Thursday, June 22, 2017

World Bank to provide Rs 19 billion loan

The World Bank (WB) has agreed to provide Nepal government with Rs 19 billion loan assistance for increasing the quality of education.
Finance secretary Shanta Raj Subedi and World Bank Nepal country manager Takuya Kamata signed the agreement today at the ministry.
The loan that requires five year’s time to pay off would be used for increasing educational quality, expanding justifiable access to primary and secondary education, improving teaching and learning activities and building strong and reformed educational system, a press statement issued by the Finance Ministry stated.
The initiative would contribute to the school sector reform plan of the government, said Kamata after the signing ceremony. He also said around seven million students and 180,000 teachers would benefit from the programme.
Likewise, Subedi, on the occasion, urged the Education Ministry and its subordinate bodies to be serious and work hard to implement the programme. He also requested the World Bank to provide additional support to the government’s initiatives to ensure sustainable social service, manage human resources and build development infrastructure of the country.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Government recalls 6 Patanjali products

On the International Yoga day, the government has recalled six products of Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev's Patanjali pharmacy as they failed microbial tests.
The Department of Drug Administration (DDA) – in a public notice – said six Ayurvedic medical products manufactured by Divya Pharmacy in Uttarakhand, were found to be substandard during inspections at various outlets and tests on specimens. The drug authority has recalled six products, Triphala Churna, Adviya Churna and Aswangandha. Amla Churna, Divya Divya Gashar Churna, Bahuchi Churna. All these Patanjali products were manufactured at Divya Pharmacy in Uttarakhand.
"The batch of medicine which was inspected by the department are found to have contained pathogenic bacteria," an official of the Department said, urging the stakeholders not to sell or prescribe the use of these six medicines with immediate effect.
The drug authority has asked the Patanjali Ayurveda unit in Nepal to inform them about steps being taken to recall the products in line with medicine laws.
Earlier, Indian Army has also stopped sale of Patanjali's Amla juice across its canteens, Canteen Stores Department, after it received negative test report on samples it had sent to Food Safety Standards Authority of India laboratory. The 'unsafe' Amla juice exposes defence personnel to certain health risks, according to the reports
Also in 2016, a PIL in Gujarat High Court had sought ban on the sale of shilajeet – a product used to enhance sexual prowess – by Yoga guru Baba Ramdev's Patanjali brand of medicines. The PIL was filed on the ground that selling a product like shilajeet under the brand name of Patanjali, who is a very revered saint for the Hindus, hurts religious sentiments. However, the PIL was withdrawn later.
According to Patanjali Ayurveda Kendra in Kathmandu – the sole distributor of the products in Nepal – the medicines have not been banned but restriction was imposed on the sale and use of certain batch of the medicines that failed lab test. "We will immediately recall the medicines, if found substandard," an official at the Patanjali Ayurveda Kendra said.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Nepal asks China to lower air fare

Nepal has requested China to lower the airfare between China and Nepal.
During the 11th meeting of Joint Consultation Mechanism between Nepal and China held here today in Kathmandu, Nepal has requested to lower the airfare to promote the bilateral trade and tourism.
Both sides, on the occasion, discussed the ways to further enhance coordination and facilitation for the promotion of Nepal’s tourism prospects in China in the context of the Chinese government’s announcement of the year 2017 as ‘Nepal’s Tourism Promotion Year in China’.
The Nepali side also expressed hope that cross-border connectivity, infrastructure development, diversification of Nepal’s trade, promotion of investment and tourism would receive priority in the implementation of the MoU on cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) signed by the two sides on May 12.
The Nepali side also emphasised the need of early resumption of Tatopani-Zhangmu border point. China has agreed to reopen the Tatopani customs point that remains closed since April 2015 when the earthquakes heavily damaged infrastructures on both sides of Nepal-China border. The Chinese side has assured Nepal that China is committed to resuming the operation of the Tatopani customs point once the reconstruction of the damaged buildings and road and protection works of the area are completed. The Chinese delegation also informed the Nepali side that they are investing some Rs 2 billion for the protection and reconstruction works in the area.
Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi led the 21-member Nepali delegation while assistant minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Kong Xuanyou led the 12-member Chinese delegation for the meeting that assessed the progress made in the implementation of agreements and Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) reached between the two sides in the past. They also expressed commitment to further promote cooperation in mutually agreed areas. Both sides also agreed to work in realisation of economic opportunities available for mutual benefits.
The visiting assistant minister is scheduled to pay courtesy calls on Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Krishna Bahadur Mahara tomorrow.
He will also visit the reconstruction projects in Kathmandu being implemented under the Chinese grant assistance.
Kong and his delegation arrived Kathmandu on June 19 to attend the meeting and will depart for Beijing on June 22.
The Joint Consultation Mechanism was set up in 1996 as a platform for discussing the matters of mutual concerns and cooperation at the senior officials’ level between the Foreign Ministries of Nepal and China.
During their visits to China, the then prime ministers K P Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal – both – had asked the Chinese side to reopen the Tatopani-Zhangmu border point. Nepal has also been raising this issue in all other meetings with the Chinese side.

IFC, FMO Invest in hospitality

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) – a member of the World Bank Group – has invested $2.75 million in Nepal Hospitality and Hotel Pvt Ltd to develop the new 3-star hotel, Fairfield Marriott at Thamel in Kathmandu. In addition to its own investment, IFC has mobilised a further $2.75 million investment from FMO, the Netherlands-based development bank. The 115-room hotel is operated by international chain Marriott under its Fairfield brand, and is the first internationally-branded, professionally-managed mid-market hotel in Nepal.
This initiative of IFC and FMO will help in building skills of those employed in the sector and contribute to the development of local supply chains, and thereby support significant employment in ancillary industries as well, according to IFC.
International-standard hotels like the Fairfield Marriot property help emerging markets like Nepal attract business and leisure travelers, managing director of Nepal Hospitality and Hotel Pvt Ltd Gaurav Agrawal, said, adding that investments that support vital economic industries like tourism will send a strong signal to international investors that Nepal is poised for growth and is an attractive destination that continues to cater to travellers’ needs.
The Fairfield Marriott Hotel will help increase Nepal’s capacity in the mid-market hotel segment, create jobs, and promote energy-efficient hotel design, and is expected to stimulate tourism and support the economy. It will also help build skills of those employed in the sector and contribute to the development of local supply chains. State of the art construction principles have been implemented by adopting green building design in order to increase energy and water-efficiency measures, which will serve as a model for replication across the industry.
International-standard hotel like the Fairfield Marriott property help emerging markets like Nepal attract business and leisure travelers. Investments that support vital economic industries like tourism, will send a strong signal to international investors that Nepal is poised for growth and is an attractive destination that continues to cater to traveler’s needs.
According to IFC, it remains committed to promote such development in Nepal as the country and industry recover from the impacts of the 2015 earthquake. IFC’s tourism investments promote development of critical infrastructure in places where there is often a shortage and send a positive signal to other investors.
IFC also pledged to invest in hotels and tourism especially in low-income and fragile conflict-affected countries like Nepal, which contributes in strengthening their economy.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Decent work agenda key pillar of fair globalisation

Decent work agenda promoted by International Labour Organisation (ILO) constitutes a key pillar of fair globalisation where everyone becomes a winner, said president Bidya Devi Bhandari addressing the 106th session of ILO conference in Geneva today.
"This goal can be achieved, if every state accords due regard to the dignity and value of work," she said, adding that the governments should create an environment for sharing best practices and promoting innovative ideas to make work more dignified.
The President, reminding the world leaders of an ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the year 2015, said that it was a matter of satisfaction that all pillars of the Decent Work Agenda were duly integrated in the 2030 Agenda. "It has also rightly identified gender equality both as an objective as well as a means for realising the goals, she hailed.
She also hailed the role of trade unions in maintaining harmonious industrial relations and peace ultimately contributes to the economic development and prosperity of society at large.
Appreciating ILO for electing Nepal in the Governing Board, she said, "As ILO approaches its 100th anniversary in 2019, I commend it for making ‘Women at Work’ as one of the centenary initiatives."
However, according to ILO, Nepal has the highest Female Labour Force Participation Rate in the South Asia region. Nepal's global ranking in this pillar is 17th.
The President said compared to situation few decades ago, women are more educated and trained now. "They have better access to labour market, represent in increasing number in parliaments and have more leadership role in governments and enterprises," she said, adding that the goal, however, towards realising full gender equality is yet to be achieved. "
Societies cannot stand a long time on the shaky foundation of discrimination and inequality."
The President also informed that Nepal was on a transition from conflict to peaceful political transformation alongside the endeavours to transform from conservatism and outmoded social structures.

Monday, June 12, 2017

OBOR can be a model project

The One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative of China can become a model project of the 21st century, according to chieftain of the Nepali private sector.
Addressing the 12th China-South Asia Business Forum in Kunming, China, today, president of the Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), Bhawani Rana said that the project initiated by the Chinese government can turn out to be a model project of this century as it can help in the economic development of several countries.
“OBOR will also help to revive the socio-economy of the world at large, by creating jobs, capital and prosperity for the whole of humanity," she said. Adding that landlocked countries like Nepal can take a huge benefit from OBOR to develop the nation economically. "The OBOR project will help Nepal to connect with other economically strong countries."
A team of business leaders led by Rana is in China to participate in the forum which will conclude on Thursday.
Organised jointly by China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) and SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) for the promotion of international trade, the forum is attended by business leaders of Nepal, India, China, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Bangladesh and representatives from SCCI.
Nepal formally became a partner of OBOR initiative on May 12.
Addressing the forum, Rana further said that along with the opportunities arising out of OBOR, Nepal faces new challenges, mostly in its lack of competitive strength and investment capacity. "The private sector of Nepal should produce goods to export to China so that the train that comes full with goods does not have to return empty," she said. "In this, Nepal needs investment in industries which can utilize the newly opened vistas of connectivity."

Friday, June 9, 2017

16 million euro grant deal for energy development

Nepal and Germany today signed an agreement on €16 million grant assistance committed by the German Federal Government last year on energy sector cooperation.
Outgoing German ambassador Matthias Meyer and finance secretary Shanta Raj Subedi signed the agreement at the Finance Ministry.
The grant will comprise financial assistance for the construction of the Lekhnath-Damauli 220 kV double circuit transmission line under the project, Promotion of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in Nepal, Phase II.
"This transmission line is a crucial element of strengthening Nepal’s national grid, as it will evacuate power from various hydropower plants being constructed both by the public and private sectors,” said the joint statement issued after the agreement signing.
The projected cost of the venture is €32.5 million (Rs 3.82 billion), it reads, adding that approximately 50 per cent of the project’s cost will be covered by German Financial Cooperation. "Nepal government has committed to cover remaining cost of the project through Nepal Electricity Authority’s (NEA) funds."
Both governments have expressed their commitment at ensuring a successful and timely implementation of the project.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Migrant workers are exploited: AI report

Nepal has been accused for failing to address rampant deception and extortion in the labour recruitment business, putting migrant workers at risk of forced labour abroad and leaving them with crippling debts.
"Unscrupulous recruiters are getting away with destroying lives – all over Nepal – illegally charging aspiring job-seekers exorbitant fees to get jobs abroad, and then abandoning them overseas when things go wrong," deputy director of Amnesty International's (AI) Global Issues programme James Lynch said, speaking at the launch of a new report 'Turning People into Profits: Abusive Recruitment, Trafficking and Forced Labour of Nepali Migrant Workers,' in Kathmandu today.
He also added that it is only when they leave Nepal that migrant workers find out that they have been deceived about everything from salary to working conditions. "By then it is far too late and many end up with debts that may take the rest of their working lives to pay off."
"Migrant workers contribute equal to a third of Nepal's GDP in money they send back home, yet the government spends a tiny fraction of its budget on their needs," he added.
The government has taken some positive steps including 'Free Visa, Free Ticket' policy from July 2015, towards tackling abuse suffered by workers.
It was supposed to limit the amount that recruitment agents and agencies can charge workers, by requiring foreign employers to pay for airline tickets and visa processing costs, and lowering what recruitment agencies can charge workers in service fees to Rs 10,000 ($96).
"Despite some bright ideas lack of political will combined with bureaucratic inertia means businesses are still effectively free to exploit migrants," Lynch said, "It is abundantly clear the Free Visa, Free Ticket policy is not being implemented or enforced properly."

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Ncell committed to digital Nepal

Ncell announced today that the company is all set to deploy technology neutrality on 900 and 1800 MHz band to double its fast mobile internet footprint via 3G to 60 per cent of the population.
With technology neutrality, Ncell – the leading GSM mobile service provider of the country – can enable more than 17 million Nepali in Nepal to enjoy fast mobile internet service, according to the telecom company's media release.
The extended coverage areas will include more than 1,000 rural and remote villages, for example, Deuralikot of Bajhang, Shreenagar of Mugu, Jhong in Mustang, Malta of Lalitpur and Tingla of Solukhumbu. "These villages will have access to fast mobile internet for the first time in their life, which will contribute to bridge the prevailing digital divide, bringing immense positive changes in the lives of people, economy of those communities and social arena," it adds.
A World Bank report states that access to mobile broadband can give an immediate impetus to economic growth, with every 10 percentage point rise in broadband penetration raising economic growth by 1.38 percentage point.
"We are excited about the great impact that technology neutrality is set to bring to the people and the country, especially in term of access to internet, creation of new opportunities and GDP growth,” the release has quoted managing director of Ncell Simon Perkins, as saying. “We have committed to resources, knowledge transfer and investment with up to Rs 30 billion in infrastructure and services accordingly to achieve this goal," he said, adding that the company will collectively realise the national goal of building ‘Digital Nepal’.
As a part of this commitment to nation building, Ncell has introduced 4G in Kathmandu Valley from June 1, empowering customers in the Kathmandu Valley, Banepa and Dhulikhel with 4G services so that they are able to take benefits of the LTE technology.
The company is also planning and testing 4G service in 40 other cities nationwide, embracing a target that 15 per cent of population have access to 4G coverage within 2017