Thursday, July 11, 2019

Himalaya Airlines announces direct flight to Dhaka

Himalaya Airlines has announced the direct flights on Kathmandu-Dhaka-Kathmandu route from July 22. The airline will operate its A320–214 narrow bodied aircraft on the route, configured with 150 Economy Class and 8 Premium Economy Class seats, it said, adding that the airline has a fleet of three new Airbus 320-200. “The new flight schedule offers expedient travel options for leisure and business travelers.”
Bangladesh being a major volume market for Nepali tourism, the inbound connectivity shall focus predominantly on getting Bangladeshi tourists on board, the airlines informed. “With the airlines’ regular flights to Middle East destinations like Doha, Dubai-Abu Dhabi, and Dammam, the new sector shall also significantly project Kathmandu as a transit hub for Bangladeshi passengers.”
“We take pleasure to announce our connectivity to another Asian Destination, Dhaka in Bangladesh shouldering our role in contributing to the promotion of tourism and business amongst neighboring countries,” said vice president–administration Vijay Shrestha.
“This connectivity will boost new business opportunities between Nepal and Bangladesh and shall also serve as a bridge between the Middle East Countries and Bangladesh,” he said, adding that Himalaya Airlines shall be committed to continuing excellent service flavored with Nepali hospitality to its valued passengers. “The thrice weekly schedule have convenient timings, where flight H9 678 departs from Kathmandu at 11:10 hours (local time), and lands at 13:10 hours (local time) in Dhaka. The return flight H9 679 departs from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 14:10 hours (local time) the same day and arrives at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) at 15:20 hours.”
The Free Baggage Allowance for both the routes is 25 kg for Premium Economy Class and 20 kg for Economy Class, he added. “The airline aims at ensuring on-time flight performance.”
The airline has appointed SAir Air BD Ltd as its General Sales Agents (GSA), who will represent the airline in Bangladesh and will be responsible for the airline’s sales and marketing, market development, reservations and ticketing services.
Established in August 2014, Himalaya Airlines – a Nepal-China joint venture provides international air services to five destinations including Abu Dhabi, Dammam, Doha, Dubai, and Kuala Lumpur, apart from Dhaka as the sixth one.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Investment in home-based women workers critical for cardamom enterprises

Women home-based workers play significant role in production and processing of large cardamom, according to a World Bank study released today.
Speaking at an event in Kathmandu to launch the report, secretary at the Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizen Chandra Prakash Ghimire, said production of large cardamom engaged a larger number of rural people of Nepal. “The study revealed that 90 per cent of the workforce in cardamom cultivation was comprised of women,” he said, adding that Nepal brought out Nepal Trade Integration Strategy (NTIS) in 2010 and 2016 being influenced largely by the theory of comparative advantage. “The second one is still in effect.”
The report ‘Understanding the Role of Women Home-Based Workers in Value Chains of Large Cardamom and Allo in Nepal' determines that large cardamom production is a critical source of livelihood generation for a majority of women home-based workers.
According to the report, women take the lead in nurturing and harvesting the crop before it travels through local markets and trading centers, from where it is exported to India. Nepal is the world's largest producer of large cardamom, with an annual production rate of 5,000 to 6,000 metric tonnes. The production of large cardamom has expanded to 41 out of the 77 districts.
Bhutan and India follow Nepal in the volume of production. Taplejung, Panchthar, Ilam, and Sankhuwasabha are the main production districts of Nepal, the report reads, adding that about 98 per cent of Nepal's production is exported and even though most actors expect the value chain to make attractive returns, it is heavily dependent on Indian traders. “Nepali traders have little role in price determination.”
Since 2015, the price of the product – which is dependent on global market fluctuations – has, however, seen a continuous decline. In Taplejung District, women home-based workers admitted that crop disease and lack of water resources have become sources of worry. Additionally, women home-based workers lack access to the market and feasible credit facilities.
National Planning Commission (NPC) member Dr Usha Jha, on the occasion, said that Nepal can provide a platform for the neighboring countries – Bhutan and India which are growing this highly valued spice – to enlarge the pie and seek new markets in South East Asia, while propagating this eastern Himalayan region as a spice corridor.
HomeNet South Asia (HNSA) – a network of home-based worker organisations in South Asia – led the study that shows that the cash crop enjoys a lucrative market, and the incomes generated from it have made immense contributions to improving the lives of women involved.
On the occasion, country manager of World Bank for Nepal Faris H Hadad Zervos said that putting in place a system of gender-disaggregated and gender-specific data collection, introducing women-friendly technology and tools for production and processing, and supporting women's institution building for skill enhancement and marketing will go a long way in ensuring effective and appropriate returns to investment in the cardamom industry.
The report was launched during a multi-stakeholder consultation on South Asia's large cardamom value chain development prospects hosted by the World Bank, with participation from government officials from Nepal, Bangladesh, and India. The consultation meeting focused on women's entrepreneurship in the large cardamom value chain in Nepal, India and Bhutan, and also explored such opportunities in Bangladesh.

Factories increase operating capacity, albeit minimal

Due to regular electricity supply and comparatively cordial labour relations, the average capacity utilisation of domestic factories has increased to 60 per cent – from 58 per cent of last fiscal year’s same period – over the first six months of the current fiscal year 2018-19, according to a new report published by the central bank today.
The half-yearly report ‘Economic Activities Study’, revealed that the industrial capacity utilisation – the rate that measures the extent or level of manufacturing and production of any industry or plant – inched up by two percentage points from the same period of the last fiscal year 2017-18.
 The report is based on a survey conducted in major industries of 23 sectors in 57 districts also revealed the rise in capacity utilisation of soft drinks, jute products, processed leathers, paper and paper products, and plastic goods. “However, capacity utilisation of vegetable ghee and oil, processed milk, grains and poultry feeds, cigarette, resin, electricity wires and cables industries has dropped,” according to the survey.
Though, the gradual rise in industrial capacity utilisation has also been attributed to a progress in the performance of domestic industries that the government is promoting through various incentives and subsidies, the country’s import has not decreased, neither the exports increased.
The 60 per cent of capacity utilisation means 40 per cent of the plants or machineries are sitting idle, which could be utilised to their fullest also helping create employment and making the domestic products more competitive.
The private sector is still in ‘wait and watch’ situation despite the two-third majority, stable government, regular power supply, and cordial labour-management relations, as they are scared with the government’s ‘business unfriendly’ policy and behaviour. “The political stability is the first and foremost condition not the last one for the business-friendly environment,” an industrialist said, adding that the government is not walking the talk and focusing its energy on ‘extortion’ from the businesses and enterprises. 

ISPs to hike 13 per cent in internet fees from July 17

The Internet Service Providers Association of Nepal (ISPAN) is increasing internet fees by 13 per cent with effective from July 17 as the government failed to implement the previous agreement reached with them. As a result, the internet subscribers will have to bear additional burden of at least Rs 100 on a minimum package, while other internet packages will be costlier.
ISPs had decided to raise internet fee by 13 per cent – in mid-July last year – following the government’s decision to impose 13 per cent telecommunication service charge (TSC) on internet services with effective from the beginning of the current fiscal year. However, they revoked the decision after the government’s assurance of subsidising 6.5 per cent of the TSC and waive TSC on internet wires and routers, leased line data connectivity and repair costs. The government had also assured the ISPs that it would share half of the TSC burden imposed on internet services.
But the government failed to walk the talk of implementation of sharing 50 per cent of TSC imposed on internet services which has forced the ISPs to hike the cost, according to chairman of ISPAN Bhoj Raj Bhatta.
The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has however urged them to discuss before putting additional financial burden on to customers. The government has brought the policy to increase the access of internet by bringing the price down.

Government hikes visa fee from next week

After a decade, the government has increased, albeit minimal only to make it contextual, the visa fees for foreign tourists effective from the starting of the new fiscal year 2019-20 that is July 17.
According to Department of Immigration (DoI), the government has decided to hike visa fees for tourist, students, non-tourist, business and residential visa types on May 26. “The change in visa fee structure has been less as the country is observing Visit Nepal Year 2020,” the department informed, adding that the fee structure will be revised again in 2021.
The department has hiked visa fee from $5 to $35. While the tourist visa fee for 15 days – multiple entry – has been raised by $5 to $30 from $25, tourist visa fee for 30 days – multiple entry – has been raised to $50 from $40, the department informed, adding that the tourist visa fee for 90 days – multiple entry – has been raised by $35 to $125 from $90.
Likewise, the department has also increased the visa extension fee for foreign tourists. According to the department, the visa extension fee – within valid visa period – has been raised with a minimum of $1 to a maximum of $5. The tourists will have to pay additional $3 per day for visa extension within valid visa period and $5 per day for visa extension after visa expiration has been raised to $3 per day from $2 per day. “Similarly, visa extension fee – with multiple entry – has been increased to additional $25 from $20. The late fee on visa extension – after visa expiration – has also been raised to $5 per day from $3 per day.
Similarly, under the non-tourist type, foreigners with Nepali origin will have to pay $10 per month, up from $5, the department said, adding that foreigners working in offices or projects directly affiliated with the government of Nepal and their dependents will be charged $30 per month, whereas foreigners married to Nepali citizens will have to pay $15 per month. “Previously they had to pay $20 and $10, respectively.”
The department has, however, hiked the residential visa fee to the highest. A 'new visa' with multiple entry facility for residential type has been increased to $500 from $200. “Likewise, $200 will be charged for visa renewal with multiple entry facility, up from $100 per year.”
With the increment in visa fee the department expects the visa fee collection will increase as it has collected Rs 3 billion from visa fees in the last year.
But the tourists from SAARC countries – except Afghanistan – are exempt from the multiple entry tourist visa fee for 30 days. “Tourists from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka will be charged the same amount after a month except India as Indians don't need visa to enter Nepal,” the department added.

UN encourages members to realise ICPD goal

The links between population, development and human rights, including reproductive rights identified by 179 countries, including Nepal, at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo 25 years ago, are still relevant, said UN officials.
On the occasion of this year’s World Population Day that calls for global attention to the unfinished business of the ICPD Programme of Action, United Nations (UN) secretary-general António Guterres said carrying forward the vision of the ICPD will unlock opportunities for those left behind and help pave the way for sustainable, equitable and inclusive development for all.
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are closely interrelated with demographic trends including population growth, ageing, migration and urbanisation, he said, issuing a statement. While managing these population trends, we must also recognise the relationship between population, development and individual well-being, the UN chief said, adding that promoting gender equality is one of the most reliable pathways to sustainable development and improved well-being of people across the globe. “In November, a summit marking the 25th anniversary of the Cairo Conference will take place in Nairobi,” Guterres added. “I encourage member states to participate and to make firm political and financial commitments to realise the programme of action of the ICPD.”
Issuing a statement, executive director of United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) Natalia Kanem said women have the right to make their own decisions about whether, when and how often to become pregnant. “That right was reaffirmed in 1994 in Cairo at the landmark ICPD, where 179 governments agreed that sexual and reproductive health is the foundation for sustainable development.”
Despite considerable gains over the past 25 years, we still have a long way to go to live up to the promise of Cairo, the UNFPA chief said, adding that too many people continue to be left behind and too many are still unable to enjoy their rights, according to UNFPA, Nepal.
“On this World Population Day, I call on governments, civil society, communities and people from all sectors and walks of life to be bold and courageous and do the needful for women and girls, to accomplish the unfinished business of Cairo,” she added.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Nepal holds discuss on climate change

The Permanent Mission of Nepal to the United Nations (UN) in New York and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) has organised a side event entitled, ‘Impacts of Climate Change on the Mountains’ on the sidelines of the 2019 High-Level Political Forum at the UN Headquarters in New York today.
Permanent representative of Nepal to the UN ambassador Amrit Bahadur Rai welcomed the participants to the event organised to share the key findings of the Hindu Kush Himalaya Report of recently released by ICIMOD and also to draw lessons from the recommendations for inclusive mountain development. He said that the discussions will contribute to the ongoing exercise for the UN secretary-general’s Climate Action Summit to be held in September 2019.
National Planning Commission (NPC) vice chair Dr Puspa Raj Kadel, who is in New York leading the Nepali delegation to 2019 High-Level Political Forum, on the occasion, underlined that the impact of climate change on vulnerable countries is extremely high and countries like Nepal are facing disproportionate brunt of climate change despite their insignificant emissions. Kadel also shared that the government has decided to convene a Sagarmatha Dialogue, a global platform to exchange views on areas including climate change.
The side event featured a presentation by director general of ICIMOD Dr David Molden, on key findings and recommendations of the Hindu Kush Himalaya Report. Dr Molden cautioned that even if global warming was limited to 1.5° C by 2100, there would be a 1.8° C rise temperature rise across the region and up to 2.2° C in the mountains due to the Elevation Dependent Warming (EDW). He further said that if it is unchecked, this will adversely impact the lives of not just the 240 million mountain dwellers but also 1.6 billion people downstream. He warned that the melting of ice and loss of glaciers on the mountains will impact agriculture productivity, hunger and poverty, migration, rich ecosystems and biodiversity.
He concluded by highlighting six urgent actions including cooperating at all levels, limiting global temperatures, enhancing ecosystem resilience, recognising and prioritising uniqueness of mountain issues, achieving SDGs and sharing information and knowledge.
Following the presentation, a moderated interactive discussion took place for further deliberation on the serious message and implications of the report, as well as way forward to address this issue. Ambassadors and representatives of Austria, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh, Bhutan also shared their views on the occasion. The discussion was moderated by former Permanent Representative of Nepal to UN and former UN under-secretary-general Gyan Chandra Acharya.
Delivering his closing remarks, secretary-general’s special envoy for the 2019 Climate Action Summit ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba thanked Nepal and ICIMOD for organising the timely event. He also expressed his hope that the event would be able to raise awareness in the region as well as at the global level and contribute towards the drive of climate action, including through a greater focus on ‘nature based solutions’ as well as through coming together for achieving ‘carbon neutrality’ by 2030.
Summing the event ambassador Rai stressed that the efforts to combat climate change will go a long way to secure our planet and save present as well as future generations.

Government yet to spend almost 50 per cent of development budget

The all powerful government in the history of Nepal has failed to expedite the development activities as half of the development budget is yet unspent even as the current fiscal year draws closer.
The incompetent and highly politicised bureaucracy and ‘communist’ government – despite the two-third majority – has been able to spend only 56.35 per cent to Rs 179.7 billion – out of the Rs 313.99 billion allocated for fiscal year 2018-19 – by today July 9, according to the Financial Comptroller General Office (FCGO).
The Finance Ministry has revised the capital expenditures downwards to Rs 265.20 billion through the mid-term budgetary review for the current fiscal year 2018-19. Due to government’s failure to enhance its spending capacity, it is still to spend over Rs 85 billion within next one week to meet even the downward revised development expenditure target. “
Last fiscal year 2017-18, capital expenditure stood at 79.74 per cent, which was the highest since 2012-13 when the spending has touched 82.56 per cent.
The FCGO data also reveals that the government has spent a total of – including capital expenditure, financing and recurrent – 72.15 per cent of the budget of Rs 1.31 trillion. The government has spent Rs 677.07 billion recurrent expenditure – out of the total allocated Rs 845.45 billion – whereas it has spent Rs 92.13 billion on financing – out of the total Rs 155.72 billion – till today.
Lack of proper project planning, weak policy execution capacity of the bureaucracy and weak project execution capacity of contractors have been, though, blamed for the lack of spending capacity of the comparatively stronger government, the government is still hopeful that the budget spending could reach upto 80 per cent in a week due to last minute payments. As a result, the last hour ‘irresponsible’ spending trend will also continue this year making the government hopeful of spending around 80 per cent by July 16, the last date of the current fiscal year.
Along with the abnormally low capital budget spending, the low revenue mobilisation exposes the government inefficiency. As of today, the government has been able to mobilise only Rs 672 billion against its target of Rs 831 billion, though it claimed to meet the target in a week.

Dairy development policy amendment on cards

National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) is planning to amend Dairy Development Policy (DDP-2007) to improve the dairy industry in rural areas and to uplift the livelihood of dairy producers. The board is going to be amended the 12-year old policy that has never been implemented.
The NDDB has planned to regulate and develop the dairy industry making the amended policy more flexible. The draft amendment has changed the provision related to establishment of a dairy fund for the welfare of the dairy industry.
“The government enterprises, cooperatives and private dairy firms would have to pay service tax on each litre of milk to the dairy fund,” the initial draft read, adding that the collected amount would be spent on the development of various areas of the dairy industry. The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD) has, however, not endorsed the policy forcing the board to amend it. The board has thus now made the policy more flexible by softening the provision and the dairy fund will be set up through the contribution of stakeholders, which means industrialists are no more obliged to pay service tax for the dairy fund.
Likewise, the draft provision has not changed the policy mostly related to preserving and promoting livestock farming, providing grants and subsidies to farmers involved in dairy industry, providing required machinery, conducting awareness programmes and skill-based trainings along with establishing cold stores and warehouses.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Nepal, India agree to expedite bilateral project works

The seventh meeting of Nepal-India Oversight Mechanism held in Kathmandu today reviewed the progress of bilateral projects, and agreed to expedite works by overcoming obstacles.
The meeting – co-chaired by foreign secretary Shanker Das Bairagi and ambassador of India to Nepal Manjeev Singh Puri – also reviewed the status of implementation of all ongoing bilateral projects including cross-border railways, petroleum pipelines, roads, integrated check posts, bridges, energy, irrigation, inundation, agriculture, and post-earthquake reconstruction.
Both sides agreed to address the problems and overcome obstacles to ensure smooth implementation of the projects, according to a press note issued by the Foreign Ministry after the meeting.
They also agreed to expedite the works to complete the projects on time, it reads, adding that the Nepal-India Oversight Mechanism was set up – after the state visit of Prime Minister Puspa Kamal Dahal in September 2016 – to oversee the implementation of bilateral projects, and and take necessary steps for their completion in time. “The eighth meeting of the mechanism will take place on a mutually convenient date.'

Bilateral trade between India and Nepal to cross $10 billion in three years

The bilateral trade between Nepal and India is expected to cross $10 billion on the backdrop of increased sentiment for trade and investments between the two economies, according to PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI).
Currently, the bilateral trade between the two economies stands at $8.3 billion in the fiscal year 2018-19 with Nepal’s import from India at $7.8 billion and export only at $0.5 billion with a trade deficit of $7.3 billion.
In this backdrop, Nepal has sought India’s uninterrupted cooperation and complete trust to build a roadmap for a New Nepal just the way India is visualising a ‘New India’ through sound institutional arrangements in place, said Nepali ambassador to India Nilambar Acharya, addressing ‘Advantage Nepal Conclave: Ease of Doing Business in Nepal,’ under aegis of PHDCCI’s India-Nepal Centre (INC) in collaboration with Embassy of Nepal and Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) in New Delhi today.
Acharya also pointed out that the era of insurgency and instability at government’s level in Nepal is over and with a stable government in place, the country looks forward towards India to build a fresh new country which ensures an inclusive growth for each of its citizen. “The era of insurgency and instable governments in Nepal is a thing of past and with new government in place with its fresh constitution, the country is committed for its social and economic transformation with close cooperation from India and other neighbouring countries though Nepal attaches paramount importance to India, given its age old relations between India and Nepal,” said the ambassador.
Acharya, on the occasion, also emphasised on the trust factor which Nepal holds over India by stating that given intensity of Nepali traditional relationship with India, for its economic and social upliftment and that it expects an uninterrupted and complete cooperation of India to rebuilding the new Nepal.
He identified host of areas for possible joint ventures between Nepal and India Inc such as heritage tourism, power particularly hydro, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and the like including education and skill development.
Host of experts – present on the occasion – also emphasised the need to explore the trade and investment opportunities and extended an invitation to India to participate in the economic development of Nepal, with a pro-active approach to achieve the desired objectives and they further assured of providing a conducive and suitable social environment to overseas industries particularly the ones from India.
It was also emphasised that PHDCCI, which largely represents the MSME segment, should be assigned the task of drafting the MSME Policy for the economy of Nepal, so that small and micro organizations of the two countries come forward at a united platform to cement the cooperation in the desired direction.
The conclave witnessed immediate past president of PHDCCI Anil Khaitan, chairman of India-Nepal Centre under PHDCCI and former envoy of India to Nepal K V Rajan, vice president of CNI and chairman of India-Nepal Centre (Nepal chapter) under PHDCCI Nirvana Chaudhary, deputy chief of Mission at the Embassy of Nepal in New Delhi Bharat Kumar Regmi, economic counselor at the Embassy of Nepal in New Delhi Tirtha Poudel, former governor of Chhattisgarh and former deputy national security adviser Shekhar Dutt, and former ambassador to Nepal Ranjeet Rae among others.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

More than a dozen banks pledge to undergo merger

Some 16 banks have pledged to undergo merger and acquisition (M&A) in the near future as asked by the central bank. However, they seeking tax incentives.
Century Commercial Bank, Citizens Bank International, Civil Bank, Global IME Bank, Himalayan Bank, Kumari Bank, Laxmi Bank, Machhapuchchhre Bank, Mega Bank, NCC Bank, NIC Asia Bank, Nepal Investment Bank, Nepal SBI Bank, NMB Bank, Sanima Bank and Sunrise Bank have informed the central bank that they are ready to either go for merger or acquire other banks, whereas Janata Bank and Global IME Bank have already announced their merger plans.
The central bank has – before the Monetary Policy for the next fiscal year 2019-20 – asked the banks to opt for either merger or the acquisition, on the basis of the government’s fiscal policy. The central bank had also sought commitments from all the 28 commercial banks – primarily intending to bring down the number of banks, raise their capital and increasing their lending capacity – for either merger or acquisition before the Monetary Policy is announced in mid-July.
Earlier, 4 years ago in the fiscal year 2015-16, the central bank had – through the Monetary Policy – compelled banks to raise minimum paid-up capital by four times to Rs 8 billion from Rs 2 billion.
The bankers are though ready to go for merger or acquisition; they have asked the government to reduce income tax levied on banks by at least five percentage points for a period of five years for those banks who choose to merge with others. Currently, the government imposes 30 per cent income tax in the banking sector.

Ministry finalises medical firms for health check-up of Malaysia-bound Nepalis

The government has finalised some 99 health check-up centres for Nepali migrant workers going to Malaysia on the basis of the Malaysian government’s new health standard guideline that clarifies the medical requirements for migrant workers. But these centres will have to receive authentication from the Malaysian government before they can start different biometric works targeting Malaysia-bound Nepali workers.
These medical firms will have to wait for official authorisation from the Malaysian government, according to the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security (MoLESS) that has claimed that the Malaysian government will soon authenticate these selected firms.
After the authentication by the Malaysian government, it is expected to help resume the flow of Nepali migrant workers to Malaysia, added the ministry that had stopped sending workers to Malaysia since last May after it cracked down on Immigration Security Clearance and One Stop Centre, which were levying additional charges on Nepali migrants for obtaining health certificates.
Though, the government move is blamed to have been motivated by the political differences as those health centres were related to the opposition party Nepali Congress (NC) representatives’ relatives, the ministry has been claiming that they have been charging extra charges. The dispute has, however, completely halted the outflow of Nepali migrant workers to South Eastern country that tops the chart as the most favoured destination.
Likewise, the government has also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the bilateral labour pact with Malaysian government last October, the process to send Nepali migrant workers to Malaysia has not resumed yet.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Gold demand drops due to price hike

Demand of precious yellow metal – in the domestic market – has gone down by 45 per cent despite the weeding season.
Due to the significant rise in the gold prices in the market, the demand has been affected in the wedding season too, said former president of Federation of Nepal Gold and Silver Dealers’ Association (Fenegosida) Tej Ratna Shakya.
“Earlier the market demand used to be around 25 kilo per day during the wedding season, he said, adding that the the demand has dropped down to by 45 per cent – compared to last year’s wedding season – to around 10 to 12 kilo a daily. “Not only the demand has dropped but the people are also willing to sell their gold ornaments instead of buying new jewelries due to price hike.”
Gold traders are not willing to open their shops due to increasing gold jewellery sellers in the high season, he added. “The domestic market is witnessing some 25 kilo of old gold jewelleries trade per day at present compared to only 5 kilo in before the price increased.”
Though, the price of gold has remained almost stable at Rs 65,000 per tola (11664 gram) in the domestic market this week, the price of gold might go as high as Rs 80,000 per tola due to US-China trade dispute, which has pushed the price of precious yellow metal in the international market. The change in the price of gold in the international market directly changes the price in the domestic market that fixes price everyday based in the international market.

Friday, July 5, 2019

India hikes aid to Nepal to Rs 16.80 billion

For the next fiscal year 2019-20, India has increased financial assistance to Rs 10.5 billion (Indian Currency) –  that is approximately Rs 16.8 billion – from Rs 7.5 billion IC in the current fiscal to Nepal.
Announcing the Union Budget for the fiscal year 2019-20 to the Indian parliament today, Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman raised total aid for various countries to Rs 81.76 billion IC for the fiscal year fiscal year 2019-20 from Rs 64.66 billion IC of revised aid in the current fiscal year 2018-19. The proposed financial assistance for Nepal for the fiscal year 2019-20 is a threefold rise in Indian assistance to Nepal in fiscal year 2017-18. India had spent Rs 3.77 billion IC in Nepal in the fiscal year 2017-18. India has been increasing financial assistance to Nepal with every passing year. The aid to Nepal has been allocated through the Ministry of External Affairs of India which will finance various schemes and projects in Nepal.
Through the budget, the Indian government has decided to raise assistance to Nepal by 40 per cent. In the current fiscal year, India had made a revised expenditure allocation of Rs 7.5 billion IC to Nepal. “The revised estimate for the expenditure for assistance to Nepal has gone up from Rs 6.5 billion IC as proposed in the budget for the current fiscal year,” the budget speech reads, adding that Nepal will be the recipient of the third largest Indian assistance, after Bhutan and Mauritius. “India has increased financial assistance for most of the countries.”
India has financial assistance of Rs 28.02 billion IC to Bhutan, up from Rs 25.1 billion IC in the current fiscal year. Similarly, Mauritius has been allocated Rs 11 billion IC for the next fiscal year.
Afghanistan (Rs 4 billion IC), Bangladesh (Rs 1.75 billion IC), Sri Lanka (Rs 2.5 billion IC) and the Maldives (Rs 5.76 billion IC) are other South Asian countries receiving Indian aid in the next fiscal year.
Likewise, India has also allocated 80 million IC each for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and BIMSTEC, apart from Rs 2.75 billion IC for the United Nations. India has cut its contribution to the UN, though allocations to SAARC and BIMSTEC has been increased. “The South Asian University will receive 3.18 billion IC and Nalanda University will get 2.20 billion IC,” reads the India media reports. 

Indian grant in IC 
Bhutan – Rs 28.02 billion
Mauritius – Rs 11 billion
Nepal – Rs 10.50 billion
Maldives – Rs 5.76 billion
Afghanistan – Rs   4 billion
Myanmar – Rs 4 billion
Sri Lanka – Rs 2.50 billion
Bangladesh – Rs 1.75 billion
Seychelles – Rs 1 billion

CNI suggest central bank to bring clear concept on gold deposit

The Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) suggested the central bank to introduce the clear concept on gold deposit provision as proposed in the budget for the next fiscal year.
Submitting the suggestions on the monetary policy for the next fiscal year, the CNI suggested Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) to adopt a policy to resolve the liquidity problems that was being witnessed frequently in the banking sector.
Likewise, the CNI proposed to have different times for paying taxes and bank interest, according to a press statement issued by the CNI. “Until now, the duration for paying taxes and bank interests is almost same.”
The CNI also demanded to increase the size of its refinancing fund to Rs 100 billion and make a provision to allocate 30 per cent amount of the fund for the export related industries. “Similarly, the central bank has to ease the provision for providing loans to those industries and business which have high credit rating,” it reads, adding that the central bank should adopt a liberal policy for the foreign loans and for the infrastructure development projects.
The CNI has also asked the central bank to formulate the export friendly policy based on the balance of trade at present rather than introducing polices based on the balance of payment.
Responding the CNI suggestions, acting deputy governor Chintamani Siwakoti said that the central bank will formulate Monetary Policy based on the suggestions. 

Nepal takes lead in strengthening aid effectiveness agenda

Nepal is co-hosting a side event ahead of the Senior Level Meeting (SLM) of Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) in New York next week, taking a leadership role in ensuring the effectiveness of the foreign aid which reaches the underdeveloped countries.
The primary objective of the event to be organised on the sideline of the GPEDC Senior Level Meeting on July 12 will be to capture the priorities of Asia-Pacific countries on key issues of aid effectiveness being discussed at the GPEDC SLM. “This will be a high-level political event,” according to joint secretary Shreekrishna Nepal, who heads the International Economic Cooperation Coordination Division at the Finance Ministry. Nepal is the chair of GPEDC Steering Committee.
“We expect to have high-level representation from 86 countries from the Asia Pacific region, he added.
High-level finance ministry officials as well as finance ministers from Bangladesh, Myanmar, the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia and Japan, among others, have already confirmed their participation in the event supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The GPEDC – being held in New York on July 13-14 – will have participation of the representatives of development partner countries, aid recipient countries and civil society bodies and they will put forth their views to ensure aid effectiveness.
The event – Taking Stock of Effectiveness of Principles at Country Level: Bringing Evidence from Asia Pacific to the GPEDC Senior Level Meeting – co-hosted by the Bangladesh government aims at discussing the additional measures that may need to be taken both on the part of development partners and recipient countries to ensure aid effectiveness and help the underdeveloped countries to achieve targets set by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Nepal said there will be presentation of the findings of the study of the measures taken to ensure aid effectiveness in various 86 underdeveloped countries around the world at the event to be co-hosted by the Bangladesh government. The findings of the monitoring round study and evidence-based experiences and best practices shared by the countries from the Asia Pacific in the sideline event will be a set of messages reflecting priorities of Asia-Pacific countries to be brought into deliberations at the SLM of the GPEDC.
The discussion will revolve around the 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The National Planning Commission (NPC) – in its report – has projected that Nepal will face a financing gap of Rs 585 billion per year to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “The public sector and the private sector are expected to face financing gaps worth Rs 218.2 billion and Rs 366.8 billion per annum, respectively, to achieve the SDGs,” the report reads.

Nepal, German sign financial accord

Finance Secretary Rajan Khanal and German Ambassador to Nepal Roland Schäfer today signed a financial cooperation agreement of Euro 24.3 million (equivalent to Rs 3.2 billion) on behalf of their respective governments. The total volume of bilateral technical and financial cooperation from Germany since cooperation began in 1959 amounts to around Euro 979.6 million of grant assistance, according to a press release issued by the German Embassy today.
The grant assistance committed by the Federal Government of Germany in September 2018 will be used for the promotion of solar energy in rural areas, improvement of mother and child care in urban areas and sustainable economic development in rural and semi-urban areas, the release reads.
Under these programmes, German Development Bank KfW, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, is implementing promotion of solar energy in rural areas to support solar energy technologies such as solar pumping systems for drinking water and for irrigation, solar systems for public institutions like schools, health centres and government offices.
The bank is also implementing a project related to ‘improvement of mother and child care in urban areas including in Kathmandu-based Paropakar Maternity and Women’s Hospital. The project will construct and rehabilitate the extension of health facilities for up to four satellite centres. These satellite centres will provide both in-patient and out-patient services to women and children closer to their residencies.
Sustainable economic development project in rural and semi-urban areas is the continuation of earlier support to improve access to target-group oriented loans, predominantly in rural and semi-urban Nepal and in particular for loan sizes which go beyond microfinance but remain below traditional corporate finance.
Both governments expressed their commitments to ensuring a successful and timely implementation of these key projects, according to the press release.

The projects:
Improvement of Mother-Child Care in Urban Areas – Paropakar Maternity and Women’s Hospital, Kathmandu – Support in terms of construction and rehabilitation of health facilities to up to four satellite centers for
Promotion of Solar Energy in Rural Areas – Support for Nepal’s solar energy technologies such as solar pumping systems for drinking water/irrigation, solar systems for public institutions – health centers, government offices and schools
Sustainable Economic Development in Rural and Semi-Urban-Areas-MSME Finance/Phase 2 – Support in terms of improving access to sustainable and target-group oriented loans mainly in rural and semi-urban areas of Nepal. This support also includes loan sizes beyond microfinance but remain below traditional corporate finance.

Global IME, Janata Bank ink MoU for merger

Two commercial banks – Global IME Bank and Janata Bank Nepal – today decided to merge supporting the central bank’s move for a ‘big’ merger, and also to become the largest bank in the country in terms of capital size.
Global IME Bank and Janata Bank Nepal signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) today, informed chairman of Global IME Bank Chandra Prasad Dhakal, after the signing ceremony. “We have decided to enter into a merger looking into central bank’s plan,” he said, adding that the new bank will retain the name ‘Global IME’.
The MoU was signed by Dhakal and chairman of the Janata Bank Keshav Rayamajhi, on behalf of their respective banks. They have agreed to name chief executive of Janata Bank Parshuram Kunwar Chhetry as the chief executive of merged entity and Global IME’s acting chief executive Mahesh Dhakal will be his deputy. “The share swap ratio has been set at 1:0.85,” Dhakal added. It means that investors holding 100 unit shares of Janata Bank Nepal will receive 85 unit shares of Global IME post merger. “However, the final swap ratio will be determined after the due diligence audit (DDA) report is finalized,” he said, adding that the management teams of both the banks will finalise all the necessary procedures within four months. ““We will now seek the letter of intent from the Nepal Rastra Bank for the merger, while a committee will work on the DDA simultaneously.”
According to the third quarter report of the current fiscal year 2018-19, the paid-up capital of Global IME and Janata Bank Nepal stands at Rs 10.31 billion and Rs 8.08 billion, respectively. Likewise, the reserves and surplus of Global IME Bank and Janata Bank Nepal stand at Rs 5.12 billion and Rs 1.75 billion, respectively. The joint entity – post merger – will have Rs 18.39 billion paid-up capital. “Likewise, Global IME’s net profit stands at Rs 1.87 billion and Janata Bank’s net profit stands at Rs 1.02 billion.”
 According to the MoU, the board of the joint entity will comprise of five directors from Global IME Bank and two from Janata Bank Nepal.
This will be the second merger for the Global IME Bank at the commercial bank level. Global IME Bank has already completed merger with the then Commerz and Trust Bank, apart from two development banks and two finance companies, and has acquired two development banks.
After the merger, the merged entity could post around Rs 5 billion net profit in the next fiscal year. However, the EPS wil stand at Rs 25.43, and the shareholders of both the banks shareholders will benefit from the proposed merger. 

Ministry selects 99 health centres for migrants going to Malaysia

Out of 290 proposals under the criteria set by the Malaysian government, the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security (MoLESS) today has selected some 99 health check-up centres for foreign job aspirants, who wishes to go to Malaysia.
Along with the health check-up centres in the Valley, the ministry has also selected health some 12 check-up centres outside the Valley including in Kaski, Jhapa, Dhanusha, Sunsari, Banke, Chitwan, Dang and Kailali.
Earlier, migrants were receiving their health certificates from only 39 check-up centres that were authorised by the government of Malaysia. The dispute of the health centre has blown out of proportion that has stopped the outflow of Nepali migrant workers to Malaysia in recent months. After the government cracked down on Immigration Security Clearance and One Stop Centre that had been levying additional charges on Nepali migrants for obtaining health certificates, the government had stopped sending workers to Malaysia since last May.
Though, Nepal and Malaysia signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the bilateral labour agreement last October, the process to send workers to Malaysia has not resumed yet.
Though the ministry claims that it has brought the new policy for Malaysia-bound workers to break the monopoly of some health check-up centres – operating for a long period of time – the opposition blamed the government for disrupting the outflow of the Nepali migrant workers to Malaysia, the first choice of the Nepali migrants. But the government claimed that it has finalised the list of the health check-up institutions on the basis of the Malaysian government’s new health standard guideline that clarifies the medical requirements for migrant workers.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Seven banks submit central bank written commitment for 'big' merger

Seven commercial banks submitted their written commitment to the central bank for ‘big’ merger in line with recent instruction.
Nepal Investment Bank, Citizens Bank International, Sunrise Bank, Mega Bank, Sanima Bank, Laxmi Bank and Civil Bank submitted their written commitment for 'big' merger, according to a source at the central bank that has – a week ago on June 27 – summoned the chairmen and chief executive officers of all commercial banks for discussion on merger.
The central bank governor Dr Chiranjivi Nepal, on the occasion, had directed the commercial banks to come up with merger commitment by July 4 and start looking for partner for amalgamation.
“Responding to the governor's instruction, seven commercial banks have come to the NRB with their written commitment for merger, confirmed the source, who also informed that the remaining commercial banks will also follow the suit before the central bank announces Monetary Policy for next fiscal year. The central bank is scheduled to unveil Monetary Policy for next fiscal year 2019-20 by the second week of July.
The government – in its fiscal policy – announced to encourage merger among the financial institutions.
In his budget speech for the next fiscal year 2019-20, finance minister Dr Yuba Raj Khatiwada, said that the government is bringing a policy to merge banks and financial institutions.
Some of the banks, however, has said that the ‘big’ merger is not possible in a week’s notice, though some of the banks have committed to merge. “It will take at least three or four months to find the appropriate partner,” according to the president Nepal Bankers' Association (NBA) Gyanendra Dhungana.
The central bank should come up with various facilities and policy relaxations to encourage merger of Class 'A' banking institutions, he said.
After the governor's diktat on merger, the NBA – during a meeting on Wednesday – asked Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) to come up with incentives including relaxations on prudential lending limits, ratios and directed sector lending requirement, flexibility in terms of composition of the board of directors of the merged entity as well as remove the cooling period for the CEOs.
But it will be challenging for the government banks including Rastriya Banijya Bank (RBB), Nepal Bank and Agriculture Development Bank to merge as they will face a huge opposition from their employees. Likewise, the joint venture banks – including Standard Chartered Bank Nepal and Nepal SBI Bank that have with more than 50 per cent foreign investment – will also find it difficult to get a partner to merge.

Nepali startup Khalti wins UN Fintech Innovation Fund

Khalti – a homegrown financial technology startup in Nepal – has won Fintech Innovation Fund from the United Nations (UN). The fund was jointly launched by the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) earlier this year.
Along with Khalti, a total of10 companies from across Asia-Pacific region have won the Innovation Fund, according to a press note. 
After being announced the winner for the Fintech Innovation Fund, Khalti is rolling out a special project within July 2019. The project will support women-led micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in 12 different districts across the country – from Sankhuwasabha in the east to Darchula in the west – aiming at solving gaps between production and sales of goods produced by 3500 women involved in MSMEs in Nepal. Women involved in Dhaka Weaving to Allo Processing and Weaving to Food Processing will be supported as part of this project, the press note reads, adding that the project intends to deliver financial and digital literacy and skills to women-owned, managed or led MSMEs by bringing all the MSMEs to a digital platform and upgrade their current style of working. “Khalti will be providing them necessary training to be self-sufficient and help them in expanding their business and resources.”
Khalti is partnering with SAARC Business Association of Home Based Workers (SABAH Nepal) to implement the project. Furthermore, Khalti is also mobilising Smart Chhoris to assist the MSMEs.
Over the next year, UNESCAP and UNCDF will provide financial and technical support for Khalti to conduct the project and introduce digital and financial solutions that improve access to finance and enhance operational efficiency of these women-led MSMEs.
“Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises are a vital source of employment and a significant contributor to the country’s GDP in Nepal,” director of Khalti Arvind Sah Elated by this achievement shared, adding, “However, most MSMEs have been facing difficulty in accessing loans and other financial services.”
We are building a hyper local market in Khalti platform and conducting marketing and sales of goods produced by the women and enabling payments of goods directly through Khalti app, he said, adding that we will recommend – on the basis of their monthly income level – for loan from our partner bank so that they can expand their business. “This project offers payment solutions and improved access to finance to the women-led MSMEs in Nepal.”
Through Khalti’s innovations: hyper local market and bulk payment processing system, the women-led MSMEs will be able to connect with their end users directly and receive payments on their mobile phone. The project seeks to uplift the livelihood of women involved in MSMEs in Nepal.
Launched in January 2017, Khalti is an emerging mobile payment solution in Nepal. During this very short period of time, Khalti has emerged as one of the most preferred payment choices amongst customers in Nepal. Khalti allows users to top-up their mobile balance, pay DTH bills, internet bills, various utility bills, book movie tickets, flight tickets, hotel rooms, top up Tootle balance, make payments for food ordered online at Foodmandu, and pay at various online shopping sites in Nepal. Users can avail all these services through its app and website.
The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) launched the Women MSME FinTech Innovation Fund in March 2019 in partnership with the Australian Government (DFAT), the Dutch development Bank (FMO), and Visa Inc, with the financial support from the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada.
According to the World Bank’s statistics, more than 90 per cent of enterprises in developing Asia-Pacific region are MSMEs, making them a vital source of income and employment. However, more than 45 per cent of micro, small and medium sized companies (MSMEs) in Asia and the Pacific experience access to finance as a constraint. The constraints faced by MSMEs limits regional economic growth.

Government relaxes location requirement for casinos

Amending a clause in the Casino Regulation 2013, the government has relaxed location requirements for casinos and electronic gaming operation along international borders.
A cabinet meeting – on June 27 – has decided to allow casinos and electronic gaming houses to operate up to a distance of 3 km from the international border. Under the original clause, casinos and electronic gaming houses had to be at least 5 km away from the international border.
A number of operators in Kakarbhitta, Biratnagar, Birgunj, Nepalgunj and Dhangadhi had raised concern over the restrictions, according to the spokesperson of the Tourism Ministry Ghanshyam Upadhyaya. “The government has shown flexibility by allowing casinos to operate at a distance of up to 3 km from international borders in the context of the upcoming Visit Nepal Year 2020 campaign.”
Currently, there are some five-star hotels under construction at the Nepal-India border points. “But the investors have been raising concern over the location requirement in the Casino Regulation 2013,” he said, clarifying the need to amend the Regulation.
The Department of Tourism – that issues casino and electronic gaming licences – had proposed allowing casinos to be set up at international border points with no minimum distance. The department – apart from amending the casino regulation – has been working on preparing a new Casino Act along with the Tourism Act.
Currently casinos are governed by the Casino Regulation 2013. The government felt it necessary to pass a separate law to bring the existing casinos into line as many of them have been operating without paying taxes and royalties on the strength of the Supreme Court’s interim orders. The department said that casino royalty irregularities currently amount to Rs1.25 billion. In 2013, the Tourism Ministry scrapped the licences of casinos defaulting on royalties as per the Casino Regulation 2013.
The government formed the Casino Act to streamline the industry and encourage new global players to enter Nepal amid expectations of a boom in the gaming industry with the ongoing development of nearly a dozen five-star hotels across the country.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Six countries announce support trade in poorest countries

The world’s 47 least developed countries (LDCs) are home to more than one billion people. Yet, their collective share of global trade is less than one per cent. At a special event during the Aid for Trade Global Review 2019, six countries announced plans to commit nearly $13 million to help better the trade situation and work to reduce poverty in LDCs.
Faster growth is essential to reducing poverty, but the latest forecasts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) see slowing global growth as well as shrinking trade. The new investments in LDCs will work to spur trade and help to alleviate any impacts during the current global uncertainty.
The governments of Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan and Sweden announced the plans for commitments to the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) during the biennial aid for trade event in Geneva. EIF works to improve trade in partnership with LDC governments, development institutions and NGOs, as well as the WTO’s Aid for Trade Initiative. The Aid for Trade Initiative aims to mobilize resources to build trade capacity and infrastructure in developing countries and in LDCs. EIF works directly with LDC governments to do so.
“Participation in global trade is important for development,” said assistant director-general and director of the Department for International Organisations and Policy Support at the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) Cecilia Scharp. “However, there are a number of barriers and obstacles that need to be overcome for LDCs to participate meaningfully and equitably in international trade,” she said, adding that these relate to both product quality, norms, standards, level of competitiveness, institutional capacity, market access and appropriate strategies and policies. “Sweden is proud to be one of the donors contributing to the efforts of EIF in assisting LDCs in promoting trade as an engine for development, growth and poverty eradication.”
Sida announced a contribution to EIF of 50 million SEK ($5.4 million), bringing the total amount of Swedish support to 150 million SEK for 2017-2022.
The new planned commitments to EIF – a significant show of support for trade as a development solution – will work to directly address LDC trade constraints through a holistic approach that is a mix of evidence-based research, sectoral strategies aimed at economic diversification and government coordination that results in work directly on the ground.
LDCs are particularly vulnerable to outside shocks like commodity price volatility, while in most LDCs per capita GDP growth is significantly below the rates needed to eradicate extreme poverty. Amid current trade tensions, it is more important than ever that the world’s poorest countries are supported with the trade tools they need to succeed.
“Aid for trade to The Gambia has seen results, and is helping the diversification of our agriculture exports to new international markets for our goods,” said The Gambia vice president Isatou Touray. “The Gambia is pleased to be an EIF partner in this effort, and to see donor countries recognising both what has worked for LDCs and where there is more work to be done – knowing that success, that is, people getting out of poverty, is crucial.”
EIF works from Africa and the Americas to Asia and the Pacific, having helped 41 countries integrate trade into their national development plans while supporting over 1,300 micro- small- and medium-sized enterprises and over 35,000 women. EIF’s unique partnership is designed to have the most impact, and also works as a catalyst for further funding to LDCs, ensuring support extends far and wide.
"These planned commitments from our donors will do so much to help LDCs as they work within a challenging and shifting global trade environment,” EIF executive director Ratnakar Adhikari said, adding, “For 10 years, EIF has been working with LDC governments, and we have seen success from Chad to Bhutan to the Solomon Islands. But more effort is needed, and we hope others will join us in putting LDCs in the drivers' seat of inclusive development.”

Private sector seeks interest rate stability

The private sector has said asked the central bank to focus on ensuring stability in the interest rate and promoting business growth.
Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) – during an interaction on pre-Monetary Policy recommendation – urged to bring down the interest rate to a single digit, which is currently above 13 per cent. The Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) is preparing to unveil the Monetary Policy for next fiscal year 2019-20 next week.
Citing that the interest rate volatility is the major impeding force behind growth of business and investment the umbrella body of the private sector also reminded the central bank of its 21-point recommendation for Monetary Policy.
The FNCCI had submitted 21-point recommendation for the Monetary Policy for the fiscal year 2019-20 recently. “The high interest rate has discouraged business community,” said FNCCI president Bhawani Rana. “The central bank should bring down the interest spread rate to three per cent from the existing 4.5 per cent,” she said, citing that high interest spread even after all commercial banks have already fulfilled the paid-up capital requirement of Rs 8 billion is unjustifiable.
Among the recommendation, the private sector has also asked the central bank to introduce mandatory provision for banks and financial institutions to make them invest at least 15 per cent of their total loan portfolio in the energy sector. “The FNCCI has also asked the central bank to fix interest rate on energy sector as ‘high and unstable interest rate will raise the production cost and extend the payback period of hydropower projects’,” Rana said, adding that the private sector has asked to make contextual all parameters that are used while calculating the base rate, ensure access of every citizen to banking and financial services, and widen the refinancing pool to Rs 100 billion from the existing Rs 50 billion.

Melamchhi Board shortlists two companies to complete project

Melamchi Water Supply Development Board has shortlisted two companies to complete the remaining works of the much-talked project – that has become a national shame – that has been stalled for months now.
“Sinohydro Corporation and High Himalaya Hydro Construction Pvt Ltd have been shortlisted for the remaining works of the major water supply project,” the board said, adding that few companies had initially shown interests but only the two companies actually bid for the project.
“Four months after the works came to a halt at the project site, the government had announced a fresh bidding for completing the project,” according to deputy executive director at the Board Ram Prasad Kharel. “The contract between Italian contractor Cooperativa Muratori e Cementisti di Ravenna (CMC) and the government was terminated after a ‘financial dispute’ that has been dubbed as suspicious as the lawmakers in the parliamentary committee blamed the minister for asking bribe.
The government has decided to divide the remaining works into small packages and distribute them among various contractors, he said, adding that it will help expedite the project. “The remaining works were broken down into two big packages – headworks and tunnel finishing – and eight other small packages, which will be assigned to local vendors and suppliers who have earlier worked with the CMC.”
“We have a total of four biddings, two each from both interested builders for completing headworks and tunnel,” Kharel added.
After selection, the companies will have 15 months to complete the headworks and 12 months for the tunnel portion abandoned by the Italian contractors last December, which means the completion of the projects has been delayed by a minimum of one-and-a-half years.
The first phase of the much-talked about water supply project will bring in 170 million litres of water from Melamchi River to Kathmandu Valley.
The technical proposals of bidders have been opened, he said, adding that technical details are currently under evaluation. “Once the technical proposal is evaluated, we will forward our observations to the main development partner of the project Asian Development Bank.”
The approval of ADB is key to move ahead before the board finally selects the contractor.

Government plans joint-venture bank to facilitate Nepal-China trade

The government is planning to set up a Nepali-China joint-venture (JV) bank to facilitate the trade between the two countries through banking facility.
Addressing the traders at an interaction – organised by Nepal Chamber of Commerce (NCC) here today – finance secretary Rajan Khanal said that the government is holding talks with the Chinese authorities to establish a JV financial institution to facilitate trade with the China through the banking system. “Establishment of a JV bank will make the Letter of Credit (LC) opening easy that will help formalise the trade,” he said, adding that a Chinese bank is likely to come to Nepal soon. “There is also a probability to create a JV with a government-owned bank.”
The private sector is also trying to bring a Chinese bank in Nepal to facilitate the trade with the northern neighbour since long. But they have not been successful in bringing any of them due to lack of suitable partner. “The traders are using Telex Transfer (TT) also known as wire transfer or draft to make the payment to the Chinese traders,” Khanal said, adding that the LC is an instruction from the importers to a bank in a foreign country to pay the money to the exporters when the required conditions are met while TT is the transfer of money from one bank account to another through electronic means.
The trade between Nepal and China is increasing in recent years. Nepal imported goods worth Rs 186.6 billion in the first 11 months of the current fiscal year 2018-19 from China, while it has exported goods worth Rs 1.96 billion to the northern neighbour.
Khanal, on the occasion, also said that the government is serious about addressing the grievances of the private sector. “The government is trying to create investment friendly environment with better incentives and tax waiver policies,” he said, asking the traders, however, to not run the businesses on tax incentives. “As Nepal is the members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA), duties on import of foreign goods will go down gradually so you have to develop competitiveness.”
Likewise, revenue secretary Lal Shankar Ghimire, on the occasion, said that the government is planning to establish a Revenue Board in the first month in the next fiscal year.
The government has promised to establish a permanent Revenue Board since long. “It will come into existence from the beginning of the next fiscal year,” he said, adding that the government wants to have an intensive discussion with the private sector to make the board more effective, as the government wants to facilitate the business environment, “The Finance Ministry is developing a home delivery system for the Permanent Account Number (PAN) cards, which would be implemented soon.”
Ghimire also informed that the government is trying to protect the domestic products that have potential to make the country self-reliant. “The protection could sometimes be harmful for the consumers as the consumers have less choice, and the government also losses revenue but protection measures are being applied to let the domestic business grow and reduce the whopping trade deficit based on rising imports.”
President of the NCC Rajesh Kazi Shrestha, on the occasion, demanded the government not to promote industries that import raw materials. 

A Nepali killed in Libya detention centre bombing

At least 44 people – including a Nepali citizen – were killed in the airstrikes that hit a Libyan migrant detention centre – Tajoura detention center for migrants – near the Libyan capital of Tripoli, today, according to Nepali embassy in Egypt’s capital city Cairo. The embassy has identified the deceased as 27-year-old Santosh Shrestha of Bensisahar-11 in Lamjung district.
According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Libya, Shrestha was declared dead upon arrival at a hospital. The embassy in Cairo – citing the IOM – said that it is trying to gather further information about the deceased.
Shrestha had reached Libya paying money to brokers a few months back but could not earn as he expected. Brokers told him that he can earn more in Europe. Shrestha was preparing to leave for Europe paying some more money to the brokers. He had also called home and asked for Rs 600,000. His family sent Rs 600,000 to pay to the brokers in Italy a month back and thought he is on his way to Europe.
However, he was detained in the detention center for migrants near Tripoli with others, who try to illegally enter Europe through Libya.
The IOM had also asked for Shrestha’s travel document two days ago, according to press note that further reads that the embassy had sent the documents to the IOM in Egypt to be sent to IOM in Libya as courier service takes long time to dispatch the documents to war-torn Libya.
The air raid, involving two missiles, occurred in the early hours today morning and left the detention centre a charred ruin. The detention centre in the east of Tripoli was housing more than 610 people, where 44 – including many women and children – were killed and 130 severely injured when it was hit by two airstrikes.
The death toll represents one of the largest single losses of civilian life since the civil war in 2011, according to a the embassy press note that reads that eight other Nepalis stranded in Libya were rescued and sent to Nepal via Turkey today while the preparation is ongoing to send six other Nepalis in the Tripoli-based IOM camp to Nepal as soon as possible.
“In the past two months, including those eight, some 34 Nepalis have been rescued and sent back to Nepal,” the embassy said, adding that most of the Nepalis in the detention centre were brought to Libya by the human traffickers, who intended to send them to Italy from Libya.
The Nepali peacekeeping mission in Libya is, meanwhile, cooperating and coordinating on the matters related to Nepali migrants, according to the embassy press note.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Bankers seek tax incentives to go for merger

Bankers have sought tax incentives for merger and acquisition (M&A).
As the central bank is bringing a forceful merger policy – according to the rumours making round in the banks and financial institutions – the bankers also said that the central bank cannot force them to merge but can encourage merger by announcing certain tax incentive packages. “We, the commercial banks have been operating legally by taking licences from the central bank,” they said, adding that the government cannot pressurise any bank for forced merger. “Though, the number of banks in Nepal is high and central bank plan to reduce the number through merger and acquisition is good, there has been no study on how many banks are needed in the economy.”
The government could, however, encourage banks towards merger by incentivising them in taxes, according to Nepal Bankers’ Association (NBA) that has held a meeting – today – to decide on how to seek incentives from the government before starting the merger process. “The government should reduce income tax levied on banks by at least five percentage points for a period of five years through the budget for those banks who choose to merge with others,” the association decided, adding that the banks should also be given enough time for merger and acquisition, as choosing a partner for business is a matter of taking risk.
The meeting also discussed on how to answer the central bank that had last week summoned chairpersons and chief executive officers of all the 28 commercial banks in operation to discuss possible merger. The central bank had asked bankers to submit the names of banks that they wanted to merge with or submit a commitment letter for merger before the Monetary Policy that is scheduled to be announced in mid-July.
The government – through the budget for fiscal year 2019-20 – had also announced to adopt policies to encourage mergers between banks and financial institutions (BFIs).

Nepali passport ranks in 102nd position

Nepali passport has been ranked at the 102nd position among the 199 countries, according to a global index.
The Hanley Passport Index published by Halney & Partners ranks the strength of passports of different countries. According to the global index, with 38 points, Nepal is in the bottom 10 group among 199 countries. More countries a passport holder can visit without a prior visa, the better the rank. Nepalis can get an on arrival visa in a couple of countries – including Singapore and Indonesia – only making the Nepali passport weaker.
The index – updated for the third quarters of the year – has put Japan and Singapore on the top of the list with 189 points, whereas Nepal’s neighbours – China and India – are ranked 74th and 86th, respectively. “In South Asia, the Maldives has the strongest passport with 62nd position,” the index revealed, adding that Pakistan is in the 106th position whereas Afghanistan is at the bottom of the list.
The countries were ranked according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa, the index reads.

International cooperation key in tackling adverse impacts of climate change

International cooperation key in tackling adverse impacts of climate change, according to foreign minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali.
Addressing a session on ‘Climate Change: The Next Financial Crisis?’ organised this morning – during the 13thWorld Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting of the New Champions being held in Dalian, People’s Republic of China – he underscored the need for an enhanced level of international cooperation in tackling the adverse impacts of climate change. He also highlighted the important contributions of Nepal's mountains, rivers and forests in maintaining the ecological system. “Nepal’s carbon emission is negligible but the ‘brunt’ we have been bearing is disproportionate,” he said, adding that it is in this light that climate justice must be promoted and that access to technology must be made easy and affordable.
Gyawali, on the occasion, also attended the opening plenary, which featured addresses by the premier of China Li Keqiang, and the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Prof Klaus Schwab.
In the afternoon, minister Gyawali participated – as a panelist – in the session on ‘Geopolitical Shifts’.  While referring to rising geopolitical complexities and uncertainties, he underscored the need for promoting greater mutual trust and understanding among nations, as well as deeper levels of co-operation and collaborative efforts, for ensuring sustainable world peace. He stated that as problems confronting the world are increasingly broader and deeper both in their scope and magnitude, a rules-based international order- not ‘deals-based relations' was crucial in sustaining and nurturing global peace, harmony and co-operation.
On the margins of the annual meeting, Gyawali held a meeting with WEF president Borge Brende. They discussed on ways to enhance further cooperation between Nepal and WEF, especially in the areas of research and capacity building.

Kavrepalanchowk tops in coffee production

Among the 77 districts, Kavrepalanchowk district tops in coffee production, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS).
According to a report 'Nepal Commercial Coffee Farming Survey 2018-19' released today in Kathmandu by the CBS, Kavrepalanchowk district holds the top position in the list of the highest coffee farming areas with 104.3 hectares land used for farming followed by 96.3 hectares and 94.1 hectares in Lalitpur and Syangja districts, respectively.
“Kavrepalanchowk, the largest producer amongst the 32 districts, produces 221 metric tonnes of fresh coffee cherries, followed by Syangja with 158 metric tonnes and Sindhupalchowk with 141 metric tonnes of fresh coffee cherries,” the report reads, adding that a total of 1,573 metric tonnes of fresh coffee cherries are produced annually in 32 districts commercially.
According to the survey done in a year – from April 14, 2018 to April 13, 2019 – some 6,346 farmers from 32 districts are engaged in the coffee farming in 973 hectares land.
“Farmers owning 50 or more coffee trees have been considered commercial farmers in the survey,” director of CBS Badri Karki said, adding that a total of 943 commercial farmers, the highest from Kavrepalanchowk followed by Sindhupalchowk, 753 and Syangja, 708 farmers in the respective districts.
The CBS data also revealed that 96 per cent of coffee farmers are engaged in organic coffee farming, of which 9 per cent are certified firms, 34 per cent are cooperative or company certified and 57 per cent are operating without any certification. “Of the surveyed farmers, 74 per cent of them are male and 26 per cent are female.”
But only 1.7 per cent of farmers have registered their businesses, the CBS report reads, adding that some 83 per cent commercial coffee farmers are found to have been shifted from agricultural occupation (other than coffee farming), some 3 per cent from business, 10 per cent from the day job and 4 per cent from other occupations. “Only 2.8 per cent of coffee farmers have opted for a bank loans for the business, whereas 11 per cent of commercial coffee farmers consider coffee farming as their main source of income>”
According to CBS, of the surveyed participants, half of them do not know about the minimum price of coffee determined by the government. “The expenses of Rs 2.56 million on purchase of coffee plants, 2.87 million on fertilizers and 9.17 million under the head of others were recorded for coffee farming.”
While Rs 154.1 million was earned from 1573 metric tonnes of fresh coffee cherries and Rs 29.7 million from shade-grown coffee and Rs 16 million from underground crops. At least 78 per cent of commercial coffee farmers have received training regarding coffee farming.
The CBS has identified 55 coffee nurseries in Nepal through the survey. The report also has collected suggestions from farmers regarding the promotion of coffee farming in Nepal. Quality technological service, access to irrigation, training and study facility, market for produced coffee and subsidy for coffee farming are among the suggestions from the farmers reported the CBS.
According to National Tea and Coffee Development Board (NTCDB), lack of lab in Nepal – despite the coffees produced here are of better quality due to climatic conditions – has hit the coffee export that is a cash crop.

Accelerating action for the SDGs and building resilience in Asia-Pacific

The Asia-Pacific region is gaining speed in Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) planning and primed for transformative change. Yet more needs to be done to pick up the pace, according to a recent report that has revealed that on its current trajectory, Asia and the Pacific will not achieve any of the 17 SDGs by 2030.
How can we work together to take urgent action in addressing sustainable development challenges, How can we empower societies and build resilience to, among others, the increasing impacts of climate change and natural disasters are some of the key questions that the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) will address at the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) 2019 in New York this month.
Themed ‘Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality’, this year’s HLPF also aims at mobilising efforts to achieve SDG4: Quality Education, SDG8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, SDG10: Reduced Inequalities, SDG13: Climate Action, SDG16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, and SDG17: Partnerships for the Goals.
In addition to bringing the outcome of regional level deliberations to the global platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, ESCAP will hold a series of side events and other activities in collaboration with member states and various partners. UN under-secretary-general and executive secretary of ESCAP Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana will be leading the ESCAP delegation.
Some 16 Asia-Pacific countries – including Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Fiji, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Nauru, New Zealand, Pakistan, Palau, Philippines, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Vanuatu – will also be conducting voluntary national reviews (VNR) on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda at HLPF 2019.
ESCAP has provided capacity building support to volunteering countries, as well as a regional exchange of peer experiences and lessons learned at the 6th Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD).

Monday, July 1, 2019

Half of businesses unregistered, one third owned by women

Almost half of the businesses in the country are operated without being registered, whereas one third of them are owned by the women, according to the first National Economic Census.
According to the final report of the National Economic Census – launched by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) today in the capital – some 49.9 per cent (460,422) of the total 923,356 establishments are unregistered, whereas some 50.1 per cent (462,605) are registered and status of some 0.04 per cent (329) registration is unknown. “Likewise, some 29.8 per cent (247,880 enterprises) of the enterprises are owned by women as of April 14, 2018.”
According to director general at the CBS Suman Raj Aryal, the highest number of enterprises owned by women is related to wholesale and retail and the repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles category. “Accommodation and food service activities come second and manufacturing enterprises come third in terms of women's ownership.”
The number of person engaged in the total 923,356 establishments are 3,228,457, where some 2,012,237 (62.3 per cent) are male and 1,216,220 (37.7 per cent) are female.
Launching the final result of the first-ever National Economic Census 2018, vice chair of National Planning Commission (NPC) Prof Dr Puspa Raj Kadel, on the occasion, said that the Economic Census gives a true reflection of the Nepali economy where the distribution of establishments is uneven across the country with high concentration of establishments in Province 3 and very low in Karnali. “The government should utilise these data for future planning process to meet the national goals,” he added.
Ambassador of Japan to Nepal Masamichi Saigo, on the occasion, stressed on the utilisation of data for policy planning so that the trade deficit can be reduced and foreign direct investment can be increased as Nepal has high potential on human resource and hydropower.
JICA has been assisting the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) to conduct the first-ever National Economic Census 2018 under the ‘Project on Capacity Development for the implementation of Economic Census 2018’ since March 2016 until March 2021. Under the project, JICA gave technical knowledge and supported equipment to make the Economic Census meeting the international standard and the quality of data. “The project will further support CBS to produce successive analytical reports in future,” said JICA chief representative Yumiko Asakuma stressing on the easy availability of data and its utilisation by government agencies, researchers and private sector.

Institutional capacity, awareness key to protect from pesticides-laced vegetables

Inter-governmental coordination, institutional capacity and awareness among the consumers and farmers are essential to prevent people from consuming vegetables laced with excessive amount of pesticides, according to the experts.
Discussing on the new Pesticides Bill, which will replace the Pesticides Act 1991, at the interaction on ‘Pesticides Law and its Implementation’ – jointly organised by Plant Quarantine and Pesticides Management Centre (PQPMC), Forum for Protection of Consumers’ Rights-Nepal and South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE) – here today, the participants also pointed out the need for creating awareness.
Moderating the programme programme director at the SAWTEE Dr Dhrubesh Chandra Regmi said that the programme was being organised to provide inputs on the regulation and bylaws, which will provide functional clarity to the upcoming legislation. “Excessive, improper use and unsound disposal of the pesticides calls for better regulation and implementation,” he added.
Likewise, director-general at the Plant Quarantine and Pesticides Management Centre Dr Dilli Ram Sharma – making his presentation – pointed out the need for creating awareness on optimal use of pesticides by strengthening agriculture extension services and mobilising the private sector, as improper handling and disposal of pesticides not only impact consumers’ health but is also hazardous to farmers’ lives.
He also explained that the new Pesticides Bill has tried to address many concerns. “The Bill has expanded the definition of pesticides, introduced provisions for registration of bio-pesticides, regulations to dispose expired and damaged pesticides and penalty for farmers who use excessive pesticides,” he added.
Similarly, chairperson of the Forum for Protection of Consumers’ Rights-Nepal Jyoti Baniya – presenting paper – talked about the existing issues related to pesticides use and testing. He pointed out that the regulations and bylaws have to provide clarity on coordination among involved government agencies such as the agriculture ministry, customs, commerce ministry. He said that the recent decision of the government to restrict import of fresh vegetables and fruits was made without adequate preparation because the plant quarantine office at custom points are not authorised to conduct pesticides tests.
Urging the need to ensure functional inter-governmental cooperation, chairman at the SAWTEE Dr Posh Raj Pandey seconded Baniya. “If current mechanism is continued, where all these entities are governed by different authorities and legislations without any coordination, we will not achieve desired results,” he added.
Likewise, acting director at the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DFTQC) Dr Matina Shrestha, on the occasion, also called attention to inadequate laboratory facility for testing in Nepal. She also informed that DFTQC is working on testing acceptable level of pesticide residues for food items –both fresh and packaged and has already prepared the list of 10 such items which will soon be published in the Gazette to become legally binding.
Officials from concerned department under MoALD, representatives from farmers’ associations, wellness experts, consumer and human rights activists, representatives from media also pointed out the need for equipped laboratories, efficient technical support and effective coordination between government agencies and other stakeholders.

National employment summit concludes

Lack of skilled manpower in the construction sector has led the country's construction companies to hire labourers from India even after the government move to make it mandatory for workers of any sector to acquire a Permanent Account Number (PAN).
Registration of employees with the social security fund is also a challenge for the construction sector, said secretary general of the Federation of Contractors' Association of Nepal – during the National Labor and Employment Conference-2019 – Rosan Dahal.
Asking the entrepreneurs to spend most of their time in developing products, providing skills to the staff, and finding potential markets – during a panel session on ‘Work Culture and Dignity of Labour’, at the conference – he said that ensuring occupational, health, and safety facilities for workers and staffs can help in developing good work culture.
The entrepreneurs, on the occasion, also asked the government to help them find local raw material to manufacture Nepali products with economy of scale, in an organised way. The conference – organised by the government with an objective to identifying opportunities and gaps for employment creation and developing dialogue led consensus towards tackling pertinent labour and employment issues in Nepal – concluded today.
The founder of a startup cotton mill, in another session of the conference, 'Youth Employment in Nepal', Prasanna Basnet, said that the government should implement the programme announced in the budget. The discussion also focused on lack of access to resources for the entrepreneurs from the rural areas.
The two-day conference with a good participation from startup founders, entrepreneurs out of Kathmandu, students and representatives of trade unions, few representatives from the private sector and almost none from multinationals participated in the event, also discussed on utilisation of the knowledge and skills from returnee migrants were also discussed during the conference.

Sajha Yatayat seals deal to operate electric buses in valley signed

The Province 3 government, and Kathmandu and Lalitpur metropolis today signed an agreement with Sajha Yatayat to purchase electric buses.
Minister for Economic Affairs and Planning of Province 3 Kailash Prasad Dhungel, Mayor of Kathmandu metropolis Bidya Sundar Shakya, Mayor of Lalitpur metropolis Chiri Babu Maharjan, and chairperson of Sajha Yatayat Co-operative Kanak Mani Dixit signed a four-party memorandum of understanding (MoU) to buy the new electric buses (EVs) in the presence of province 3 Chief Minister Dormani Poudel, to operate electric buses inside the valley.
The provincial government, on the occasion, also handed over a cheque of Rs 300 million to Dixit to purchase the EVs. Besides, Kathmandu and Lalitpur metropolis will provide Rs 100 million and Rs 25 million as their share to the cooperative public transportation organisation to procure EVs. “Sajha itself will invest Rs 25 million in the project,” Dixit said, adding that Sajha will buy 30 electric vehicles by spending Rs 450 million.
The electric buses will come into operation in the Valley within the next 10 months, according to Sajha, which has estimated that 30 electric buses will be purchased after announcing a global tender.
On the occasion, the two metropolis handed over 20 euro-4 vehicles to Sajha. Of the 20 buses, six will operate between the Naya Bus Park and Suryavinayak route, another six buses will operate in the Naya Bus Park-Kamal Vanayak route and eight buses will operate in the Naya Bus Park-Lagankhel-TIA route. For the new buses, the KMC had invested Rs 60 million and LMC has invested Rs 10 million.
With the new buses, the Sajha has a total of 71 buses on its fleet. Earlier the cooperative had been operating 51 buses in 10 different routes in the Kathmandu Valley, with two routes in and out of the valley: the Kathmandu-Waling route and the Kathmandu-Butwal-Bhairawa route.
CM Poudel, after signing the deal, said that the coming age will be the age of electric vehicles. “The provincial government is corresponding with Nepal Electricity Authority regarding putting up required charging stations for the vehicles,” he added.
The government last December also had announced that it would purchase and operate 300 electric buses in major cities, but the plan could not be materialised.
Lalitpur metropolis Mayor Maharjan, speaking at the programme, said the new drive is going to transform the Valley’s transportation system.
Sajha cooperative, on the occasion, also officially unveiled its smart travel card ‘Yatra Card’, which can be used by passengers on all its buses.

PM Oli warns of seeking strategic partner to run NAC

The government is not doling out the funds to the bankrupt national flag carrier rather seek a strategic partner to run the Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC).
Coming down heavily on 'non-performing' entity, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli – addressing the 61st anniversary of Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) here today – said that the government will not inkect any fund under the existing circumstance as it has no trust on the incumbent management. But the management team led by executive chairman Madan Kharel has been appointed by himself and his cabinet last September. “The company buys the planes first and finds the pilots to fly them later,” he said, adding that it procured wide-body jets but it doesn’t have destinations to fly to. “There is high demand for services to Japan’s Narita International Airport, but it decides to fly to Kansai International Airport in Osaka instead.”
Planes of other companies are in the sky, but Nepal Airlines planes are seen on the tarmac at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) all the time, Oli added.
The private sector airlines have been making profits, but the NAC has incurred Rs 37 billion loss and also failed to pay last two installments of its loan. The NAC has not been able to repay the principal and interest to two state-owned financial institutions. According to the NAC, it has defaulted on two quarterly installments of Rs 1.18 billion to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and one quarterly installment of Rs 730 million to the Citizens Investment Trust (CIT). The corporation will not be able to pay the third installment either, it added.
The government had rescheduled the interest payment deadline for its loans taken from EPF and CIT. But still the NAC owes more than Rs 36 billion to various institutions, which means interest payments totalling Rs 3.66 billion annually.
“The government will not give even a single penny since the NAC has already incurred a huge loss due to its mismanagement," Premier Oli said, adding that the government will be compelled to search for a strategic partner, if the NAC did not undergo positive changes in its overall performance.
The NAC has been asking for a bailout. In 2017, it has asked for Rs 20 billion from the government to raise its paid-up capital to support its financial restructuring plan. It has been struggling to manage its cash flow since it inducted two brand new Airbus A330 jets into its fleet last year, as they remained largely under-utilised for months for lack of routes.
Though, the government claims to have a turnaround plan – including capital restructuring and inducting a strategic partner – for the bankrupt corporation, the NAC seems not improve its financial health also due to political red tape.
The NAC currently has two wide-body and two narrow-body aircraft in operation. They fly to seven countries including India, Malaysia and Qatar. But the small aircrafts – donated and sold by China – for the domestic flight are a financial liability as the NAC has not been able to fly them due to lack of pilots.
NAC executive chairman Madan Kharel, on the occasion, briefed the gathering that the achievement of expected profit became impossible as NAC resources, primarily aircrafts in its possession, could not be operated to the full strength and the size of destination could not be expanded. According to him, procedures are on the progress to enlist Guangzhou of China and Riyadh of Saudi Arabia in the NAC destination soon.
According to the NAC report, till the first nine months of the current fiscal year, the NAC earned a profit of Rs 7.54 billion compared to Rs 3.85 billion in the same period of the last fiscal year. The number of passengers flying by NAC on flights routes during the first 11 months of the last fiscal year stood at 348,528 while some 569,034 passengers flew on international flights during the same period of current fiscal year, which is 63.5 per cent more.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Nepal in 109th position to park money in Swiss Banks

Nepal is at the 109th position with on the list of foreign nations whose nationals have parked money in the Swiss banking system, a report released by the Swiss National Bank states.
Last year Nepal was in 112th position, and with the political stability and historically strong two-third majority government instead of improving governance, black money outflow has increased to pull the Nepal’s ranking down by 3 places. 
As for Nepal’s neighbours, India is positioned at the 74th rank in terms of money parked by Indian individuals and enterprises, whereas Pakistan is on the 82nd, Sri Lanka 141st, Bangladesh 89th, Myanmar 187th and Bhutan 193rd.
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom, followed by the United States, has accounted for more than 26 per cent of the total foreign funds. Likewise, other countries in the top five are France, West Indies, and Hong Kong.
According to the Swiss National Bank — the central bank of Switzerland — the amount parked in Swiss banks from across the globe and funds parked in Swiss banks by Nepalis increased by nearly four-fold between 2008 and 2017. In 2008, Nepalis had parked 86.22 million Swiss francs in Swiss banks, while till the end of 2017 such funds rose to 322.88 million Swiss francs. And it has increased again to…
Nepalis are not allowed to transfer funds to foreign bank accounts. But it has seen not stopping. In 2008, Nepalis had parked 86.22 million Swiss francs in the Swiss bank and at the end of 2017 the amount rose to 322.88 million Swiss francs.
Swiss banks maintain strict privacy of account holders, making it difficult to identify individuals parking funds in Swiss banks, but it is assumed that Nepali business people and politicians have been holding such accounts in Swiss banks.
Obviously, the money parked by Nepalis in the Swiss Bank was siphoned off illegally through hundi, over-invoicing in imports and other ways.
Among the top-ranked jurisdictions, the UK is followed by the US, West Indies, France and Hong Kong in the top five, according to the report that states that these countries alone account for more than 50 per cent of the aggregate foreign funds parked with the Swiss banks, while the top-10 account for nearly two-thirds. “The top-15 countries account for nearly 75 per cent of all foreign money in Swiss banks, while the contribution of the top-30 is almost 90 per cent.”
The top-10 countries also include Bahamas, Germany, Luxembourg, Cayman Islands and Singapore.
Among the five-nation BRICS block of emerging economies, India is ranked the lowest while Russia is ranked the highest at 20th place, followed by China at 22nd, South Africa at 60th and Brazil at 65th place in terms of amount of money parked by their residents and enterprises at the end of 2018.
The countries ranked higher than India also include Mauritius (71st), New Zealand (59th), the Philippines (54th), Venezuela (53rd), Seychelles (52nd), Thailand (39th), Canada (36th), Turkey (30th), Israel (28th), Saudi Arabia (21st), Panama (18th), Japan (16th), Italy (15th), Australia (13th), UAE (12th) and Guernsey (11th).
The total money held in Swiss banks by foreign clients from across the world fell by about 4 per cent to 1.4 trillion Swiss Francs in 2018.

Black Money Outflow 
Year -- Funds parked by Nepalis
2008 -- 86.22 million Swiss francs
2009 -- 68.89 million Swiss francs
2010 -- 97.15 million Swiss francs
2011 -- 74.66 million Swiss francs
2012 -- 125.96 million Swiss francs
2013 -- 84.86 million Swiss francs
2014 -- 102.22 million Swiss francs
2015 -- 314.43 million Swiss francs
2016 -- 310.66 million Swiss francs
2017 -- 322.88 million Swiss francs