Thursday, April 30, 2009

ADB tripples capital base to $165 billion

Asian Development Bank's (ADB) Board of Governors has agreed to triple ADB's capital base from $55 billion to $165 billion, giving it much-needed resources to respond to the global economic crisis and to the longer term development needs of the Asia and the Pacific region.
Voting by ADB's 67 member countries on a fifth general capital increase closed on April 29, with an overwhelming majority of members endorsing it. The 200 per cent increase is ADB's largest, and the first since ADB increased its capital by 100 per cent in 1994.
"This substantial increase is a resounding vote of confidence from our shareholders for what we can achieve as a premier development partner in the region," said ADB president Haruhiko Kuroda. The capital increase decision comes two days before ADB begins its 42nd Annual Meeting in Bali, Indonesia, from May 2 to 5.
The 200 per cent increase allows ADB to substantially increase its support to countries affected by the global downturn, enabling ADB to provide an additional $10 billion from its Ordinary Capital Resources over the next few years for crisis-related assistance. "We must do all we can to prevent the reversal of hard won gains for our region in social and economic development, and in poverty reduction," Kuroda said.
ADB estimates that the crisis will keep more than 60 million people in developing Asia trapped in absolute poverty this year, and nearly 100 million more in 2010. The capital increase will also give ADB the financial capability to pursue longer term development priorities in the region. Even before the global economic crisis, funding needs for the region were huge. ADB's developing member countries face an estimated resource gap of $53 billion a year for meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
About a quarter of the total population of ADB's developing member countries have no access to electricity, many have piped water access ratio of less than 20 per cent and access to improved sanitation is as low as eight per cent in some countries. In addition, more than 30 per cent of the rural populations in the developing countries lack access to all-weather roads.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Industry captains root for apolitical trade unions

Industry captains and trade unions, akin to people from all walks of life, have come up with a slew of recommendations to be incorporated in the new Constitution. And, the Constitutional Committee (CC), headed by veteran CPN-UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, is intently poring over the suggestions these days.
Joint Trade Union Coordination Centre (JTUCC), a conglomerate of labour unions, vows to protect workers' rights.
Yesterday, six major trade unions, affiliated to various political parties and Confederation of Professionals-Nepal (CoNEP), handed over their input to CC chairman Nepal.
While, the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) and Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) are all for safeguarding the duties and responsibilities of industrial and manufacturing sectors.
FNCCI's statement, meanwhile, has queered the pitch for the unions. CNI, too, agrees with this observation. "Trade unions that are affiliated to political parties shouldn't have any role to play," said FNCCI, an umbrella organisation of Nepali private sectors.
Perhaps, the hardening of stand stems from bitter labour disputes in the recent past. Entrepreneurs are of the opinion that unions, which owe their allegiance to parties, are tough nuts to crack. To make matters worse, there is an overriding fear of intervention from political parties, bordering on militant trade unionism.
As a concept — apolitical trade union — seems far fetched under present circumstances. But, at the same time, there is a dire need for one to address the genuine grievances of labourers. This is largely because it will not become a tool for the party to fulfil its "vested interests".
Bishnu Rimal, president of General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions (Gefont) — affiliated to the ruling CPN-UML — disagrees with the business community's perception.
"An individual has every right to pursue an ideology. It should not be misconstrued through a political prism," he reasoned. He went on to elucidate the contrasting history of labour movements in Nepal and Europe.
While, labour struggle led to the birth of parties in Europe, the contrary holds good for Nepal.
Kush Kumar Joshi, president of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), has a different take on the role of unions. "They should act as a conduit between industries and workers. Settling of internal disputes and fostering good industrial relations should be their primary tasks. But, once they have a political mandate, the parties' guidelines start dictating their policies and actions," he explained.
Joshi pointed out that there were industries galore, which were operating sans unions' pulls and pressures.
He has a copybook approach to the issue.
"A union has to look after labourers' rights. It will have a role to play only if the labour laws are manipulated and subsequently workers were denied of their rightful dues," he signed off.
The ever muscle-flexing and high-handedness of the politically-affiliated trade unions have been, at times, headache for the parties themselves.
“The parties should either be able to tame their militant trade unions or depoliticise them,” said CA member and CNI president Binod Kumar Chaudhary. “Both should be left to their own devices. Political exercise is simply not enough for the nation to make progress in this fast-changing world. This is a critical moment in the history of the nation. The whole world is watching the political parties. Whether they stand for a prosperous Nepal or let the unions hold sway,” he added.
The new Constitution is a stepping-stone to the New Nepal. “In that light, the Constitution should ensure that economic benefits reach one and all. And, that’s the only way one can build a well and truly inclusive society,” said Chaudhary,.

What FNCCI wants in the new Constitution?
Economic liberalisation
Rule of Law
Right to Property
Safeguard of goods and services
Eradication of corruption
Right to economic rights
Government should not nationalise any industry, trade or business
Right to natural resources and equitable distribution
Free market economy

What CNI wants in the new Constitution?
All sectors should be open for the people as a civil right, save those banned by the government’s Gazette notification
The government should not nationalise any industry, trade or business
Private sector should act as an equal opportunity employer
Right to property
Painless exit for business community if it deems so
Trade unions should be apolitical
Right to do business sans any kind of interference
Public Institutes should be privatised
The government should adopt private sector-friendly policies to boost growth
Free market economy
The government’s policies should attract foreign investment, technology, skill and knowledge
The government should ensure more bi-lateral and multi-lateral agreements in sync with the current trend of globalisation
The government should establish a separate commercial court to settle cases regarding industry, trade and commerce

What JTUCC wants in the new Constitution?
Right to trade union and group bargaining, social security and justice
Ban on child-labour
Right to employment
A 10 per cent-fixed quota for labourers in all policy-making agencies
Workers representation must in bodies that have employers as well
Labour Senate (Labour Parliament) should be established as an umbrella body of all labour organisations
Formation of National Labour Commission to settle all labour disputes

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

NMB starts online share application

Good news for share investors !
Soon it will be possible for them to apply for the primary issue from their own homes.
"The days of long queues to apply for primary issues will soon be a thing of past," said Upendra Poudyal, CEO of NMB Bank Ltd, launching his bank's online share application service -- NMB e-Solutions: NMB online share application -- here today.
NMB Bank has come up with the first step in the online share application system. "An investor can now file profile online and need not fill up any applications," he said adding that it will also help save investors time and energy everytime a primary issue is floated.
However, for the time being as Securities Board of Nepal (Sebon) has not brought an online share application regulation one has to follow some procedure manually as usual, such as registration.
"Once an investor files his/her profile online, he/she will get a slip with ID code -- easily printable -- and can register at the privileged counters with mandatory documents like photos and xerox copies of citizenship certificate and pay the amount equal to the number of shares sought," CEO Poudyal added.
However, it will definitely take some time to go to complete electronic application system for shares. "Some changes in the regulatory framework of the Securities Regulation and greater awareness among investors could help go for complete electronic system of application for shares in the future," he said, "NMB Bank will improve the service gradually and go completely electronic," Poudyal assured. "While it is our initiative to start online share application, I feel other issue managers will also follow suit to make the share application process easier."
The Nepali capital market has seen tremendous growth in the last one decade. The sole secondary market has been automated and the number of investors at present is estimated at around 1.5 million. If the complete ectronic share application is implemented by the Sebon, the investors will benefit more and fake applications could be checked.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Monetray Policy fails to curb price hike

The Monetary Policy has done little to control the price hike.
Speaking during Nepal Rastra Bank's 54th anniversary today, central bank governor Dipendra Bahadur Kshhetri showed serious concern over the rising prices at a time when prices around the world are falling due to financial crisis. The inflation rate at present is above 13 per cent -- nearly double the target of 7.5 per cent.
"Though Nepal's economy is not completely integrated with the global market, it has already started feeling the heat of the global financial meltdown in some sectors like tourism, exchange rate of Nepali rupee vis-à-vis US dollar and foreign employment," he said adding that local problems like energy crisis, frequent bandhs, strikes and labour disputes have also posed a serious threat to the growth that was pegged at around seven per cent.
During the current fiscal year, the expected growth in the agriculture sector and industrial output also might be adversely affected, according to Nepal Rastra Bank's data.
However, some of the financial indicators are positive. "The central bank is trying to maintain overall economic stability," the governor added. "The service sector is expected to grow satisfactorily."
The regulator of the monetary and financial market also assured that it would formulate and implement effective monetary and fiscal policies to stabilise the country's financial sector.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Liquidity cruch fuels bank interest rates

Liquidity crunch has started fuelling the banks interest rates that were till last year hovering around and below five per cent.
"A huge amount of money is going to be invested in mega projects like Upper Tamakoshi soon and the banking sector will feel the heat," said Kishore Maharjan, chief executive officer (CEO) of Sunrise Bank -- the 23rd commercial bank.
Maharjan also forecast liquidity crunch in six to eight months. "We believe that in six to eight months, there will be a massive liquidity crunch in the market," he said adding that Sunrise Bank has, targetting the coming critical period, launched a fixed deposit product Sunrise Nava Barsha 2066 Muddati Patra that gives nine per cent interest per annum.
Though the established commercial banks are in comfortable position, new banks may have to face a critical situation if they do not plan ahead. "The days of following institutional depositors in a cut-throat competition offering them highest rate at the cost of individual customers are gone," Maharjan added. The institutional depositors like Citizen Investment Trust, Beema Sansthan, Employees Profident Fund are investing their money in Upper Tamakoshi forcing the commercial banks to go to general public.
Thus Sunrise is targetting individual depositors who are getting low interest rates on their hard-earned money, according to Maharjan who said that Sunrise will float 3.75 million-unit primary shares worth Rs 375 million.
Targetting the share investors, the bank has also brought another new savings product called Share Lagaani Khata offering 6.75 per cent interest per annum.
The recent heavy withdrawal from commercial banks due to the government's fears has also compelled banks to increase the interest rates.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Petrol scarcity to ease soon

If everything goes as planned, Kathmanduites will have enough petrol from Monday. The valley is facing a shortage of petrol since the last four days due to the Tarai bandh called by the Tharu community.
"Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) has requested the Bara and Parsa districts' administration to clamp curfew tonight so that 200 empty tankers can reach Raxaul and other stranded tankers also can reach their destination," said Digambar Jha, managing director of NOC. Though 24 tankers have reached Kathmandu Valley, that cannot fulfill the demand here as the daily demand of the valley is at 300 kilolitres (kl). The state-oil monopoly's storage capacity in the valley is only 2,630 kl, which is adequate for only nine days.
"We are working to increase the storage capacity in Thankot," Jha said adding that the state-oil monopoly has already bought land for the storage depot. "Diesel storage capacity has been increased and stock of kerosene is also enough as the consumption of kerosene has gone down after price equalisation with diesel," he added. There is enough stock of Air Turbine Fuel (ATF).
NOC boasts of a cumulative storage capacity of 71,742.3 kl of petroleum products, which last for 30 days. But, it can store only 6,300 kl of diesel and kerosene each and 7,640 kl of ATF in the capital.
The valley's petrol stocks are depleted as many tankers are stranded at various places like Birgunj, Simra, Jeetpur and Kalaiya. "The ultimate solution is a pipeline," Jha said. "Otherwise the valley people will always have to face a shortage due to this reason or that."
Due to the blockade of the Raxual-Amlekhginj route NOC has been unable to supply petroleum products smoothly in the valley since the last four days. The Ministry of Commerce and Supplies and the Home Ministry are trying to impose curfew to allow the movement of petrol tankers.
"The Tharuhat movement, the protest of the squatters, the road blockade due to a tipper accident on Jitpur-Simara road stretch, the padlocking of Birjung customs offcie and the tanker strike has disrupted the supply," NOC stated. It has requested consumers to bear with it for another till Sundfay saying there will be ample supply from Monday.

This week too, Global Bank rules Nepse roost

Global Bank dominated in Nepse the second consecutive week as it topped the chart in terms of share units traded, trading amount and number of transactions with 42,000-unit shares through 663 transactions at Rs 25.29 million.
However, the major sub-groups plunged to drag Nepse down by 5.69 points to close weekly trading at 657.02 points from last week's closing of 662.71 points. Of the nine-sub groups' indices, only one sub-group -- hotels -- rose to a marginal 1.45 points to reach 363.11 points from last week's closing of 361.66 points.
The other seven sub-groups -- except trading that remained constant due to no transaction of its shares -- lost due to low investors confidence though the transaction amount increased by 73.75 per cent to rise to Rs 218.2 million against last week's transaction of Rs 123.5 million, according to Nepse.
The 78-scrip sensitive index -- considered blue chip shares in the domestic market -- also lost 0.65 point to drop to 176.01 points from last week's closing of 176.66 points. The float index -- calculated on the basis of real transactions -- also lost 0.32 point to dip to 64.39 points from last week's closing of 64.71 points.This week witnessed five-day trading as against last week's three-day trading, but Nepse gained only on one day.
The week started in the red as on Sunday Nepse shed 2.76 points to drop to 659.95 points from last week's closing of 662.71 points. However, Monday witnessed a marginal gain of 0.06 points to raise it to 660.01 points. Nepse continued to lose on the remaining days -- Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday -- and closed weekly trading at 657.02 points.
This week's top performers were Global Bank (with Rs 25.29 million), Standard Chartered Bank Nepal (with Rs 21.93 million), Bank of Kathmandu (with Rs 16.86 million), Nepal Development and Employment Promotion Bank (with Rs 10.96 million) and Gurkha Development Bank (with Rs 10.15 million).
The development banks' sub-group shed 13.48 points and dropped to 829.03 points whereas commercial banks' sub-group lost only 2.34 points and dropped to 662.38 points. The finance companies' sub-group lost 5.15 points and dropped to 756.20 points and the insurance companies' sub-group fell by 5.88 points to 651.59 points.
The manufacturing sub-group went down by 0.77 point to 433.28 points and the hydropower sub-group downed by 4.09 points to 860.36 points. The highest loser was the others' sub-group that went down by 18.79 points to 599.21 points.
The sole secondary market this week also listed over one million-unit of bonus and rights shares of six financial institutions.

Brokers' exam guide
KATHMANDU: Securities Research Centre and Services (SRCS) has brought out a book -- Share Broker Licence liney ke garnu parchha (How can one get share broker's licence) in the market.
The publication of the book might be called ill-timed as Nepal Stock Exchange (Nepse) is still in legal consultation due to confusion over the brokers' exam. However, the book is useful as the SRCS has compiled all the regulations, the procedure of brokers' selection and model questions for the exam.
For a long time -- almost two decades -- Nepse ruled the capital market as the sole secondary market. Now, however, the increasing number of listed companies and investors but few brokers have marred the growth of the capital market.
The market size has increased seven-fold and the number of investors has crossed 1.5 million but the number of brokers has dropped to 23 from the initial 32. More brokers will not only make the it easy for investors' share trading but also create jobs as one broker has to have atleast five employees.
"The number of brokers can be increased but there is a legal hurdle," said Shankar Man Singh, managing director of Nepse. The CIAA has directed Nepse to halt the process of adding new brokers whereas the Supreme Court has given the go-ahead. "The contradictory decision of the two institutions has created confusion," he said adding that Nepse is consultating lawers for a way out.
If Nepse decides to enlist more brokers, the book could well become a hot potato.

Friday, April 24, 2009

France keen to help NAC expand

France is willing to help Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) acquire wide body aircraft that can directly fly to Europe.
"France is willing to help Nepal Airlines to get such aircraft," said Gilles Henry Garault, French ambassador to Nepal, speaking at a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony between Buddha Air and Alliance Francaise here today.
"To develop the tourism sector, Nepal needs to have direct flights to Europe," he said adding that if Nepal connects to Europe directly, around 50,000 more European tourists can visit Nepal every year. The direct flight will reduce the time and expense of passengers, encouraging more European tourists to fly to Nepal. However, the Nepali flag-carrier NAC has no wide body aircraft for direct flights.
The European company's aircrtafts are, however, flying in the Nepali sky. Two ATR42s of Buddha Air has been flying in the Nepali sky since last year.
"ATR 42 has created more opportunities in the aviation sector," the envoy said adding that its alliance with Buddha Air will prove more fruitful for the Nepali aviation sector.
Birendra Bahadur Basnet, managing director of Buddha Air, agreed. "Buddha Air and ATR have created new opportunity for expansion in the Nepali aviation sector," he said adding that Buddha Air is currently flying two ATR 42s.
Buddha Air is currently flying ATR 42 -- that has potential for the regional sector -- and it will acquire a third ATR 42 on May 5. The private airlines' present two ATR 42s are operating in the eastern region.
"The third will operate in the western region," Basnet added.Basnet also said that Buddha Air is planning to expand and fly across the border to Indian cities. "With the ATR 42 -- an aircraft with regional potential -- Buddha Air wants to fly across the border," he said.
IFC-World Bank has financed the purchase of Buddha Air's two ATRs because they are the state-of-the art turbo-prop aircraft in their category. "The European aircraft has been able to create history in the domestic sector with the introduction of structured fares for Nepali passengers enabling them to fly at cheaper rates," Basnet said adding that the aircraft helped the airlines reduce the cost of operations and environmental impact.
Keshav Raj Jha, president of Alliance Francaise and Basnet singed the MoU on behalf of their respective organisation where Philippe Martin, director of AFK hailed the accord between the two institutions. According to the agreement, any French national who buys Buddha Air ticket across the counter will get a discount and $5 of the fare will go to AFK.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Nepal Telecomm, shareholders at loggerhead

Nepal Telecom (NT) added 10,095 mobile users everyday between last July and this March, according to the company.
The company -- that held its first annual general meeting (AGM) recently -- said at a press briefing here today that it has a customer base of 24,22,699 in the pre-and-post paid mobile segment whereas the number of landline users is 5,51,416 and that of CDMA users 6,86,032.
Its new service ADSL users has also reached 13,969 till February. The company posted a net profit of Rs 7.94 billion in from the fiscal year 2064 to 2066 BS. It is looking to achieve a target of Rs 10.13 billion for the current fiscal year. In its AGM, however, NT decided to distribute only 25 per cent cash dividends to its shareholders. The unhappy shareholders have formed a struggle committee. They have accused NT of not mentioning what happened to the Rs 500 per unit share in the annual report. "The company did not listen to shareholders and took an arbitary decision during the AGM," complained Hari Kumar Shah, a shareholder. "While floating shares also NT did not mentioned its net worth but added Rs 500 premium stretching a minimum bid of a Rs 100 per unit shares to Rs 600 per unit," he added.
From last June-July's teledensity of 10.12, in February it has reached 13.28 --- the highest teledensity in this region. The company has also started providing its pre-paid services on demand and its GSM/CDMA has reached all 75 districts, said the company.However, the company is blamed for its poor quality and service. "We have been facing many problems and receiving many complaints but at the same time we are trying to improve our service quality," said Amar Nath Singh, managing director of NT. He said that the results will be felt in the next five to six months.
Admitting that Nepal Telecom has not been able to meet the needs and expectations of the public, Singh added that they are looking to expand extensively and consumers will be experiencing a change in all aspects of the service soon. "Load shedding has been affecting the smooth functioning of services as the BTS towers cannot function due to prolonged hours of load-shedding," he said adding that NT is adding alternative means of energy like solar panels and generators to counter the problem.
Nepal Telecom also made public today that it has implemented Employee's Code of Conduct.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Skoda's new beauty to unveil

In the last four years, Skoda has started rolling on the roads of four countries, and now it is officially being launched in Nepal on Thursday.
"Nepal is the 105th market of Skoda," said Axel Andreas Oberdiek, regional manager, Asia Skoda Auto, before the offficial launch of this European beauty that is considered a status symbol and an amalgam of style and safety.
"Though we entered the Indian sub-continent a decade ago in 2001, Skoda's ride has been slow but steady," he said adding that Nepalis will get the chance to ride European luxury brands -- Skoda Laura and Octavia -- that Europeans are proud of.Even before the official launch, Skoda MAW -- a sister concern of Morang Auto Works -- has been able to sell 30 units of this beautiful machine that has satisfied Nepali auto-buffs for its safety and pollution norms of Europe standards.
Skoda Laura priced at around Rs 45,00,000 and Octavia priced at around Rs 35,00,000 are on sale at present at the Skoda MAW showroom. "MAW has started selling Skoda Laura and Octavia -- high end cars -- as a top-down marketing strategy to promote the luxury brand," he said.
"The premium segment automobiles of Skoda are famous for quality, superior technology and value for price," Oberdiek said adding that the whole range of Skoda cars like Fabia and Fabia Sedan will be available in Nepal.
In the domestic automobile market that is increasing at around 14 per cent annually, Skoda's Fabia -- yet another car from the Skoda stable -- is considered to give high competition in terms of price as well to the other cars in the market.
"Skoda cars are synonymous with power, low operating costs, environment friendliness and suitable for the family and business and even leisure options, value for money, reliability, technical advancement, originalilty in design and fully comparable to even higher parameters as well as user properties," the regional manager said.
"Our target is to sell 1,000 units by 2012," said Vishnu Kumar Agarwal, chief executive of MAW. "This year we will definitely cross 150 units," he added.
What began more than a century ago, with Vaclav Laurin and Vaclav Klement founding a company, today is a world renowned brand that is going to conquer Nepali hearts.
Get ready to be seduced by the sirens!

Nooyi fourth best women CEO

Fortune 500 may be dominated by male CEOs, but Indra Nooyi, Indian American CEO of Pepsico is listed fourth among '15 women who show what it takes to lead' some of the America's biggest companies.
Fortune 500 Women CEOs listing of the US business magazine notes that since becoming CEO in 2006, Nooyi, 53, has grown the company's top line-revenue from 10 percent in 2008 to $43.3 billion -- and raised its profile in some goodwill-engendering arenas.
Nooyi, who gets $13.4 million in compensation, has pushed PepsiCo to target health-conscious and female consumers, resulting in such new products as Smartfood's low-fat popcorn clusters, low-calorie Trop 50 and Starbucks Frappuccino Lite.
"While Pepsi was forced to cut 3,500 jobs and close six plants last year, Nooyi has announced big expansions abroad: $500 million in India, $1 billion in China, and $3 billion in Mexico," Fortune said. PepsiCo will also spend $1.2 billion over the next three years to boost the sales of carbonated soft drinks-including brands such as Pepsi and Mountain Dew-in North America.
The list of women leaders of firms from health care, to food, to retail, to technology is topped by Patricia Woertz, 56, chairman, president and CEO of Archer Daniels Midland who spent three decades working in the oil industry before joining ADM. She gets a compensation of $17.5 million.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

ADBL readies for largest public issue

Agriculture Development Bank Ltd (ADBL) has appointed Ace Development Bank Ltd as the issue manager for its mega initial public offering (IPO) of 96,00,000-unit shares worth Rs 960 million.
Janak Raj Shah, chief executive officer (CEO) of ADBL, and Siddhanta Raj Pandey CEO and MD of Ace Development Bank Ltd signed an agreement on behalf of their respective organisations here today. The agreement paves the way for ADBL to issue the largest ever public offering. By next month, the bank will float the primary issue.
Three issue managers -- Ace Development Bank, NMB Bank and NIDC Capital Market -- had applied to ADBL to get the post of issue manager. But Ace got selected.

"Established as a development bank, ADBL is now a commercial bank," Shah said adding that the new financial institutions (FIs) cannot match its network strength. The growing number of FIs are a concern for some economists. But Shah thinks the growing number of FIs is beneficial for the economy as they will push up the rate of interest. He was of the view that policy rethink is the need of an hour as the concentration of financial insititutions is increasing in urban areas leaving the rural areas far behind.
"More FIs are needed to monetise the whole economy," he justified adding that rural sectors are still out of reach of the banks. "The increasing number of FIs and increasing deposit indicate that the market is not saturated yet," said Shah.
The growing number of financial institutions has also led to cut-throat competition and growing consumerism which has been blamed for sub-prime loan leading to the global financial crisis.
"Banks also must face business cycle and Nepali banks will have to face it sooner or later," said Shah, who is also the president of Managament Association of Nepal (MAN). He added that competition would bring good results. "FIs will be selective in investment, maintain professional ethics and culture and risk mitigation practices.
"However, as a commercial bank ADBL has also started consumer banking. Shah thinks that ADBL's case is different. "The other FIs have limitations and are forced to concentrate on consumer segment," he said, "That could lead to problems."His prescription to the central bank, Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), is to do assessment with right policy measures and be more vigilant in mitigating risk. "The lack of a long term policy and inconsistency in policy matters have hit us and we are only into patch-up work," Shah said.
Talking about financial reform programme and privatisation, the wholly government-owned commercial bank's chief was of the opinion that Indian and Chinese experiences could be imitated. "They have not completly divested their banks but entered into partnetships," he added.Banks can be wheels of change too. "Development and commercial banks should be linked up," ADBL's first CEO Shah said. He pointed out, "Capital is key in development activities, but in Nepal the concentration of capital is in urban areas only -- that could create imbalance."

$25.6 million ADB help for Nepal

A $25.6 million grant from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will help restore economic activity in parts of Nepal devastated by last year's monsoon floods.
More than 3,00,000 people living in the eastern and far western region of the country were seriously affected by the August floods, and the landslides that followed. Flood damage to infrastructure and livelihoods amounted to an estimated $88 million, and thousands of people, mostly poor, were displaced.
The government, supported by the UN and non-government organisations (NGOs), responded effectively in the initial phase. However, thousands remain displaced and the extent of the damage has prompted the need for further assistance, said ADB.
ADB's Board of Directors today approved the grant to fund the Emergency Flood Damage Rehabilitation Project which was based on a joint assessment carried out by the ADB and UN agencies and the government's preliminary estimate of flood damage.
The project aims to return economic activity to normal as soon as possible in the affected areas and also help reduce future risk from similar disasters.
"The floods slowed progress in poverty reduction, with the poor and the vulnerable suffering most in terms of losses," says Ki H Ryu, ADB's project team leader. "This project will help improve the livelihoods of many of those affected."
The project will focus on the western districts of Kailali and Kanchanur, and the district of Sunsari in the far east.
Key infrastructure, such as roads, bridges and irrigation channels, will be built or repaired, and landslide stabilisation work undertaken to avoid similar disasters in the future. Water supply systems will also be rebuilt or installed to provide access to drinking water and sanitation facilities. A health and hygiene awareness programme will be initiated in all three districts.
In addition, seeds, compost and basic farm equipment will be distributed for growing crops suitable for sandy soil. Fishponds will also be rehabilitated, fish fry distributed and agricultural collection centres and marketplaces reconstructed.
ADB will source the grant from its Special Funds resources to cover the bulk of the $32 million project cost. The balance will come from the government. The Ministry of Physical Planning and Works will be the project's executing agency.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Peeved NC may boycott NDF meet next month

Main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) may boycott the Nepal Development Forum (NDF) meeting, slated to be held in the capital from May 12 to 14
The party is peeved since it was not consulted while preparing the strategy document that will be presented at the forum. Dr Ram Sharan Mahat, NC leader and an ex-Finance Minister, blamed the Maoist-led government for lack of consensus on the Nepal Development Strategy Paper (NDSP), which will be table at the NDF meeting. "A vision paper calls for consensus among parties,” he alleged.
As per the tradition, development agenda has to be discussed with the donors on the basis of consensus. “Strategy papers are never kept secret. They should be discussed with the opposition, intelligentsia, civil society, economists and development practitioners," explained Dr Mahat. The senior NC leader is also cut up with the pre-consultation meeting that was held recently. “The posting on the NDF website is a clumsy political slogan. It lacks the rigour of analysis,” he alleged.
The NDSP is tipped to replace the current Three Year Interim Plan (TYIP) by next year. The documents are allegedly mum on the agreement reached between the government and donors in mini-NDF, which was held last year. An understanding has been reached on post-conflict rehabilitation and to fast track growth, including plans to hold an international conference to solicit aid. He also advised the donors to think of the consistency of programes.
But, Dr Mahat is clearly not done yet with the tirade against the government. “Ironically, the document is silent on major issues like infrastructure, social sector, peace and development, poverty alleviation and reforms in the financial sector. Also, the past progress has been glossed over,” pointed out Dr Mahat, an ardent advocate of free market. He claimed that the estimate of growth and attendant macro economic variables was exaggerated in the document.
Professor Dr Bishwambher Pyakurel, a senior economist, concurred with Dr Mahat’s perception. "The government has presented a grossly distorted statistics that undermines growth in a big way," he said. The Maoist-led government has been blamed for its failure to create employment and control price rise. The duo advocated additional homework on the document since it showcased immediate reconstruction and growth.

NAC to relaunch Mumbai flight from May 1

Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) is relaunching its Mumbai flight from May 1.
"NAC will fly twice a week on the Kathmandu-Mumbai-Kathmandu route," said Raju K C, spokesperson for the national flag carrier.
"Five days a week it will fly on Kathmandu-New Delhi-Kathmandu route, except Mondays and Fridays when it will fly to Mumbai," he said adding that the Mumbai flight, contrary to the New Delhi one in the evenings, will be in the afternoon.
The flight duration of Mumbai-Kathmandu is a little over two hours and it will take off at 1.25 pm from Kathmandu and land at 3.45 pm in Mumbai. "In the evening, the aircraft returns at 4.50 pm from Mumbai and lands at 7.55 pm at Tribhuwan International Airport," K C said.
NAC has also offered discount rates on its ticket on the occasion of the relaunch of the Mumbai flight. Earlier, NAC -- then RNAC -- used to fly on the route regularly from 1992 to 2007. Currently, it is flying to six international destinations and re-launching the flight to Mumbai will make it the seventh international destination.
The ailing national carrier has only two Boeing 757s -- Gandaki (RA 217) and Karnali (RA 218) -- since long and it is planning to buy more aircraft after a bid to lease aircraft failed last month.
In the late '80s, the then RNAC acquired two Boeing 757s on lease -- Karnali in 1987 and Gandaki in 1988. After, the movement in 1990, successive governments of Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal (UML) had leased aircraft from Lauda Airlines and China South Western Airlines amid controversy.
The present Maoist-led government has decided to buy brand new aircraft instead of leasing them like its predecessors. In the budget for the fiscal year 2008-09, Finance Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai assured that the government will guarantee to acquire necessary funding to purchase two large aircraft for NAC to enhance international seat capacity and make services timely and reliable.
With work in progress for Nepal Tourism Year 2011, Nepal badly needs new aircraft to boost tourism.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Record revenue collection but government fails to spend Rs 25 billion for development works

The Finance Ministry has managed to collect record revenue during the month of Chaitra (mid-March to mid-April), exceeding its target.
The ministry collected 39.3 per cent higher revenue at Rs 98.67 billion as per year-on-year record. When Finance Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai tabled his maiden budget on September 19 last year, the revenue target of Rs 147.72 billion was billed ambitious. The budget for the current fiscal stands at Rs 236.15 billion. “The collection has touched Rs 98.67 billion in only nine months. It has exceeded the target, which was pegged at Rs 93 billion,” said Krishna Hari Baskota, acting revenue secretary. He attributed the “good show” to able leadership, growing control over corruption and a cordial relationship between the Maoist-led government and private sector. “The private sector has been supportive. While, the record collection suggests that the environment is business friendly,” he added.
Earlier in Falgun, the ministry mopped up 38.6 per cent of revenue.Despite the impressive collection, the ruling coalition has failed to utilise the sum for development work, which in turn has taken its toll on the GDP growth. “Consequently, the income generation will be hit hard, leading to spiralling unemployment,” explained Dr Shanker Sharma, former vice-president, National Planning Commission (NPC).
The Finance Minister has affirmed of giving top priority to more employment opportunities in the next budget.
“But if the government goes on a spending spree in the last quarter of this fiscal, then it may encourage inefficiency,” he added. Though the treasury has Rs 25 billion, it is lying idle for months.

Group seeks stock, derivatives exchange licence

A group of professionals has applied for licence to operate a stock and derivatives exchange.
Nepal Securities and Derivatives Exchange Ltd -- promoted by Vibor Bikas Bank CEO Ajay Ghimire, Ace Development Bank CEO and MD Siddhant Raj Pandey, Himalayan General Insurance CEO Mahendra Krishna Shrestha, DCBL president and CEO Sudhir Khatri and Clean Energy Development Bank CEO Manoj Goel -- has applied for a licence to operate a securities and derivatives exchange.
If it gets the nod, Nepal Securities and Derivatives Exchange Ltd -- with a paid up capital of Rs 250 million and Rs 50 million authorised capital -- will be the first derivatives exchange in Nepal.
"As the most professional and experienced group in the secondary market, we have applied to the board," said Ace Development Bank CEO and MD Pandey.
Meanwhile, this is the third application registered with the Securities Board of Nepal (Sebon), the regulator of the capital market, asking for a licence to operate the secondary market. Sebon has received two applications two months ago for licence to operate a stock exchange. Kathmandu Stock Exchange promoted by a group of professionals including Kist Bank Ltd and IME Finance and National Stock Exchange promoted by other financial institutions and non-financial institutions including ICFC Financial Insitituion, Prudential Insurance and Surya Insurance have applied for licence to operate stock exchanges.
However, the board suggested they merge and become one to be more competent and professional.
They have merged and again applied, according to Kamal Gnawali, managing director of Kist Bank Ltd -- the youngest commercial bank -- and are waiting for Sebon's decision on their application.
"The board will soon form a committee and set criteria to award licence for the stock exchanges," said Sebon director Niraj Giri. Sebon will issue licence according to the Securities Regulation-2065
For nearly two decades, Nepal has had one stock exchange -- Nepal Stock Exchange (Nepse) that ruled the capital market as the sole secondary market. But the increasing number of listed companies and investors, and the regulation have given rise to competitors.
The market size has increased seven-fold and the number of investors has crossed 1.5 million. "The new stock exchanges will promote competition in the market," said Shankar Man Singh, managing director of the Nepse -- the government undertaking that successive governments have been promising to privatise.
Though Nepse has been automated it still needs to boost its competence and develop a central depository system (CDS) for smooth transactions. The private stock exchanges' entry into the capital market will help Nepse build up its core competence in technology and professional manpower as well.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Global Bank dominates Nepse

Global Bank dominated the Nepse this week as it topped the chart in terms of share units traded, trading amount and number of transactions with 29,000-unit shares through 423 transactions at Rs 17.28 million.
Experts, however, suspected matching that has fueled the performance of Global Bank this week. This is the second week the bank's shares started trading in the secondary market.
"Share matching -- a process of transferring shares to one's name from other's in mutual consent -- might be the reason behind the latest entrant Global Bank's performance," suspected Rabindra Bhattarai, a share analyst.
Though some brokers claim that matching is not possible in the automated system others believe its still in practice in some way or other.
Of the nine-sub groups' indices, the four sub-groups -- commercial banks, hotels, others and manufacturing -- surged to push the Nepse up, albeit marginally, but the equal number of sub-groups -- development banks, finance companies, insurance companies and hydropower -- lost whereas only one -- trading -- sub-group remained constant as it did not see any transaction this week.
The other sub-group gained 7.04 points -- the highest for the week -- to 618.00 points, whereas the manufacturing sub-group came second with 6.27 points gain to 434.05 points. The commercial banks sub-group gained 3.86 points to 664.72 points and hotels sub-group gained 2.17 points to 361.66 points.
However, development banks sub-group's index plunged by 15.31 points to 842.51 points and hydropower sub-group shed 11.05 points to 864.45 points. Similarly, the insurance companies sub-group lost 4.08 points to 657.47 points and finance companies sub-group lost 1.97 points to 761.35 points.
This week's top performers were Global Bank (with Rs 17.28 million), Standard Chartered Bank Nepal (with Rs 8.99 million), Gurkha Development Bank (with Rs 8.56 million), Bank of Kathmandu (with Rs 7.33 million) and Nabil Bank (with Rs 5.21 million).
This week witnessed only three-day trading -- due to a public holiday on Tuesday of Nepali New Year and a day of strike by Nepse's employees halting trading -- unlike its regular five-day trading last week.
The week started in red as on Sunday, the Nepse shed 0.21 point to 660.15 points from the morning's opening of 660.36 points. However, Monday witnessed a gain of 1.12 points to 661.27 points. Nepse continued to gain on the last day of the trading for this week with 1. 44 points to close the market at 662.71 points.
The major players surge pushed the Nepse this week by 2.35 points to close at 662.71 points from the Sunday's opening of 660.36 points.
Similarly, the 78-scrip sensitive index -- considered the blue chip shares in the domestic market -- also gained 0.82 point to 176.66 points from Sunday's opening of 175.85 points. The float index -- calculated on the basis of real transactions -- gained 0.19 point to 64.71 points from the Sunday's opening of 64.52 points.
However, the total transaction amount for this week decreased to Rs 123.5 million from last week's transaction of Rs 188.68 million. The contribution of Group-A companies also dropped to 53.69 per cent against last week's 63.07 per cent.

Five per cent ADB loans to Nepal at risk: Annual report

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has positively evaluted the loans at risk for Nepal to only five per cent for the year 2008 from a year earlier that was 14.3 per cent, according to ADB's 2008 Annual Report released ahead of the 42nd annual meeting to be held on May 2-5 in Bali (Indonesia).
Similarly, ADB had commited $64.5 million and disbursed $60.9 million in the year 2008, the Portfolio Performance Indicators for Sovereign Lending reveals. "The bank's ongoing loans to Nepal till the end of December 2008 numbers at 20. The ADB grant - financed projects worth $159.3 million for education, ICT, governance support, and rural reconstruction and rehabilitation and technical assistance grant worth $4.5 million," it adds.
The cumulative lending and disbursements as of the end of 2008 for Nepal stands at $2,301.0 million and $1,703.7 million, the report said. However, ADB approved a total of $10.5 billion in loans -- a 5.3 per cent increase over a year earlier.
The 2008 amount is the highest in ADB's 42-year history, reveals the report. It reflects the region's ever-increasing development finance demand, and the assistance provided by ADB to help developing member countries deal with the impact of the global financial crisis.
"The comprehensive midterm review of the country strategy and programme (2005-2009), was completed in consultation with stakeholders in July, validated its strategic pillars -- broad-based economic growth, inclusive social development, and good governance -- while stressing the importance of state building, inclusive growth, and results orientation, the report said about Nepal. "Consultations with a broad range of stakeholders were also held in partnership with the DfID of the UK and the World Bank to prepare for a new country partnership strategy to be completed in 2009. The ADB also held annual country portfolio review with the government and key development partners in November to strengthen country systems by identifying generic implementation issues and establishing results-based monitoring mechanisms and the time bound action plan for dealing with implementation constraints.
In 2008, India was the largest borrower with $2.9 billion or 27.4 per cent of the total loans ADB extended last year.
Loans with government guarantees last year totaled $8.7 billion for 72 projects. Of this amount, $6.9 billion came from the ordinary capital resources of ADB, while the balance was sourced from the concessional Asian Development Fund (ADF).
ADB approved a further $811.4 million of assistance in grants in 2008, up by 20.6 per cent from the previous year. Of the total, $707.4 million came from ADF and $104 million from external sources.
A total of 299 technical assistance projects were approved worth $274.5 million, all of which were also provided as grants.
Recognising the important role of the private sector in generating jobs and economic growth, ADB significantly increased non-sovereign lending in 2008. It approved $1.5 billion for 13 loans to the private sector, an increase of 106.9 per cent on the previous year, and $300 million for non sovereign loans to the public sector.
The annual report notes that in May 2008 ADB secured $11.3 billion for the next four-year phase of its concessional ADF to fight poverty in the Asia and Pacific region-a significant jump of over 60 per cent from the previous period.
The ADF provides grants and low-interest loans to Asia and the Pacific's poorest countries. The new ADF will cover the period 2009-2012. "The replenishment will enable ADB to make a contribution to poverty reduction in its lower-income developing member countries, particularly during this difficult period," ADB president Haruhiko Kuroda said in the report.
He also said in the report that ADB is seeking a substantial general capital increase to respond to the vast investment and development needs of the region. Negotiations with shareholders began in late 2008, and an agreement is hoped to be reached by May 2009.
"ADB responded quickly -- to the global financial crisis-- allocating over $4 billion of additional resources to support the efforts of its developing member countries," he added.

Friday, April 17, 2009

SAARC trade portal to be launched

The launch of a regional portal to enhance trade in the SAARC region has been planned by July. The recent second Operations Committee (OC) meeting of the SAARC countries in Colombo has decided to form a five-member portal team soon. SAARC member countries including the SAARC Chamber of Commerce took part in the meeting.
Earlier, the first South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation -- Trade Information Project (SAARC-TIP) OC meeting was held in Kathmandu on February 16-17. The meeting was organised by the SAARC Information Centre (SIC) and GTZ for the Operations Committee members to expedite activities and verify all eight countries are at the same level in the matter of implementation as per the SAARC-TIP concept.
The OC constitutes the SAARC Information Center (Chair), GTZ, SAARC Chamber of Commerce, national chambers of commerce, government trade agencies and trade-related organisations.
SAARC-TIP intends to establish an easy accessible trade database for traders by connecting trade databases within the SAARC countries to a common SAARC entry point for trade information. In order to achieve this objective to facilitate and promote trade among SAARC member states, a common website has been established, which is awaiting its formal launch, to connect the different databases of the network partners and identified data sources in all the member countries to create an easy entry point for trade information.
Importers and exporters in the member states are expected to make use of the decision-support Business Information Service (BIS) that will be connected to a network of information providers in SAARC to promote inter-SAARC and intra-SAARC trade.
The OC meeting was an opportunity for its members to network with each other and to get to know each other's profile as well as the functions of the organisation. In the two-day meetingthe OC members agreed to support promotion and facilitation of trade in the region.
Earlier, an Advisory Committee meeting was held in January to formulate guidelines and suggestions for the Operations Committee that is composed of representatives of the SAARC presidency -- currently the representative of the president of Sri Lanka -- SAARC Secretary General and GTZ/SAARC-TIP Programme Manager. The committee is considered a forum for communication and cooperation between the GTZ and SAARC structures and meets twice a year.
GTZ on behalf of Germany has implemented the SAARC-TIP in recognition of efforts made by SAARC countries for regional economic integration. The project commenced following an exchange of notes between the German government and the SAARC Secretariat.
SIC has been operating since 2006 with the main objective of acting as an institution for collection and dissemination of information about activities to SAARC member nations. The ccentre aims to facilitate the development and promotion of the SAARC region through timely information dissemination.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dow Jones revises SAFE 100 list

Not a single company from Nepal has made it to the reviewed list of South Dow Jones SAFE 100 Index that is developed by Dow Jones for South Asian Federation of Exchanges -- a SAARC recognised forum of 23 stock exchanges and other capital markets institutions from eight South Asian countries and the UAE.
Dow Jones SAFE 100 Index has revised the South Asian index delisting nine Indian companies and eight Pakistani companies. Bajaj Holdings Ltd, HCL Technologies Ltd, Hindalco Industries Ltd, Jaiprakash Associates Ltd, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, Siemens India Ltd, Suzlon Energy Ltd, Tata Motors Ltd and Unitech Ltd are the Indian companies dropped from the index.
Pakistani companies delisted are Adamjee Insurance Co Ltd, Askari Bank Ltd, Bank of Punjab, DG Khan Cement Co Ltd, Faysal Bank Ltd, Indus Motor Co Ltd, Nishat Mills Ltd and Pak Suzuki Motor Co Ltd.
These 17 companies have been replaced by an equal number of companies --- six from Bangladesh, nine from India and two from Pakistan --- in the Dow Jones SAFE 100 Index.
Uttara Bank Ltd, Pubali Bank Ltd, AB Bank Ltd, National Bank Ltd, Power Grid Co Ltd and Prime Bank Ltd are the Bangladeshi companies listed in the index while Hero Honda Motors Ltd, Tata Power Co Ltd, Mundra Port & Special Economic Zones Ltd, Nestle India Ltd, Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd, Bank of India, Power Finance Corp Ltd, NMDC Ltd and Neyveli Lignite Corp Ltd are the Indian companies making into the list this time. From Pakistan, it is Unilever Pakistan Ltd and Habib Bank Ltd.
Dow Jones Indexes, a leading global index provider, has announced the results of the regular annual review of the Dow Jones SAFE 100 Index recently. This review is conducted annually by Dow Jones Indexes that was developed and composed by Dow Jones for South Asian Federation of Exchanges.
The index was launched in Abu Dhabi, UAE, on March 11 on the occasion of eighth General Assembly of the Federation. With the launch of this index, a new era has begun and now products such as Exchanges Traded Funds (ETF) as well as futures trading based on this index would be introduced in this region, said Dow Jones. South Asian exchanges like Nepal and others are considered too small by international fund managers, but when grouped together in an index the market could attract more attention.
After the successful launch, the first regular annual review of the index has taken place while changes in the composition of the Dow Jones SAFE 100 Index and its sub-indexes have become effective after trading closed on March 20.
Due to revision in the composition of Dow Jones SAFE 100 Index, respective sub-indexes such as Dow Jones SAFE Bangladesh Index, Dow Jones SAFE India Index and Dow Jones SAFE Pakistan Index have also undergone changes. However, no change has been recorded in the Dow Jones SAFE Sri Lanka Index and Dow Jones SAFE Mauritius Index due to revision.
The Dow Jones SAFE 100 Index measures the performance of 100 blue-chip companies in five of the eight member states of the South Asian Federation of Exchanges. The five member states included in the index are Bangladesh, India, Mauritius, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
Established to develop human resources, enhance technology and exchange of technologies and knowledge, SAFE also plans to start cross-border listing and trading between member-organisations that is composed of 16 stock and commodity exchanges in South Asia and the UAE.
According to SAFE, Dow Jones SAFE 100 Index represents the collective movement, direction and trend of regional stock markets and would enable global investors to use the same as a benchmark for the performance of their investments in the region. The index would also promote the region as an important asset class in the investment portfolio of the regional and international fund managers.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Delhi Stock Exchange (DSE)

Delhi Stock Exchange (DSE) closes after a days trading.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Nation's first-ever trade survey

The Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) has conducted a trade survey for the first time.Distributive Trade Survey-2009 is expected to give updated data that can figure out the real contribution of internal trade to the gross domestic production (GDP).
"The result of the Distributive Trade Survey-2009 will give a benchmark of internal trade," said Shankar Lal Shrestha, trade statistics section director at CBS. "However, the result is expected by the end of this fiscal year only.
"The survey took one year to be completed. "We have just completed the field work," Shrestha said adding that though the department had previously conducted Trade Margin Survey -- for the purpose of national accounts that was only enough for the calculation of internal trade's contribution to the GDP.
According to the Trade Margin Survey conducted six years ago in 2003, internal trade's contribution to GDP is 13.72 per cent."The Distributive Trade Survey will have elaborate figures of wholesale and retail trade and employment generated by both as well as capital formation and financial positioning that were not included in the Trade Margin Survey although it was enough for the calculation of GDP," Shrestha added.
The Distributive Trade Survey will also provide quality data with more statistics and provide a new benchmark according to the new scenario as it has a coverage frame of 3,000 out of 60,000 identified trade points.
At a time when the business and economic climate in the country is deteriorating, the survey might also be an eye-opener for the government.
CBS -- established in 1959 under the Statistics Act-2015 BS as the central agency for the collection, consolidation, processing, analysis, publication and dissemination of statistics -- publishes a National Life Style Survey on an annual basis.
The department also conducts crop and livestock survey once a year apart from a CPI every three months. It conducts periodic surveys like Labour Survey every five years. But it has conducted domestic Labour Survey in ten years this year.

Sector wise contribution to GDP
Agriculture and Forestry -- 32.35 per cent
Trade -- 13.72 per cent
Transport, Storage and Communication -- 10.46 per cent
Real Estate and business activities -- 8.33 percent
Manufacturing -- 6.79 per cent
Construction -- 6.42 per cent
Education -- 6.02 per cent
Financial Intermediaries -- 4.79 per cent

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Decline in tourist arrivals pointer of crisis

Visitor arrivals in March 2009 -- by air only -- suggest that the global financial crisis has started hurting Nepal's tourism sector hard.
The figures released by the Immigration Office, Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), reveal that arrival figures in the month of March 2009 -- compared to the same month last year -- decreased by 17.6 per cent to drop to 33,005.
In the South Asian market, only Sri Lanka and Bangladesh registered growth by 12.3 per cent and 29.6 per cent respectively.
India and Pakistan witnessed negative growth of 24.7 per cent and 6.3 per cent respectively in March, challenging the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) assertion that it has been doing promotional activities in various Indian cities.
Other Asian countries Thailand and Singapore maintained an upward trend with 132.3 per cent and 50.2 per cent growth respectively. However, arrivals from Japan, South Korea and Malaysia negative growth by 19 per cent, 34.2 pe rcent and 7.1 per cent respectively.
There has been a nominal decline of 0.8 per cent in arrivals from China which reflects the unfailing economic growth of the country compared to other tourist generating markets. The entire European and Oceania regions registered negative growth of 19.8 per cent and 11.6 per cent respectively in comparison to the same month last year.
Likewise arrivals from Canada and United States of America, registering negative growths of nine per cent and 10.5 per cent respectively The global recession is attributed -- like the Asian Development Outloot 2009 has suggested -- to the decline in tourist arrivals worldwide as travelling is determined by disposable income, travel budgets and consumer confidence.
United Nations World Tourism Organisation ( UNWTO ) expects international tourism to stagnate or even decline slightly by a negative one to two per cent throughout 2009.
A total of 32,945 foreign tourists departed from TIA in March while the number of Nepali arrivals stood at 44,607 and departures at 46,051 via TIA during the month.

NDF meet to focus on development

The government will present four papers during the Nepal Development Forum (NDF) meet that will be held here from May 12 to 14.
"During the interaction with the donors, the government papers will focus on Nepal's development strategy, economic restructuring, foreign aid policy and its effectiveness and opportunities for private sector investment," ," said Finance Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai today.
Earlier, the NDF was organised in 2004. The government also held a Donors' Consultation Meet -- a mini-NDF -- in 2008.
The finance minister said the NDF will focus on three areas -- convincing donors to assist Nepal in its priority areas for the implementation of Nepal's development strategy prepared for the transitional period, increase more understanding between the government and the donors and prepare a policy to develop Nepal as a preferred investment destination.
The country is reeling under a energy crisis and lack of infrastructure for development that needs huge investment.
"For development, Nepal needs peace and for peace it needs development. Thus the theme of the NDF will be 'The basis of New Nepal: Peace and socio-economic tranformation'," he said adding that before the finalisation of the strategy papers a massive consultation round will be held in five different districts from east to west.
Nepal has been taking foreign aid since long, making the country more dependent on aid. Dr Bhattarai opined that Nepal currently needs aid to lessen dependence on foreign aid. "Times have changed and Nepal now needs more trade opportunities rather than aid," he added.
The finance ministry has invited 40 bilateral and multilateral donors and five Export-Import Banks from various countries -- a total of 45 participants -- to take part in the Nepal Development Forum meet that will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda'.
The finance minister today morning also held a consultation meeting with former finance ministers and economic experts.

NOC, Tanker owners at loggerheads

The Petroleum Supply Entrepreneurs’ Organisation today warned of persisting with its ongoing stir.
Birendra Kumar Das, president, PSEO, who is camping in Hetauda, broke the news to mediapersons through mobile phone here today.
Das, who has apparently stepped down as president of PSEO, has been playing a dual role for a while. He is also the general manager of Janak Shikshya Samagri Kendra, a state body that publishes and distributes education materials. He owns 170 tankers.
The phase-out of old tankers is the bone of contention.Digambar Jha, general manager, Nepal Oil Corporation, however, stood his ground.
The NOC, he maintained, would carry on with its phase-out plan, open new depots in Birtamod and Janakpur and set up a much-needed laboratory. The sole petroleum supplier is also looking at opening mobile petrol pumps across the nation.
It may be recalled that PSEO had agreed to phase out tankers, which are older than 20 years, on February 25. It had also agreed to purchase 165 new ones.But, the matter came to a head last Sunday when the suppliers’ organisation suddenly did a U-turn, stopping distribution of petroleum products.
Unfazed, NOC has been distributing fuel from its Thankot depot since yesterday. Today, 57 fuel-laden tankers — 15 containing petrol, 34 diesel and eight kerosene — rolled into the Valley, whose daily consumption is pegged at 12 tankers of petrol, 24 of diesel and six of kerosene.
The fuel major has set the ball rolling for getting hold of new tankers as well. It put out anotice today, inviting 263 tanker owners to fill in the void.As of now, 120 entrepreneurs have evinced interest on the Raxaul-Kathmandu route. While, six are keen to supply to the airport depot.
PSEO members, meanwhile, are divided over the stir. “Around 578 tanker owners are ready to supply,” claimed Jha.Shiva Prasad Ghimire, ex-president, Nepal Petroleum Dealers’ Association NPDA), supported NOC’s move. He also urged the dealers and entrepreneurs to call off their strike. As the impasse continues, the consumers, like always, are bearing the brunt.
Meanwhile, labourers have queered the stir pitch. They are backing the suppliers’ stir.Lok Krishna Bhattarai, ex-GM, NOC, attributed the deadlock to the collapse of the state mechanism.
NOC boasts of a cumulative storage capacity of 71,742.3 kl of petroleum products, which last for 30 days. But, it can store 6,300 kl of diesel and kerosene each and 7,640 ATF in the capital.