Sunday, September 30, 2012

UK keen to help Nepal in aviation safety

The United Kingdom is willing to assist Nepal improve air safety.
A team from the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has said that they will ask the UK government to assist Nepal in maintaining air safety by providing technical assistance in the most essential areas, according to joint secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Suresh Acharya.
The team has asked the ministry to identify the areas where the UK government can offer help, he said, adding that the UK government can provide assistance in installing equipment and other technical support to Nepal, if needed.
AAIB has deployed a two-member team to assist the Nepali government in probing Friday’s crash of a Sita Air aircraft.
The crash had killed all 19 people on board, including seven Britons. The UK government decided to deploy its investigation officials after its citizens too were killed in the crash.
Senior inspector of Air Accidents at AAIB Geraint Herbert and head of Group Projects at MEL Aviation Ltd Stuart Hawkins had arrived in Kathmandu on Saturday evening to initiate the investigation, said Acharya. “Any country can deploy its own investigation team according to International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards.”
They will work with the five-member probe team formed by the government on Friday evening.
The team from UK today visited the crash site, mapped the site in detail, and inspected the airstrip where the dead bird was found, according to Acharya.
Similarly, the team members also interviewed eyewitnesses as part of their investigation, he informed.
Meanwhile, alarmed by frequent plane crashes in Nepal, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has said that it will form a separate and permanent body to investigate aviation accidents.
The ministry has also decided to form a high-level aviation safety agency to enhance aviation safety. It has also decided to give priority to developing aviation safety infrastructure.
“The ministry will revise the existing Aviation Safety Policy and recommend the government to waive customs duties while importing airplanes and accessories,” said Acharya.
Urging all airliners to ensure quality and flight safety measures, the ministry has directed the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) to monitor and supervise all operational functions with special concern on technical document update.

Finance companies propose Microfinance Development Bank

Nepal Finance Companies Association (NFCA) has proposed a Rs 200 million to Rs 250 million worth Microfinance Development Bank (MFDB) that will not only help deprived borrowers get access to finance, but which will also provide technical consultation and orientation programmes, coupled with project financing for returnee migrants.
"The central bank is positive about the proposal," said the association's president Rajendra Shakya, after discussions with the central bank today.
However, Nepal Finance Companies Association is only a facilitator, he said, adding that the association has proposed a 60 per cent equity participant from commercial banks, development banks and finance companies. "Experts and technicians can also have a 10 per cent equity partnership in the proposed Microfinance Development Bank that will provide both wholesale and retail lending," added Shakya.
"The concentration of the proposed institution will be on livestock, animal husbandry and dairy, as the demand for farm, livestock and dairy products has been rising lately but the country has to import most of the products."
Central bank governor Dr Yubaraj Khatiwada is also enthusiastic on the proposed institution as the central bank has been encouraging banks and finance companies to go to rural areas to help in agriculture and livestock, he said, adding that the central bank has to, however, bring in project finance, as it currently has no such provision.

Enabling environment key to development

An enabling business environment is key to a country's development, according to a Japanese economist.
"An enabling business environment — that includes political stability, policy stability, domestic savings channelled to investment besides grants and foreign investment, investment in human capital, and collaboration among stakeholders — could help a country move ahead in the development path," said Prof Ryokichi Hirono of the Seiki University.
"Political and policy stability are key for investors, whereas the savings of the people is a must as only foreign aid will not be enough to help any country develop," he said, adding that investment in human capital will help create a human resource pool to support economic development.
But collaboration among the five stakeholders — government, business people, labour, consumer society, and academia — is also key in monitoring policy implementation, said the professor. "The private sector could play a good role by insisting on policy stability to create an investment friendly environment."
The domestic private sector had tried to boost the morale of the business community by proposing the Investment Year, said president of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) Suraj Vaidya.
"The campaign will not only help boost the morale of domestic investors, but also foreign investors," he said, adding that the private sector is planning a slew of visits to attract investments from various countries once the Investment Board comes up with concrete projects in a couple of months. "Investments will help generate employment in the country," added Vaidya.
As more Nepalis are going abroad for employment, the country needs to create more employment back home, said Prof Hirono, adding that the remittance from migrant workers should also be utilised in production.
He also urged for the creation of an investment fund from the remittance received. "The major chunk of remittance has been used for consumption that has increased imports," said Hirono, who is leading the Japanese Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) evaluation team to Kathmandu currently.
Japan was the second largest bilateral donor after the United Kingdom in Nepal in fiscal year 2010-11, according to the Finance Ministry.
United Kingdom ($92.1 million) was followed by Japan ($58.7 million), India ($50.7 million), the US ($48.5 million) and Norway ($32.8 million) in fiscal year 2010-11, the Donor Cooperation Report of the ministry revealed.
Japan with 5.4 per cent stood fifth — after the World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB), United Nations (UN), and United Kingdom (UK) — among the sources of aid disbursement in Nepal in fiscal year 2010-11, when the country received a total of $1.08 billion aid disbursement from donors.
However, Hirono suggested that the effective utilisation of aid by the government, private sector, and non-governmental organisations, might increase ODA from Japan. "Accountability and transparency will help increase ODA," he added.
Japanese ambassador to Nepal Kunio Takahashi, on the occasion, said that there has not yet been any official decision on the increment of ODA, but both sides should simultaneously increase cooperation with each other.
Nepal-Japan bilateral trade
Fiscal Year — Export — Import
2006-07 — Rs 559.45 million— Rs 3,228.97 million
2007-08 — Rs 488.05 million — Rs 6,148.08 million
2008-09 — Rs 572.65 million — Rs 6,111.18 million
2009-10 — Rs 554.15 million — Rs 6,267.57 million
2010-11 — Rs 652.35 million — Rs 3,957.91 million
(Source: Trade and Export Promotion Centre)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Nepal to host CACCI conference on Wednesday

Nepal will host the 26th annual conference of the Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CACCI), this week, in Kathmandu.
"Around 300 of the leading business people and government officials from around the Asia-Pacific region are expected to gather in Kathmandu, on October 3-5, for the CACCI meet being organised by the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI)," said FNCCI president Suraj Vaidya.
The conference will focus on 'A Vision for Shared Prosperity', he said, adding that speakers have been invited to discuss on how Asian governments can work together more closely to achieve sustainable economic development, as well as exchange views on why business people in the region need to rely more on each other to be able to sustain growth and development.
The meet aims to provide a platform for CACCI — a regional grouping of apex national chambers of commerce and industry, business associations and business enterprises in Asia and the Western Pacific — members to share their ideas on how they can help their respective countries, and the Asia-Pacific region as a whole, in strengthening and spreading the benefits of regional cooperation while playing a substantial and constructive role in global economic leadership.
Speakers from both the government and private sectors of Nepal will talk about the country's economic environment, trade and investment policies, foreign direct investment trends, investment incentives, cost structures, infrastructure and utilities, and prospects and challenges for the country's economic growth and development.
The conference will also help CACCI members discuss current business issues and explore possible areas of cooperation. Like previous years, there will be break-out sessions on tourism, construction and contracting, food and agriculture, water and energy, SME development, young entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs, and ICT.
Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) will also arrange one-on-one business matching sessions between CACCI delegates and Nepali representatives from various industry and services sectors to provide both sides a platform to explore possible opportunities for business, trade and investments.
Meanwhile, interested member chambers will also get the opportunity to sign a memorandum of understanding with FNCCI and other CACCI members defining possible areas of cooperation.
A non-governmental organisation, CACCI, has been serving as a forum for promoting the vital role of business people in the region, increasing regional business interaction, and enhancing regional economic growth since its establishment in 1966.

Central bank begins supply of fresh notes

The central bank is supplying fresh notes from Monday to avoid shortage of fresh notes during Dashain and Tihar festivals.
“Fresh notes of Rs 5, 10, 20, 50 and Rs 100 denominations will be supplied sufficiently during the Dashain and Tihar festivals,” according to central bank spokesperson Bhaskarmani Gyawali. “People could exchange fresh notes from nearby Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) counters from Monday.”
In the Valley, people can exchange fresh notes from the Thapathali office of the central bank and other banks and financial institutions.
The central bank is releasing fresh notes equivalent to Rs 25 billion during the festival time to avert the cash crunch like a couple of years ago.