Wednesday, April 30, 2008

NT shares to be alloted 'soon'

Citizen's Investment Trust (CIT) — the issue and sales manager of the Nepal Telecomm (NT) shares — is 'ready' to allot NT shares."After we get green signal from the finance ministry, we will allot NT shares," a senior officer at the CIT, said, adding that CIT is sending the complete data to finance ministry on Friday.The investors have quoted a maximum of Rs 2,550 to the lowest of Rs 600 for a share that is quoted Rs 600 minimum — after adding Rs 500 premium to the face value of Rs 100 for each unit.The highest number of the investors which is at 16,157 have bidded in between Rs 601 to Rs 700, the most logical price for the NT share, according to its book value, profitability and return.The CIT has received applications from 27,617 applicants for 53,48,452 units of shares, 1.51 million less out of the floated 75 million units for the public. However, in terms of money, it has been 'successful' to collect Rs 3.62 billion, he said.The government had planned to raise at least Rs 9 billion by selling 1.5 billion units of NT's share — Rs 4.5 billion in the first phase from 75 million units of shares and Rs 4.5 billion in the second phase from the 75 million units, later."The government has almost succeeded in its target as Rs 3.62 billion has been collected," he said, adding that the amount falls short of a little less than a billion only. "Given the slackness in capital market at the time of NT's share floatation and negative campaign, its a 'huge' success," he added.As a part of divestment and privatisation plan, the government has started selling NT's 10 per cent shares to public through an auction. It had already sold five per cent to the Telecom's employees at the subsidized rate of Rs 90 per unit.The government plans to utilise the amount collected from the sale of NT's equity for rural infrastructure development and expansion of telecommunication services.

Investors' category
Amount category No of Applicants
Rs 600 - 2,350
Rs 601 to Rs 700 - 16,157
Rs 701 to Rs 800 - 5,892
Rs 901 to Rs 1000 - 1,540
Rs 1001 to Rs 1201 - 631
Rs 1201 to 1500 - 74
Rs 1501 to Rs 2000 - 18
Rs 2001 to Rs 2500 - 1
Rs 2501 above - 3
Total applicants received - 27,617

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Nepal, Bahrain ink labour pact

Ramesh Lekhak, minister for Labour and Transport Management and his Bahrain's counterpart Dr Majeed Bin Muhsin Al Alawi — who arrived here in Kathmandu on Sunday on a three-day long official visit leading a nine-member delegation — signed bilateral labour pact on behalf of their respective countries today.
The agreement will now pave way for secured employment opportunities and provide legal recognition to Nepali migrant workers in the Gulf state of Bahrain.
After the signing of the accord, a joint committee will now be set up and branch offices headed by a high government officials will be opened in both the countries, said Keshar Bahadur Baniya, director general at the Department of Labour and Employment Promotion (DoLEP).
The accord will set a legal framework for Nepali migrant workers as it has clearly spelt out requirements needed for the job seekers and recruiting agencies in the source country.
The employers in Bahrain will then be bound to comply with domestic labour laws and provide facilities as per the laws. The accord seeks to protect workers' rights and prevent improper practices by private labour supply agencies which tend to exploit the workers by demanding exaggerated fees, providing false information about their working conditions in host country as well as misleading the employers in Bahrain regarding the workers' qualifications, experiences and documents.
"The government is also thinking of providing training to the job-aspirants," the minister said after the signing ceremony. "However, if thought necessary, the job-seekers can also be given training in Bahrain."
The salary will be fixed in mutual understanding between employer and the employee but it will not be less than $150," Baniya, said adding that the total cost might come to Rs 70,000.
According to DoLEP, in the last nine months, some 1,67,785 Nepalis left Nepal for foreign employment. Qatar is the most preferred destination, while Malaysia saw a decline in Nepali migrants during the period. However, the UAE received 32,453 Nepalis, a 104 per cent rise, during the first nine months.
According to the department, due to the CA elections, the outflux decreased in the month of Chaitra. During the first nine months of the current fiscal year, Bahrain received 2,947 Nepalis. "Informally, around 30,000 Nepalis are currently working in Bahrain. Most of them are unskilled labourers and employed in construction sector," Baniya added.
The government has already entered into similar agreement with South Korea. After the pact with Bahrain, Nepal is also looking forward to sign agreement with Japan.
Labour secretary Shyam Prasad Mainali is leading the Nepali delegation and is scheduled to meet his Japanese counterpart and senior office bearers of the Japan Industrial and Technical Cooperation Organisation (JITCO) during his stay in Japan.

World Bank continue to support Nepal

A delegation of the World Bank's Executive Directors vowed to continue the bank's support to Nepal, irrespective to the change in guard in the government.
"The politics does not interfare in the decisions of the World Bank as its a non-political global institution representing 185 countries," they said, briefing the media, here before leaving for Washington today. "We respect the Nepali people's decision," they said.
They reviewed economic situation and social issues after the Constituent Assembly election before returning to Washington DC.
"It is a deliberate visit to Nepal to understand situation and challenges here," Michel Mordasini, one of the EDs, who looks after Switzerland said.
The 11 Executive Directors (EDs) — representing 91 countries — met with Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, Finance Minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat, some of the newly elected CA members, civil society and the donor community representatives.
"It was a very busy mission that held extensive discussions with government and reviewed economic situation and social issues after the successful CA polls," he said.
The high level delegation discussed possible future areas to contribute more like climate change, hydropower and infrastructure.
The delegates also met with Maoist Chairman Prachanda and second-in-command Dr Baburam Bhattarai. At the end of a 'cordial' meeting the delegates laid stress on continuity of dialogue with the emerging powers in Nepal.
The delegation did not set any pre-conditions for the government in-waiting but they believe that its a process of a continued dialogue that they are looking forward to.
They will report to the bank's headquarters in Washington for the future course of action.
The EDs said they were impressed by the peaceful CA polls and the peace and development processes were on a satisfactory track. The bank is sending a strong committment for Nepal but it depends on the performance of the government, Mordasini clarified.

From the next financial year, the World Bank — multilateral donor institution — is bringing a Joint Country Strategy paper that will be a guideline for next four-five years, he said adding that the programme should be alligned with national development strategy like how to increase growth potential and create more jobs. "It will also go side-by-side with the government's three-year interim plan," he added.
"The focus of the new country strategy paper would be on ownership of the recipient country," Mordasini said.
The Bank is financing three new projects worth $127 million after its Board meeting on May 3. It has financed four projects worth $252 million within the last 10 months.
(picture: The World Bank executives, along with Nepal country director, Susan Goldmark, pose with the Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and finance secretary Bidhyadhar Mallick, in the Prime Minister's official residence at Baluwatar, Kathmandu.)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Can Chilime add premium in its shares

Chilime Hydropower Company Ltd — the model hydropower project that opened the vista for Nepali investment deemed impossible one decade ago in hydropower sector — is planning to issue 23.04 million unit shares to public after repeated pressure by the regulatory authority of the capital market. Chilime should have floated its shares for the public long before but the regulation then was not clear on floating the shares to public before being traded at the Nepse floor.
Started in August 28, 2005, Chilime Hydropower's 7,296,000-unit shares were listed at a price of Rs 100 per unit at the Nepse on April 4, 2006 and started trading on Nepse floor from April second week without going to the public, as the Share Allotment Regulation - 2051 had not stopped the trading then.
However, according to the amendment — on September 21, 2006 — of the Share Allotment Regulation - 2051 Article (12), a company cannot trade its shares distributed to the staff before going to the public.
Chilime has asked the permission on April 4, from the Securities Board of Nepal (Sebon), the regulatory authority of capital market, to issue its shares separated for the public with Rs 500 premium in the base price of Rs 100 per unit making per unit share Rs 600.
"But it cannot add premium and has to float shares for public at Rs 100," says Rabindra Bhattarai, a share analyst. According to the Company Law, any company that has posted profits and distributed cash dividend continuously for three years can issue its shares to public adding premium. Both the rules must be fulfilled to float the share with premium. Though, there is no rule on how much premium a company can add at present, the new regulation 'Securities Registration and Issue Regulation' that the Sebon is bringing has clearly stated a rule on how to calculate the premium.
However, Chilime Hydro power has not fulfilled one of the conditions stated in the Company Law. "It has fulfilled only one condition that is it has posted profits continuously for last three years," Bhattarai says, adding that the second condition that is distribution of cash dividend for three years continuously could not be fulfilled as the Sebon ordered Chilime not to distribute cash dividend this year before going to public.

In the letter of January 27 to the Sebon the company has also clearly stated that it is, for the time being not distributing cash dividend and putting the decision on holdm, respecting the regulatory authority.
On February 10, Chilime held its 11th AGM where it has only proposed 30 per cent but has not distributed it obeying the regulator's order.
"We have applied for the shares to be issued with premium, if Sebon thinks that we can not add premium, we will obey," says Lila Nath Bhattarai, manager of the Chilime Hydropower Company Ltd.
The other interesting fact is that, in the AGM, the company has, again decided to give 10,000-unit of shares to the best staff from the public's share. It is allocating five per cent shares to Mutual Fund, 500-unit shares to Parbatikunda Secondary School and 1,80,000-unit shares for three VDCs, where the project site is located apart from 10,000-unit to the best staff. Reducing these allocations, the public will now get only 19,98,300-unit from a total separated of 23,04,000-unit separated for them.
"The staff were already given the shares but the company has again separated shares for them, which is not fair to the public," protested one investor.

Equity share structure
For public 24 per cent (23,04,000-unit) - yet to be floated
NEA 51 per cent
Staff 25 per cent (23,74050-unit)
Total shares 100 per cent (72,95,655-unit)

Fiscal year -- cash dividend
2060-61 -- Rs 10 per dividend per share
2061-62 -- Rs 20 per dividend per share
2062-63 -- Rs 35 per dividend per share
2063-64 -- 30 per cent cash dividend and 25 per cent bonus shares proposed. (But the cash dividend is cancelled due to Sebon's prohibition.)

What's in store
Apart from the present Chilime Hydropower project of 22.1 MW that is in operation, the company has planned three projects:
1. Sajen Hydroelectric Project (35 MW)
2. Sajen (Upper) Hydroelectric Project (11 MW)

3. Middle Bhotekoshi Hydroelectic Project (80 MW)
4. Rasuwagadi Hydropower Project (75 MW) – in the process of obtaining licence

Saturday, April 26, 2008

NRB 53rd anniversary

Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) today celebrated its 53nd anniversary.
On the occasion, employees of the central bank voiced serious concerns over the long-absence of the regulatory authority's head.
"How can the regulatory authority function without its head for so long," the speakers questioned, adding that the morale of staff is down. "Financial sector reform programme and action against the bank defaulters have also been hit hard due to the delay in governor's case," they opined. They even challenged the government to action against the wilful defaulters.
In the last fiscal year only, three new commercial banks came into operations making it a total of 23 commercial banks. Similarly, 21 new development banks came into existence making it to a total of 58 development banks and nine finance companies came into operations making it to a total of 79 finance companies. "Now the supervisory and regulatory role of the central bank has increased," said acting governor Krishna Bahadur Manandhar.
The country has entered into a new era and for a strong economic growth, role of the central bank cannot be ruled out. "Economic inclusion is not possible without higher economic growth," he added.
"However, political stability and lasting peace are prerequisite for higher economic growth," he said, adding that rising price and plummeting exports are major concerns for the economy at present.
"Ever increasing global fuel price has also hurt our budget," he said, adding that economic stability has become a strong challenge in such a situation.
Himalaya Shumshere JBR, the founding governor of the central bank, on the occasion, said that Nepalis have done nothing for economic revolution and social transformation in last 50 years. "After one chapter of political revolution, its high time now we work for economic revolution," he added.

Gold Medal distributed
KATHMANDU: On the occasion of 53rd anniversary, acting governor, Krishna Bahadur Manandhar distributed gold medals to the 523 employees, who completed 20 years and more service in the bank. A total of five-and-a-half kg of gold was used to prepare 523 medals. Each medal contains 25-gram silver, making it a total of 13,075 gram of silver for the 523 medals. — HNS

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Maoists vow to create conducive investment environment

Maoists today assuring the entrepreneurs' team led by Surendra Bir Malakar, president of Nepal Chamber of Commerce (NCC), said that the fusion of domestic and foreign investment could help fast-paced economic development.
Maoists supremo Prachanda reassured the business fraternity that Maoists will create conducive atmosphere for national and foreign investments."
Conducive environment for promotion of domestic investment would be created as foreign investment could not be brought in without promoting the domestic investment," he said, during the meeting held at Maoists Central Office at Buddhanagar in the valley today."
Labour unrest will be a history and we will encourage healthy relationships between labour and the industrial sector," he tried to assure the business community, adding that the current problem of food and petroleum products' scarcity will be dealt efficiently. The entrepreneurs has asked him of Maoists' version on present petroleum supply situation and scarcity of other commodities.
As Maoists has emerged the largest party securing 120 in FPTP, it vowed to work together with the private sector and create a friendly environment for investment for the fast-paced economic development.
The NCC delegation also asked the Maoist leadership to make clear about their economic policy and public-private partnership. "The new government will formulate the economic policy based on the suggestions of industrialists, economists and traders," Prachanda tried to convince them.Load-shedding, security and capital flight are the major threats that are hitting the private sector hard currently. Promising to implement transitional economic policy at the moment protecting national industrial capitalism, the Maoists top brass urged the private sector to cooperate with them to bring economic development in the country.
"Donot be misguided by the our economic policy," he said assuring the private sector that it will include private sector while formulating all kinds of economic policies. During the meeting that lasted for two hours, Maoist's second-in-command Baburam Bhattarai and economic department chief Krishna Acharya were also present.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Era of cheap food over

The era of cheap food is over, an Asian Development Bank (ADB) official said Tuesday.Rajat Nag, the ADB's managing director general, said a variety of factors have contributed to soaring food prices which, even if they ease, will not return to the lower levels which the world became used to.
"We just have to accept the era of cheap food is over," Nag said. The ADB last week said soaring food prices have hampered Asia's fight against poverty and some countries may need foreign aid to feed their hungry millions.
"I don't think we are talking in any way about a famine situation. The supplies are not where we need them and that is a distribution problem. They are not available where the demands are," Nag said.
Global rice demand rose 0.9 percent last year, more than the production increase of 0.7 percent, he said.While Asia's stock of rice is its lowest in decades, the ADB believes it is still enough to meet demand, Nag said."
So we do want to temper what sometimes may appear to me is a bit of an over-reaction." Moves by some countries such as Vietnam and India to curb rice exports to ease domestic prices will likely not work in the longer term, Nag said.
"We believe it would be unproductive, counter-productive, to depend on price controls or trade measures to deal with the immediate crisis," he said.
He said controls were understandable from a domestic standpoint but such measures are "really no different from hoarding at a national level." The Manila-based ADB aims to reduce global poverty.
Nag cited a variety of factors for rising food prices. These include escalating prices of oil and other production costs, conversion of arable land to urban development and biofuel production, and environmental problems such as drought in Australia.In a report early this month the ADB cautioned that the biggest risk for the region was soaring inflation, which it foresees rising to 5.1 percent this year -- the highest in a decade.
Rice prices have roughly doubled in five years, it said.Set up in 1966, the ADB provides development aid to dozens of Asian and Pacific countries, where it says nearly 1.9 billion people still live on two US dollars a day or less. -- AFP

Monday, April 21, 2008

IPO scam alerts market, calls for early regulation

Ace Development Bank — the issue manager of Employment Promotion and Development Bank's (EPDB) Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) — has, publishing a notice, called application from the EPDB's IPOs applicants, who do not wish to take part in the share allotment process.According to the notice 'those who cannot submit original citizenship certificate at the time of cash refund after share allotment can apply now.
"Self attested photocopy of citizenship certificate is enough to apply for the IPO but to get the cash refund after the share allotment, original citizenship certificate is a must," states the Securities Issue and Registration Guideline-2057.
Though, Ace gave chance this time for those who have applied with unknown citizenship certificates' photocopies, its a temporary solution to check the submission of fake and unknown citizenship certificates to get more shares.
"Such incidents call for an urgency of new Securities Registration and Issue Regulation that is gathering dust in the ministry since last two months. The new regulation will help check such foul play," said officers at the Securities Board of Nepal (Sebon), the capital market's regulator that had uncovered a huge IPO scam that involves around eight billion rupees almost a month ago.
The EPDB had received 5,00,000 applications amounting to over eight billion rupees that the bank claimed have been oversubscribed by 66 per cent. It had floated shares worth Rs 128 million for the public."The eight billion rupees claimed to be collected is not the real money," one senior officer at the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), said, adding that the collection of cash do not exceed half-a-billion. "The amount is only in the papers. It's also the responsibility of central bank to do something to check such practice," he added.
Though, there has been many complaints of foul play, the Sebon has for the first time raided and confiscated the IPO application forms — from different collection centres — that had suspicious citizenship certificates.
Sebon's monitoring unit had randomly raided the collection centres and confiscated the suspected forms, after it received complaints of foul play in IPOs.
The need of the new regulation is felt even more as five of the new commercial banks are floating their shares worth Rs 1.5 billion within this fiscal year. Prime Commercial Bank has signed an agreement with the Citizen Investment Trust (CIT) as its issue manager to float the shares worth Rs 300 million to public.
Similarly, Global Bank has assigned NIDC Capital markets Ltd and Bank of Asia has assigned Nepal Merchant Banking and Finance (NMBF) as issue managers. Citizen International Bank is waiting NRB's green signal to to go public. Sunrise bank is also gearing up for its IPO issue. All the five big commercial banks will float Rs 300 million worth IPOs each making it to a total of Rs 1.5 billion IPOs soon.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

NDM proposal submission deadline extended

The World Bank (WB) has extended the deadline of proposal submission for its second edition of Nepal Development Marketplace (NDM) — an unconventional programme and forum for idea to encourage development activities — till April 30. The proposals will be reviewed by a team of technical assessors that will select approximately fifty finalists after that. Twenty five innovative ideas and inventive partnerships from across Nepal will be awarded cash grants of up to Rs 1.5 million each should they emerge as winners of the NDM-2008 that will be an open, transparent competition to promote fresh thi-nking and harvest the most innovative ideas about peace and development, expansion of livelihood opportunities and delivery of basic services to the poor.
The finalists will be invited to participate at the national competition to be held in Kathmandu on June 15. An independent jury will select the winners.
To be eligible to compete, proposals must reflect the theme ‘Securing Peace through Development’ in any of the areas including health, education, water and sanitation, agriculture, irrigation and food security, infrastructure (roads and transportation), energy, small business and micro enterprise support, information communication and technology (ICT) and employment creation.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Comrades vow to bring economic revolution

During the ice-breaking session between the Maoists and private sector today — after the landslide victory in the CA elections —Maoists supremo Prachanda laid stress on economic revolution.
“Within 10 years, let us work magic for economic revolution and mesmerise the whole world,” he said, requesting the private sector to join hands with them for economic revolution. “For the time being, we have transitional economic policy,” the Maoists leader said, adding that they will protect national industrial capitalism.
Dr Baburam Bhattarai, Maoists second-in-command, also assured the business community of political stability.
Already plagued by the myriad of problems like labour dispute, increasing load-shedding, security and capital flight, the private sector wanted assurance from the Maoists top brass that their investment will be secure. According to the poll results declared till today, the Maoists are comfortably in the majority and are going to form the government.
“Private sector is ready to cooperate with the new government provided security of their business and investment,” Kush Kumar Joshi, president of FNCCI, said, adding that apart from labour law reform, industrial security force is key to industrial security, at present.
In line with their election manifesto, the leaders emphasised on liberal trade policies with priority to the development of agriculture, hydropower and tourism.
“Generation of 10,000 MW electricity within ten years is on our agenda,” they said.
Maoist chief Prachanda assuring the business fraternity also emphasised that his party would work in cooperation with other parties, develop good relations with the international community and focus on fast-paced economic development.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Singapore scientists find tea is good for brain

A cup of tea is good for the brain by slowing down cell degeneration and keeping the mind sharp into old age, a published report stated today.A four-year long study by scientists in Singapore adds to tea's long-touted virtues. Any type of tea will do, Ng Tze Pin, a professor with the National University of Singapore's psychological medicine department told The Sunday Times.
"Tea is cheap, non-toxic and widely consumed," Ng was quoted as saying. The university's scientists found that catechins, a natural compound in tea, protects brain cells from damaging protein build-up over the years, maintaining the brain's cognitive capability.
The caffeine in tea, unlike that in coffee, contains the natural protein theanine which counters the normal side effects of caffeine such as raised blood pressure, headaches and tiredness, the scientists said.
Brain-cell degeneration, caused by a combination of loss of nerve cells, predisposed genes, small strokes and increased levels of harmful protein build-up, often leads to dementia, the report stated.
The team of scientists studied the tea habits of 2,501 Chinese aged 55 and above from September 2003 to December 2005.Participants' health, attention span, language use and visual and spatial abilities were assessed. Their tea consumption was monitored. About 38 per cent did not have tea, while 29 per cent drank only one kind and the rest consumed a mix of teas.
Two-thirds of the tea drinkers maintained their scores on the same memory tests two years later. Among the non-tea drinkers, 35 per cent saw a drop in their scores by an average of two points, signifying cognitive decline.
Tea was the distinguishing factor keeping brain cell energised. The drink alone cannot do the job. "It still means a lifetime of good habits and a balanced diet," Ng said. -- DPA

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Rates looks up

The days of low interest rates are soon going to be things of past as some of the banks have started increasing their interest rates.
Though the interest rates offered by some of the leading banks is as low as two per cent, cut-throat competition between the banks has forced them to hike interest rates.
"The older banks continue to give low interest rates between two and three per cent," Kishore Maharjan, CEO of Sunrise Bank Ltd said, adding that the new banks are giving better rates.
"Sunrise Bank offers the highest rate on the savings deposit at 6.5 per cent that exceeds the inflation rate of six per cent," he adds.
The latest entrants in the banking sector like Global Bank, Citizen International Bank and Prime Bank come next in terms of offering comparatively high interest rates at present.
"Banks increase interest rates on lending to compensate for increased interest rates on deposits. Interest rates on deposits jumped substantially due to liquidity crunch, result of capital flight and absorption of fund by the government," Maharjan said.
Small accountholders will largely benefit, if increasing of interest rates will be a successful mantra for Nepali banks in the days ahead.
Since there are few deposit strong corporate institutions, they had field day hiking up their interest rate as high as 8.5 per cent for one year fixed deposit.
Spread is also higher in Nepal because of low deposit rates. "The lending rates of Nepali banks are much lower in comparison to India or Pakistan," he added.
"Because of several repos and selling of over $24 million has solved the liquidity crunch temporarily," Maharjan said, adding that when government absorbs both ADBN and NT’s share money next month, there could be some crunch again.
The share money of NT’s share is in the banking system unlike the ADBN’s share money that is blocked at a place.
Customers can open an account at very low balance or even at zero balance also, at present. A customer can open an account at Sunrise with Rs 1,000. Sunrise Bank is also providing accident and disability insurance services for free.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Nepali vegetable ghee industry hit hard

The Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) and Nepal Chambers of Commerce (NCC) today urged the government to reduce the import tax on vegetable ghee industry's raw material.
"If it is not reduced, the recent decision of reducing import tax on raw material for vegetable ghee in India will badly hurt Nepali vegetable ghee industry," states a press release issued here by the umbrella organisation of Nepali private sector and NCC.
Issuing a press release, they have stated that the Nepali vegetable ghee and oil industries would be severely affected as it can not compete with the Indian vegetable ghee in the Indian market. The Indian vegetable ghee will be now cheaper than Nepali vegetable ghee.Exports to India will be practically impossible due to high price and quota system, read the releases."Its government's duty to protect Nepali vegetable ghee industry that has an investment of nearly Rs 10 billion and has employed 8,000," the press notes state, adding that it would also have a negative impact on Nepali economy."It will not only create unemployment problem but also hits the revenue collection," states the NCC.
"We want 'Level playing field," they demand. "We urge the government to immediately reduce the import tax to zero per cent on raw materials and concession in VAT."They also sought the dismissal of the quota system that has fixed the limitation to 1,00,000 metric tonnes of exports to India. "The canalising system should be scraped," they appeal, asking the government to scrap the import duty on raw material for vegetable ghee.
A team of Nepal Vegetable Ghee Producers' Association met Kush Kumar Joshi, president of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the umbrella organisation of Nepali private sector and appraised him of the recent development.
Indian government has, starting from April 1, reduced the import tax raw materials of vegetable ghee to zero. Recently, Arun Banaspati Ghee Industries and Narayan Vegetable Industries have already closed due to loan, increase in the cost of raw materials and problem in production.
According to the office in Biratnagar that issues certificate of origin, the export of vegetable ghee to India till March 13 this year is less than 50 per cent in comparison to the same period last year. The export in the fiscal year 2063-64 stood at 17,848 metric tonnes (Rs 80,48,41,950). But its volume plummetted in the fiscal year 2064-65 to only 8,302 metric tonnes (worth Rs 45,37,63,000).Currently, Pashupati Khadya Tel, Swostic Oil, Sriram Refinery, Manakamana Vegetable and Baba Vegetable are in operation in the eastern region. These industries used to produce upto 40 tonnes of vegetable ghee daily. Most of these industries' target is Indian market.

Joshi vows to make FNCCI dynamic

Kush Kumar Joshi, the newly elected president of the umbrella organisation of Nepali private sector, has vowed to make the organisation more dynamic and reputed with his new executive committee that has a vibrant entrepreneurs like Suraj Vaidhya as senior vice-president and Krishna Prasad Tamrakar, Pradip Jung Pandey and Bhaskar Rajrajkarnikar as vice-presidents.
"Private sector must build its own image and unity among entrepreneurs as it will help us increase bargaining power. The government will be compelled to listen to us," says the 14th president of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce (FNCCI), who has always wanted to be an entrepreneur. "Apart from that I wanted to be an engineer," adds modest Joshi.
An average student, Joshi passed his SLC from Saraswoti High school, Chainpur, Sankhuwasabha in second division in 2032 BS. "Though I was just an average student, I had command over Mathemetics and Science," he confesses adding that he did his IE (electrical) from Pulchowk Engineering Campus. He holds an Electrical Engineering diploma from Society of Engineering, UK.
Born in 2017 BS, Joshi started his business of transmission lines and electrification in 2040-41 BS. As an electrical engineer, he started the business of electrical lines."
Ekarat Thailand wanted to expand its business in Nepal at the same time," Joshi, who is leading the 19th executive committee, says. It was 2045 BS that he entered into JV with Ekarat Thailand. It was most probably the first JV in equity participation in Nepal. However, we got licence after 1990 after a long struggle. Because policy doesnot guide us and the individual is more important in our system," says the managing director of Nepal Ekarat Engineering Company Pvt Ltd that manufactures the transformers.
Though, he has become a member of Makwanpur Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2051, he entered FNCCI in 2054. "FNCCI gave me an exposure and confidence," Joshi, who believes that only industrialisation can develop Nepal, admits.
Private sector as the driver of economy must have one agenda and one platform, he says, adding that business sector should have a combined and one voice for a consensus on economic agenda.He thinks that Nepal is heading towards remittance economy which is short-lived and industrialisation is the only long-term solution.
The current labour unrest is one of the factors that has hit the industrialisation process. "Labour and entrepreneurs, both is responsible for the unrest," he thinks. "The present labour unrest is also due to politicisation. However, we can workout a win-win solution."
"The current trend of foreign employment should be changed and we should create more employment opportunity back home that is possible only with industrialisation," according to him. "For long-term sustainable growth, more employment is needed in the country which is possible only if we have more industries."
The people, who return home with money and skill should get chance to use their expertise and money here in the country," Joshi adds.The entrepreneurs claim that the country is in transition phase and the present priority should be security and dealing with load-shedding. He agrees, "Political stability is the first priority but in the transition phase our concern is security."
"FNCCI will submit its economic agenda to the government after CA polls," he says.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Ranabhat NAFEA president

The 16th AGM of Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA) on Saturday elected Tilak Bahadur Ranabhat of Noor Opportunities Overseas Pvt Ltd as its president for the next two-year term. Ranabhat got 161 votes against his nearest rival Madan Khadka of who got 131 votes.
Som Lal Bataju of SOS Manpower Service Pvt Ltd was elected first vice-president with 159 votes. Similarly, Bal Bahadur Tamang of Sky Overseas Pvt Ltd was elected the second vice-president and Kamal Dev Malla of Third Eye Overseas Concern Pvt Ltd was elected the third vice-president and Gyan Prasad Gaire of Rara Employment Pvt Ltd was elected the general secretary. The new executive committee of 17 members were elected on Saturday after the AGM on Friday.
Foreign employment — the source of remittance — has been a major job opportunity for Nepali youths due to lack of job opportunities back home. The flow of remittances rose by 18 per cent in Nepal, during the first half of current fiscal year 2007-08 and touched the total amount to Rs 57 billion as of mid-January 2008. Nepal had received Rs 48.26 billion during the same period in the previous fiscal year.
The sector is, however, marred by various issues like lack of professionalism, labour law, security of labours and the manpower agencies' credibility. Ranabhat has vowed to make this profession more dignified.

India is top remittance receiver
India is the top receiver of remittances from abroad in 2007, followed by China and Mexico, according to the World Bank's Migration and Remittances Fact book 2008. The top five recipients of migrant remittances in 2007 were India ($27 billion), China ($25.7 billion), Mexico ($25 billion), the Philippines ($17 billion) and France ($12.5 billion), according to the fact book.

Floriculture fair lures thousands

The 12th edition of floriculture exhibition, organised by Floriculture Association Nepal (FAN) at Bhrikutimandap, concluded here today.
The last day of the exhibition saw huge number of people thronging the stalls that were decorated with various varieties and colours of flowers.According to Arun Chhetri, general secretary of FAN, more than 30,000 visitors — that is an increment by twenty five per cent in comparison to last year — visited the exhibition. FAN had expected around 25,000 visitors this year. "We are very much excited by the increasing numbers of visitors this year as it surpassed our expectation despite the nearing Constituent Assembly election," he said.
The total transactions — of flowers this year — registered around Rs 9.4 million that is also more than 100 per cent increment in comparison to last year. "Last year FAN recorded a sale of Rs 4.5 million during the exhibition," he informed.
The five-day long exhibition had 60 stalls with more than 450 species of flowers from different nurseries around the country.Till five years ago, Nepal used to import 80-90 per cent of total cut-flowers consumed in the domestic market. But it is completely otherway round today as Nepal's production has already substituted imports substantially, according to FAN.
Although Nepal started exporting floral products just few years back, its reach has gone up from India to USA, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Australia, Taiwan, Italy, Germany and some Gulf countries also. But the export is limited to only bulbs, tissue culture plants, cut flowers and ornamental plants.

NT rings throughout Nepal

Its not just coincidence. Its an aggressive planning and expansion.
Nepal telecomm's CDMA phones started ringing throughout the country from Saturday, April 5. And Sugat Ratna Kansakar has been appointed NT's managing director for the third time.
The third time appointed managing director Sugat Ratna Kansakar has very aggressive and ambitious plan for the Nepal Telecomm's (NT) expansion.
"Within two years, we will increase the teledensity of NT to 26 per cent from the present eight per cent," Kansakar said, adding that the total teledensity in Nepal including the private players is, however, at around 12 per cent now.
"There is still enough room — upto 25 to 30 per cent — for expansion," the MD of state-owned telecom giant added. Apart from NT's ambitious plan 'Mission 2010 for increasing its customer base from the current two million to seven million in the next three years, Kansakar highlighted that he has been successful in boosting the confidence of staff despite the robust private players' entry in the domestic market.
NT plans to connect all 75 districts by wireless telephones based on Code Division Multiplexing Access (CDMA) technology and Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) cellular mobile phones. "As of today, NT has already connected 75 out of all 75 district headquarters with CDMA and 70 districts with GSM cellular mobile phones," Kansakar informed.
NT has already started installation of additional 3.5 million mobiles phones and will increase CDMA lines to two million. It is also planning the expansion of PSTN lines.However, consumers complain of poor quality of NT cellular mobile phones. He agrees but according to him, quality upgradation and expansion plan go hand in hand. "Before eight years, NT had only 18 towers but now, there are 300 towers throughout the country," he said adding that NT is trying to stall more towers to maintain quality with increasing number of consumers."
In next two years, NT will install 18,00 BTS and 400 CDMA towers throughout the country," he added. "Assessing the huge demand of CDMA phones and pre-paid mobile phones, we foresee the need for such a huge expansion plan," Kansakar added.
The additional CDMA lines will be mostly distributed in hilly regions to better serve the rural populace. "According to the Three-Year Interim Plan, NT will provide Internet service to the remotest of the villages," he promised.
While the government's long-term plan for telecom and information technology unveiled in 2002 claimed there would be 15 telephone connections per 100 people by 2014, NT's Mission 2010 has plans for having 20 lines per 100 people within the next three years.
Kansakar further said that NT would soon come up with a plan to provide on-demand connections for GSM pre-paid mobile phones and CDMA Sky phones. "We plan to start on-demand supply of new connections for Kathmandu valley within next two months," he informed.

Friday, April 4, 2008

NT shares to be allotted after polls

Citizen's Investment Trust (CIT), the issue and sales manager of the Nepal Telecomm (NT) shares will allot NT shares' after the Constituent Assembly (CA) polls. Earlier, it had planned to allot the shares on April 6.
"We will allot NT shares after CA polls, most probable on April 17-18," said Anil Dhakal, officer, Corporate Finance and Capital Markets Promotion Division at the CIT."
From the data till today, we have received a maximum bid of Rs 2,500 to the lowest of Rs 600 for a share that was quoted at Rs 600 minimum — after adding Rs 500 premium to the face value of Rs 100 for each unit," he said, adding that among 28,000 sealed envelopes received by the CIT, it has opened around 17,000 envelops so far.
CIT estimates that it has received bidding for around 50 million units. "After the data entry of remaining 11,000 envelopes, we can confirm the real amount and the units," he added.The government had planned to raise at least Rs 9 billion by selling NT's share — 4.5 billion in the first phase and 4.5 billion in the second phase, later. It just falls short of around a billion — if the primary data is to be believed — in its target in the first phase. However, it is expected to collect around three-and-a-half billion rupees only.
Meanwhile, CIT has inked an agreement with Prime Commercial Bank for its Rs 300 million Initial Public Offering (IPO). Prime will be the first commercial bank among the newly opened commercial banks with two billion rupees paid up capital.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Nepal to post 3.8pc growth

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has projected 3.8 per cent Gross Domestic Production (GDP) growth in 2008 and 4.3 per cent in 2009. However, the government had last month projected a revised 4.5 per cent growth from five per cent.
In its annual report — Asian Development Outlook (ADO) — published here in the valley today, ADB stated that the growth rate would be marred by the rising inflation, which it estimates to remain at seven per cent."
The inflation would remain at seven per cent in 2008 and 6.5 per cent in 2009," said Paul J Heytens, country director, Nepal Resident Mission, releasing the report. But the report on the other hand also states the immediate challenges like rising petroleum prices that needs timely adjustment.
However, the price adjustment of petroleum products would again fuel the inflation making not only the goods and commodities more dearer but also beyond the reach of the common people. The power shortage is yet another challenge stated in the report that is not going to be solved immediately.
The ADO highlights the importance of agriculture in economic development in Asia but the agriculture productivity in Nepalhas decelerated to 0.7 per cent from last year's 1.1 per cent. "Second green revolution is needed," Heytens said, giving emphasis on the job creation that has been very slow in Nepal.Though, the overseas employment has emerged as a safety valve, its short term only. For the long-term development, Nepal must have a proper Labour law to lure back the workers home. "Labour Act 2002 is rigid for rationalising business operations and inadequate for protecting worker's interest," he added.
Domestic labour market needs reform for the better relationships between the employees and employers and for the long term development of the country.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Sebon uncovers IPO scam

Investors have been, for long, complaining of foul play in the capital market. But for the first time, Securities Board of Nepal (Sebon) has uncovered what appears to be a huge financial scam in the capital market that might be only the tip of an iceburg."
Sebon has stopped the allotment process of Employment Promotion and Development Bank's (EPDB) shares until its investigation completes. It has also written to Ace Development Bank, the issue manager of EPDB's Initial Public Offerings (IPOs), to stop the process of allotment," said Dr Chiranjivi Nepal, chairman of Sebon, the regulatory authority of the capital market."
After we got complaints of foul play in IPOs, we randomly checked the collection centres," he informed, adding that the inspection team then took control of the suspected forms. "Sebon inspection team has randomly taken control of a couple hundreds of forms that are being suspected of fraudulent," said P N Poudyal, director, Market Regulation Department of the Sebon."
Such forms will be cancelled which is necessary to clean up the market," said Neeraj Giri, director at the Sebon, without elaborating on what action the regulatory authority is going to take.
The EPDB had received 5,00,000 applications amounting to over eight billion rupees that it claimed to be oversubscribed by 66 per cent. It had floated shares worth Rs 128 million for public.Such incidents call for an urgency of new IPO regulation that is in offing and is expected to control such foul play.