Friday, February 26, 2010

Nepal tourism Year 2011 officially inaugurated

Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal today officially launched the national campaign, 'Nepal Tourism Year 2011' during a huge gala at Army Pavilion, Tudikhel.
PM Nepal insisted all to come up together for the most anticipated national campaign NTY 2011 -- that could be the case for the economic revolution. The PM light Peace Torch at 3:00 PM the centrally located peace torch with height of 8 feet at Nepal Army Pavilion. The peace torch lighted at Eternal Peace Flame in Lumbini Sacred Garden by Olympian Bimala Rana Magar on February 21 was carried to Kathmandu on February 24 all the way from Lumbini -- the birthplace of Buddha.
With the slogan "together for tourism", representatives from political parties, tourism, economic sector, private sector, sports, entertainment and ethnic communities participated in the rally and the inaugural ceremony. Along with Prime Minister Nepal, 18 different political parties including Nepali Congress, CPN UML, UCPN Maoist, RPP, and representatives from different private sector FNCCI, NCC, HAN, NATTA, FCAN, NRNA, BAN showed their commitment by taking oath for making the campaign a huge success and avoid any kind of bandh and strike year around maintain peace and security.
To show the commitment towards the national campaign official launch about 40,000 people from different walks of life organised rally from five different places that is City Hall, Lainchour Scout, Academy Hall, Stadium and Basantpur Durbar square with one common destination Nepal Army Pavilion, Tundikhel.
Along with the participation of 40,000 people carrying national flags and banners, the official launch programme was celebrated with commitments from 18 different political party leaders and representatives and huge public participation throughout the event. With number of activities the official launch of NTY 2011 at Nepal Army Pavilion, Tudikhel gave the impression of being larger than life.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Corporate travel to go up

Corporate travel is likely to grow by 10-15 per cent in Asia this year as business activities improve from last year's sharp falls, a major air ticketing and reservations firm said.
Singapore-based Abacus International said the recovery will be gradual because most the austerity measures and travel policies implemented during the global economic downturn are likely to remain.
"As businesses resume to the 'new normal', we should also see an upward adjustment in travel budgets as business activities improve in a more thriving economic climate," said Abacus vice-president for marketing Brett Henry.
"We are expecting to see a gradual 10-15 per cent growth in corporate travel in 2010, especially in traditional corporate travel markets like Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong," he said in a statement.
Business travel declined by 15-20 per cent last year and the amount spent during these trips dropped between 25 and 40 per cent, Henry said.
Despite the downturn, overall bookings for Abacus shrank a narrower-than-expected one per cent in 2009 from the year before, thanks to a pickup starting from the second half. Emerging markets in Central Asia as well as Nepal, Bangladesh and South Korea are seen as key growth areas.
"There is certainly a strong sense of renewed energy and vibrancy in the market as the new year starts," Abacus president and chief executive Robert Bailey told reporters.
Abacus meanwhile said that the majority of Asian travel companies have yet to catch up with the use of Facebook and other online social media tools in their marketing strategies.
Asian travel agents should also make full use of mobile technology applications to reach customers, Abacus said.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Investors threaten to take to street

Share investors have threatened to take to street due to government apathy.
"We are ready to stage protests in the streets if our demands are not fulfilled," said General Investors' Association (GIA) president Deepak Karki addressing a press meet here today.
The investors' organisations -- General Investors' Association (GIA), Nepal Investors' Forum (NIF) and Nepal Securities Investors' Association (NSIA) -- are staging protests since February 18, after the government seemed reluctant to fulfil their 22-point demands. Partially addressing their demands, Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) on Monday relaxed margin lending by five percent. However, that did not appease the investors.

Nepal Stock Exchange (Nepse), the secondary market of shares and debentures, is dysfunctional since the last three days due to their protest. There has been no trading on the Nepse floor as stockbrokers are supporting the agitation. "We want the demands of investors fulfilled and operation resumed at Nepse," said Nepal Stock Brokers' Association president Nanda Kishore Mundada.
Former Finance Minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat has urged the government to take strong measures to revive the capital market. "The government should make the capital market stable," he said. He also urged the government to encourage banks and financial institutions to work as market makers to make the capital market progressive. If the government does not act today the capital market will crash, he added.
Nepse is in a bearish mode since last September and the benchmark index stood at 485.14 points last Thursday. Trading has halted due to investors' protest since then. The index had touched the highest point of 1,175.38 points on August 31, 2008.
Finance Minister Surendra Pandey's advisor Keshav Acharya assured investors that the Ministry of Finance (MoF) will take necessary action to revitalize the capital market. "The ministry will talk to investors to sort out the problems soon," he said. He, however, warned investors not to expect much in the current problematic scenario. "The whole economy -- monetory, exchange, capital market and real sector -- is in trouble at present," he said adding that none should expect rapid progress.
Securities Board of Nepal (Sebon) former chairman Dr Chiranjivi Nepal asked the government to exempt investors from capital gain tax (CGT) for a short time. "It could be from three to six months," he said. "If this is done, the market may flourish."
Japan and South Korea had applied the formula during the East Asian recession in 1997. Dr Nepal also called for belaying the decision to float 19 per cent of promoters' shares till Nepse gains momentum.
Prof Dr Bishombher Pyakurel elaborated the situation as bad governance. "All the problems are associated with bad governance," he said, "The government is not people friendly."
Meanwhile, Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) has showed serious concern over the investors' agitation and urged the government to take the mater seriously.

ADBL to float largest primary issue in Nepal's banking history

Agriculture Development Bank Ltd (ADBL) is floating the largest ever Initial Public Offering (IPO) in the banking history of Nepal.
Having got licence for A-class bank from Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) after the 38th year of its establishment, the bank has decided to go public with Rs 960 million worth ordinary shares from April 4. Ace Development Bank has been appointed the sales and issue manager. ADBL has registered Rs 1.72 billion profit before tax in the last fiscal year.
Meanwhile, Securities Board of Nepal (Sebon) has given permission to Prime Life Insurance Company Ltd to float initial public offering (IPO) of 10,80,000 unit shares worth Rs 100 each. The insurance company has appointed NIDC Capital Market the issue manager for the IPO worth Rs 108 million. PrimeLife Insurance has total capital of Rs 252 million and earned a net profit of Rs 56.75 million. It has issued 181,000 policies and collected premium worth Rs 488 million till last month.
Sebon has also authorised Surya Life Insurance, Manakamana Development Bank, Gaurishankar Development Bank and Yeti Finance to issue ordinary shares worth around Rs 2 billion.
Surya Life Insurance will issue shares worth Rs 108 million, Manakamana Development Bank is floating Rs 300 million worth shares, Gaurishankar Development Bank is issung Rs 60 million worth ordinary shares and Yeti Finance will issue shares worth Rs 62.5 million. Nilgiri Vikas Bank Ltd is also issuing ordinary shares worth Rs 150 million and its issue manager is Elite Capital. City Development Bank is planning to issue IPO worth Rs 60 million at face value and its issue manager is also Ace Development Bank.
Surya Life's issue manager is NMB Bank, Gaurishankar Development Bank's issue manager is Ace whereas Mankamana Bikas Bank's issue manager is NIDC Capital market.

Nepse to go outside the Valley
KATHMANDU: Investors from outside the Kathmandu Valley -- Pokhara, Butwal, Birgunj, Narayangud and Nepalgunj -- can buy and sell shares from March. Nepal Stock Exchange (Nepse) is planning to go outside the valley in a bid to make the share transaction possible across the country. According to the sole secondary market of the country, brokers can do transaction from Pokhara, Butwal, Birgunj, Narayangud and Nepalgunj very soon. The Kathmandu-based secondary market has said to be discouraging investors from outside the capital.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Global trade drops by 12 per cent

Global trade last year suffered its biggest collapse since World War II, an unprecedented 12 per cent drop according to new figures, with worrying signs suggesting 2010 threatens only mediocre recovery.
"World trade has also been a casualty of the crisis, contracting in volume by around 12 per cent in 2009," Pascal Lamy, director general of the World Trade Organisation, told an audience in Brussels on Wednesday.
"It is the sharpest decline since the end of the Second World War," Lamy said, and a steep downwards revision from the WTO's most recent estimate, in December, of 10 per cent. While he would give "no forecast" for 2010 trade growth, he insisted a "pickup" is underway, but led by an "overheating" China, could not say whether it is short-term or sustainable.
The massive contraction makes it "economically imperative to conclude" stalled international free trade talks in 2010, Lamy told business figures and policymakers at the European Policy Centre, a Brussels think-tank.
The Doha Round of trade negotiations that began in 2001 with a focus on dismantling obstacles to trade for poor nations has been dogged by intractable disagreements. These include how much the United States and the European Union should reduce farm aid and the extent to which developing countries such as India and China should lower tariffs.
Deadlines to conclude the talks have been repeatedly missed, with the latest being the end of this year.
Lamy blamed last year's trade "freefall" on a reduction in demand "across all major world economies" as well as the drying-up of trade financing and rising tariffs or national subsidies. Some protectionist response "was to be expected," he said, although he maintained that worries of "runaway protectionism" had proved an exaggeration.
Amid vast government deficits, he said the biggest enemy to a sustained pick-up was "intolerably high" unemployment that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates has hit 200 million people worldwide -- 20 million of whom have lost their jobs since the crisis began on Wall Street.
"The political consequences in my view are still to come," Lamy warned of the so-called jobless recovery, underlining that "keeping international markets open is vital" if negative global economic growth of minus 2.2 percent in 2009 is to be reversed. He revealed the latest WTO figures in order to underscore his argument that completing the Doha treaty talks was essential to re-booting the global economy after recession. Lamy said getting agreement on Doha is a "challenge" but said the world was "80 percent" there. He also said he "wouldn't venture any prediction" on when Russia would come on board.
Along with Brazil, China and India, Russia makes up a quartet of developing economies said to hold the key to conclusion of a deal that would cut agriculture subsidies and tariffs on industrial goods. On Wednesday, Australia resumed bilateral free-trade talks with China after a 14-month gap.
Speaking the previous evening at the European parliament, Lamy said Europe could speed up Doha progress if it made its position clearer on fisheries subsidies. "This is a candidate for a bit of poking on your side," he said.
However, he also admitted that agricultural subsidies would remain at levels up to four times higher than in industry, as a "contribution to the problem of food security."
The EU and the US are each under greater pressure now than when negotiations were first launched. Recent data has also shown US consumer confidence lower than expected and zero percent growth in the fourth quarter for EU giant Germany.
Bank of England governor Mervyn King also on Wednesday expressed worries over the health of its key trading partner, the 16-nation eurozone economy, which is suffering on markets amid heavy Greek debts. -- AFP

Monday, February 22, 2010

WB brings four-pronged strategy to help Nepal develop hydropower

The World Bank has four-pronged strategy to help Nepal develop hydropower.
Concluding her weeklong visit to Nepal today vice-president for South Asia Isabel Guerrero, said that first step is to help urgently relieve the energy shortages through critical investments in the maintenance and rehabilitation of existing plants. "To expand community managed micro-hydro schemes in isolated rural areas is the second priority," she said adding that the third step is to support medium scale hydropower and transmission schemes such as Kabeli-A and transmission interconnection with India for urgent electricity imports during the load-shedding season and subsequent electricity trade.
"Similarly, the fourth step is help Nepal set the stage for larger hydropower projects which can both be transformative for the country's economic growth and for meeting the aspirations of people," Guerrero said adding that ultimately Nepal wil need larger hydropower projects.
During her stay, she met Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, who also asked the global agency to help Nepal develop hydropower project apart from mid-hill highway. "These programmes will be included in country strategy paper," she informed. She also reiterated that the World Bank Group stands by Nepal as it goes through historic transformations and seals the peace process.
"Once the political agendas are settled, the economic agendas will come in the forefront," said the optimistic Guerrero adding that "currently also at the broader level it seems nothing is moveing ahead but things are really happening at the community level." The vice-president of World Bank for South Asia gave an example of a micro hydro project at Baglung that has helped change the life-style of the community.
Currently, about 25,000 households are served by schemes that the World Bank has financed through the micro hydro projects and an additional 36,000 households will benefit by 2012.
She and members of her team visited several development projects in western Nepal. Guerrero met with community partners and project beneficiaries of the World Bank financed Poverty Alleviation Fund and Social Safety Nets Project in Dolpa district as well as a micro-hydro scheme and a community managed school in Baglung district.
She was impressed by what she saw in the field. "It was remarkable to see how these programmes are getting resources to the poorest and most excluded groups," she said adding that they demonstrate that when the community decides what it wants, even just modest amounts of resources can help many poor families get on a sustainable path out of poverty.
Guerrero thinks Nepal has huge opportunities as it lies in between the two growing economic power houses. "But a long-term vision is needed on economic side and development side," she added.
She also seemed concerned due to absence of central bank governor at such a critical time.

NRB eases margin lending, investors dig in heels

Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) has relaxed the margin lending provision today due to investors' pressure.
The central bank has relaxed the maintenance margin by five per cent. "Banks need not give margin call if the share price goes down by 10 per cent or the loan goes up by 55 per cent," said the central bank's circular to the banks. Earlier, banks were directed to give margin call if the loan went above 50 per cent, as according to the central bank's rule, they could not lend more than 50 per cent against shares.
Similarly, investors can renew 75 per cent of the loan against shares, if they pay the remaining 25 per cent and its interest, the central bank added. Earlier, investors were allowed to renew only 50 per cent of the loan against shares.
However, investors think that the NRB directive has yet not addressed their demands. They want a 100 per cent renewal provision. According to them the central bank's regulation is also against the Company Act. "Shares are also assets," said Ramchandra Bhattarai, an investor. "We want 100 per cent renewal provision," he said adding that today's circular of the central bank do not address their concern.
The investors want commitment from the concerned authorities -- the Finance Ministry, Securities Board of Nepal (Sebon) and Nepal Stock Exchange (Nepse. Otherwise, they have threatened to continue their protest programmes. "We are going to halt Nepse transactions tomorrow as well," Bhattarai said adding that the Finance Ministry and Sebon should at least show concern.
Investors brought the share transaction to a complete halt for the second day today at Nepse to pressurise the government to concede their demand. they said it must act on behalf of them as Nepse has witnessed a 'sort of crash'.
General Investors' Association, Nepal Investors' Forum and Nepal Securities Investors' Association have put forward a 22-point charter of demands before the government which includes demands for ending the policy of changing 19 per cent promoters' shares into general shares and setting new criteria for taxes on capital gain tax.
Investors allege that the government has not taken steps to upgrade the capital market. According to them, the overflow of number of shares in the market has brought Nepse down as the number of investors did not increase commensurately.
Issuing a statement, Nepse voiced grave concern over the protest of investors. "The current protest of investors has blocked regular work of Nepse and this is not fair," it stated.
Chairman of Stockbrokers' Association, Nanda Kishor Mundada, said that the investors were forced to go on strike due to the government apathy.
There is an investment of Rs 3.75 billion in the domestic stock market. The market closed at 485.14 points on Thursday -- the last day of last week's trading.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Government lowers growth forecast, fails to curb price hike

Government has lowered its highly ambitious growth forecast of 5.5 per cent to around four per cent.
"Due to low yield in the agriculture -- especially the major crops like maize and paddy -- and non-agriculture sector's low output than expected, the growth is going to be lower than the forecast," said finance minister Surendras Pandey during a mid-term evaluation of the budget for the fiscal year 2009-10.
The finance minister had projected an ambitious growth of 5.5 per cent in his budget speech hoping for the good agriculture output. Nepal's growth is dependent on the agriculture output that is largely out of government control and depends on good moonsoon.
"The growth is expetced to be around four per cent," said Dr Yubraj Khatiwada, vice-chairman, National Planning Commission (NPC) -- the government think tank.
"Though manufacturing sector has improved a little, the growth of agriculture sector did not meet our target pulling the total growth," he said adding that the projected growth was on the basis of normal agriculture growth.
The government has also failed to bring the rate of price hike. "In the fiscal policy and monetary policy -- both -- the inflation was projected at seven per cent," the finance minister said adding that "but the average of the first six months comes to around 10.1 per cent."
He also accepted that there is liquidity cruch in the market. "There has been liquidity crunch in the market since the begining of this fiscal year," Pandey said adding that "the central bank has brought some provisions recently that have helped ease the liquidity crunch.
The government has also failed in promoting the exports. "the trade deficit has increased due to increase in imports and decreased in exports," he accepted. "Due to balloning trade deficit and declining remittance, during the first six months of the current fiscal year, the Balance of Payment (BoP) has also registered plunged."
The forex reserve has also depleted due to gold imports. "The central bank was forced to ban gold imports to control it," acting governor of the central bank Krishna Bahadur Manandhar said. There are more challenges but less time for the government to fulfill its promises made in the budget," said finance secretary Rameshwor Khanal. This fiscal year has only 5 months and 21 days to end.

Friday, February 19, 2010

New model needed to help world's poorest nations

A new approach is necessary if the world's most poverty-stricken countries -- recently battered by the food and energy crises, the global recession, and, in some cases, natural disasters -- are to escape their predicament, speakers said this afternoon in opening a two-day meeting of experts on "Key development challenges facing the Least Developed Countries (LDCs)."
UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi said experience has shown that outside efforts to help LDCs must focus more on enabling them to diversify their economies -- to be less dependent on raw materials or agricultural commodities, "on copper, on cocoa, on coffee." Enhancing such economies' "productive capacities" offers hope that these nations can make steady progress and be less vulnerable to external shocks, such as the global recession and the natural disasters that recently struck Haiti and Samoa, Supachai said.
The expert meeting is to provide input to an UNCTAD report that will be published in advance of the LDC IV conference to be held in 2011 in Turkey . The report will focus on "structural economic transformation" in LDCs.
Supachai noted that since the LDC category was created by the United Nations in 1971, the number of countries assigned to it has nearly doubled. It now stands at 49. Only two countries have "graduated" from LDC status in 39 years: Botswana (1994) and Cape Verde (2007), although three more may soon do so.
"Some countries had been successful in diversifying their economies, in creating jobs, in improving governance," Supachai said. "We should be able to learn from lessons past so that things will be better in the future." He added, "We should be looking at ways of making LDC status a temporary status."
Also speaking at the opening session were Jean Feyder, Ambassador of Luxembourg and President of UNCTAD's Trade and Development Board; Dinesh Bhattarai, Ambassador of Nepal to the United Nations Office at Geneva, coordinator of the Least Developed Countries Group; and a representative of the host country of the upcoming LDC conference, H Bozkurt Aran, Ambassador of Turkey to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
Feyder said it is important to consider new ideas, approaches, and options, especially given the effects on LDCs of the global financial crisis. It is vital to consider what structural changes can be accomplished in these nations' economies and to take a strategic, long-term approach that will allow solid and sustainable progress, he said.
Bhattarai said LDCs continue to be vulnerable, to be marginalized economically, to experience a lack of resources, and to suffer from widespread poverty: "The poorest of the poor, sometimes referred to as the 'bottom billion,' are living for the most part in the LDCs." Recently, matters have been especially difficult, with the global recession taking hold and with several severe natural disasters striking some LDCs, he said.
Aran said there had been "modest progress" towards meeting development goals set at the previous LDC conference, with considerable variation among countries -- but the global recession had stalled, and even reversed, that progress. Some LDCs had seen their exports fall by 50% in 2009. Greater international aid and commitment are needed to restart the modest upward trend that emerged earlier in the decade, he said. "Conditions have to be established to allow social and economic transformation."
During the two-day meeting, economists, academics, and other experts familiar with the challenges facing LDCs will consider such topics as LDC performance and structural progress; the trade performance of LDCs; investment promotion for such countries; and the roles than can be played by technology, innovation, and infrastructure.
The Chairman of UNCTAD's inter-divisional task force on LDC IV, Debapriya Bhattacharya, will summarize the debate when the expert meeting concludes on 19 February.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

NOC hikes kerosene, diesel prices by one rupee

Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) increased the price of kerosene and diesel -- both -- by one rupee per liter making them Rs 59 per litre in the Valley. But the price in the Tarai districts will be Rs 57.70 per litre.
"The price hike will come into effective from Thursday," said the sole petroleum importer.
The NOC board meeting on Wednesday late night has decided to increase the price as it has been incurring losses in both diesel and kerosene that is the poor men's fuel.
The state-owned petroleum importer will -- after the price hike -- profit Rs 20 million in a month. Earlier, it has been losing Rs 37.5 million per month, it said.
NOC has been adjusting the prices of the petroleum products every month as last year the prices started fluctuating pushing the state-owned corporation into red.
Earlier, it had increased the price of kerosene and diesel by Rs 3 per litre on November 17. Then, both kerosene and diesel prices were hiked to Rs 58 per litre. The NOC used to make a profit of Rs 4 in a litre of kerosene after the hike, while, it incurred a loss of Rs 2.50 in a litre of diesel.
The NOC had started making profit when the downward revision of prices started in October 2008, which continued till March. But the rise in the prices of petroleum products in the international market had again hit it to bring down to knees.
Every month - on 16th as per the Roman calendar - the NOC receives a new price list for petrol, diesel from the IOC -- its sole supplier. However, on the first of every month, it receives the new price list for petrol, diesel, kerosene, Air turbine Fuel (ATF) and cooking gas.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Revenue inflow surpasses target

By the end of the seventh month this fiscal year, revenue collection surpassed the target by Rs 3.87 billion.
"By the end of Magh (mid-February) we were successful in collecting Rs 94.28 billion, surpassing our own target of Rs 90.41 billion," said finance secretary Krishnahari Baskota. In the last fiscal year, at the end of the same month the collection was Rs 72.26 billion.
"Revenue collection went up by Rs 22 billion or 30.5 per cent compared with last year's same month due to regular follow-up, policy direction and incentives to revenue officials," he said adding that the ministry was also able to control leakages with the establishment of 64 new Border Out Posts (BOP).
"In the 17 Tarai districts, the chief district officers (CDOs) have been directed to review the customs patrolling every 15 days apart from ready flying sqauds that operate on the direction of 24-hour control room," Baskota said. "The ministry was also successful in making companies put stickers on tobacco products and beer factories also installed the flow-metre to check the leakage."
Of the total collection, Value Added tax (VAT) was at highest ever at around Rs 29 billion followed by customs at around Rs 19 billion. Income tax collection came to around Rs 17 billion, whereas collection from excise came to around Rs 13 billion. The government has by the end of the seventh month collected around Rs 11.5 billion under non-tax, around Rs 3.5 billion under registration fee and around Rs 2 billion under vehicles tax.
It was able to increase revenue collection in recent years after it appointed a separate secretary to look after the revenue.
This trend shows that the government will be able to collect over 20 per cent to 25 per cent revenue compared to the target. The revenue target of the government for this fiscal year -- according to the budget 2009-10 -- stands at Rs 176.5 billion.
In the next five months, the government has to collect around Rs 82.22 billion, which looks easy, if the current trend continues.

The collection

First month (Shrawan) -- Rs 11.47 billion
Second month (Bhadra) -- Rs 22.55 billion
Third month (Ashwin) -- Rs 34.32 billion
Fourth month (Kartik) -- Rs 46.67 billion
Fifth month (Mangsir) -- Rs 58.60 billion
Sixth month (Poush) -- Rs 79.68 billion
Seventh month (Magh) -- Rs 94.28 billion

10-Point carta wraps up Microfinance Summit

With a 10-point declaration, the second Microfinance Summit concluded here today.
In the closing session of the last day of the three-day summit, Centre for Microfinance president Dr Haridev Pant read out the 10-point declaration.
"In the first summit, we had targetted to bring three million people within the reach of microfinance sector by 2015," he said adding that by now 1.8 million Nepalis are involved in the sector. "We are pretty much on track," he added.
The declaration also urged various sectors to contribute to make this endeavour successful and ensure economic growth of the country in order to alleviate poverty.
The declaration also stated that in order to bring about national development, the microfinance sector should be given priority as a primary sector. Microfinance is the only tool to uplift the life standards of the poor. He also requested for a reduction in taxes as the tax on microfinance institutions is as high as that for commercial banks.
The summit also requested the Finance Ministry to support it in inclusive economic development. "Microfinance institutions have been facing problems due to conflict in the Tarai region," it said. Mountainous and hilly regions are yet at a low reach from the sector due to geographical reasons and high costs.
Former finance ministers Dr Ram Sharan Mahat and Bharat Mohan Adhikari also took part in the last session held today.
The summit also requested Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) for a microfinance policy that would allow the sector to mobilise deposite as it has been facing resource crunch. The sector is also looking to form a unified network to promote its concerns via advocacy and deliberations.
Some 722 people involved with microfinance took part in the second edition of the Microfinance Summit, where 19 working papers were presented. It also reviewed the progress made in the field after the first summit. The third Summit will be held in 2013.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Prices resume upward climb

Prices have again starting ascending, thanks to a whopping rise in the price of sugar and sugar related products, pulses, spices, vegetables and meat.
"Year on year (y-o-y) inflation, as measured by the consumer price index (CPI), moderated to 11.8 per cent in mid-January," said Nepal Rastra Bank, the central authority. It had moderated to 11.3 per cent in mid-December.
Though the central bank in its report for the sixth month price analysis said that the CPI moderated to 11.8 per cent against a 14.4 per cent increase in the same period last year. "The price index of food and beverages group increased by 18.1 per cent whereas the index of non-food and services group rose only by 4.5 per cent," said the report.
The index of food and beverages and non-food and services group had risen by 18.3 per cent and 10.3 per cent respectively in the same period last year. Of the items in food and beverage group, price indices of sugar and sugar related products had the highest increased rate of 77.5 per cent against an increase of 37.3 per cent in the same period last year.
Similarly, the price indices of pulses, spices, vegetables and fruits as well as meat, fish and eggs sub-groups increased by 36.7 per cent, 34.8 per cent, 29.2 and 22.8 per cent, respectively against an increase of 25.6 per cent, 8.1 per cent, 13.3 per cent and 22.5 per cent in the same period last year.
The index of grains and cereal products subgroup also witnessed an increment of 11.7 per cent compared to 16.5 per cent increase in the same month last year. "Within the group of non-food and services, the index of tobacco and related products has the highest increased rate of by 11.6 per cent compared to a rise of 15.1 per cent during the same period last year," said NRB. However, the price index of transport and communication declined by 7.5 per cent in the review period. It had increased by 20.7 per cent during the same period last year.
Region-wise, according to price index the Terai is the most expensive place to live in as it rose by 12.5 per cent followed by 11.8 per cent in Hills and 10.6 per cent in Kathmandu Valley. The respective rates were 13.6 per cent, 14.2 per cent and 15.8 per cent last year.
In the review period, the y-o-y core inflation rose to 12.6 per cent, a moderation from 13.2 per cent a year ago.
Wholesale prices under the agricultural commodities group, the price index of cash crops, increased by a whopping 64.7 per cent against a decline of 7.7 per cent a year ago. The price index of spices, pulses and livestock production increased by 50.3 per cent, 34 per cent and 33.8 percent, respectively as compared to an increase of 7.2 per cent, 20 per cent and 27.9 per cent respectively during the same period last year. Within the group of domestic manufactured commodities, the price index of food-related products increased by 15.1 per cent as compared to a rise of 12 per cent a year ago.
Within the imported commodities group, the price indices of chemical fertilizers and chemical goods declined by 11.9 percent in the review period as compared to an increase of 8.3 per cent in the corresponding period of previous year.

Bhattarai for expanding rural access to finance, says no to donors prescription

Former finance minister and vice-chairman of the Unified Nepal Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) Dr Baburam Bhattarai today said that the government must bring its own policy to expand access to finance in the rural areas. "The prescriptions from the donors won't work," he said.
Addressing the second Microfinance Summit here, he stressed on institutional investment for rural farmers and small entrepreneurs. The policy should focus on women as there is a rare incident of default by women entrepreneurs, he said adding that the policy should focus on indigenous, dalits and janajatis and extend their reach to finance. "There is no alternative to enabling the lower strata of society through microfinance to uplift their living standards," he said.
He also urged enough research on microfinance and target groups before starting any programmes for them. "Instead of depending on foreign jobs and consumption, we should focus on savings and production to develop an independent economy," he added. "There is no option other than enabling people through microfinance for the socio-economic transformation of society."
"Half of the total population has no access to formal financial channels," Mercy Corps deputy director Sanjaya Karki said, presenting his paper on 'Microfinannce in value chain'. Due to lack of access to formal financial channels, the majority of the rural populace still has to depend on local merchants, he said adding that these merchants charge higher interest rates.
Instead, the farmers are benefitting from microfinance, Karki said adding that Agriculture Development Bank and credit and cooperatives are giving service through price value chain.
Senior Programme Officer of GTZ-Include, Roshan Shrestha said the price value chain would be more effective if cooperatives involved in production and processing, implement it. Presenting his paper on 'Business Model for Value Chain finance through cooperatives,' he said that cooperatives can be more effective. The cooperative invloved in production can paly a role of bridge between the small producers and finance companies and help price-value chain, he said. "But there should be legal provision. Except lending, cooperatives can also help the target groups by serching for them new markets and training them," he added.
Commenting on the papers, Dr Purushottam Shrestha, CEO of NNMB, said that the central bank and the government have neglected the microfinance sector. "The government that talks about poverty alleviation has not said a single word in the budget about microfinance," he complained.
Saliya Ranasinghe, consultant, said that the small farmers might have also been cheated in the microfinance.
The second day of the Microfinance Summit 2010 also saw various working papers and the participants actively discussed the papers. Graham A N Wright, director of Micro save; Megha Raj Gajurel, senior manager at RMDC; Ralf Radeermacher, director at Micro Insurance Academy and Anurag Mishra of Standard Chartered bank also presented their papers.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

MY CG to be first DTH in Nepal sky

My CG -- mero manoranjanko direct connection -- is planning to start Direct to Home (DTH) satellite television service by the end of June.
"In the first phase, we'll offer 60 channels," said Nir Shah, chairman of CG Techno Dreams -- a new venture of Chaudhary Group (CG) that is planning to invest Rs 1 billion. This is the huge investment from private sector in the television sector.
"In the second phase, we'll offer 30 more channels," he said adding that it will make a total of 90 channels but 25 per cent of the channels will be in Nepali language.
Though the government has licenced five companies to operate DTH satellite television service in Nepal by setting up their own hub stations, CG Techno Dreams is upbeat due to its chairman. The veteran actor and the man who master-minded Nepal Television (NT) thinks that at one point of time, the television world will be completely digital and satellite-based.
"DTH offers better quality picture than cable TV," said Shah adding, "because it offers stereophonic sound effects and can also reach remote areas."
The way DTH reaches a consumer's home is also different from the way cable TV does. "In DTH, TV channels would be transmitted by the satellite to a small dish antenna mounted on the window or rooftop of the subscriber's home. So the broadcaster directly connects to the user," he added.
Middlemen like local cable operators are not there in the picture. "Consumer will have multiple choices," he said adding that they can choose the channels they want to watch and pay accordingly.
"CG Techno Dreams -- apart from TV network -- also offers multi-facility for its consumers that is a complete package of information, recreation and communication," said Shah, who is starting a new innings in the TV world with CG Techno Dreams.

How it works
KATHMANDU: KATHMANDU: DTH stands for Direct-To Home Television. DTH is defined as the reception of satellite programmes with a personal dish In an individual home. DTH doses away with the need for the local cable operator and puts the broadcaster directly In touch with the consumer. Only cable operators can receive satellite programmes and they then distribute them to individual homes. A DTH network consists of broadcasting centre, satellite, encoders, multiplexers, modulators and DTH receivers. the service provider has to lease Ku-band transponders from the satellite. The encoder converts the audio, video and data signals into the digital format and the multiplexer mixes these signals. At the user end, there will be a small dish antenna and Set-Top Boxes to decode and view numerous channels. On the user's end, receiving dishes can be as small as 45 cm in diameter. DTH is an encrypted transmission that travels to the consumer directly through a satellite. DTH transmission is received directly by the consumer at his end through the small dish antenna. A Set-Top Box, unlike the regular cable connection, decodes the encrypted transmission.

Microfinance Act in offing, to get more teeth

Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) has prepared a Microfinance Act. NRB acting governor Krishna Bahadur Manandhar during the opening of second Microfinance Summit said that these institutions are getting tremendous success that banks have not been able to get in the last seven decades.
He also urged microfinance institutions to expand their horizon from the rural poor to the poorest.
Manandhar said adding that NRB may grant deposit mobilisation facility to microfinance institutions.
The second microfinance summit opened here today with the aim of uplifting people's lives through new innovations and strategies. Finance Minister Surendra Pandey inaugurated the summit by putting coins into a coin-box, here today.
FM Pandey hailed microfinance institutions for their role in poverty alleviation and urged them to expand their services across the country. "The contribution of microfinance will be included in gross domestic production (GDP)," he said urging microfinance experts to reduce interest rates and rethink the spread and period of payment.
Microfinance institutions are providing services to over 1.8 million poor and disadvantaged families around the country, said summit coordinator Dr Harihar Dev Pant. Microfinance service started in Nepal during 1975-76 from a small farmer project but it has grown rapidly after 1990. "There are many challenges in service expansion due to financial and technical reasons," he said adding that because of these reasons the cost of operation of MFs has also gone up.
Among the total 31 per cent Nepalis below the extreme poverty line, MFs are serving 20 per cent. It has been an effective tool for poverty reduction.
"Regrettably, the government has adopted an indifferent attitude towards the development of these institutions," Dr Pant said adding that these institutions should not be taxed at par with commercial banks. "Though the central bank has helped the sector grow, NRB should revise its policy towards microfinance institutions."
Philipp Kruschel, Senior Advisor of German Technical Corporation (GTZ) Include, expressed disappointment at the reduced productivity of the industrial sector due to political interference and energy shortage. He, however, expressed happiness at the progress made in microfinance sector in the recent past. "Microfinance institutions should lead the way to develop small and medium scale industries," he said.
Discussions on 11 papers were concluded on the first day of the summit. Ganesh Bahadur Thapa, chairman of Center for Microfinance, presented a paper on inclusive economic growth while Naresh Shrestha presented a paper on socio-economic part of microfinance institutions. Other papers presented were about good governance, government's role in microfinance development, sustainable microfinance and difference between individual and group lending.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Cooperatives can bring sea-change

The cooperative movement has brought about a sea change in rural economy, said Horst Ammann, Programme Manager, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH-Inclusive Development of the Economy (INCLUDE), one of the lead contributors to the second Microfinance Summit Nepal 2010.
"Cooperatives are doing good at the primary level," he said adding that at the secondary level it has to be reworked with access to finance. Without broad access to finance, inclusive economic growth cannot be achieved," he said.
"Without cooperatives nothing can move in rural areas," Ammann added. "Apart from access to finance, they should be capacitated, supervised and encouraged."
The German agency had also supported the first microfinance summit in 2008 that has proven a successful tool in uniting microfinance stakeholders in Nepal and abroad towards building a strong and inclusive microfinance sector.
His organisation has helped found many cooperatives, helped manage them and also trained small farmers' cooperative system that provides financial and non-financial services. It was GTZ that helped form Small Farmers Development Bank.
Though they are doing good, the movement needs a another look. "An independent federation of cooperatives would make sense," he said adding that the government can play the role of regulator. The government should give them space for their development and not interfere.
However, Ammann was upbeat about the summit. "We are also looking forward to share experiences from GTZ INCLUDE's programme approach in 14 programme districts of Nepal. We will present our lessons learned vis-à-vis a 'business model for value chain finance through cooperatives' as well as 'linking entrepreneurship development with microfinance clients'. We are also looking forward to the input of stakeholders," he added.
He also called for strong and united messages from stakeholders of the microfinance sector. "We are looking forward to answers to open issues like deprived sector lending, how microfinance can contribute to inclusive growth in Nepal, increasing access to financial services in remote areas and to disadvantaged groups, the missing middle, the commercialisation of microfinance institutions and what more roles cooperatives can play."
Philipp Kruschel, Senior Advisor to GTZ INCLUDE, said he was happy to support the summit. "The summit is a unique opportunity to bring together a broad range of microfinance practitioners with representatives of the public sector as well as development partners here and abroad and jointly develop a vision for the future," he said adding that it would be a great chance to discuss the opportunities for and challenges to the microfinance sector in the light of much-needed inclusive economic growth in Nepal.
For inclusive economic growth, education is a must. "The basic concept of cooperatives is to educate," Ammann said adding that people should understand the value of education. "To push for education, the government has to support and protect the movement."
The educated mass can be involved in economic activities and by delivering financial services to people in rural areas the lower income strata can be brought within the ambit of economic activity.
In a similar fashion, inclusive economic growth can only be achieved if the 'missing middle', which neither has access to micro credit nor to services of commercial banks, will not be left out of this process.

Second Microfinance Summit
The second edition of the Microfinance Summit is going to be held on February 14-16 in Kathmandu.
The summit -- with the theme 'Microfinance for Inclusive Economic Growth' -- is aimed at addressing some new issues in the sector that has been identified after the success of Microfinance Summit 2008 and the seventh National Steering Committee meeting held on September 11 2009.
This summit aims to discuss on how to increase funding for the microfinance sector to improve client retention for microfinance services while simultaneously improving the livelihood of existing clients with entrepreneurial skills; how to make microfinance more inclusive towards excluded groups, the formal financial sector, and the macroeconomic framework of Nepal; how to properly govern Microfinance institutions so that they can not only reach their intended target markets in rural areas, but also provide them with sustainable microfinance practices; how to eradicate the burdens of poverty such as a lack of access to healthcare and education through the incorporation of savings and insurance schemes with microfinance practices; and how to improve credit schemes and creating a model for value chain finance in microfinance in cooperation with commercial banks so as to improve the sustainability of the microfinance sector.
The goal of the Microfinance Summit Nepal 2010 is to unite microfinance stakeholders in Nepal and ensure microfinance for inclusive economic growth. It also aims to improve and increase outreach to all households in need of microfinance services with the development of a joint microfinance strategy and action plan.
The second summit also aims to facilitate a broad dialogue among all stakeholders involved in the field of microfinance: policymakers and regulators, public institutions concerned with the microfinance sector -- including government-owned banks, microfinance practitioners, commercial banks and interested financial sector institutions -- including insurance agencies, remittance service providers, technical support providers and training institutes, and international donors.
It aims at discussing the issues for further development of the sector and to develop strategies to overcome any shortcomings; share information on current microfinance practices in Nepal and provide participants with up-to-date information on experimental trends and innovations -- both technical and strategic -- in the national and international microfinance sector; encourage policymakers to adopt recommended policies in order to improve the effectiveness of the microfinance sector in the national development strategy; showcase the achievements of Nepal's microfinance sector and the commitment of its stakeholders through a presentation of the results of the summit at the Global Micro-credit forum.
Microfinance has been one of the effective tools for poverty reduction in the developing countries. Despite ongoing development efforts, poverty remains rampant in Nepal with approximately 31 per cent of the population living below the poverty line. The incidence of poverty is highest in remote and rural areas. Through the creation of sound microfinance institutions and systems, poor people can safely deposit money and accumulate funds for future investments or emergencies as well as access loans for productive purposes leading to higher incomes.
Microfinance also produces an impact in other areas including good governance, participation in the political processes, women empowerment, social inclusion, and conflict transformation.
Currently, more than 1.6 million individuals in the rural population have access to microfinance services. This figure represents approximately eight per cent of the population and approximately 26 per cent of the people living below the poverty line.
However, the outreach of sustainable and sound microfinance institutions to the rural and urban poor must be increased to obtain more effective statistics and further diminish poverty.
The Microfinance Summit Nepal 2010 will attempt to address the broader theme by focusing on Value Chain Finance, innovative products and services, clients and protection, sources of fund and competitiveness.
Thus, the summit is expected to bring a series of outcomes. The first outcome will be that stakeholders shall see themselves as an integral part of the microfinance movement in Nepal. Despite the fact that some of the institutions involved will attempt to operate with a competitive mindset, all stakeholders shall recognize the need to coordinate with each other for the greater good of developing the microfinance sector. The second outcome is that stakeholders can plan and implement their strategies and activities based on an improved knowledge of the status of microfinance in Nepal and worldwide. This means that institutional development plans of the individual stakeholders will be based on a sound understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses in addition to any opportunities and threats present in Nepal’s microfinance market.The third outcome is that policymakers and regulators will have a much better understanding of what the sector further needs to grow and provide information regarding the international practices in microfinance regulation. This enables them to make informed decisions and develop strategies and policies which are understood and supported by microfinance practitioners. In addition, the event creates mutual trust between the public and the private sector by openly showing each other’s capabilities and limitations.The fourth outcome is the product diversification of microfinance in Nepal such as clean and green finance, remittances, education, health insurance, value chain, and savings and credit schemes.The fifth outcome is an increased awareness in Nepal and elsewhere regarding the efforts all stakeholders are making to improve the living conditions of the poor in Nepal. A showcase of the product diversification of microfinance has the intention of not only raising awareness, but also of depicting the potentials that lie within microfinance. This should manifest itself in an increase in sources of funding available for microfinance development and support for inclusive economic growth.The final outcome that is expected from the Summit is the protection of microfinance clientele. The practice of client duplication not only provides inaccurate statistics regarding the range of the microfinance sector, but also increases the chances of loan defaults and the disruption of the client's way of life. Through efforts to increase the entrepreneurial skills of clients, it is hoped that they will be able to use their loans effectively and reduce the incentive to accept loans from other microfinance institutions.
The impact would result in the emergence of sounder microfinance institutions and networks, and a stronger microfinance support structures through updating national microfinance strategies to match international standards and procedures aimed at increasing the capacity for inclusive economic growth; broader support for microfinance saving schemes from the financial sector, private sector, and the international community; and creation of a framework structured at not only providing legal recognition towards community based projects, but also facilitating in the sustainability of microfinance projects. This, in turn, should help Nepal’s poor to gain access to affordable and sustainable micro-financial services.
At the end of the Summit, a joint declaration will be prepared which shall incorporate the suggestions of all participants on how to improve the microfinance sector in Nepal.
The Declaration will provide policymakers with feedback on how microfinance stakeholders envision the future of the sector and could be helpful to the government in preparing strategy papers and policies.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Nepse lists 95 firms under Class-A category

Five development banks, two insurance companies, 10 finance companies, two hotels, National Hydropower Company and Nepal Telecom (NT) -- a total of 21 listed companies -- made it to the prestigious Class-A category in this fiscal year, according to the Nepal Stock Exchange (Nespe).
"The Nepse has listed 95 companies under Class-A category, out of the total 149-listed companies at the sole secondary market," said the sole secondary market here today.
A company that has atleast Rs 20 million paid up capital, minimum of 1,000 common share holders, operating in profit since last three years, must have floated shares to public under the by-laws 9, book value per share must not be less than its paid up value and has been submitting its financial statement within six months from the closure of the fiscal year is qualified to be listed under the Class-A category, according to the Nepse.
The number of companies listed under Group-A category has been continuously increasing since 1996-97, when there were only seven companies under the category.
"In the year 2009-10, Nepse also delisted three companies from under the Class-A category apart from adding 21 to it," the Nepse said adding that two companies merged to get entry into the prestigious category. "United Insurance, Bhajuratna Finance and Everest Finance are delisted from under the Class-A category as they didnot abide by the regulation," it added. However, Nepse listed five development banks, two insurance companies, 10 finance companies, two hotels, one hydropower company and Nepal Telecom (NT) under the Class-A companies in this fiscal year," said secondary market that has been witnessing a sluggish performance in the last three months.
Nepal Stock Exchange, according to the international norms, classifies the listed companies under the Class-A category according to their performances.
According to the Nepse, 15 commercial banks are under the Class-A category, whereas only one company each -- Unilever Nepal Ltd and Nepal Telecom -- from the manufacturing group and Others group are under the Class-A, two each from hydropower companies group and hotels group, 11 from insurance companies group, 43 finance companies, 20 development banks fall under the Class-A category.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Food price hike hits sky

The price of black-gram is up by 44 per cent, wheat flour by 25 per cent, musuro (broken lentil) by 25 per cent and coarse rice by 14 per cent compared to 12 months ago, according to a report that points out national food price inflation as a serious concern.
"Thus it is likely that official year-on-year CPI inflation figures released by the Nepal Rastra Bank could rise again next month," the report predicts. Common cooking oils are the only commodities which have not significantly increased during the past 12 months. The recent harvest of potato has resulted in a significant decrease in potato prices; which are down by around 17 per cent across the country compared to December.
The most recent year-on-year food price inflation figure provided by the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) in January was 17.8 per cent -- up by almost two per cent compared to last month, said a report jointly produced by World Food Programme (WFP) - Food Security Monitoring and Analysis Unit, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives - Department of Agriculture, Agribusiness Promotion and Marketing Development Directorate (ABPMDD), Federation of Nepalese Chambers and Commerce and Industry/Agricultural Enterprise Centre and Consumer Interest Protection Forum.
High food prices are driving overall high consumer price inflation, which is currently estimated at 11.3 per cent, the report said.
Over the past month the price of staple grains have remained relatively stable due to the summer crop harvest. However, as the harvest was weak it did not have a major impact on reducing the price of key commodities in most markets (as would normally be expected. "A recent bird flue outbreak in the Pokhara region could have a major impact on poultry trade and prices during the first half of 2010. Previous outbreaks have seriously impaired poultry markets in Nepal," it added.
The price of staple food items generally remained stable across the country. In the markets regularly monitored by WFP and MoAC the average price of coarse rice in December was Rs 32 per kilo (down by three per cent compared to last month) and the national average wheat price was Rs 35 per kilo (up by one per cent compared to last month).
Grain prices are relatively stable due to the recent summer harvest which has helped re-stock local markets. However, the summer harvest was too weak to significantly reduce prices as would normally be expected.
However, the national average price of potato is still Rs 15 per kg higher than last year. An outbreak of bird flu has occurred in Pokhara. A Rapid Response Team (RRT) has been deployed for close surveillance. It has been reported that 10,000 chickens, ducks and other birds in the area could be culled to prevent the spread of the disease. MoAC is also considering to ban transportation of poultry products to and from the affected area. Bird flu that broke out in Eastern Terai earlier caused a steep increase in chicken prices to Rs 280 per kg in Kathmandu. Though the cardamon production in the Eastern districts of Taplejung, Sankhuwasabha etc is reportely down by 30-40 per cent compared to last year, these districts have benefited from increase in its price from about Rs 175 per kg last year to about Rs 400-450 per kg this year.
The price of cooking gas has increased from Rs 1,125 to Rs 1,250 per cylinder, particularly affecting urban households. The price of salt was also increased from Rs 11 to Rs 15 per kg.Generally, supply improved across Nepal during January, the report said. The Karnali highway opened and this improved both supply and prices in feeder markets. The most noticeable improvement was in Jumla where the prices of coarse rice is down by 23 per cent compared to last month.
The recent summer harvest has also increased supply in various markets.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Book on commodities market

Capital market analyst Rabindra Bhattarai has penned a book on commodities and derivative market.
The book -- Commodities and Derivative Jigyasa -- is targeted at people who want to know the commodities market and its function. The book has adopted a question-answer method for better elaboration of the issue.
Commodity and derivative market is not a new thing for Nepal but its organizational trade in the market is a new concept for Nepalis. Three derivative exchanges are operating in Nepal since last two years. They are trading large sums of money and the number of people interested in the market is growing.
As derivative market is a new concept for Nepalis, people don't have sufficient knowledge of the market -- trading procedure, risks and benefits. There are no schools or colleges in Nepal where to study this market.
Stock analyst Bhattrai has written nearly a dozen of books capital and financial market. Bhattrai is planning to write books on insurance which will educate people how to use insurance as investment. Commodities and Derivative Jigyasa is published by Securities Research Center and Services (SRCS), an institution established in 2005 for the research on and development of the capital market in Nepal.
SRCS had organized the first national expo on capital market last month. Around 1,00,000 people visited the expo.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

GBOT to start live exchange in Mauritius from April

The first multi-asset derivatives exchange is going live in Mauritius from April.
The first of its kind of currency and derivatives exchange in this region – Global Board of Trade (GBOT) – plans to offer eight-currency pairs with the dollar as the base – including Kenyan shilling and Ugandan shilling.
Joseph Bosco, deputy managing director and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of GBOT thinks that the region, with all its natural resources and huge potentials, is slowly waking up. “The African region is coming out of its troubled past and realizing its real strength,” he said adding that GBOT offers the region a better platform to exploit its natural resources and commodities like sugar and coffee. “Cocoa and coffee from the African region and Mauritius sugar are the world class,” he added.
It also expects to trade futures contracts in zinc, copper, aluminium, nickel, gold, silver and platinum apart from coffee, sugar and maize as well as crude oil and carbon credits.
The exchange will trade in 14 commodities, such as precious metals, base metals and agricultural commodities and eight dollar-based currency pairs - including the Mauritius rupee, euro, yen and sterling.
A good futures market can also control volatility of currency. “We will offer them the required risk management mechanism to hedge themselves against uncertainty,” Bosco added. “The east African countries like Kenya and Uganda can benefit a lot from it.”
The African continent has lately been on the radar of global powers like China and India. “And Mauritius is the gateway for Africa to the rest of the world,” he said. The Indian Ocean island nation offers every facility for an investor and has a democratic framework with a strong judicial system. “Apart from that its tax structure is very much favourable to the investors,” he said adding that the companies based in Mauritius and trading on other parts of the world would get 80 per cent tax rebate. “On top of that the people of Africa trust Mauritius more than any other.”
GBOT's main promoter is India's Financial Technologies (FT) that is listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and the National Stock Exchange (NSE) of India.
The exchange that has invested around $20 million was looking to add options contracts in due course, apart from international stocks, bonds and IRFs. “But initially, we are looking at $1 billion to $1.5 billion per trading day for each of the two categories of products (commodities and currencies) from second year trade given a limitations in the region,” Bosco said adding that “though it would definitely go up by the time.”

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Nissan most favourite car brand in Mauritius

Nissan is the most favourite car in domestic market.
It has been the most favourite car of the Mautitians as it has been the leading brand in terms of sales for almost one-and-half decade. “Despite the economic recession, we have sold 1,004 units of Nissan in the year 2009,” said Dean Ah-Chuen, executive director of the ABC Motors that is the sole dealer of the Nissan cars in Mauritius. “We are best selling brand since 1996,” he added.
In a country of 1.3 million population there are 40 brands in the market giving a customer a wide variety of choices. But the Japanese car brands have been riding ahead the British and European brands in the domestic market, though they entered into the market only after mid-60s.
Mitshubishi sold 830 units and Toyota sold 630 units in the year 2009, according to the Motor vehicles sales statistics.
From 1990, the Motor Vehicle Dealers Association (MDVA) started to compile the data of sales of every brands sold in the domestic market. “Nissan was the brand leader in the first two years – from 1990 to 1991 – then Toyota overtook it,” he said adding that “for four year – from 1992 to 1996 – Toyota led the market.
The domestic car market has been witnessing around four to five per cent growth annually. “So are we,” claims Ah-Chuen.
In 2008, ABC Motors sold 1,499 units of Nissan surpassing its sales record of 1,303 in 2007. In 2006 it sold 1,190 units of Nissan, according to him, who is more upbeat over the current year’s promising start. “The demand has started picking up in the first month itself,” he said adding that the signs of overall economic rebound are going to help accelerate the sales of automobiles in the year 2010.
The constructions that were halted last year have started to gain momentum pushing demands up for the automotives like pick-ups. “It is definitely going to help propel the auto sector,” he said.

Monday, February 1, 2010

2010 begins with surge in tourists’ arrival

Nepal continued to enjoy the sustained positive growth in the international visitor arrivals that has started since June 2009 in the first month of this year too.
According to the Immigration Office, Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), visitor arrivals in January, compared with the same month last year, have increased by 18.8 per cent to 26,071.
Almost all the sector has shown positive growth in the first month of 2010. India, which constitutes the major market, has recorded positive growth of 9.9 per cent. In the SAARC region, arrivals from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have registered positive growth by 43.3 per cent, 37.3 per cent and 9.9 per cent respectively.
In aggregate the South Asian segment has registered a positive growth of 15.6 per cent.Arrivals from Asia -- other than South Asia -- have also recorded positive growth in aggregate but countrywise the region has shown mixed performance. Visitor arrivals from Japan, Malaysia and South Korea have registered a positive growth by 19.5 per cent, 57.2 per cent and 87.2 per cent respectively.
However, China, Thailand and Singapore have registered negative growth of 18.3 per cent, 25.1 per cent and 3.2 per cent respectively. In aggregate the Asian segment has registered a positive growth of 15.4 per cent, the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) saidAn overall positive growth of 34.9 per cent has been observed from the European markets with arrivals from major generating markets such as the UK, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland up by 12.6 per cent, 17 per cent, 25.8 per cent, 40.9 per cent, 92.2 per cent, 62.4 per cent and 5.8 per cent respectively. Tourist arrivals from Australia, Canada and USA have also registered robust growth of 17.5 per cent, 69.2 per cent and 10.2 per cent respectively.“The figures reflect confidence among visitors and tour operators to Nepal,” said the NTB.
Last year India showed mixed performance in visitor arrivals to Nepal however the start of the year has begun with positive note. The sustained positive growth will undoubtedly be effective in turning Nepal Tourism Year 2011 a grand success.A total of 31,672 foreign tourists departed from TIA in January 2010. The number of Nepalis arrivals stood at 57,894 while 65,383 Nepalese departed from TIA in January 2010.