Air will fly on Kathmandu-Bhojpur-Kathmandu route once a week every Monday," said deputy director of Tara Air Saral Shumsher Rana.
The domestic carrier has fixed Rs 4,995 (including fuel surcharge) for one-way fare for the 45-minute flight to Bhojpur from Kathmandu. "It will cost $132 in US dollar for one way fare," according to the airlines.
"Situated at an altitude of 3,962 feet, Bhojpur airstrip has 165-meter runway, the airlines said, adding that it has successfully landed its commercial flight at the Bhojpur airport at 9.20 today morning.
Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) has also been flying on the route.
Tara Air has appointed Lalupate Travel as its General Sales Agent (GSA) for the route. "We are hopeful that the operation will help people of eastern region travel and easily transport food and construction materials," Rana said.
Tara Air flies to Lukla, Phaplu, Lamidanda, Tumlingtar and Ramechhap from Kathmandu; Jomsom and Manang from Pokhara; Dolpa, Jumla, Bajura, Simikot and Rara from Nepalgunj and Surkhet, currently.