Thursday, September 30, 2010

Budget talks fail

The high level meeting of major political parties called by the Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal of care-taker government in his office at Singhdurbar today afternoon cound not strike deal but agreed to continue the dialogue among themselves on full-fledged budget.
"The leaders accepted seriousness of the delayed budget but they think the matter could be sorted out only after the political agreement," said advisor to the Prime MinisterRajan Bhattarai.
After yesterday's meeting with the former finance ministers, the PM has called the meeting of top brass of the major political parties to convince them of negative impact of delayed full-fledged budget. Former finance ministers have yesterday suggested the premier to convince the party top brass.
"The Prime Minister is 'still' hopeful of some-sort of agreement among the major political parties, though the big two parties -- Nepali Congress (NC) and UCPN-Maoists -- are not confortable with Nepal's initiative to bring the full-fledged budget," said one of the attendent in the meeting without wanting to be quoted.
"The NC and UCPN-Maoists have the impression that it is the care-taker government's another ploy to continue to remain in the power," he said, adding that, though all the leaders accepted that the economic scenario is gloomy. "But there is no confidence among the political parties," he added.
Nepal is trying to convince the parties to bring the full-fledged budget immdiately after the Dashain. But the UCPN-Maoists suggested Nepal today to strike political deal first before discussing on budget.
Today's meeting was atteded by UCPN-Maoist chairman Puspa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda', vice-chairman Dr Baburam Bhattarai and Narayan Kaji Shrestha, CPN-UML general secretary Ishwor Pokhrel, former finance minister Bharat Mohan Adhikari, Nepali Congress (NC) general secretary Prakashman Singh, Madhesi Janadhikar Forum- Nepal's leader and former governor Dr Tilak Rawal, along with central bank governor Dr Yubraj Khatiwada, finance secretary Rameshwor Prasad Khanal and Finance Ministry's advisor Keshav Acharya.
"Politics has taken over the economic agenda," CPN-UML stalwart Adhikari said, adding that the the delay in budget is hurting economic growth.
Tradition has that the budget should come by mid-July but due to political deadlock, the nation could not get budget even after three months since the beginning of a new financial year.
Since the Constitutent Assembly election, the budget has become the least priority of the political parties.
The budget for the fiscal year 2008-09 was delayed by almost three months, whereas in 2009-10, parliament took four months to pass the budget.
Similarly, the government could not bring budget for this fiscal year 2010-11, after Nepal resigned on June 30. After his resignation on June 30, Nepal is the caretaker Prime Minister only.
Finance Minister Surendra Pandey has on July 16 presented Special Budget of Rs 110 billion for one quarter of the fiscal year.
The House has failed to elect his successor despite ninth round of voting today. The delay in formation of government is hurting the government spending making the private sector shy away from any new investments.

Development economics needs to better help policymakers

World Bank Group president Robert B Zoellick today urged a rethink of development economics to make it more useful to policy makers and announced a reorientation ofWorld Bank research so it taps more effectively the experiences in developing countries through 'Open Data, Open Knowledge, Open Solutions'.
In a speech ahead of the Bank’s annual meetings in Washington, he said the global economic crisis had made the need for a rethink of development economics even more compelling. "Development knowledge should become 'multi-polar' to recognise the rising importance of developing countries as new poles of growth and experience," he said, adding that there is a new opportunity, and certainly a pressing need, for dynamism in development economics.
"Software has brought new tools; the Internet has brought new communications; rising economies have brought new experiences,” he told an audience at Georgetown University. "We need to listen and democratise development economics. Even before the crisis there was a questioning of prevailing paradigms and a sense that development economics needed rethinking," Zoellick said. "The crisis has only made that more compelling."
As the largest single source of development knowledge, the World Bank’s role must change if it wanted to keep its status as a pioneer in development economics research. "A new multi-polar economy requires multi-polar knowledge,” he said, adding that they need to democratise and demystify development economics, recognising that noone has a monopoly on the answers.
The World Bank would supplement its 'elite retail' model of economic research, which had economists focusing on specific research issues and then writing papers, with a 'wholesale' and networked research model. This new model would increasingly rely on giving outsiders software tools and access through the Internet to the Bank’s store of data so that they could do their own research and data analysis and thereby contribute to knowledge about development.
Similarly, an 'Apps for Development Competition' would encourage new, innovative tools and applications. These initiatives would allow the Bank to tap the vast experience in developing countries

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

PM to hold meeting with top leaders on budget

Prime Minister of the care-taker government Madhav Kumar Nepal is planning to call the meeting of the top brass of the political parties to convince them on negative impact of delayed-budget on national economy.
"After 'failed' attempt to convince the former finance ministers today on the consequencies of delayed budget, premier is in mood to hold high-level meeting with the five poltical parties' top brass," said a source at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
"The PM is planning to hold meeting with UCPN-Maoist chairman Puspa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda', CPN-UML chairman Jhalanath Khanal, Nepali Congress (NC) presidentSushil Koirala, Madhesi Janadhikar Forum- Democratic president Bijaya Kumar Gachhachhedhar and Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Nepal president Upendra Yadav."
"Though all the former finance ministers, who took part today, agreed on negative impact of delayed-budget, no one could commit on behalf of their parties forcing the PM to hold another meeting with top leaders of their parties," the source added.
Former finance ministers -- Dr Baburam Bhattarai, Dr Ramsharan Mahat, Bharat Mohan Adhikari, Dr Prakash Chandra Lohani -- along with central bank governor Dr Yubraj Khatiwada, finance secretary Rameshwor Prasad Khanal, revenue secretary Krishnahari Baskota and Finance Ministry's advisor Keshav Acharya took part in today' meeting.
"The delay in budget will hit economic growth," the Prime Minister said, addressing the meeting he called in his office today afternoon.
The budget should have come by the mid-July but due to political dead-lock, the nation could not get budget even after three months of the fiscal year. The formation of new government has become a 'distant dream' as there has been no political consensus among the political parties.
The delay will hit the government spending that is the catalyst for the economic activities. The private sector is waiting for the budget and is shying away from any new investments.
"Politics has sabotaged the economy," said former finance minister Dr Lohani talking to the The Himalayan Times after the meeting. "If there is no possibility of forming new government, this government should to bring budget at the earliest."
Another former finance minister Dr Bhattarai -- one of the key ideologues of the UCPN-Maoists -- also showed serious concerns over the delay in the budget.
Former finance minister and the NC stalwart Dr Mahat agreed with Dr Bhattarai that the delay in budget will have serious consequencies on economy.
Finance Minister Surendra Pandey has on July 16 presented 'Special Budget' of Rs 110 billion for the regular expenses of the government that is valid for one quarter of the fiscal year.
After his resignation on June 30, Nepal is bearing the role of caretaker Prime Minister only. On the other hand, the House has failed to elect his successor despite eight rounds of voting.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Gold goes under hammer, generates cold response

The central bank today auctioned 8.74 kg gold at Rs 27.79 million and 31.31 kg of silver at Rs 1.77 million in the first ever auction of gold and silver in its history.
Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) has fixed the minimum bid price of Rs 3.11 million for per kg gold and Rs 52,240 for per kg silver for the auction today.
"However the highest trader bid for Rs 3.18 million for a kg of gold and Rs 56,590 for a kg of silver," said Gopal Kafle, spokesperson of the central bank.
"Nine traders -- seven bidders and two non-bidders -- bought gold and 10 bidders bought silver today," he added.
Though the central bank has been selling gold coins of different denomination, this is the first ever auction of precious yellow metal.
NRB had decided to auction 100 kg of gold and 1,000 kg of silver every Tuesday to meet the market demand after the government banned the gold and silver import to discourage smuggling of the precious yellow metal. The central bank has planned to sell 75 kg gold through auction and 25 kg for non-bidders. Non-bidder has to pay the highest bid price.
Though, the auction is expected to provide relief to both traders and the customers, traders seemed not interested, as according to them, the price fixed by the central bank is more than the today’s market price.
"Today's market price of gold was Rs 37,000 per tola (11.664 gram)," said Tej Ratna Shakya, president of Nepal Gold and Silver Dealer’s Association (Negosida). "But highest bidder quoted Rs 37,093 per tola -- that is Rs 93 more than the market price," he said.
Similarly, 31.31 kg silver was auctioned for Rs 660.09 per tola. "Silver was traded at Rs 645 per tola in the market today," he added.
The gold traders also complained of the bidding process and urged the central bank to make improvements in the process for the next time.
“The central bank should also agree for ‘Good for Payment’ and also accept check,” the traders said. "Due to lack of ‘Good for Payment' system also, very few gold traders took part in the bidding,” Shakya added.
The central bank has fixed the minimum price of the gold adding Rs 1,000 on the international price per 10 gram at noon today. The international price of gold at noon today was $1,257 per ounce.
Similarly the silver price will be fixed adding Rs 2,400 to the international market price per kg. "Auction for gold starts with one kg while it starts at 30 kg for silver," according to Kafle.
According to the traders, local market demand of gold is at 20 kg per day and it might rise to 30 kg during the festive season like Dashain and Tihar.
Nepal imported above Rs 45 billion wortg gold and silver -- Rs 41.63 billion worth gold and Rs 3.25 billion worth silver -- in the last fiscal year.

UN provides $2m to Nepal

United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos today allocated $2 million to United Nations agencies in Nepal. The funding from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) will be used for seven life-saving humanitarian projects in the country. “Three-quarters of the way through this year, humanitarian funding for Nepal is just not adequate,” said Robert Piper, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nepal.
“While the UN and its partners have been able to help hundreds of thousands of Nepalis in need of humanitarian aid, we have not been able to do enough because less than 50 per cent of the Nepal Appeal has been funded,” Piper added. Three and a half million people in Nepal are food insecure, and hunger and malnutrition are high. In addition, since August, monsoon rains have resulted in flooding and landslides in all five regions of the country.
The CERF provided a grant of $353,343 to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), as well as a further grant of $146,760 for UN Habitat. These grants will be used to provide lifesaving water, sanitation and hygiene interventions for 900,000 people in 11 flood and diarrhea prone districts. It will help to promote improved hygiene, to protect water sources with elevated hand pumps and undertake minor repair work to ensure communities have potable water. In addition, UNICEF received $415,327 to be used to continue community based management of acute malnutrition for over 26,000 children in five districts'
The United Nations Population Fund will use $235,871 in CERF grants to provide life saving reproductive health services through mobile outreach camps in four of the most remote districts of Nepal. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) will put $106,196 from the CERF towards maintaining health services in seven camps in eastern Nepal hosting 79,220 refugees from Bhutan. The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) grant of $221,556 will help provide essential medicine, response equipment, emergency health kits, diarrhoeal disease kits and other essential supplies in 10 districts and will equip rapid response teams so they can to respond and provide basic health care.
Finally, the World Food Programme will apply the CERF grant of $520,978 to provide food aid through food-for-work that will benefit 12,000 people. CERF was established in 2006 to make funding for humanitarian emergencies faster and more equitable. Since then, more than 100 Member States and private sector donors have contributed some $1.5 billion to the Fund, which is managed by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Nepal has received 21.6 million in allocations over the last four years.

SAFE leadership summit in November

South Asian Federation of Exchanges (SAFE) is holding a SAFE Executive Leadership Forum meeting in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on November 5-8.
The programme will feature a mix of lectures and case studies to be delivered by highly accomplished leaders both from the academic and corporate sector having education and training from institutions like Harvard, Yale, LSE and Wales.
Besides the high class training, it shall also expose the participants to the rich cultural and historical landscape of Tashkent, said the SAFE. "The Leadership Forum is designed for organisations that aim at developing such leadership skill sets in their existing and potential high impact decision makers, which are required in today’s highly competitive and challenging environment."
SAFE is a forum of 24 member entities of South Asian Region, UAE and Mauritius; providing them a platform to share, exchange and promote the technologies, experiences for therapid growth and development of capital market and work towards the regional as well as global integration.
The SAFE Executive Leadership Forum will effectively build understanding on how to foster strategic thinking, team performance, inclusivity, and the leadership agility amongst the participants of the Forum so as to enable them to effectively contribute to the growth of their companies.
In today’s competitive and constantly changing global economy, leading companies are becoming increasingly aware that real growth in the future will come from successful leadership and effective decision making rather than from mergers and acquisitions, and even less from ‘business as usual’. As the role of a modern day executive changes from managing a single task to balancing multiple projects, therefore more than ever before, organisations today need successful strategic leaders with the ability to take full advantage of the available resource capacities as well as the market opportunities and challenges. Accordingly, SAFE’s Executive Leadership Forum shall provide an ideal opportunity to such organizations who are interested in the development of their most prized asset into the leaders for tomorrow, and to promote, train and coach them for new roles.
The SELF is being launched with three objectives/visions; first and foremost is to develop diverse, non-traditional ethical leadership; secondly, to mobilize collective thinking and action to improve cross border business linkages and thirdly, to create and realise a shared vision based on collective progress.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mutual Fund brings investment opportunity for common people

Securities Board of Nepal (Sebon) has brought the Mutual Fund Regulation effective from today, after a long exercise of almost four years.
The regulation passed by the finance ministry last week has formally paved the way for the entry of institutional investors (IIs) that will help stabilise the secondary market.
"Any organised institution floating public issue will have to separate minimum of five per cent of the primary issue for such Funds," said the Regulation that has given them the right to invest on listed shares at the Nespe, government issued debentures, central bank-issued Treasury Bills and other instruments of the monetary market.
Mutual Fund with a face value of Rs 10 per unit is the most suitable investment for a common man as it offers an opportunity to invest in a diversified, professionally-managed basket of securities at a relatively low cost.
A Mutual Fund is a trust that pools the savings of many small investors. The money thus collected is invested in capital market instruments such as shares, debentures and other securities. The income earned through these investments and the capital appreciation realised are shared by its unit holders in proportion to the number of units owned by them. "It can be traded at the Nepse and are convertible and has liquidity also," said chairman of the board Dr Surbir Poudyal. "The Funds are expected to fuel capital market by boosting the confidence of the investors."
"It will create institutional investors," he said, adding that Sebon is also working on to attract Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) in the long run.
"The Regulation has directed Fund's for diversification of portfolio to minimise their risk," Muktinath Shrestha, deputy director of the Sebon said, adding that any financial institution of Rs 1 billion paid up capital operating for last five years, has posted profit for last three years, and no negative networth can become the Fund Promoter.
Fund Supervisor that has atleast five supervisors with 15 years of experience will supervise the Assets Manager and Dipository. "The Assets Manager and Dipository must have Rs 100 million paid up capital each," Shrestha said, adding that Fund Promoter, Fund Supervisor, Assets Manager and Dipository will enter into separate agreements for the smooth operation of any Fund.
Credit Rating Agency
KATHMANDU: Chairman of the Sebon Dr Surbir Poudyal said that the board is also working for the establishment of Credit Rating Agency. "We are also planning regulation for the Credit Rating Agency," he said, adding that the establishment of Central Depository System Company is also at the final stage. "The CDS Company will help smoothen the trading at the Nepse.

South Asia withstand economic crisis

South Asia was the region of the world that better withstood the crisis and the first to return to the growth path, but poverty persists — with some 600 million living on $1.25 a day, says a new book by World Bank economists.
"So the challenge is to make recovery stronger, inclusive and sustainable. The priority is to reduce fiscal deficits and tame public debt accumulation in order to create fiscal space for social programmes and critical infrastructure," it said, adding that deepening trade integration will be critical.
While the rich world puts its house in order, developing countries are becoming a new engine of global growth and a pulling force for advanced economies, according to 'The Day After Tomorrow: A Handbook on the Future of Economic Policy in the Developing World', almost half of global growth is currently coming from developing countries.
As a group, it is projected that their economic size will surpass that of their developed peers in 2015. “Developing countries have come to the global economy’s rescue,” said Otaviano Canuto, World Bank vice-president for Poverty Reduction and Economic Management (PREM), and co-editor of the book. "They are the new locomotives of growth which will move global growth forward while high-income countries remain stagnant."
According to the publication, growth in developing countries is estimated to reach 6.1 per cent in 2010, 5.9 per cent in 2011, and 6.1 per cent in 2012, while corresponding figures are 2.3 per cent, 2.4 per cent, and 2.6 per cent for high-income countries. These diverging growth prospects continue in the medium term. Five factors account for it like faster technological learning, larger middle- classes, more South-South commercial integration, high commodity prices, and healthier balance sheets that will allow borrowing for infrastructure investment.
"The economic horizon of the developing world is promising,” said Marcelo Giugale, World Bank’s director for Poverty Reduction and Economic Management in the Latin America and Caribbean Region, and co-editor of the study. "The rebalancing of global growth toward a multiplicity of engines will give the developing countries new relevance. It will also change their policy agendas: on average, economic management will be stronger, governments will be better, and the beginning of the end of poverty will be within reach."
The study notes that developing countries should take advantage of their relatively healthier fiscal positions to foster inclusive growth. This means better targeting of social programmes, more emphasis on giving people the same opportunities, and business environments that facilitate the creation of formal jobs. Other upcoming, developing-country trends identified in the book include the recovery of remittances, an increase in South-South trade, rising investment by sovereign wealth funds, more conservative debt management, and progress by many governments in gaining public trust. According to The Day After Tomorrow, regions like East Asia, Latin America, South Asia and, soon Africa, have the potential to turn into 'newly developed'.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Finance Ministry clears Mutual Fund Regulation

Finance Ministry has given a green signal for the Mutual Fund Regulation that is expected to lure small investors and stabilise the secondary market.
"The ministry passed the Mutual Fund Regulation as the separate Mutual Fund Act may take long time to take shape," said Keshav Acharya, advisor of the Finance Minister Surendra Pandey.
"The Act needs to be passed by the parliament that may take long time," he said, adding that the capital market is in urgent need of Mutual Fund for its sustainable development. "Thus the ministry has decided to pass the Regulation under the existing Securities Act to give a alternative way to start the Mutual Fund.
However, the ministry has increased the paid up capital to Rs 1 billion from poposed Rs 100 million in the draft regulation.
Securities Board of Nepal (Sebon) had forwarded draft regulation of Mutual Funds -- after suggestions from to Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) and Bankers Association (NBA) -- to Finance Ministry to get its final nod.
After the ministry's clearance, Securities Board of Nepal (Sebon) will prepare some guideline and start the process of providing licence any time soon.
Mutual Fund — with a face value of Rs 10 per unit — is the most suitable investment for a common man as it offers an opportunity to invest in a diversified, professionally managed basket of securities at a relatively low cost.
Mutual Funds are expected to fuel capital market as many commercial banks have shown keen interest in it. It will create institutional investors also — something that the capital market lacks at present.
In an absence of the regulation also, NIDC Capital Markets Ltd and Citizen Investment Trust (CIT) had issued NCM Mutual Fund and CIT unit trust. But, the first one had a bitter experience in the absence of transparency and regulation.
The Regulation envisions an Assest Management Company (AMC) that will manage the fund, a Trustee that works like a watchdog, a Custodian and a Depository; all of whom has to get separate licence from the regulatory authority of the capital market.

What is Mutual Fund
KATHMANDU: A Mutual Fund is a trust that pools the savings of many who share a common financial goal. The money thus collected is then invested in capital market instrumentssuch as shares, debentures and other securities. The income earned through these investments and the capital appreciation realised are shared by its unit holders in proportion to the number of units owned by them. It can be traded at the Nepse as well. These funds are convertible and has liquidity also.

Action against Coops
KATHMANDU: Finance Ministry has suggested Department of Cooperatives (DoC) to cancel the registration of cooperatives operating illegally. The ministry was forced to direct the department after 25 big cooperatives operating in Kathmandu Valley, Kavre and Pokhara found operating against the cooperatives law.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Asia represents World's best hope for achieving MDGs

Asian Development Bank (ADB) president Haruhiko Kuroda said today that Asia and the Pacific, home to three-fifths of humanity and two-thirds of the world’s poor, represented the world’s best hope for achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
"No global effort to achieve the MDGs will succeed unless our region succeeds," Kuroda said in his address to the High-Level Plenary Meeting of the UN General Assembly.
The president of the Manila-based multilateral development institution, which is committed in fighting poverty in the Asia and Pacific region, is among the world leaders who have convened in New York this week to accelerate progress toward the MDGs.
Kuroda noted that the Asia and Pacific region’s performance has been highlighted by both notable successes and disappointing setbacks. "With more than 500 million people having overcome poverty since 1990, the target for reducing extreme income poverty is in sight. The region is also likely to achieve near universal primary school enrolment by 2015, attain gender parity in education, meet the target on access to safe drinking water, and halt the spread of deadly diseases such as TB and HIV," Kuroda said.
At the same time, the region is lagging the targets for basic sanitation, infant mortality, maternal health, hunger and environmental improvements, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Despite formidable obstacles, Kuroda said national governments in the region, working with development partners, can accelerate progress on the MDGs by prioritising and targeting spending in key areas, such as social protection, access to basic services, and basic infrastructure. He also called for the engagement of the private sector, civil society and communities to help governments augment resources and ensure more efficient service delivery.
"The historic Millennium Declaration of 2000 promised a better life to millions of poor in the Asia and Pacific region and across the globe. Our collective action today can make that promise a reality,” he said, stressing the importance of basic infrastructure in attaining the MDGs.
Lack of electricity, all-weather roads and other basic infrastructure limit access to health care and discourage children from completing their education.
ADB is targeting increased support for basic infrastructure such as roads, power and sanitation, which are crucial for attainment of the MDGs. It also intends to scale up assistance for education, and for environmental improvements, including the use of clean energy, where ADB investments have grown to more than $1 billion a year, and which are targeted to double to $2 billion by 2013. Less developed countries (LDCs), or those suffering from conflicts or disaster, will need more regional help to make progress, and the Asia and Pacific region must step up cross-border cooperation in trade, investment, knowledge and technology, to help bridge gaps in resources and capacities, he said.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Comen starts futures contract for wheat

Commodities and Metal Exchange Nepal (Comen) has started the futures trading of wheat as its tenth commodity.
The exchange has brought three types of contracts for the wheat trading – Wheat October, Wheat November and Wheat December. The trading will be undertaken under matching basis. The futures contract for wheat expires in three months. The unit for contract has been determined as 10 tonnes and commission for each unit is Rs 150, according to the Comen — the oldest commodity exchange in Nepal.
Comen has taken the price determined by Morang Trade Association as the basis price. The trade settlement for the day contract will be based on the day's wheat price quoted by Morang Trade Association.
However, the futures contract being based on matching basis, Comen will deliver the wheat only if the buyer and seller both agree on delivery. Apart from wheat, Comen is involved in the Gold, Silver, Zinc, Copper, Crude Oil, Nikkel, Lead, NLS and Aluminium futures contract.
The exchange is all set to start the futures trading of Sugar as the eleventh commodity soon.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Nepal still 'least free' country economically

Nepal ranks 121 acoring 5.54 among the 141 economies in the Economic Freedom of the World Report released today in Nepal by Samriddhi -- The Prosperity Foundation -- in association of Society of Economic Journalists-Nepal (Sejon).
The report shows that over the last one decade economic freedom has steadily regressed in Nepal to 5.54 this year from 5.75 in 2000.
"Though Nepal’s rank has slightly improved this year with a score of 5.54 because of the decrease of score of other countries, Nepal’s economic freedom score has in fact decreased from last year’s score of 5.68," said senior economist and former secretary Dr Bhola Chalise.
"Nepal continues to be one of the least free countries in the world in case of economic freedom," he said, adding that the areas that caused a decline in Nepal’s overall performance are size of government, access to sound money, freedom to trade internationally and Regulation of Credit, Labour, and Business.
"The only area where Nepal improved slightly is legal structure and security of property rights, with its score (rank) going up from 3.40 (112) to 3.51 (111)," Chalise added. "Nepal capacity to trade internationally has taken a plunge over last one decade."
The annual peer-reviewed Economic Freedom of the world report is produced by the Fraser Institute -- Canada’s leading public policy think-tank -- in cooperation with independent institutes in 80 nations and territories.
The Report uses 42 different measures to create an index ranking countries around the world based on policies that encourage economic freedom. The cornerstones of economic freedom are personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete, and security of private property. This year’s publication ranks 141 nations representing 95 per cent of the world’s population for 2008, the most recent year for which data is available.
"Economic freedom is measured in five different areas like size of government, legal structure and security of property rights, access to sound money, freedom to trade internationally, and regulation of credit, labour, and business.
The Report shows that individuals living in countries with high levels of economic freedom enjoy higher levels of prosperity, greater individual freedoms, and longer life spans. This year’s report also contains a new research showing the impact of economic freedom on the rates of unemployment and homicide. "Increase in economic freedom decreases homicide and unemployment rates," according to the Report that also shows that countries with more economic freedom have substantially higher per-capita incomes, higher growth rates, Life expectancy is about 20 years longer in freer countries.
People living in countries with more economic freedom report more life satisfaction. With fewer regulations, taxes, and tariffs, economic freedom reduces the degree of corruption.
Hong Kong maintains the highest level of economic freedom worldwide, with a score of 9.05out of 10. The other top scorers are Singapore (8.70), New Zealand (8.27),Switzerland (8.08), Chile (8.03), the US (7.96), Canada (7.95), Australia (7.90), Mauritius (7.82), and the UK (7.81).
Zimbabwe maintains the lowest level of economic freedom among the 141 jurisdictions analysed, followed by Myanmar, Angola, and Venezuela
Initiated by Milton Friedman, one of the most famous economists of 20th century and Michael Walker, the founder of Fraser Insitute and prepared by Fraser Institute, a leading think tank based in Canada, the report is supported by Economic Freedom of the World Network’s member organisations in more than 80 countries all over the world.

Around 40 per cent tourists enter Nepal from India

According to a survey, 429,455 tourists entered Nepal from India using various means of surface transportation in 2009. With the assumption in the survey that only Indians crossing the border by vehicle are to be counted as tourists and also taking into account the third country tourists, it has been estimated that there were at least 298,821 Indian tourists coming to Nepal via land in the year 2009. "The number of third country tourists entering into Nepal from India stood at 130,634," said the recently conducted survey by the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) titled 'Survey of Indian Visitors to Nepal by Land 2009'. The survey has come out with the number of Indian tourists entering Nepal in 2009 from eight major entry points along Nepal-India -- Birgunj, Kakarbhitta, Rani (Biratnagar), Belihiya (Bhairawa), Nepalgunj, Dhangadi, Janakpur (Vittamod), Gaddachowki (Mahendranagar) for an overnight stay or longer. However, it does not include the data of Indian tourists entering Nepal through Tatopani ( Kodari) entry point.
Among the various border points, Belihiya (Bhairawa) was found to have the highest traffic flow of 29 per cent followed by Vittamod (Janakpur) with 20 per cent, Kakarbhitta with 15 per cent, Birgunj with 14 per cent and Kanchanpur with 12 per cent. While the trend for Jeep/Cars was the simlar, Belihiya (Bhairawa) was found to occupy a high share of the Bus traffic with over two-third (68 per cent) of the total Bus traffic. Comparatively, Belihiya (Bhairawa) ranked number one position in terms of flow of visitors volumewith one-third (33 per cent) of the Indian visitors coming into Nepal via land followed by Vittamod (Janakpur), Birgunj and Kakarbhitta with 19 per cent, 17 per cent and 14 per cent respectively. Two-fifth (41 per cent) of the Indian visitors coming via land were found to be using Bus as their mode oftransportation, another 38 per cent were found to be using theirpersonal mode of transportation like Jeeps and Cars. Among Indian visitors coming via land, Belihiya (Bhairawa) accounted for over half (56 per cent)of the Bus traffic followed by Birgunj (15 per cent) and Vittamod (Janakpur 14 per cent). Excluding Kakarbhitta(seven per cent) and Rani (Biratnagar three per cent), there was very little or almost no Bus traffic in the other threeborder points. "So far, the tourism statistics included only the Indian tourists entering Nepal by air and third country tourists entering by air and overland, completely excluding the Indian tourists entering Nepal through the various entry points along Nepal-India broader," it said, adding that as Indian tourists entering Nepal via land are not required to register or go through frontier formalities, the large number of Indian tourists visiting Nepal via land has never been accounted in the available tourist arrivals data. India is one of the fastest-growing outbound travel markets in the world with more than 1.1 billion inhabitants and GDP increasing by more than eight per cent every year and the country offers enormous potential for future growth in outbound travel. "With robust economic growth and impressive developments in Indian tourism in recent years have brought the country as a major force in the world tourism market – both for inbound and outbound tourism," the NTB added. According to United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), in 2007 the total number oftourist arrivals to India was five million and the number of outbound trips byIndian nationals increasedby 17 per cent over 2006 reaching an estimated 9.8 million. Thus, outbound tourism has already overtaken inbound tourism during the same period and is expected to expand further in the coming years. "The average annual growth rate in terms of number of international trips made by Indians during theperiod 2000-2007 was at 11 per cent," according to the UNWTO that has predicted that by 2020 India will account for 50 million outbound visitors, continuing to maintain its growth momentum. Nepal currently receives over half a million visitors in a year of which Indian visitors account for alion’s share with a market share of approximately 20 to 23 per cent.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mauritius improves ranking to be ninth free economy

Mauritius improved its ranking and climbed three spots to ninth position -- from last year's 12th -- in this year's just-released international survey of economic freedom.
Hong Kong maintains the highest level of economic freedom worldwide followed by Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, Chile, the USA, Canada, Australia, Mauritius and the UK, according to the Survey.
"Between 2005 and 2008, the largest improvements occurred in Ghana, Mauritius, Malawi, Turkey, and Rwanda, and the biggest declines were observed in Algeria, Iceland, Chad,Syria, and Ireland," the report said.
The bottom 10 nations in the list are Zimbabwe, Myanmar, Angola, Venezuela, Congo, Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau, Burundi and Algeria.
The highest form of economic freedom provides an absolute right of property ownership, fully realised freedoms of movement for labour, capital, and goods, and an absolute absence of coercion or constraint of economic liberty beyond the extent necessary for citizens to protect and maintain liberty itself, according to the Index's 2008 definition of economic freedom.
The index scores nations on 10 broad factors of economic freedom -- Business Freedom, Trade Freedom, Monetary Freedom, Government Size, Fiscal Freedom, Property Rights, Investment Freedom, Financial Freedom, Freedom from Corruption and Labour Freedom -- using statistics from organisations like the World Bank (WB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Economist Intelligence Unit.
This year’s publication ranks 141 nations representing 95 per cent of the world’s populationfor 2008, the most recent year for which data is available. The report also updates data in earlier reports in instances where data have been revised.
This year’s report includes new research examining the impact of economic freedom on rates of unemployment. The results suggest that high levels of economic freedom lead to reduced joblessness.
Given the substantial costs of unemployment and the enormous number of jobless peopleworldwide, governments should consider increasing economic freedom as a means of reducing unemployment, particularly in the wake of the global recession, the report said.
Markets foster better cooperation among the citizenry, as reflected in the negative correlationbetween rates of economic freedom and homicide, it added.
Economic Freedom of the World measures the degree to which the policies and institutions ofcountries are supportive of economic freedom. The 2010 report was prepared by JamesGwartney, Gus A Stavros Eminent Scholar Chair at Florida State University; Robert A Lawson, Auburn University; and Joshua Hall, Beloit College.