Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Strong Asian intraregional trade and investment improve economic resilience

Growing trade and investment linkages in Asia and the Pacific help improve the region’s economic resilience to uncertainties in the global economic and trade policy environment, according to a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) report.
In a study released today, the Asian Economic Integration Report 2017, ADB examines recent regional integration trends and introduces a new regional integration index. The report also includes a special chapter on how Asia can strengthen financial resilience in an era of financial interconnectedness.
Strong intraregional trade and investment are acting as a buffer for the region against uncertainties in global trade and economic growth, according to the report. In 2016, Asia’s intraregional trade share measured by value rose to 57.3 per cent in 2016, a record high, up from an average of 55.9 per cent from 2010 to 2015.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) within Asia rose in absolute value to reach $272 billion in 2016, despite a 6 per cent decline in global FDI flows into the region. This intraregional FDI increased as a share of total FDI to the region from 48 per cent in 2015 to 55 per cent in 2016. Given the role intra-Asian FDI plays in enhancing global and regional value chain development, this is expected to help strengthen the region’s trade growth globally.
Asian economies have continued expanding their global presence, with FDI originating from Asia rising 11 per cent in 2016 to $482 billion, primarily through investment in renewable energy, natural resources, semiconductors, and information technology.
“Asia and the Pacific is leading a recovery in world trade that is helping the region to maintain strong growth momentum amid global economic and trade policy uncertainty,” said ADB’s chief economist Yasuyuki Sawada. “Asia’s continued integration and cooperation will underpin regional economic growth and financial resilience.”
The 2017 report introduces a new composite index, the Asia-Pacific Regional Cooperation and Integration Index. The index measures regional integration across six components, including trade and investment, money and finance, regional value chains, infrastructure and connectivity, movement of people, and institutional and social integration. The index is aimed at helping policymakers better understand and measure the levers for greater regional integration and cooperation.
The report also features a special chapter on how Asia can strengthen financial resilience in an era of financial interconnectedness. It highlights that 20 years after the Asian financial crisis, Asia stands strong, with healthier financial systems, stronger regulations, and better regional financial cooperation mechanisms.
Significant challenges remain, however, with unresolved financial market and system weaknesses. Remaining regulatory policy gaps could also increase the region’s risk exposure and financial vulnerability through excessive leverage and risk-taking.
The report offers several recommendations for countries in the region to strengthen their resilience to future crises, including maintaining sound macroeconomic fundamentals; further strengthening national regulatory and supervisory frameworks and institutional capacities; further developing local currency bond markets; strengthening regional regulatory cooperation, including resolution mechanisms for interconnected regional banks; and reviewing and strengthening existing financial safety nets against potential contagion and spillover effects.
ADB – based in Manila – is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members, 48 from the region. In 2016, ADB assistance totaled $31.7 billion, including $14 billion in cofinancing.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Central bank working on to retrieve money

The central bank said that it is making utmost efforts to retrieve money amounting to over Rs 400 million transferred to various banks abroad by hackers using SWIFT from NIC Asia Bank.
Some unidentified hackers broke into the Society for Worldwide Interbank Telecommunication (SWIFT) – an international payment network – at the NIC Asia Bank in Kathmandu, and had siphoned off the amount during the Tihar festival. A total of 11,000 banking and financial institutions across 200 countries are said to be using SWIFT system. The hackers have transferred the amount to eight banks in six countries, according to the investigation.
According to the deputy spokesperson at the central bank Rajendra Pandit, the central bank has asked the domestic banks to make efforts to retrieve the amount transferred abroad. It has also sought help of banks in those six countries from where hackers have requested the transfer.
Meanwhile, NIC Asia Bank has been stepping up its effort towards this end.
Pandit also reminded that the central bank had instructed all the banks and financial institutions to pay special attention to the usage of IT in banking not only to make banking easier, convenient but also to curb the cyber attack and illegal transferring in the banking.
The central bank had also summoned the chief of the IT department of all the banks in the capital to discuss how to secure the internal system of banking.
The central bank governor has also directed the banks and financial institutions to set up IT desk in their institutions.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Government appoints Bhusal new chief of NRA following Pokharel's resignation

A cabinet meeting today appointed former finance secretary Yubaraj Bhusal as the new chief executive officer (CEO) of National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) after Govinda Raj Pokharel resigned from the post.
Bhusal is the third person and fourth chief executive of the authority that was formed to help expedite the reconstruction after the devastating earthquake of April 2015.
Pokharel resigned from his post on Saturday as he has made an unexpected foray into competitive politics, filing is candidacy in parliamentary elections from Pyuthan. Election Commission had directed him to leave the district for taking part in election activities while still assuming the NRA top post.
Pokharel had served as the vice chair of National Planning Commission (NPC) before being appointed CEO of the authority by the Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government.
Dahal's government had sacked Sushil Gyawali, appointed by KP Sharma Oli-led government, to appoint Pokharel for the top post.
Pokhrel was first appointed the chief executive of the authority by then Sushil Koirala-led government in August 2015 through an ordinance. But his appointment was scrapped in six months as his appointment saw an automatic annulment due to lack of law. The CPN-UML government led by KP Sharma Oli in December appointed Sushil Gyewali as the second chief executive to oversee the reconstruction.
But the Nepali Congress-Maoist Centre government led by Maoist chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal in January sacked Gyewali to bring Pokhrel back at the authority's helm. Now the Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government has chosen Bhusal to lead the reconstruction body.
During his 34 years in bureaucracy starting in 1980, Bhusal served in various government agencies including the National Planning Commission (NPC), local development, general administration and tourism among others.
Meanwhile, Bhusal – after being appointed as chief executive of the authority – has expressed his commitment to deliver concrete results by leading the reconstruction works within three months. He further made commitment to expedite the reconstruction of national heritages and quake- survivors' houses placing them on top priority.
Bhusal’s appointment has come at a time when the authority is under intense public scrutiny for the sluggish reconstruction work.
The National Reconstruction Authority set-up to oversee the reconstruction works in the aftermath of the April 2015 earthquake that killed nearly 9,000 people and floored thousands of houses, seems to have become a political playground for parties.
Frequent changes in the authority raised serious concerns over reconstruction of damaged houses, with thousands of people still awaiting housing grant. Many of the quake survivors are either still living in temporary shelters or damaged houses.
The authority has completed survey of reconstruction drive in 17 earthquake affected districts. It also has claimed that more than 200,000 private homes have either been rebuilt or are under construction in 14 districts worst hit by the devastating earthquakes. The authority had identified 737,705 households as the beneficiary of housing grant. Of the total, some 620,646 households have acquired first tranche of the government aid, whereas 85,332 have received the second tranche and 12,726 have received the third tranche.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Swift under cyber attack, Nepali banks feel the heat

Some Nepali banks have become latest victim to hackers siphoning off millions of dollars by targeting the backbone of the world financial system, SWIFT. Though, account-holders need not worry as their deposits parked in the bank are safe, the international wire transfer has come under suspicion as the incidents have been repeatedly occurring across the globe.
SWIFT – Society for Worldwide Interbank Telecommunication – is a global financial messaging system that thousands of banks and commercial organisations across the world use to transfer billions of dollars every day. SWIFT claims that over 90 per cent of fund transfers in the world take place through SWIFT.
Though, other banks have also been suspected under attack, unidentified cyber criminals have reportedly hacked into the SWIFT system of NIC Asia Bank and stole money, exposing vulnerability in the information technology system of the banks in the country, according to the central bank that has confirmed the reported cyber theft which took place during the Tihar vacation – October 19 to October 21 – when all the banks and the central monetary authority remained closed.
After the request of the bank, the central bank has today sent a team to take stock of the situation. NIC Asia has also already requested the central bank to initiate the cancellation of transfer of funds with the central banks of other countries, where the money already have been transferred. Meanwhile, it has not been clear, how, where and how much money have been transferred from Nepali banks.
"We, however, have not been able to confirm the exact amount of money that has been illegally transferred through multiple small transactions via SWIFT,” central bank's deputy spokesperson Rajendra Pandit said, adding that the central bank has also written to international banks and central banks of different countries not to entertain transactions generated from NIC Asia.
Apartfrom NIC Asia Bank, Prabhu Bank, NMB Bank and Prime Commercial bank's SWIFT codes have also been suspected to have been hacked by unknown hackers by using malware in their system.
However, the attack on NIC Asia closely resembles the 'biggest-ever cyber heist' that took place in Bangladesh. In May 2016, cyber criminals had hacked into the computer of a Bangladeshi central bank official to make illegal payments via SWIFT. The criminals had sent messages to the New York Federal Reserve seeking to transfer nearly $1 billion from Bangladesh Bank’s account. Though, most of the transfers were blocked, about $81 million was sent to a bank in the Philippines.
In 2016 a Turkish hacking group 'Bozkurtlar' or 'Grey Wolves' had hacked two Nepali banks – Business Universal Development Bank and Sanima Bank – and Bangladeshi banks, Dutch-Bangla Bank, The City Bank, and Trust Bank run by Army Welfare Trust.
A US-based cyber security website databreachtoday.com had reported on May 13, 2016 that the stolen data was ‘apparently posted online’ on May 10 by the group Bozkurtlar.
According to the report, the same hacking group had leaked data tied to Qatar National Bank and UAE's InvestBank also.
A report prepared by the Russia-based computer security firm Kaspersky Lab had said international cyber criminals had attempted to attack financial institutions in Nepal using a malware called Carbanak.
According to the experts, the hackers normally exploit vulnerabilities in the systems of member banks, allowing them to gain control of the banks’ legitimate SWIFT credentials.
The hackers then use those credentials to send SWIFT funds transfer request to other banks, which, trusting the messages to be legitimate, then sent the funds to accounts controlled by them.
Lately, numbers of developed nations have been struggling to address cyber attack as it has posed serious threat to the global financial market.

China South Asia Expo in Kathmandu on Nov 2-5

Yunnan International Exposition Affairs Bureau and Nepal-China Executives Council ghe first ever China-South Asia Expo in Kathmandu on November 2-5.
The regional exhibition that showcases goods from China and South Asian countries used to be organised in Kunming of China only is also regarded as a cultural and economic bridge for the region. The event – being organised since 2003 – is  believed to facilitate policy coordination between the countries and translate complementary advantages into common growth of the entire region.
The expo aims at promoting regional communications, building the regional influence of China-South Asia Expo, expanding presence and influence of businesses of Yunnan's participating administrative division (Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture) and building a larger platform of cooperation and exchanges, according to a press release issued by the secretariat of China-South Asia Expo.
The expo with a total exhibition area of 3,300-sq-meters will have 150 standard booths, apart from dedicated pavilions to showcase images and build the brands of participating companies and regions from China and South Asia. Nepali entrepreneurs are also taking part in the expo.
Thw expo will also see a discussion on 'Belt and Road: Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs' and 'China-South Asia Expo Workshop'.
Head of the China-South Asia Expo Executive Committee Gao Shuxun – who is also former vice-governor of China's Yunnan Province – is leading the Chinese delegation to Kathmandu. Alongwith him, more than 100 Chinese businessmen will be present at the expo.
The companies showcasing their products and services includes energy, investment, mineral development, electronic and information technology, bio pharmaceuticals, culture, tourism promotion, home appliance, tea production, native produces, handicrafts, ethnic costumes, food processing machines, and food packaging machines.
Nepal and other South Asian countries will showcase gems and jewelry, leather products, garments, tea, coffee, shoes, tourism products and handicrafts at the expo.
Diqing Prefecture of Yunnan Province will – during the expo – stage an on-site tourism promotion event along with folk song and dance performance.
Earlier, the Nepal-China Executives Council had organised annual China Trade Fair from 2005-2009 and South Asia-China Trade Fair in 2010 and 2011 in Kathmandu.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Around 2500 educational institute reconstructed

The reconstruction of 2,456 educational institutions hit by the devastating earthquakes of 2015 has been completed so far, according to the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA).
Issuing the post-quake reconstruction data of the last nine months, the authority claimed that the pace of reconstruction in the educational sector is comparatively better to reconstruction progress in other different sectors.
According to the authority, some 4,381 educational institutions – schools and colleges – of the 8,923 educational institutions affected by the devastating earthquakes have been either fully rebuilt or are under construction.
Likewise, the reconstruction of only 200 educational institutions had been completed nine months back, before the incumbent chief executive of the authority Govinda Raj Pokharel took over. Pokharel was appointed to the top post of the authority on January 11.
Issuing a press statement today, the authority also informed that the number of houses fully rebuilt or under construction after suffering irreparable damages in the 14 worst affected districts has also reached almost 209,000 so far. "Only 17,099 quake-affected houses were under reconstruction and 11,871 such houses were fully rebuilt until January."
"Though it seems that the overall reconstruction process in the country has been delayed, data revealed that reconstruction works have gathered pace in the last nine months,” Pokharel said, adding that the timely completion of the reconstruction of all quake-hit physical infrastructure will depend on inter-agency coordination.

Nepal-Jordan forms a joint technical committee to implement agreement

Nepal and Jordon have formed a joint secretary-led joint technical committee for the implementation of labour agreement signed between the two countries recently.
According to a press release issued today by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, the committee will hold discussion on the issues related to Nepali migrant workers in Jordan as part of the implementation of the agreement. "An arrangement has been made to hold the committee's meeting once in a year."
Minister for Labour and Employment Farmullah Mansoor and Minister for Labour and Employment of Jordan Ali Al- Ghezawi had signed the agreement on October 18.
According to the agreement, there is also an arrangement of free ticket and visa for Nepali migrant workers willing to go to Jordan for employment. The government has also implemented the same provision with Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait and Malaysia.
A mechanism will also be formed to resolve any dispute between the employee and employer, whereas a provision will also be put into action that will guarantee welfare, and security of Nepali migrant workers in Jordon.
About 8,000 Nepalis are working in Jordon in the garment and service sectors, according to the Ministry. Though Nepal has allowed Nepali migrant workers to work in 109 foreign destinations, it has signed bilateral labour agreements with only few countries including Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain, South Koran, the UAE and Israel.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Government to hand over Tamakoshi-3 hydro project licence to TBI

The Energy Ministry is going to award project feasibility survey licence of Tamakoshi-3 Hydropower Project to TBI Holding.
The company has filed a feasibility survey licence application at the Department of Electricity Development (DoED) on October 11 for project that was earlier expected to generate the 650 MW. But the SN Power – a Norwegian energy developer – had left the project as it found the project not feasible to generate 650 MW and sell it to Indian market.
The department approved the application and forwarded it to the Energy Ministry for final approval, according to the department's spokesperson Babu Raj Adhikari.
"The documents presented by TBI Holding along with the application were complete," he said, adding that the department has forwarded the application to the ministry recommending that survey licence be awarded to the company.
TBI Holding – a company owned by newly elected president of the Non Resident Nepali Association (NRNA) Bhaban Bhatta – will survey the Tamakoshi 3 within 2 years to finalise the generating capacity, return on investment and its feasibility.
The government has authorised the board to implement hydropower projects with installed capacity of 500MW or above. According to the Investment Board Act 2011, the board has sole authority to implement project of 500 MW and above.
The project was in the basket – after the SN Power walked out in 2016 – of the Investment Board Nepal (IBN) as it was still expected to generate 650 MW, though there has been not any possibility of generating more than 305 MW due to current policy brought by the former energy minister Janardan Sharma.
Tamakoshi 3 – a run-of-the-river (RoR) project located in Dolakha and Ramechhap districts – is projected to cost Rs 130 billion, if it is developed as according to the SN Power's plan.
The board claimed that it was gearing up to launch international bidding to develop the hydropower as it has not revised the generation feasibility according to the new policy brought by energy minister Janardan Sharma. The new policy has many provisions that has forced the hydel project to downsize to almost half.
However, the board also claimed that it has prepared a modality for the construction of the project under the public private partnership (PPP) model with a mix of domestic and international investments after the potential developer Statkraft of Norway pulled out from the project in January 2016 before signing project development agreement (PDA).
"The board had forwarded the proposal to the ministry in April, seeking suggestions," according to higher official at the board, who claimed that it was waiting for the ministry’s response. 
SN Power – the Norwegian company – had spent Rs 1 billion to conduct a survey, obtain technical updates and perform environment impact assessment after receiving a survey licence from the government in March 2008.
Officials said it had abandoned the project over concerns about finding buyers for the electricity produced by the project. Statkraft had planned to sell energy in India but it lost hope after it could not get price it wanted from India and selling in the domestic market was also not feasible. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

CBS to revise gross domestic product basket

The Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) is going to add new goods and services to the basket that is used for calculation of the gross domestic product (GDP) to reflect the more realistic economy.
The revision will also reflect changes in current economic activities and captures areas including information, communication and technology (ICT) and agriculture and livestock farming, which propped up in the last decade and have expanded in recent years but have not been covered by the national accounts at present, according to the director general of the CBS Suman Raj Aryal.
"After updating the GDP basket, the CBS will change the base year for calculation of national accounts to 2010-11 from 2000-01," he said, adding that the bureau will introduce the revised basket from 2019, if things go as planned. "It means the national accounts for fiscal year 2018-19 will capture the goods and services that are not currently used in calculation of the GDP."
The revision of the GDP basket is expected to give a boost to economic output because of inclusion of new economic activities, which will also help boost economic output.
Though developed countries revise the GDP base year every five years, the CBS has been revising the base year for calculation of national accounts every 10 years. In order to set the new base rate, the bureau is also preparing an internal research of its own surveys like Living Standard Survey (LSS), Agriculture Survey and ICT Survey, among others, and preparing to conduct a new economic census to measure the value of economic output starting from April next year.
The CBS first launched national accounts figures in 1961-62, though it has been producing these data on an annual basis since 1964-65.
Currently, the CBS has divided the economy into three broad sectors; agriculture, industry and services, which have further been divided into 15 categories including agriculture and forestry, fishing, mining and quarrying, manufacturing, electricity gas and water, construction, wholesale and retail trade, hotels and restaurants, transport, storage and communications, financial intermediation, real estate, renting and business activities, public administration and defence, education, health and social work and other community, social and personal service activities. The agricultural sector contributes to around 30 per cent, industrial sector around 14 per cent and the services sector makes around 56 per cent to the economy.
Currently, several economic activities and contribution of the informal sector is being excluded in GDP calculation, indicating that the country's actual GDP growth rate is higher than the current rates.
"Output of all economic activities in a fixed location, including both formal and informal, will be surveyed," he said, adding that it will generate new statistics of employment generation, income, and expenditure and capital formation by those economic activities. 

A retired pilot revives crashed plane as aviation museum

A Turkish Airlines plane that crash landed at Kathmandu airport two years ago will be welcoming on board again not for a flight but as the first aviation museum in Kathmandu.
The Airbus A330 was carrying 224 passengers when it skidded off the runway at Kathmandu’s airport in March 2015, coming to a stop with its nose buried in the grassy verge on the edge of the tarmac. Though, no one was hurt, the crash shut Nepal’s only international airport for four days as technicians struggled to move the plane.
The aircraft was eventually dragged to a disused corner of the airport where it sat rusting for two years until Captain Bed Upreti had an innovative idea of turning it into a museum.
Upreti bought the metal carcass and has invested $600,000 to turn it into an aviation museum that he had done earlier also but in far western part of the country in Dhangadi.
In Dhangadi, he had turned an abandoned Fokker 100 into a museum, though smaller compard to the one he oa planning in Kathmandu.
Working only at night when the airport was closed, it took a team of engineers from Turkey six weeks to dismantle the plane into 10 pieces, before loading them onto trucks for the 500 metre journey across the road. It took another two months to put all the pieces back together. With all the seats stripped out of the belly of the plane, the new museum feels surprisingly spacious.
The business class section of the plane will feature a model of the Wright Brothers’ first aircraft – the first machine to successfully take to the sky – and in the tail there will be a cafe.
More than 150 miniature display planes will chart the history of aviation as well as the story of Nepal’s flying industry.
The museum will give a chance to people, who might never fly, to step into a plane, Upreti said, hoping that the museum will also inspire young minds to become pilots and engineers. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Nepse suspends trading in shares of 26 firms

The Nepal Stock Exchange (Nepse) today suspended share trading of 26 companies as they have failed to pay their annual dues on time. The listed companies are required to pay their annual fee dues within the first three months – the first quarter – of completion of the fiscal year. The listed companies must – apart from paying annual fee to Nepse – also submit their annual report to the capital market regulator. But most of them every year miss the deadline.
Some 196 companies that are listed at the Nepse have to pay an annual fee ranging from Rs 15,000 to Rs 50,000 depending on their paid up capital. According to Nepse, a company with a paid-up capital of up to Rs 10 million has to pay Rs 15,000 annually, whereas a company with a paid-up capital of Rs 10 million to Rs 50 million is required to pay Rs 25,000. Likewise, a company with a paid-up capital of Rs 50 million to 100 million has to pay Rs 35,000 and those with a paid-up capital of more than Rs 100 million are required to pay Rs 50,000 as annual fee.
According to assistant spokesperson for Nepse Murahari Parajuli, trading in stocks of several companies has been halted for years. Of the total companies whose share trading has been suspended, some companies including Jyoti Spinning Mills and Gorakhkali Rubber Udyog have stopped operations and others like Hotel Yak and Yeti has applied for delisting but they have not delisted their shares yet.
"After repeated reminders, more than 20 companies cleared their dues in the last two days," Parajuli added.
Meanwhile, some of the companies have also failed to submit their report to the Securities Board of Nepal (Sebon) this year too. According to capital market regulator Sebon, some 98 companies missed the deadline to submit their reports in the last fiscal year. Apart from sending reminder to them, Sebon has not been able to take any action against them as usual as the law has not been clear on action against them.

Nepal, Jordan sign labour agreement

Nepal has signed a labour agreement with Jordan. Labour and Employment minister Farmullah Mansoor and his Jordanian counterpart Ali Ghezawi signed the agreement at the Labour Ministry of Jordan today.
Jordan has a high demand of Nepali women in garment sector and Nepal had long been preparing to sign the labour agreement with Jordan, though as many as 5,000 Nepalis are currently working in Jordan.
Nepali workers in Jordan will have strong legal rights with this agreement. Jordan is the new destination for the Nepali workers, according to Ministry for Labour and Employment.
The agreement includes working hour, insurance, rights and supply process among others.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

PM urges NRNs for investment in Nepal

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba today urged the Non-Resident Nepalis (NRNs) to invest in Nepal with confidence, as the investment-friendly environment has been improving gradually in the country.
Speaking at the concluding session of the 8th world conference of the NRN Association (NRNA), he said that the government has been reforming the Acts and Regulations to ensure an investment-friendly climate. He also urged the NRNs to be the part of prosperious Nepal investing without any hesitation.
Investments are welcome in hydropower, tourism, energy and other sectors, the Prime Minister said, adding that Nepal has also been able to be elected to the UN Human Rights Council as a result of the role played by the NRNs. He expressed the hope that the country would take the path towards prosperity following the elections to the House of Representatives and the provincial assemblies scheduled for November.
The NRN conference today ended with the election of a new working committee led by Bhaban Bhatta.
The newly-elected working committee of NRNA also appointed Bhusan Ghimire as its new spokesperson. Ghimire has Masters in Journalism from Sofia University in Japan and is working as the chief editor of Nepal Samachar, a Nepali paper published in Tokyo. He has been residing in Japan for the past 16 years and is involved in restaurants and grocery business in Japan.
Ghimire is also the former central member of Federation of Nepali Journalists.

Neraly 400K Nepalis are below poverty line

Nearly 400,000 people are reeling under the poverty line across 25 districts – covering regions including Himalayas, hills and Terai plains – in Nepal, according to a report prepared by the Ministry of Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation.
The report that includes the details of poor in Bhojpur, Khotang, Siraha, Sindhuli, Ramechhap, Rautahat, Gorkha, Tanahu, Baglung, Kapilvastu, Arghakhanchi, Pyuthan, Rolpa, Bardiya , Jajarkot, Dolpa, Jumla, Kalikot, Mugu, Humla, Bajura, Bajhang, Achham and Kailali and published on the occasion of the 25th International Day for the Eradication of Poverty today revealed that there are a total of 391,831 poor households. "Among them, it has classified 188,226 households as ‘extreme poor’, 119,761 as ‘mid-poor’ and 83,844 households as ‘general poor’.
According to the survey, out of the total 1.24 million households in those 25 districts, some 31.5 per cent are poor.
Unveiling the report, minister for Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation Ambika Basnet insisted on the need of economic transformation to reduce poverty.
Likewise, minister of State for Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation Champadevi Yadav said that the government is preparing to distribute poor identity cards to people of 25 districts where the Poor House Identification Programme is implemented shortly after the Tihar festival. Nepal has categorised the poor people into three categories extreme poor, medium poor and general poor. The government is distributing card according to the three categories – red for absolute poor, yellow for medium poor and blue for poor – according to the ministry. The poor households are eligible for government social security programmes including educational scholarship, health insurance and skill training towards food security and self-employment with the cards.
At the proclamation of the United Nations, October 17 every year is celebrated as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty since 1993. This year, the day was marked with the theme of 'Answering the Call of October 17 to end poverty: A path toward peaceful and inclusive societies'.
Of the total population in Nepal, some 23.38 per cent fall under the poverty line, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). The UN has set a goal – popularly known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – of eradicating all sorts of poverty across from the world by 2030. The UN defines the poverty being based on 10 indicators of daily life including education and health, as per which an individual earning less than a dollar in a day as poor. The UN identifies individual earning less than a dollar in a day as poor.
The UN report indicates that some three billion people across the world are under the poverty line while 8 million people are deprived of sufficient food.
At the programme, National Planning Commission (NPC) former vice chair Dr Shankar Sharma, joint secretary at the Finance Ministry Kewal Prasad Bhandari and joint secretary at the Industry Ministry Pradeep Koirala presented working papers on different nature of poverty and NPC former vice chair Dr Jagdish Chandra Pokhrel and Nahakul KC commented on the papers.
With the latest report, Nepal aims at designing effective interventions to tackle poverty.
According to the report, about 71 per cent of the households in Bajura district are living below the poverty line and have low social indicators in areas such as health and education besides lacking market access.
The Poor Household Support Coordination Board Secretariat said that among the 13,619 households out of the 21,711 households in the district that have been classified as ‘poor’. Within that group, 6,393 households have been identified as ‘extreme poor’.
The board considered eight indicators including ownership of the house and its structure, types of cooking fuel, water and sanitation facilities, household size and ethnicity to calculate the poverty level.
According to a survey, some 4,228 households among the total poor households are ‘mid-poor’ while 2,998 are ‘general poor’. The study also revealed that 63.9 per cent of the total 21,989 households in Kalikot, or 12,433 in number, are living below the poverty line. Among them, 5,877 households are extreme poor.
In Humla and Bajhang, 63.2 per cent and 62.8 per cent respectively of the households are poor. Likewise, more than 50 per cent of the households in Jumla, Achham, Mugu and Dolpa districts are living under the poverty line.
Among the 25 districts, Tanahu has the lowest poverty rate with 21.1 per cent of the households being unable to manage their daily minimum requirements. "In terms of the number of households, Kailali district has 21,577 households under the poverty line, the largest among the districts surveyed."
"Nepal should focus on poverty alleviation programmes that are sustainable, inclusive and helpful to build up resilience among the poor people,” said UNDP country director Renaud Meyer on the occasion.

Unchecked inequality could spur unrest: new UNFPA report warns

Unless inequality is urgently tackled and the poorest women empowered to make their own decisions about their lives, there could be unrest and threats to peace and to their development goals, according to a new report published today by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The costs of inequalities, including in sexual and reproductive health and rights, could extend to the entire global community’s goals, stated the UNFPA report – The State of the World Population 2017 – "Worlds Apart: Reproductive Health and Rights in an Age of Inequality."
Failure to provide reproductive health services, including family planning, to the poorest women can weaken economies and sabotage progress towards eliminating poverty, it further reads adding that economic inequality reinforces and is reinforced by other inequalities, including those in women’s health, where only a privileged few are able to control their fertility.
Inequality today is not only about the haves and have-nots, said UNFPA executive director Dr Natalia Kanem. "Inequality is increasingly about the cans and cannots," she said, adding that poor women, who lack the means to make their own decisions about family size or who are in poor health because of inadequate reproductive health care dominate the ranks of the cannots.
Limited access to family planning that results in unintended pregnancies and abortions does not only harm women’s health, but also restricts their ability to join or stay in the paid labour force and move towards financial independence, the report argued.
The UNFPA report also recommends focusing on the furthest behind first, in line with the United Nations blueprint for achieving sustainable development and inclusive societies by 2030. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Bhatta elected NRNA president

The eighth global conference of Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA) has elected Bhaban Bhatta as the new president for the next two-year term.
Bhatta – with 1,197 votes – has defeated Jamuna Gurung Ghale, who secured 584 votes, in the election held here today. Of the total 1854 voters, 1788 voters cast their ballots.
Jamuna Gurung Ghale is the better half of the incumbent president Shesh Ghale, who is completing his second two-year term. According to the statatue of the NRNA, one can not become president for the third term.
Bhatta, who has been associated with the non-resident Nepali movement since the beginning in 2003, as the executive member of the adhoc committee in 2003 while forming the organisation in Japan and served in various positions of the international coordination council (ICC) of the NRNA.
Bhatta has been living in Japan since the last 20 years. He owns chain restaurants and a resort in Japan. Bhatta has also invested in various sectors like hospitality, media, brewery, education, aviation and planning to invest in many more in Nepal.
After being elected as the new president of NRNA, Bhatta said that he will take forward the NRNA movement to second version, which he has named NRNA V.2, and work towards making a substantiative contribution to Nepal's economy. He said that every NRNs, despite their economic status, will get an opportunity to contribute to the socio-economic development of the country through a collective investment mechanism. Bhatta also said NRNA will forward the agendas including its own headquarters construction, smart NRNA academy, Laprak Model Settlement and joint investment.
Meanwhile, the global conference also elected Kumar Panta (Germany), Kul Acharya (UK) and Sapila Rajbhandari (Russia) as vice presidents. Panta had served as vice president in the earlier executive committee, whereas Acharya was coordinator for Europe region and Rajbhandari was women coordinator in the executive committee. Likewise, DB Chhetri and Janaki Gurung (secretary), Hikmat Bahadur Thapa (treasurer) and Somnath Sapkota (co-treasurer) from some 100 candidates, who were vying for 39 different posts in the new executive committee. The election committee informed Bhuma Devi Limbu won the Woman Coordinator post while Sudan Thapa claimed victory as Youth Coordinator.
A total of 1,854 delegates cast their votes in the election held late today at Hyatt hotel in Kathmandu for the executive committee of the NRNA that was established 14 years ago and now has spread in 77 countries. 

US gives $100,000 for restoration of Hindu temple in Nepal

The US has provided Nepal a financial assistance of $100,000 for the restoration of a 16th century Hindu temple, which was badly damaged in the 2015 devastating earthquake that jolted the Himalayan republic.
The US Embassy in Kathmandu, through the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP), provided the amount to the Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust (KVPT) for the restoration of the historic Char Narayan temple.
"Built in 1566, the temple demonstrates a significant and highly-developed expression of Newari architecture,” according to a statement issued by the embassy.
"Our work through the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation serves as a symbol of the strong, vibrant partnership between our nations, as well as our respect for Nepal’s diverse and rich heritage,” Ambassador Teplitz said, adding, "As we celebrate the 70th year of diplomatic relations between our two countries, I am pleased to inaugurate the restoration work on Char Narayan as a tangible symbol of our mutual friendship."
Teplitz and director general of the Department of Archaeology Bhesh Narayan Dahal jointly inaugurated the restoration of the temple at a ceremony in Patan Durbar Square in the capital Kathmandu.
Combined with other donors, the funding will support the seismic strengthening and restoration of the Malla-era temple belonging to Lord Vishnu. The restoration work is expected to be completed within two years.
Nepal was hit by a massive 7.8 magnitude devastating earthquake in April 2015 that left nearly 9,000 people dead and as many as 22,000 injured.
According to a UN report, more than 300,000 houses were damaged in the earthquake.

Nepse rebounds on election hopes

Nepal Stock Exchange (Nepse) benchmark index jumped by 46.59 points today to close the market at 1,564.87 points due to investors' confidence on provincial and federal polls scheduled on November 26 and December 7. The Election Commission has already started the election process.
The share market rebounded on the second trading day of the week by double-digit following a continous drop after Dashain festival.
The single-day surge in the benchmark index was the highest in six months for a market that has recovered somewhat after a continuous dive due to the Dashain festival. The last time the market had surged by this level was on April 19 when the benchmark index climbed up by 49.88 points.
Share price of 154 companies went up on Monday while nine companies suffered loss. 
A total of 1.47 million units of shares of 163 companies worth Rs 615.04 million were traded in the market this week through 4,469 transactions.
Similarly, the investors' confidence also looked up due to comfortable liquidity situation in the banking system. Investors are also expecting the interest rates to fall with the bank and financial institutions having comfortable liquidity position.
Amid mismatch on the growth of deposit and loans, the financial institutions were facing the shortage of loanable fund until last month. The shortage has pushed interest rates to the higher level.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

AEPC provides Rs 60 million to microhydro projects

The Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC) has provided support for maintenance of 48 micro hydro projects, which were completely or partially damaged by the devastating earthquakes of April and May 2015. The AEPC has provided Rs 60 million to 48 projects – out of the total 262 projects that were damaged – in the last two years for their maintenance.
AEPC is providing grant to complete maintenance of the damaged projects in 11 districts – Rasuwa, Nuwakot, Dhading, Gorkha, Kavre, Sindhupalchowk, Dolakha, Ramechhap, Sindhuli, Okhaldhunga and Makawanpur – which were highly affected by the natural calamity.
AEPC will continue its financial support to damaged projects until completion of maintenance process. According to the AEPC, micro hydro projects in Dolakha, Sindhupalchowk and Gorkha were highly affected by the earthquakes.
The AEPC is providing support for maintenance of micro hydro projects, with assistance from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Department for International Development (DfID). Likewise, fund from the government is also being utilised for maintenance of such projects.
"We are not directly involved in the maintenance process of the said projects," spokesperson for AEPC Nawa Raj Dhakal said, adding that the AEPC provides subsidy and the local community or consumer community of the project will handle the entire works.
AEPC has distinguished damaged projects in two categories; partially-damaged and fully-damaged. AEPC is sending grant through district coordination committee to projects for partially-damaged projects, whereas it directly sends the support amount to the project in the case of fully-damaged projects.
Likewise, AEPC – a government institution formed with an objective to develop and promote renewable and alternative energy technologies in the country – has also assisted the maintenance process of more than 5,000 biogas plants affected by the same natural disaster in Kavre and Gorkha districts. Likewise, it has started a study to assist the biogas plants in Nuwakot and Rasuwa districts. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Finance Ministry recommends Nepse and DCGC heads

The selection committee formed by the Finance Ministry has recommended three candidates for the post of general manager (GM) of Nepal Stock Exchange (Nepse) and chief executive of Deposit and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DCGC).
After taking their interviews and studying their business plans, the selection committee – chaired by joint secretary of the ministry Uttar Kumar Khatri – recommended three
names – Chandra Singh Saud, Pramod Raj Sharma and Manoj Kumar Gnyawali – to the Cabinet today for a post of general manager of Nepse.
Chandra Singh Saud is a former chief executive officer of Nepal Insurance Company, whereas Pramod Raj Sharma is a university professor and Manoj Kumar Gnyawali is the deputy chief executive officer at Jyoti Bikash Bank.
The Cabinet meeting will select one of them as the general manager of Nepse for a term of four years. The selection committee had taken interviews of all the 13 candidates and shortlisted five on September 16 before recommending three to the Cabinet.
"The selection committee has finalised the candidates on the basis of their performance during interviews and based on their business plans,” he said, adding that Prabin Pandak and former Nepse general manager Sitaram Thapaliya, who had made it to the top five, are now out of the race.
The Finance Ministry had started the process to appoint a general manager at Nepse on August 1, after former general manager Thapaliya completed his four-year tenure on July 7.
Likewise, the Finance Ministry has finalised three candidates for the post of chief executive officer (CEO) of the Deposit and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DCGC). The selection committee led by Revenue Secretary Shishir Kumar Dhungana finalised three candidates today for the post after taking their interviews and examining their business plans.
The ministry has finalized former chief executive officer of Nepal Community Development Bank Ghamansingh Khadka, acting chief executive officer at DCGC Bishnubabu Mishra and a banker Binod Bahadur Karki as top three candidates for the chief executive of the Corporation.
The Cabinet will appoint one of them as the CEO of the Corporation for four years.
As a deposit insurer, DCGC started deposit guarantee scheme from 2010. It is a system that protects depositors against loss of their deposits placed with banks and financial institutions (BFIs) in case of BFIs’ failure.

SDF meeting concludes

SAARC member states – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – met in Thimphu of Bhutan on October 4-6 for the counterpart agencies meeting of SAARC Development Fund (SDF).
The meeting reviewed the status of ongoing SDF-funded Social Window projects in the SAARC member states, challenges faced by SDF in implementation of projects in the member states, importance and role of the counterpart agencies of SDF and other important matters pertaining to SDF, read a press release issued by the Thimpu-base SDF.
Counterpart agencies are the focal points nominated by the finance ministries in order to coordinate and facilitate on behalf of SDF in the respective member states.
"Counterpart agencies have a very vital role in effective implementation of projects in the SAARC member states as they act as coordinator or facilitator on behalf of SDF as and when requested by SDF," said chief executive of SDF Sunil Motiwal during the meeting. "Their role as counterpart agencies will certainly benefit SDF even more in times to come," he said, adding that SDF, along with its counterpart agencies, is fully committed to bring synergies in the member states through project funding.
SDF is the umbrella financial institution for projects and programmes implemented in the SAARC member states. Its focus is to strengthen regional integration in the SAARC region through project funding and collaboration.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Nepse up by 6.89 points as market reopens

The stock market increased as the market reopens after the festival holiday.
The Nepal Stock Exchange (Nepse) index rose by 6.89 points today, the first day of trading after a week-long Dashain holiday. Rise in demand for shares after festival has pushed thr share marke index to rise slowly. Nepse opened at 1,556.35 points and closed at 1563.24 points today.
Despite the rise in Nepse, the secondary market witnessed a low transaction volume. According to Nepse, the value of share transactions totalled Rs 140 million with 269,776 shares changing hands. The figure is almost one-fifth of the usual daily turnover of Rs 700-800 million seen before the Dashain festival.
Almost all the groups posted gains in their indices today. The hydropower group made the highest gain of 63.84 points to close at 1,858.38 points. It was followed by hotels, insurance companies, commercial banks and trading. 

ADB approves over $210 million in LEAP Financing

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved two projects worth over $210 million in debt financing from the Leading Asia’s Private Infrastructure Fund (LEAP) in its first year of operation. ADB expects these initial projects will generate about $1.4 billion in total financing, including $264.5 million from ADB’s own capital and an additional $890 million from cofinancing partners.
ADB is also actively processing over $500 million of LEAP debt and equity transactions for private infrastructure throughout the region. This includes potential projects in India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Thailand.
LEAP is one of ADB’s cofinancing vehicles dedicated to private sector infrastructure in Asia and the Pacific. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) supports the fund, launched in August 2016, through a $1.5 billion equity commitment. Combined with ADB’s own capital and that of commercial partners, the fund is expected to provide financing of at least $6 billion and enables ADB to boost support for quality and sustainable infrastructure.
“We are very pleased with the initial progress of the fund, which has made a tangible impact on private infrastructure delivery in the region within the first 12 months,” said senior vice president of JICA Yasushi Kanzaki.
Over the past year, LEAP financing for two transactions has been approved, with the projects now in their construction phase. "LEAP is amplifying the impact we can have on our developing member countries,” said ADB vice president for Private Sector and Cofinancing Operations Diwakar Gupta. “The initial renewable energy projects are helping the region in its transition to a low-carbon economy.”
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members, 48 from the region. In 2016, ADB assistance totaled $31.7 billion, including $14 billion in cofinancing.

EU releases €800 000 to support victims of floods in Nepal

The European Union (EU) is providing €800 000 (Rs 98.5 million) in emergency relief funding to assist the most affected populations, in response to the widespread floods that have swept across large parts of Nepal in recent weeks. This allocation is part of a larger regional allocation of €2 million in response to floods in South Asia.
"The countries in South Asia are facing some of their worst floods in decades, which are resulting in a large-scale humanitarian situation affecting millions. It is especially in these hard times that EU solidarity makes a difference: our support will reach those most in need and help them recover from the devastating losses they have suffered," saidCommissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides.
EU support will provide life-saving assistance, prioritising shelter, food assistance, water and sanitation, health and protection to those affected by the floods, while restoring the safety and dignity of the most vulnerable populations. The funding will be channelled through the European Commission’s European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department (ECHO).
Nepal is witnessing its worst flooding in 15 years, which is affecting almost two million people. Some 160 people lost their lives, 20 900 families are still temporarily displaced and at least 235 000houses have been damaged or completely destroyed. Because of the massive loss of livestock, people are now dependent on food distributions; however, so far these have not been sufficient to meet the basic needs of the most vulnerable population.
Since 2001, the European Union has invested over €24 million to fund Disaster Risk Reduction and preparedness programmes in Nepal, supporting - among others - initiatives such as the building of flood-resistant infrastructures and the reinforcement of Early Warning Systems.

Monday, October 2, 2017

2019 DV Programme opens

The application period for the 2019 Diversity Visa (DV) programme opens on October 3 (9:45 pm nepal time) and closes on November 7 (10:45 pm Nepal time).
The American Embassy in Kathmandu has said that there is no fee to enter the DV lottery.
Likewise, the Embassy has also recommended against using a consultant to assist with application. "One can consider using a family member, friend or other trusted person, if one need assistance," it said, adding that no matter, who provides assistance, one is solely responsible for one's own application.
One has to apply online as entries for the 2019 Diversity Visa lottery must use the electronic Diversity Visa entry form (E-DV) during the registration period.
"When registering, one must list one's spouse and all of unmarried children under the age of 21 at the time of application," it said, suggesting that submissions without the inclusion of family members will make entry invalid. "A person can submit one application only."
Likewise, one has to submit a recent photo and the entries submitted with the same photo from the last DV year will be disqualified.
After submitting, the DV form, one has to print and save confirmation number as this number is the only way to check status on or after May 1, 2018 to check the result.
The Embassy has also reminded that even one is selected as a DV winner, it does not guarantee that one will receive a visa.


NEA terminates Dhalkebar contract

Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has terminated the contract of Dhalkebar substation as the Chinese contractor had intentionally delayed the works of the project.
The project is critical for Nepal-India electricity trade, and the termination of contract could lead to load shedding. But the Central China Power Grid International Economic and Trade – the contractor of the substation – had delayed the works since long putting forward various demands, which are not related with the contract. The contractor had asked NEA to remove the component of Inaruwa and Hetauda substations from the project or provide actual additional cost that accrue while implementing the project.
According to the contract between NEA and China Power Grid International Economic and Trade – in June 2014 – the substation was supposed to have been completed by September 2015. But the deadline was continuously pushed back as the contractor had sought additional incentives to complete the project on time.
Nepal plans to raise import of electricity via Muzaffarpur-Dhalkebar cross-border electricity transmission line. The country will be able to import an additional 100 megawatts (MW) of electricity on top of the existing 145 MW from India after the Dhalkebar substation – Rs 1.42 billion project under loan assistance of the World Bank – has been charged at 220 kV, which is critical to end load-shedding.
"The contractor has hardly worked for seven months though the construction work had started one-and-a-half years ago,” said project manager of Dhalkebar substation Radhesharan Mahato. "Some 85 per cent works of the project have been completed."
The NEA has already seized the bank guarantee of the contractor. However, the power utility has yet to select the next best option to expedite the project. After termination of the contract, NEA has a few options, like it can call for request for proposal (RfP) from the shortlisted companies, open a rebidding process or hand over a direct contract for remaining works to one of the earlier shortlisted companies.
Nepal-India energy secretary level talks held in February had also taken into account that the project will be completed by August this year.
The contractors normally generate profit from the delivery of equipment despite low bidding for the field level works and they seem reluctant to complete the project works on time. The NEA has also proposed to release 50 per cent of the payment for equipment only after the completion of works to make the contractor liable to complete the project works within the desired time.
Especially for projects funded by the World Bank, the executing agency has to release the payment for equipment to the contractor, after it submits the shipment order of the equipment.

India removes GST on supply of services for transit cargo

India has removed the goods and services tax on services provided by Indian service providers for transit cargo like transportation, insurance, shipment, container freight station and cargo handling charges.
Indian Finance Ministry – issuing a notification – informed about the GST waiver considering these services provided by the Indian service providers as ‘service export’.
Joint secretary at the Commerce Ministry Rabi Shanker Sainju confirmed that India has waived the GST on supply of services associated with transit cargo to Nepal and Bhutan – landlocked countries – through a recently published Gazette notice.
The new provision introduced by government of India had come into force from September 29. "Nepali traders making payments in Indian currency to procure aforesaid services will not have to pay GST now," he said, adding that Indian government had earlier levied GST since July 1.
Since the Indian government introduced the GST, services like transportation, cargo handling and container freight station had became costlier as the GST rule recognised and exempted GST only, if the service procurer made payment in convertible foreign currency. Though GST is not applicable on export of goods and services, it recognised service export only if the Indian supplier received payment in convertible foreign currency.
Nepal had requested the Indian government for GST waiver citing that services procured by Nepali traders in India should be taken as service export. Likewise, Nepali private sector – during the Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba's India visit – had also requested the Indian authorities to waive the GST on Indian service providers for transit cargo like transportation, insurance, shipment, container freight station and cargo handling charges as it is against the Nepal-India Bilateral Trade and Transit Agreement. The Indian government officials, especially then Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman – currently Defence Minister – had with Nepali private sector vowed to waive GST, if it is against the bilateral agreement.
The central bank encourages traders to make payments in Indian currency for transactions in India to prevent chances of embezzlement of convertible foreign currency like US dollar by Nepali traders.
Nepal has requested GST waiver for all services procured by Nepalis in India, like software, business process outsourcing, knowledge process outsourcing and other technical services as well, according to Sainju. "However, India has amended GST rules only for services related to transit cargo that includes road and rail transportation, shipping line charges, cargo handling charges."

Sunday, October 1, 2017

World Bank to continue support for technical education and vocational training

The World Bank has approved a $ 60 million credit to support a second phase of the Enhanced Vocational Education and Training Project in Nepal (EVENT II).
EVENT II is designed to help the country improve equitable access to market relevant training programs and to strengthen the delivery of Technical Education and Vocational Training (TEVT), according to a press release issued by the multilateral development partner.
In Nepal, TVET is an important intermediary between youth and the labour market through the provision of pre-employment skills. Between 450,000 and 500,000 Nepali youth come of working age every year, most of whom will enter either the domestic or the foreign labor market with limited education and skills.
On the other hand, the annual intake capacity in short-term and long-term TVET programmes in the country was between 100,000 and 120,000 in 2016. While TVET has grown in size over time with formal and informal providers across a variety of government and non-government entities, it continues to face the challenges of quality training for domestic and foreign labour markets, inclusion and cohesion.
“Skill development of the workforce through investment in human capital including technical and vocational education and training are critical for the successful implementation of the country’s emerging jobs agenda,” said the World Bank’s country manager for Nepal Takuya Kamata.
EVENT II is designed to support the TVET sector in Nepal at different levels, the system, the institution, and the individual. Activities include upgrading the quality of TVET facilities, supporting key human resources that are critical for the quality of service delivery, improving access for disadvantaged groups, supporting missing links between training and placement to help youth find work, improving the availability of information linking skills supply and demand, and improving governance through performance-based funding of training providers.
The project will also support migrants through training and skill testing and certification.
“While there is substantial underemployment and informal employment dominates, an increased focus on skills and employability will help Nepal benefit from its potential youth dividend,” said senior economist and the Bank’s Task Team Leader for the project Sangeeta Goyal.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Nepali workers stranded in UAE since two months

Some 22 Nepali workers are stranded in Ajman of UAE since two months. The workers reached UAE in visit visa paying huge money to the brokers in Nepal.
With the help of immigration officers at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), the brokers have succeeded to fly them UAE in visit visa. The brokers have charged them some Rs 200,000 to Rs 500,000.
Directors of Pandor Incorporation Keshav Thapa, Ramesh Kunwar and Dinesh Lama Moktan tempted them of attractive jobs and remuneration in UAE, according to the victims.
A team of UAE-based various Nepal organisations reached Ajman yesterday to know the whereabouts of the victims. They have assured them to rescue at earliest and has requested Nepali embassy in UAE to take initiation for the liaison.
It is illegal to over-stay in UAE. However, the number of cases has increased in recent days due to the reluctant of the government. The organisations have accused government officials of the repeated incidents.

World Bank backs NEA solar plant contract

The World Bank (WB) has defended Nepal Electricity Authority’s (NEA) in solar plant case.
Defending the NEA decision to award the contract to install a 25 MW solar plant to a Chinese company, the World Bank has written a letter to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). PAC has ordered the NEA to scrap the contract with the Raijin Energy Co.
The PAC has also accused the NEA of breaching the Public Procurement Act by hiring Raijin Energy Co but the World Bank – in the letter – said that the NEA had followed the procurement policies and practices adopted by 189 member-governments of the World Bank Group and the funding agreement signed with Nepal.
The NEA – the implementing agency of the World Bank-funded project – had forwarded the letter from the House panel to the multilateral development partner.
The NEA has received the World Bank’s reply in early September and forwarded it to PAC. Currently, the contract with the Chinese firm is in a state of suspension, and the NEA is waiting for the House panel's response.
This is the second time that the World Bank has come forward to defend the NEA. Earlier, the multilateral development partner defended NEA in August after the parliamentary committee directed the NEA to cancel the deal with Raijin Energy Co, and restart the procurement process to appoint a new contractor.
After the House committee’s ruling the World Bank had even hinted at dropping the project as selecting a new contractor would further delay the project, which is already one and a half years behind the schedule.
In February 2015, the World Bank agreed to provide $130 million to the government to build solar stations to supply electricity to the Kathmandu Valley and reduce electricity leakage. Of the money, $37 million had been earmarked for the establishment of solar plants at Devighat and Trishuli in Nuwakot district.
Although construction should have begun within a year of signing the aid agreement, the NEA took two years to award the contract as the contractor selection process became engulfed in controversy.
The controversy began after former NEA managing director Mukesh Raj Kafle unilaterally decided to hire a Chinese company to build the project. The company was later declared ‘technically unqualified’ by a committee comprising international experts.
As a result, new NEA Managing Director Kulman Ghising decided to award the project to Raijin Energy Co.
However, the parliamentary panel directed the NEA to scrap the contract following a complaint that the price of Rs 3.7 billion quoted by Raijin Energy Co was Rs 680 million higher than the rate proposed by the contractor selected by Kafle.

Friday, September 29, 2017

ADB, KfW scale up cofinancing partnership with additional $2 billion

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the German development bank KfW today agreed to scale up their existing cofinancing partnership with an additional $2 billion over the next 3 years until 2020 to continue promoting development in the Asia and Pacific region.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cofinancing was signed by ADB vice president for Private Sector and Cofinancing Operations Diwakar Gupta and a member of KfW’s Management Committee for Europe and Asia Roland Siller, at a ceremony held at the ADB headquarters in Manila.
"The agreement today is a testament of our growing partnership with KfW and proof that development work should be a collaborative process if it is to be impactful," Gupta said, adding that the bank is optimistic that the additional $2 billion in cofinancing from KfW will help promote sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific and bring us closer to the goal of a region free of poverty.
The new agreement will build on the successful cofinancing partnership that ADB and KfW launched in 2014 for the same amount. The initial partnership (2014-2017) yielded 9 cofinanced projects focused on energy, public management, finance, education and technical and vocational education and training, and the environment in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), India, Indonesia, and Viet Nam. The $2 billion provided by KfW for these projects was complemented with $3.7 billion from ADB.
Germany is the second largest bilateral cofinancier of ADB projects after Japan. The additional cofinancing from KfW will help ADB address the region’s vast infrastructure needs, estimated at $1.7 trillion annually until 2030 including climate adaptation and mitigation costs.
The new MoU will allow the two institutions to expand cofinancing operations from five countries covered by the previous agreement to 11, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, the PRC, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Viet Nam. It will also cover new areas such as health and financial inclusion. Increasing financial resources and making greater use of high-level technology and innovative approaches are the two pillars of this partnership.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members, 48 from the region. In 2016, ADB assistance totaled $31.7 billion, including $14 billion in cofinancing.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Role of trade key in achieving Sustainable Development Goals

Trade will play a key role in achieving the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and both governments and the private sector need to be more active in ensuring trade’s full potential in contributing to these goals, speakers at the WTO’s annual Public Forum said.
The SDGs were the focus of discussion during a number of sessions at the three-day Public Forum from September 26 to 28, the WTO’s flagship outreach event. The Forum provided a unique platform for senior officials, leading global businesspeople, academics and civil society representatives to come together and discuss some of the major trade and development issues of the day.
The SDGs put significant emphasis on the role that trade can play in promoting sustainable development. There are direct references to WTO activities in many of the SDGs, ranging from ensuring food security and sustainable agriculture to conserving marine resources and promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
Agriculture's role in meeting the SDGs was the centre of discussion at a Public Forum session on September 27 organised by the Geneva Office of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO). Speakers noted that several of the SDGs directly relate to agriculture and that modernising agricultural production will be key to achieving this. WTO members have already agreed to eliminate export subsidies for agriculture, one of the SDG targets, at their 2015 Nairobi Ministerial Conference.
Director of the FAO's UN Liaison Office in Geneva Carolyn Rodrigues Birkett said that agriculture is changing in 'unprecedented ways', with growing demand for reliable and consistent food products and corresponding attention paid to sustainable development issues related to this production.
However, greater partnering between governments, international institutions, the private sector and civil society is needed to deliver further results that contribute to effectively achieving the SDGs.

Nepal Airlines to take delivery of last two expected Y12s

Nepal Airlines is shortly taking delivery of its two final Y12E aircraft after securing qualified flight crews. Nepal Airlines has secured three senior pilots, seven co-pilots and an instructor pilot for the Chinese aircraft. A technical team will shortly be dispatched to China to inspect the aircraft ahead of their arrival in Nepal, according ot the national flag carrier.
The NAC had signed an agreement with AVIC International Leasing in 2013 which saw the Chinese firm donate one MA-60 and one Y12E on condition that the carrier take three more Y12Es and one more MA-60 using a Rs 3.72 billion ($35.4 million) soft loan from China's Exim Bank. Nepal Airlines has slowly taken delivery of the promised aircraft, but has complained of their unsuitability for Himalayan terrain.
This June, Nepal delayed delivery of the two remaining Y12Es as it only had one qualified pilot for the type. Once the aircraft are received, they will be deployed along domestic routes which had previously been suspended due to a lack of aircraft.
"Demand for air seats in the domestic sector has grown several-fold due to the poor state of national highways," Nepal Airlines' managing director Sugat Ratna Kansakar said, adding that keeping the planes parked in China is a bad idea. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Debt Sustainability Framework for Low Income Countries review

The executive board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today reviewed the joint IMF-World Bank Debt Sustainability Framework for Low-Income Countries (LIC-DSF).
Since its introduction in 2005, the LIC-DSF has been the cornerstone of the international community’s assessment of risks to debt sustainability in LICs, with important operational implications for stakeholders. The DSF has been playing a critical role in guiding borrowing and lending decisions; multilateral lenders including the International Development Association have linked their lending policies to the DSF results and the risk assessment derived by the DSF has informed the IMF’s debt limits policy (DLP) and the World Bank’s non-concessional borrowing policy (NCBP).
The framework was previously reviewed in 2006, 2009, and 2012. While the 2012 review added several new features, notably incorporation of more country-specific information and greater attention to domestic debt vulnerabilities, executive directors saw room for further progress, including by improving the assessment of macro-linkages in stress tests and exploring more the links between investment and growth – areas which were left for future work.
In the extensive consultations surrounding the current review, stakeholders emphasised the importance of ensuring that the DSF remains balanced in its treatment of risks and borrowing opportunities, incorporates more country-specific information, and reflects the evolving financing landscape facing LICs, including risks emanating from LICs’ increased market financing and contingent liabilities.
The current review assesses the DSF’s performance in recent years and proposes a wide-ranging set of reforms that adapts the framework to the evolving circumstances facing LICs and makes it more comprehensive and transparent, and yet simpler to use. The changes will include a revised approach to the assessment of countries’ debt carrying capacity based on an expanded set of variables; adjustments to the methodology designed to improve the framework’s accuracy in predicting debt distress; new tools prepared to help shed light on the plausibility of underlying macroeconomic projections; tailored stress tests to help better evaluate specific risks of particular relevance for some countries; and a reduction in the number of debt thresholds and standardised stress tests.   
The framework is expected to become operational in the second half of 2018. It will allow for completion of the associated Guidance Note and template, followed by an extensive six-month program of training for country-level authorities.
The executive directors welcomed the comprehensive review of the Debt Sustainability Framework for Low-Income Countries (LIC-DSF) and appreciated the extensive consultations with country authorities, the executive board, and external stakeholders. They noted that the LIC-DSF is a vital tool for country authorities to help strengthen fiscal policy and debt management and this review has highlighted areas where the framework can be reformed. Directors, on the occasion, agreed that the proposed reforms would make the framework more comprehensive and transparent and that the revised LIC-DSF would continue to play a critical role in informing borrowing and lending decisions by more accurately flagging potential debt distress with the aim of avoiding unnecessarily constraining LICs’ ability to finance their development.
Directors welcomed the proposed composite measure to assess a country’s debt-carrying capacity, based on both the CPIA and a set of macroeconomic variables. They observed that the inclusion of macroeconomic variables takes better account of country-specific features, and enables a fuller understanding of, and policy discussions on, how economic policies affect debt carrying capacity. This, in turn, will enhance the contribution of the DSF to policy formulation.
Directors endorsed the proposed new thresholds for debt stock and debt service indicators. They noted that, for countries whose assessment of debt-carrying capacity remains unchanged, the revised framework may imply additional borrowing space, provided countries manage debt service well. Directors observed that the quality of the framework’s outputs depend heavily on the quality of the inputs.
Directors agreed that adding tailored scenario stress tests will help evaluate risks of particular importance for some member countries – including those emanating from natural disasters, volatile export prices, market-financing shocks, and contingent liability exposures. They called for clear disclosure in debt sustainability analyses of the key assumptions made in calibrating these tests.

Nepal, Oman establish bilateral consultation mechanism

Nepal and the Sultanate of Oman have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on establishing a bilateral consultation mechanism.
The MoU was signed at Muscat on the occasion of the official visit of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to the Gulf country. Nepal's ambassador to Oman Sharmila Parajuli Dhakal and head of West Asia Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Oman Hilah Marhoon al-Mammari signed the MoU on behalf of their respective governments today. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Krishna Bahadur Mahara witnessed the signing ceremony.
As Nepal and the Sultanate of Oman have been celebrating the 40th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations this year, the conclusion of the MoU reflects the determination of the two governments to enhance and activate different fields of co-operation, particularly on economic, cultural, technological, scientific and educational relations, a press note from the Embassy of Nepal in Muscat reads.
The MoU provides that bilateral meetings will be organised on annual basis or as deemed necessary, alternately in Muscat and in Kathmandu. The MoU comes into force from the date of its signature for a period of five years and is automatically renewable for similar periods.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Deuba and members of his delegation returned to Kathmandu yesterday upon successfully completing the 3-day official visit to the Sultanate of Oman.

UN Technology Bank to build IP infrastructure in LDCs

A new United Nations (UN) Technology Bank for least-developed countries (LDCs) aimed at growing technology transfer and intellectual property infrastructure across the 48 poorest nations became operational at last week’s annual UN General Assembly in New York.
The bank’s creation represents the first target of the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved.
Host nation Turkey signed an agreement with the UN on September 22, committing to provide $2 million per year for five years plus staff and offices. LDCs were lining up to make token contributions as well, but the real need is to tap resources in the developed world to make it sustainable, sources said.
The Technology Bank effort is organised by the UN Office of the High Representative for the LDCs, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS).
There are two components to the bank: technology transfer and strengthening the IP infrastructure of LDC countries, as well as support IP rights acquisition and capacity building. For example in 2015, across the LDC countries there were only 2400 patents registered compared with 800 in neighbouring countries and about 100,000 in bigger countries. You’re talking in comparison to 47 countries. So there’s big potential for supporting IP and technology transfer.
They did a costing over 5 years of the Bank and it is foreseen to cost $35 million annually. The bank has been a longstanding priority for LDCs, called for in the 2011 Istanbul Programme of Action. The 2016 UN General Assembly officially established the bank as a new UN institution and subsidiary organ of the General Assembly, to be located in Gebze, Turkey.
The Technology Bank is expected to broaden the application of science, technology and innovation in the world’s poorest countries. It will improve technology-related policies, facilitate technology transfer and enhance the integration of the LDCs into the global knowledge-based economy. It will also serve as a knowledge hub, connecting needs, resources and actors, facilitating LDC access to existing technology-related projects and fostering joint initiatives with relevant organisations and the private sector.

Nepal retains fourth competitive position in South Asia

Though Nepal has improved its competitiveness by 10 ranks to 88 -- out of 137 economies -- from last year's 98, it has retained the regional rank as the fourth most competitive economy in South Asia, according to Global Competitiveness Report 2017-18 published by World Economic Forum (WEF) globally today.
India (40), Bhutan (82) and Sri Lanka (85) are ahead of Nepal, while Pakistan and Bangladesh are behind in terms of regional ranking, the report reads, adding that Bangladesh ranks at 99 and Pakistan ranks 115.
Nepal slipped from the third most lucrative investment destination in South Asia in 2015-16 to the fourth last year. Nepal this year also couldnot improve the regional ranking from last year.
Nepal scored 4 points -- out of 7 -- and ranked 88th among 137 economies in the world, reveals the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) 2017-2018, whereas Nepal had scored 3.87 points and ranked 98th among 138 economies in the GCI 2016-2017.
The Global Competitiveness Report 2017-18 also revealed that Nepal managed to advance its ranking in the GCI every subsequent year since 2012-13. Nepal has improved its scores across all pillars of competitiveness except Business Sophistication and Innovation Pillers that are key to advance economies.
However, government instability tops the most problematic factors for doing business in Nepal. It is followed by inefficient government bureaucracy, inadequate supply of infrastructure, policy instability, corruption, access to finance and poor work ethics.
The report also reads that ‘upgrading ICT infrastructure and increasing ICT use remain among the biggest challenges for the South Asia region’. According to the report, over the past decade, South Asia has been the area where technological readiness stagnated the most, with a performance similar to that of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Overall, the report highlights that 10 years on from global financial crisis, prospects for a sustained economic recovery remain at risk due to a widespread failure on part of leaders and policymakers to put in place reforms necessary to underpin competitiveness and bring about much-needed increases in productivity.
The results show growth is starting to recover, but still is insufficient to provide foundations needed for continued reductions in poverty and broad-based improvements in the quality of life of the many.
With emerging markets having a greater participation in global production and growth, progress in competitiveness among the large growing economies of Asia, Africa, and Latin America will be fundamental to the ability to provide a new boost to global growth.
Globally, Switzerland continued to top the overall rankings, with strong results evenly balanced across the different components of competitiveness. The United States improved a spot to rank at second overall this year. Singapore at third position (down by one) posted ‘an excellent performance across the board’. The Netherlands, at fourth, maintained its position. Similarly, Germany remained in the fifth position as last year, while slightly increasing its overall score.
There are three sub-indices in the competitiveness report -- basic requirements, efficiency enhancers, and Innovation and sophistication factors. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

ADB forecasts 4.7 percent economic growth for Nepal

Asian Development Bank (ADB) has pulled the economic growth projection down to only 4.7 per cent in the current fiscal year 2017-18 – due to flood in the southern plains – compared to 6.9 per cent of the previous fiscal year 2016-17.
Against the central bank's projection and government target – of 7.2 per cent – the 'Macroeconomic Update: Nepal (September 2017)' released today by the ADB said that the economy will likely grow at a slower rate of 4.7 per cent in the current fiscal year largely due to heavy rainfall during this monsoon that affected paddy and other major crops in the Tarai belt which is considered to be the breadbasket of the country.
The growth forecast by the ADB of this fiscal year has been revised down from the earlier estimate of 5.4 per cent in the wake of severe floods and landslides in August that affected one-third of the country, resulting in the loss of human lives and livelihoods, and destruction of crops.
The World Bank has also last week said that economic growth rate is likely to moderate to 4.6 per cent in the current fiscal year. Both multilateral development partners have attributed the recent floods in Tarai as a major reason to the possible slowdown in economic growth, though the central bank has downplayed the impact of the floods.
"Heavy rainfall since mid-August led to landslides and floods, resulting in the loss of human lives and livelihoods," the report reads, adding that the floods inundated paddy fields and destroyed crops in most of the Tarai districts. "This will depress farm output, hampering growth prospect."
The ADB has also said that the transition to federal system will weigh on the economic growth of the country. The World Bank has also pointed out the lack of clarity regarding fiscal architecture as a dampener for the economic growth.
“Though dates for provincial and federal level elections have been announced, several bills, namely, Natural Resources and Fiscal Commission including Inter-governmental Fiscal Transfer imperative for effective implementation of fiscal federalism have yet to be enacted,” read the periodic report. "In the absence of these bills, distribution of natural resources and revenue among all three tiers of the government will be affected, hampering growth prospect.”
The ADB’s macroeconomic report has said that the agriculture sector is expected to expand by just 2.4 per cent in fiscal 2017-18, compared to 5.3 per cent of last fiscal owing to the destruction of paddy plantation and other major crops in the Tarai belt of Nepal, which is considered the rice bowl of the country.
However, the industry sector is expected to expand by 6.6 per cent in the current fiscal as a result of the regular supply of electricity and availability of construction materials. The services sector, meanwhile, is projected to grow by 5.5 per cent in this fiscal due to an expansion of the financial intermediation, wholesale and retail trade, and tourism subsectors.
“The economy rebounded strongly in fiscal 2016-17 from fiscal 2015-16, which was a difficult year due to various external shocks. This year, we expect economic growth to be a bit tepid compared to last fiscal, partly because of the floods,” principal economist and officer-in-charge of ADB’s Nepal Resident Mission Sharad Bhandari said, adding that reforms to improve the quality of public and private investment and to encourage a competitive private sector would reduce the economy’s dependence on external factors such as the monsoon and remittances.
Like in the previous fiscal years, delay in the implementation of development projects is going to be another obstacle for economic growth in the current fiscal year. "Implementation delays of national pride projects have continued in the current fiscal year," it further reads, adding that it will likely lead to a substantial shortfall in capital expenditure and depress economic growth.
Likewise, the ADB projected inflation to rise in the current fiscal year but remain below the average 8.9 per cent of price rise in the past last decade.
According to the ADB, the inflation is expected to pick up to 6.5 per cent in the current fiscal year, up from 4.5 per cent in the last fiscal year. The proposed expansionary budget for the current fiscal year, including the fiscal transfer and election expenditures as well as the depressed farm output and infrastructure damage from the recent floods, could raise the inflationary pressure, the report adds.
The report further reads that the fiscal transfer and election expenditures compounded by depressed farm output will exert inflationary pressure in the current fiscal year.

Global trade rebound boosts growth in Asia and the Pacific

Growth remains strong across most of developing Asia as a result of the broad-based recovery in global trade, robust expansion in major industrial economies, and improved prospects for the People’s Republic of China (PRC). This will combine to push growth in developing Asia for 2017 and 2018 above previous projections, says a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) report.
In an update of its flagship annual economic publication, Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2017, ADB forecasts gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 5.9 per cent in 2017 and 5.8 per cent in 2018 for developing Asia.
“Growth prospects for developing Asia are looking up, bolstered by a revival in world trade and strong momentum in the PRC,” ADB chief economist Yasuyuki Sawada said adding that countries in developing Asia should take advantage of favorable short-term economic prospects to implement productivity-enhancing reforms, invest in badly needed infrastructure, and maintain sound macroeconomic management to help increase their long-term growth potential.”
Growth across developing Asia is buoyed by a revival in trade. The dollar value of the region’s exports surged by 11 per cent in the first 5 months of 2017 over the same period in the previous year, and the value of its imports rose by 17 per cent. The pickup follows two consecutive years of contracting export values caused by falling commodity prices and subdued external demand for manufactures. Excluding the PRC, the eight largest regional developing economies saw real manufacturing exports rebound.
Industrial economies’ growth will reach 2 per cent in 2017 and 2018, up by 0.1 percentage points from the April 2017 forecast. Consumers are keeping the world’s largest economy on track, as the United States’ expansion enters its ninth year. Growth in Japan surprised on the upside, spurred by a combination of improving consumer confidence and business sentiment. Expansive fiscal and monetary policies, easing political uncertainty, and robust market confidence are driving the recovery in the euro area, the report reads.
Expansionary fiscal policy and unanticipated external demand helped the PRC exceed expectations in the first half of 2017. Output will increase 6.7 per cent in 2017, an increase of 0.2 percentage points over the previous forecast. In 2018, growth will slow to 6.4 per cent as anticipated reforms to trim industrial overcapacity and reduce financial risks kick in.
India continues its strong showing, although demonetization and implementation of the new goods and services tax regime have dented consumer spending and business investment. These short-term disruptions are expected to dissipate, allowing these initiatives to generate growth dividends over the medium term. India’s GDP growth is downgraded to 7 per cent in FY2017, a 0.4 percentage point drop from the April forecast. In FY2018, the forecast is adjusted down to 7.4 per cent from 7.6 per cent.
Southeast Asia, meanwhile, is set for stronger growth as output accelerates steadily from 5 per cent in 2017 to 5.1 per cent in 2018, an upgrade from 4.8 per cent and 5 per cent in the previous forecast. Regional growth will be led by rising exports from Singapore and Malaysia, while the forecasts for regional leaders Indonesia and Thailand are maintained.
Growth forecasts for Central Asia are revised up this year and next amid stable oil prices, improving prospects for the Russian Federation, and rising remittances. The Pacific outlook, on the other hand, is retained for 2017 but adjusted slightly downward for 2018 as prospects for the largest Pacific economies—Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste—are unchanged.
Risks to the region have become more balanced. Loose fiscal policy in the US and lower oil prices are potential upside risks to the region, while downside risks include tighter global liquidity, economic disruption from a geopolitical event, or a weather-related disaster. While the region remains better prepared for potential risks from the US unwinding its quantitative easing, high debt levels in Asia and the Pacific now pose a risk to financial stability. Because long-term interest rates in many Asian economies are closely linked to those in the US, policy makers need to strengthen their financial positions further and monitor debt levels and asset prices.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2016, ADB assistance totaled $31.7 billion, including $14 billion in cofinancing.

Lack of teeth weakens government's fight against black marketers

Lack of law has made the government's fight against black marketers weak.
According to supplies minister Shiva Kumar Mandal, the black marketers are getting impunity due to lack of proper law to take action against them.
Addressing a press meet, organised by Press Centre, Morang Chapter, in Biratnagar today, Mandal said that the concerned authorities have not been able to punish the black marketers due to lack of legal authority. "The government has monitored markets for 17,000 times in the past five years but there is no record of action taken against them as the monitoring body does not have the authority,” he said, adding that there is rampant adulteration of food items and petroleum products. "The black marketing has been increasing rapidly due to lack of law."
However, the Local Administration has the right to take action against the black marketers, and also the Ministry has the right to close the shops involved in black marketeering for 90 days.
The consumer rights activists claim that the government agencies have been active in market monitoring only before the festive season. "The timing has always been before festivities – like Dashain and Tihar – and not round the year," the consumer rights activists ask.
"Durbarmarg-based shops have been opened amid pressure and completing the legal process but the owners have been warned that they would be punished if they were found involved in carrying out black marketing in the coming days,” he said, lamenting the fact that market monitoring could not be effective as expected due to lack proper coordination by Customs Department.
Earlier, some six Durbarmarg-based outlets of Nike, Puma, Bentley and Store One brands were sealed for allegedly charging exorbitant price in their products. Bugt most of these brands have claimed that they have no authorised outlet in Nepal.
The government agencies – in monitoring – are thus blamed for bargaining with the big stores and super stores before festivals.

Monday, September 25, 2017

ADB to help improve delivery of urban services and infrastructure

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has sanctioned a $150 million soft loans for Nepal to improve urban infrastructures in the southern plains of the country.
The ADB’s board of directors has approved a $150 million loan to help improve the delivery of urban services and infrastructure in eight municipalities in the southern plains including in Province 7 in the far west, according to a press note issued by the multilateral development partner.
The project will help the areas become more sustainable, inclusive, and resilient places to live in for more than 1.5 million people, the press note reads.
Urbanisation in Nepal has been growing at a rapid pace at about six per cent since the 1970s, however, this has not contributed significantly to inclusive economic growth due to inadequate urban planning, weak institutions, neglected operations and maintenance (O&M) of existing urban infrastructure, as well as limited technical capacity. It is estimated that the government would need to double its spending on urban infrastructure to meet the backlog of future demand up to 2030 worth $24.5 billion.
Investments from the Regional Urban Development Project will focus on eight municipalities from the southern Tarai region, including four municipalities from the less-developed Province 7 in far western Nepal.
The project will enhance urban infrastructure in municipalities in the Tarai region, incorporating climate-resilient and sustainable features, reducing flooding duration to less than an hour in eight municipalities. It includes the construction and rehabilitation of 200-km storm water drains; improvement of 240-km roads; construction of at least 40-km footpaths responsive to the needs of elderly, women, children, and people with disabilities; building of four sanitary landfills and resource recovery centres; and construction of 20-km sewers while connecting 7,500 households to the sewerage system in Biratnagar.
"Improving urban infrastructure and service delivery in major urban areas in Nepal, including in the Tarai region, is a must given their importance to the country’s economy and development,” an ADB urban development specialist Vivian Castro-Wooldridge, has been quoted as saying in the press note. "The project will ensure that people in the southern parts of Nepal are living in areas that are safe, sustainable, inclusive, and resilient to climate change."
The Tarai region is where a significant amount of Nepal’s urban population lives and where majority of the landlocked country’s trade activities flow—through the municipalities of Biratnagar, Birgunj, and Siddharthanagar. Province 7, bordering India, is one of the poorest and most vulnerable provinces in Nepal, with 40 percent of people living under poverty and almost none having access to proper waste collection and treatment facilities.
The project will mark ADB’s first investment in urban infrastructure in Province 7 and will improve flood management, mobility and solid waste management. It will also assist the development of urban plans and bylaws that reflect greater disaster risk resilience, improved land management, and regional development. Municipal capacity will be strengthened through the implementation of a performance-based socio-economic development programme.
The project will also support a project development facility for the preparation of a pipeline of urban infrastructure projects, particularly in solid waste management, drainage, roads, water supply, and sanitation, with high readiness to reduce future start-up delays, adds the release.