Monday, February 28, 2011

Cracking whip on inflation a key challenge

The government is facing challenges to crack whip on rising inflation, boost exports and substitute the imports, according to the mid-term evaluation of the budget for the current fiscal year 2010-11.
Though the budget has tragetted to contain the inflation at seven per cent, the rising prices of vegetables, sugar, sweets and fruits alongwith the upward revision of petroleum products have fuelled the price hike to 11.3 per cent, said deputy prime minister and finance minister Bharat Mohan Adhikari here today.
However, the price hike is due to non-economic reasons like cost push factors and supply disorder, said finance secretary Rameshwor Prasad Khanal. "The price hike can be brought down only by increasing the prouction," he said, adding that the delayed budget for the fiscal year has hit the economy hard.
"The delayed budget has forced us with no choice than to bring a new budget by mid-April incorporating the new government's visions," Adhikari, said, adding that the budget was prepared by the coalition government of Nepali Congress and CPN-UML but with changed scenario, the present coalition government also has its aspirations that needs to be addressed.
"The new budget could incorporate the new coalition's aspirations," he said, adding, "despite improvement in law and order situation due to less bandh and strikes, the base of exports could not be expanded making it a greatest challenge for the government.
"The core competency of the country has been reducing due to regular power outage," Khanal said, adding that it has pulled the economic growth rate to 4.5 per cent.
"If we can grow by 4.5 per cent in such an adverse condition, we can easily achieve double digit growth in normal condition," he added.
The government has mobilised Rs 110.40 billion revenue and Rs 8.50 domestic borrowing by the first week of Falgun (end February), the finance minister said, adding that the government has received Rs 52.85 billion foreign aid commitment by the six months and Rs 64.07 billion more is in pipeline making it to a total of over Rs 110 billion foreign aid commitment by the end of the fiscal year.
However, the government expenditure is expected to be lesser than target. "The capital expenditure is expected to be around Rs 110 billion, though Rs 129 billion has been allocated," he said, revising the recurrent expenditure also to Rs 179.09 billion from the budget's target of Rs 190.31 billion.
The dealyed budget has reduced the capacity of the government speding, Adhikari added. "The total government expenditure has been revised to be at around Rs 307.23 billion."
The delayed budget has also hurt the overall economic indicators, Khanal said, adding that it could be a lesson for the next fiscal years.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Monetary Policy review faces many a challenges

Increasing shadow economy, inflation and balance of payment (BoP) deficit together with plunging capital market and real estate sector confidence have failed the Monetary Policy.
Though, the central bank is reviewing its policy as a routine mid-term evaluation. It is, however, not that easy to resurrect financial and economic activities to keep the economy afloat through policy instruments.
Dr Posh Raj Pandey, former member of the National Planning Commission (NPC), opined that the Monetary Policy has failed. However, according to him, the policy also failed due to failure of its supporting policies. "The instruments of monetary policy could not function due to the failure of fiscal policy, which was delayed by four months,” he said.
The central bank had, making it an exception, brought Monetary Policy for this fiscal year before the budget that was delayed by four months due to political tug-of-war.
Delayed budget translated into a delayed implementation, making it even impossible for the Monetary Policy to achieve its objectives.
"Due to government’s inability to spend, many side-effects have started popping up,” a banker said, attributing the current liquidity crunch to the aftershock of the delayed budget. “Lack of government spending and central bank’s mandatory Credit to Deposit (CD) Ratio also squeezed the liquidity from the commercial banks creating a credit crunch,” he added.
According to the central bank regulation, the commercial banks have to maintain 85 per cent CD ratio at present and reduce it to 80 per cent by the end of 2011, which is going to be a tough job for the commercial banks.
“The central bank neither can loosen the Monetary Policy nor can it make tighter,” he said, hoping the central bank to take sensible revision of the Policy.
"The revision in Policy should help ease current liquidity crunch,” another banker vice-president of Nepal Bankers’ Association (NBA) and CEO of Citizens’ Bank International Rajan Singh Bhandari, said, adding that the review should boost confidence of capital market and real estate sector that could help lessen the pressure on financial sector. “The Policy revision has to provide incentives for the exporters to increase exports and forex reserve,” he added.
The unattractive incentives and interest rates made it more difficult for the export industries to grow hurting the Balance of Payment.
Apart from correcting BoP that is Rs 4.34 billion in deficit and cracking whip on rising inflation, two major objectives, the policy revision needs to address a plethora of issues like bringing the shadow economy to light that could help sustain economic growth.
Job creation is yet one of the major objectives of the monetary policy, though our policy has not clearly spelled it out. The closing of many industries – due to high interest rates and insecurity – has naturally increased the unemployment.
The unrest in the Gulf, if reverse the trend of Nepali migrant workers, it could pose yet another threat to the whole economy as it could not absorb these unemployed youths due to shrinking job opportunities.
The 'cautious' Monetary Policy for the fiscal year 2010-11 that has based broadly on Three Year Interim Plan (2010-2013) has projected the inflation rate at seven per cent, GDP growth rate at 5.5 per cent, broad money supply at 15 per cent, BoP at Rs 9 billion surplus and forex reserve that could be enough for six months goods and services import.
Though the Monetary Policy is no magic wand, the financial and business fraternity is still waiting for some magic that it could give a quick fix to the economic distortions.

Inflation rate -- seven per cent
GDP growth rate -- 4.5 per cent
Balance of Payment -- Rs 9 billion surplus

The reality (by six months)
Inflation rate – 11.3 per cent
GDP growth rate – 3.8 per cent, (ADB projection)
Balance of Payment -- Rs 4.43 billion deficit

Samjhana Finance gets new suitors

Two parties have agreed to inject capital to rescue the troubled Samjhana Finance Company but the central bank needs to endorse the move.
"One party applied at the central bank on Friday and the other has applied today promising to inject capital,” Mod Tripathi, managing director of the troubled finance company said.
The central bank has on February 7 sought explanation with the finance company on why should it not be liquidate due to its bad financial health.
“We are submitting our explanation tomorrow,” he said.
The central bank has decided to send Samjhana Finance into liquidation -- after it get the explanation -- as it has mobilised deposits of Rs 180 million from the public but has a total liability of Rs 640 million.
After declaring it a troubled finance institution, the central bank has last year restricted it to mobilise deposits and float loans on the basis of its weak capital base and high non-performing asset.
The class-C finance company has an outstanding loan worth Rs 210 million and its non-banking assets stands at Rs 300 million. Banepa-headquartered finance company has two branches one each in Kathmandu and Lalitpur.
The central bank had started investigation after its depositors – whose could not get their deposits back– complained the central bank.
However, the deposits of the public are not at risk as the collaterals pledged against loans issued are under central bank’s possession.
The company has around 5,000 depositors, according to the central bank.
After repeated cases deposit risk of the financial institutions, the central bank has started deposit of Class-B development banks and Class-C finance companies up to Rs 200,000 insurance through Deposit and Credit Guarantee Corporation.
Had the law punished Uttam Pun and his team of the liquidated Nepal Development Bank (NDB) by putting them behind bars, others would not have been dared to risk the public deposit.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bankers urge for expediting capital expenditure to ease liquidity crunch

Bankers have again urged the government to expedite capital expenditure and park revenue surplus with government-owned banks, if not possible with the private commercial banks, instead of keeping with central bank itself to ease the current liquidity crunch.
"The government should expedite capital expenditure," said past president of Nepal Bankers Association (NBA) and NIC Bank CEO Sashin Joshi.
On one hand the government is mobilising encouraging revenue and on the other the banks are facing liquidity crunch due to government's inability to spend it. "The government budget has remained at a surplus of Rs 22.42 billion," according to the central bank's macroeconomic report for six months of the current fiscal year.
"A high growth of revenue mobilisation relative to total expenditure accounted for such a government budget surplus," the report said, adding that in the same period of last fiscal year, the budget surplus stood at only Rs 10.16 billion.
"Apart from speedy government expenditure, the central bank could also start maintaining some of its accounts with commercial banks as a short-term measure," suggested NMB Bank CEO Upendra Poudel.
The revenue that stood at Rs 91.33 billion in the first six months of the current fiscal year has increased to Rs 107.67 billion till mid-February, the first seven months of the current fiscal year."If government start parking revenue surplus with government-owned banks only -- if not posible with the private commercial banks -- instead of with the central bank itself, the liquidity tight situation could ease," Joshi said, adding that the central bank can also issue repos under 'tap' at fixed interest rates so that banks can access funds against pledge of government securities they have, as and when required.
"The banks -- maintaining their Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR) -- can sell development bonds, if the central bank buys, to ease the liquidity crunch at present," Poudel said, adding that it will help not only ease liquidity to some extent but will also help build help market confidence without pressure from hiking rates.
SLR is the amount a commercial bank needs to maintain in the form of cash, or gold or government approved securities (bonds) before providing credit to its customers.
According to the central bank, total government spending decreased by 6.3 per cent to Rs 80.85 billion in the six months of current fiscal year compared to an increase of 31.8 per cent in the same period of the last fiscal. It attributed the negative growth rates on both recurrent and capital expenditure due to decline in the government expenditure.
"The recurrent expenditure declined by 1.3 per cent to Rs 59.87 billion against an increase of 40.2 per cent in the same period last fiscal year," it said, adding that capital expenditure declined by 15 per cent to Rs 8.97 billion against an increase of 33.9 per cent in the same period last year.
The central bank has also blamed delayed annual budget for the decline in growth of recurrent and capital expenditures.
"If the liquidity crunch is not addressed, slowly it will lead to credit crunch as the banks have no fund for the new loans except for the old commitments," said vice-president of Nepal Bankers Association (NBA) and Citizens' Bank International CEO Rajan Singh Bhandari.
According to the central bank's data, the deposit of the commercial banks stands at Rs 627.08 billion by the second quarter of the current fiscal year -- an increase of Rs 7.58 billion -- from the first quarter, when the deposit stood at Rs 619.49 billion.Contrary to Rs 7.58 billion increase in deposit mobilisation, lending has increased by three fold to Rs 21.11 billion in a single quarter.
"The lending has increased also due to previous commitments," Bhandari said.
"Overall the financial system must regain public confidence," chairman and chief executive of Nepal Investment Bank Prithvi Bahadur Pandé said, adding that the financial sector should launch a massive campaign to build confidence of public that the deposit disclosure is an international obligation and Nepal has to follow it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

BoP deficit increases to Rs 4.43 billion

* Remittances up by 11.5pc to Rs 118.45 billion
* Trade deficit Rs 147.99 billion
* Exports up by 5.9 per cent to Rs 32.63 billion
* Imports declined by 1.6 per cent to Rs 185.83 billion
* Inflation increases to 11.3 per cent

The overall Balance of Payment (BoP) has registered a deficit of Rs 4.43 billion during the six months of the current fiscal year from five months' deficit of Rs 3.35 billion, according to the central bank.
The BoP was Rs 16.64 billion deficit in the same period last year, said the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) macroeconomic report for the current six months. "The current account also registered a deficit of Rs 3.53 billion compared to a deficit of Rs 25.07 billion in the same period last year," said the central bank attributing the decline in trade deficit along with improvement in service account to such a decline in the current account deficit.
The Freight on Board (FoB)-based merchandise trade deficit dropped by 3.3 per cent to Rs 147.99 billion against such deficit that had grown by 60.7 per cent in the same period last year.
"The service account deficit declined significantly by 28.5 per cent to Rs 5.26 billion compared to an increased by 6.8 per cent to Rs 7.35 billion deficit in the same period last year."
However, the net transfer account registered a growth of 12.8 per cent to Rs 146.71 billion compared to that of a year ago. "Under the transfers sub-group, grants increased by 29.2 per cent to Rs 15.2 billion, while pension receipts rose marginally by two per cent to Rs 13.92 billion, whereas workers' remittances increased by 11.5 per cent to Rs 118.45 billion compared to its growth of 12.6 per cent in the same period last year.
Likewise, under the financial account foreign direct investment (FDI) of Rs 4.46 billion was recorded compared to the level of Rs 966 million in the same period a year ago.
Similarly, imports registered six times higher to the exports. "Merchandise exports increased by 5.9 per cent to Rs 32.63 billion during the six months of the fiscal year, whereas merchandise imports declined by 1.6 per cent to Rs 185.83 billion,' it said, adding that exports to India increased by 9.7 per cent in contrast to a drop of 4.1 per cent in the same period last year.Exports to other countries decreased by 0.5 per cent in contrast to a plunge of 20.9 per cent in the same period last year.

Inflation looks up
KATHMANDU: Propelled by non-food and service groups, the year-on-year (y-o-y) inflation as measured by the consumer price index (2005-06=100) increased to 11.3 per cent in mid-January from 10.7 per cent in the same period last year. "The index of food and beverage group increased by 17.6 per cent and non-food and services group increased by 6.2 per cent against the increase by 18.3 per cent and 4.6 per cent respectively in the same period of last year.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Double-digit growth for Asia, Pacific arrivals

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) today released preliminary tourism arrival statistics for Asia and the Pacific for calendar year 2010, showing a gain of 11 per cent year-on-year. Compared to the corresponding month in 2009, the number of international arrivals in December 2010 was seven per cent higher, it said.
South Asia reported the strongest sub-regional arrivals growth for the year with an aggregate gain of 14 per cent reaching an inbound volume count of just over 8.4-million. India, which captures 70 per cent of the total foreign arrivals to the sub-region, posted a strong nine per cent increase to set a new record of 5.6-million foreign inbound visits for the year.
Similarly, Sri Lanka (up by 46 per cent), the Maldives (up by 21 per cent) and Nepal (up by 19 per cent) -- that is encouraging for a country that is celebrating Nepal Tourism Year -- each set new records in terms of visitor volumes on even stronger growth performances last year, according to the report.
International arrivals to Southeast Asia were 12 per cent higher for 2010 compared to a year earlier, reaching a volume count of more than 72-million. All destinations in the sub-region set new arrivals records, with growth in traffic to Vietnam (up by 35 per cent), Singapore (up by 20 per cent), the Philippines (up by 17 per cent) and Thailand (up by 12 per cent) being particularly impressive.
Northeast Asia posted full-year arrivals growth of 11 per cent, reaching a foreign inbound volume of more than 218-million. The strong full-year performances were driven by solid results from Chinese Taipei (up by 27 per cent), Japan (up by 27 per cent), Hong Kong (up by 22 per cent), Mongolia (up by 20 per cent) and Korea (up by 13 per cent), with all of these setting new records. Macau posted a strong 2010 year-end result (up by 15 per cent) but is still a little behind the inbound count of 27-million set in 2007.
Growth in the total international visitor inbound count for China was a more modest six per cent in 2010, however, this translates to an additional 7.3-million additional international arrivals over the 2009 count. "Growth in foreign arrivals to China – that is excluding arrivals from Hong Kong, Macau and Chinese Taipei – was a more robust 19 per cent for the year, reaching a volume of more than 26.1-million arrivals, again, another record," the report said.
The Pacific recorded an increase in foreign arrivals of five per cent for calendar year 2010. Australia and New Zealand, with record arrivals of 5.9-million and 2.5-million respectively, reported full-year growth of five per cent and three per cent respectively for the year. Growth was particularly strong for a number of the smaller Pacific destinations – albeit off a much smaller numeric base – namely Niue (up by 33 per cent), Papua New Guinea (up by 19 per cent) and Palau (up by 19 per cent).
"For the travel and tourism industry in Asia and the Pacific, 2010 has been a very strong year," Kris Lim, director at the Strategic Intelligence Centre of PATA, said, adding that the results for Asia are particularly impressive, with all three sub-regions recording double-digit growth in arrivals, underpinned by the recovery in the key regional source markets of Japan and Korea, the continued expansion of the China and India outbound markets, the continually expanding low-cost carrier (LCC) network in Southeast Asia and a number of global events that took place in Asia such as the Shanghai World Expo in China and the Commonwealth Games in India.
"The economic outlook for 2011 remains broadly positive but growth in GDP and trade worldwide is expected to moderate, following a robust recovery last year," he added. "The USA and Europe remain relatively weak, which means the bulk of the inbound growth for Asia Pacific could be intra-regional going forward."

PATA get new CEO
KATHMANDU: The PATA has appointed William Calderwood to be its interim CEO. Calderwood will take over from the present CEO, Greg Duffell, when the latter’s term of notice is up end February. “We are very pleased that someone of the seniority and experience of Bill Calderwood agreed to step in during this interim period, which gives us more time to hone the search for the most apt candidate to lead the Association forward into the future from its glorious 60-year old past,” said Hiran Cooray, chairman, PATA.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Global gold demand touches a decade high

Global gold demand in 2010 reached a 10 year high in tonnage and an all time high in value, with strong demand across all sectors, according to the World Gold Council (WGC).
"Gold demand for the year reached a ten year high with annual demand of 3,812.2 tonnes worth approximately $150 billion," it said, adding that the demand was up by nine per cent year-on-year, and marginally above the previous peak of 2008 despite a 40 per cent increase in the annual average price level between 2008 and 2010.
In value terms, total annual gold demand surged by 38 per cent to a record of $150 billion. "On November 9, 2010, the demand led to a new record gold price of $1,421/oz on the London PM fix," the World Gold Council's Gold Demand Trends (GDT) report revealed.
Similarly, the jewellery sector enjoyed a strong recovery in 2010, with annual demand for gold jewellery rising by 17 per cent from 1760.3 tonnes in 2009 to 2059.6 tonnes. The rise in annual average prices over the same period was 26 per cent. In value terms, this resulted in record annual jewellery demand of $81 billion.
Asian consumers drove jewellery demand, particularly in China and India, it said, adding that the Chinese demand is expected to continue to increase rapidly during 2011 as economic growth in China remains strong, while Indian gold jewellery demand is likely to remain resilient and grow.
Asian consumers led demand with the revival of the Indian market and strong momentum in Chinese gold demand, which together constituted 51 per cent of total jewellery and investment demand during the year.
According to the annual report, a structural shift in central bank policy towards gold meant that in 2010 central banks became net buyers of gold for the first time in 21 years, removing a significant source of supply to the market.
Similarly, investment demand was down by two per cent compared with 2009, but was the second highest year on record at 1,333 tonnes, which equated to $52 billion. Investment demand for gold as a foundation asset in portfolios is likely to remain strong, fuelled by ongoing uncertainty surrounding global economic recovery and fiscal imbalances, as well as fear of impending inflationary pressures and currency tensions, it added.
Investment demand, comprising bar and coin demand, ETFs and similar products, but excluding OTC investment demand, remained stable in 2010, down just by two per cent from the exceptional levels seen in 2009. It equated to a 23 per cent rise in value terms from $43 billion in 2009 to $52 billion in 2010.
Physical bar demand was particularly strong during the year, recording an annual gain of 56 per cent at 713.2 tonnes. "Demand for gold ETFs and similar products totalled 338 tonnes during 2010 or nine per cent of total demand, the report said, adding, "although this was 45 per cent below the 2009 peak of 617.1 tonnes, it was nevertheless the second highest annual figure on record."
As at the end of 2010, total gold holdings in ETFs and similar products stood at 2,175 tonnes with a US dollar value of $96 billion. Demand for gold used in technology was 419.6 tonnes, 12.4 per cent higher than in 2009 as the electronics segment fuelled recovery in the sector, with demand returning to long-term trend levels.
Demand soared by 41 per cent year-on-year in US dollar terms to a record $17 billion. "India was the strongest growth market in 2010. Total annual consumer demand of 963.1 tonnes registered growth of 66 per cent relative to 2009, which was largely driven by the jewellery sector. In value terms this was worth $38 billion," it added.
China was the strongest market for investment demand growth. Annual demand for small bars and coins increased by 70 per cent year-on-year, totalling 179.9 tonnes, which is worth approximately $7 billion.
Total supply is estimated to have increased marginally, two per cent higher year-on-year for the full year 2010, with a number of new projects across a range of countries and regions contributing to higher levels of mine supply. Within total supply, recycled gold, which accounts for 40 per cent, fell by one per cent compared with the previous year to 1,653 tonnes.

Chopper fare to be unifor from March 1

The helicopter service provider airlines companies are making their fares uniform from March 1 as they have decided to charge $2,500 in tourist season and $2,200 in off-season.
"Though some light helicopter service providers were charging $1,880 earlier, others were already charging $2,500 in tourist season and $2,200 in off-season," said Bikash Rana, chairman of Fishtail Air -- a helicopter charter company operating within Nepal based in Kathmandu. "The uniform fare will be effective from March 1," he added.
Due to difficult geography, most of the western hilly districts are linked to the capital with the air services only and for emergency aid the helicopter is the only means of transportation.
Helicopter services industry is well established also due to rising rescue operations in the mountains. According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), there are 10 helicopter operators with valid Air Operator's Certificate (AOC), after some of them have not renewed their licence, though some 18 airlines were registered in the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation for helicopter operations.
Fishtail Air, Shree Airlines, Manang Air, Mountain Helicopters, Muktinath Airlines, Sky Tech Heli Safari, Air Dynasty, Simrik Air, Hamro Air are currently operating helicopter service providers.
"Of the total 63 AOC issued by the CAAN, some 29 airlines operators AOC have been invalid and cancelled and 34 have valid AOC," CAAN director Madhav Prasad Dahal said, adding that 27 airlines are in operation, seven operators AOC is valid but they are not in operation, 12 operators have valid AOC for fixed wing and 12 have AOC for Aviation Sports operation.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Understanding share, commodities and forex markets technically

Renowned market analyst Rabindra Bhattarai has brought yet another book ‘Share, Commodities and Bideshi Mudrako Prabidhik Bishleshan’ –Technical Analysis of Share, Commodity and Forex Markets.
The book – under ‘financial literacy series’ of Securities Research Centre and Services (SRCS) – helps investors to understand these markets technically.
Share, commodity and forex markets are highly unpredictable thus technical and fundamental analysis help the investors to take right decisions on when the market goes up and comes down, when to buy and when sell, and how low the market can plunge and how high it can swing.
Though the domestic share market is a decade-and-a half old and the commodity and forex market has just started operating, the investors have not been much aware of the scientific methods of analysis like fundamental analysis and technical analysis.
They have been investing on hear-say instead of understanding the dynamics of the market making them loose their hard earned money. Thus, the book could help financially literate the investors. A sensible investor never loses but a naïve does.
The book could be a guide for the sensible investors to understand the market movements and take advantages.
Fundamental Analysis looks at Earnings per Share (EPS), Price to Earnings Ratio (P/E), Projected Earning Growth (PEG), to Book (P/B), Dividend Payout Ratio, Dividend Yield, Book Value and Return on Equity, whereas Technical Analysis helps to evaluate future prices and market directions based on statistical analysis of variables such as trading volume, and price changes to identify patterns.
The book discusses the tools and analysis methods like Candlestick Analysis, Relative Strength index (RSI), Moving Average Convergence-Divergence (MACD), A-D Ratio, Bollinger Band, Fibonacci Retrenchment, Stochastic Oscillator and Pivot Point Analysis.
Similarly, Fundamental Analysis looks at a share’s market price in light of the company’s underlying business proposition and financial situation. It involves making both quantitative and qualitative judgements about a company. Fundamental analysis can be contrasted with 'technical analysis’, which seeks to make judgments about the performance of a share based solely on its historic price behaviour and without reference to the underlying business, the sector it's in, or the economy as a whole.
The analysis is done by tracking and charting the companies’ stock price, volume of shares traded day to day, both on the company itself and also on its competitors. In this way investors hope to build up a picture of future price movements.
Had the author given more examples of past market movements in the Nepal Stock Exchange (Nepse), the book would have been more enlightening to the investors to analyse their past mistakes.
However, the book has also included a chapter on astrological relations to the market, which could be beneficial to the investors.
Book: Share, Commodities and Bideshi Mudrako Prabidhik Bishleshan
Author: Rabindra Bhattarai
Publisher: Securities Research Centre and Services (SRCS)
Price: Rs 150

Friday, February 18, 2011

Remittance gives boost to developing economies

Money sent home by economic migrants working in foreign countries exceeded $300 billion in 2010, and this vast and growing tide of income needs to be safeguarded and channelled so that it does the most good for families and economies in the world’s poor nations, experts said at a two-day UNCTAD meeting titled 'Maximising the development impact of remittances' on February 14–15.
More can be done to ensure that families and developing-nation economies derive lasting benefit from these wages earned overseas, speakers said. They stressed that less of this money should be lost in transmission, and more should be invested in the stable, broad-based social and economic growth of economies that originally were weak enough for citizens to feel compelled to leave and work elsewhere.
“Remittances account for about two per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of all developing countries, and for higher percentages in many,” UNCTAD deputy secretary-general Petko Draganov said in opening the meeting. “In Lesotho, Nepal, Samoa, Haiti and Bangladesh, these money transfers make up more than eight per cent of GDP," he said, adding that the effects across countries are varied, though remittances have reduced poverty at the household level in many developing countries.
A recent UNCTAD study found that in countries where remittances make up five per cent or more of GDP, on average a 10 per cent rise in remittances leads to a reduction of 3.9 per cent in the poverty headcount ratio. "Evidence shows that a significant amount of remittance transfers to developing countries is spent on household consumption and human capital," Draganov said, “Such emphasis on food, education, housing, health and related purchases can ripple outwards through the domestic economies of poor nations and – if managed well – can create jobs and business opportunities that raise living standards and keep future potential migrants at home.
However, Draganov and others added that the costs of sending money from overseas could be high – the current average fee was around 8.7 per cent – and that there was “still a lack of safe, reliable, accessible transfer systems for remittances. For some countries, excessive margins are charged.
"Purnima Mane, deputy executive director of the United Nations Population Fund, said that women now outnumbered men among economic migrants in the wealthy nations of Western Europe and North America. Although they tended to earn lower wages than their male counterparts, evidence indicated that they sent a higher proportion of their incomes home, and that they sent this money more dependably and more often. “Often they are the only contributors to family income,” she said, adding that there has been too little analysis of the relation between gender and remittances.
Because of the frequency of these financial transfers, women migrants – and their children back home – are especially hurt by high transaction costs, she remarked.
“Governments should try to fashion incentives so that families receiving remittances invest any surpluses in ways that spur development in their home nations,” recommended William Lacy Swing, director-general of the International Organisation for Migration.Migration is "the world’s oldest development strategy – its oldest poverty-eradication strategy,” he told the meeting. "If you’re poor where you are, you move."
The challenge, he said, is to use the wealth returning in the form of remittances so that it spreads economic growth broadly in the poorer, recipient nations. "A telling and valuable characteristic of these international flows of money is their ’private‘ character,” said Assane Diop, executive director for Social Protection at the International Labour Organisation. “The money goes first and foremost to families,” he said, “to housing, food, education, health needs, children’s needs. It has a very direct impact on poverty reduction.” Diop termed remittances as being 'much better' as a way of distributing wealth in developing countries than foreign direct investment (FDI), although flows of FDI were much greater in monetary terms.
Speakers at the meeting considered that an integrated and coherent policy, regulatory and institutional framework, for migration, remittances and development, was a key component to national development strategies. Expanding access by sending and recipient families to banks -- many, particularly in rural areas, do not have accounts -- and offering a variety of options for sending the money home, such as through post offices, microfinance institutions, banks, the internet, and mobile phones, could lower transfer costs, speakers said.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Commercial vegetable farming picks up

Commercial vegetable farming can become a major source of livelihood for more in the coming days as 12 per cent households have been surviving completely on the commercial farming of vegetables, according to a survey.
"They are completely dependent on the commercial vegetable farming, which is encouraging," said director at the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), Agriculture Statistics Section Ambika Bashyal.
"However, 39 per cent of the households can survive for maximum of three months completely from the earnings of commercial vegetable farming,” according to Nepal Vegetable Crops Survey 2009-10 conducted by CBS for three months from Mangsir (mid-November) to Magh (mid-January) among 5,400 vegetable farmers across the country.
Almost half of the households have enough vegetables for their consumption. “Some 49 per cent of the households are self-reliant on vegetable as their production is enough for their consumption,” he said.
But the survey revealed that the over half of the vegetable farmers take loan from the informal sector. “Some 55 per cent of the farmers of the total five per cent, who depends on financial aid for farming, borrow from the informal channels and only 24 per cent borrow from the Agriculture Development Bank,” according to the survey.
The revelation could be an eye-opener for the banks and financial institutions.
Though 17 per cent of the total vegetable farmers are female, some 37 per cent female are involved in the selling of vegetables, it added. However, the majority – 73 per cent – of the farmers said they do not take any kind of technical help for the farming.
The total expenses on the vegetable farming stood at Rs 9 billion except labour and land lease charge. “Adding the labour and land lease charge, the total comes to around Rs 10.5 billion,’ according to the survey. “of the total expenses, seed, fertilizer and land takes half of the expenses that was 55 per cent at Rs 6 billion.
Vegetable-wise, expenses on cauli flower comes to around 18 per cent, followed by tomato at 14 per cent and cabbage eight per cent, Bashyal said, adding that the total production of vegetables stood at 28,20,527 metric tonne from 2,32,295 hectors of land in the fiscal year 2009-10. “Of the total 46,83,739 households in the country, 69.3 per cent at 32,43,521 households were involved in the vegetable farming.
”They have produced 4,04,580 metric tonne cauliflower, 3.17,657 metric tonne tomato and 3,02,067 metric tonne cabbage except other vegetables.
The first survey of vegetable farming will help the planners to develop strategy for the commercial farming in the coming year,” he added.

India to lead luxury travel sector

The International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) Leaders’ Forum, which gathers 24 leaders of the global luxury travel industry, anticipates India to lead the luxury travel sector in 2012.
The Indian and Chinese markets experienced significant growth despite the recent global financial crisis. Paul Kerr, CEO, Small Luxury Hotels of the World, was quoted in Travel Daily India as having said that the Indian luxury market comprised of regular guests rather than aspirational travellers saving for a one-off luxury holiday and, just like any other luxury traveller, the Indian millionaire wants freedom of choice.
The Indian luxury market is expected to grow by 21 per cent in the next five years, compared to the global growth rate of approximately 15 per cent.
Meanwhile, Giovanni Bisignani, director general and chief executive officer of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), has hailed the Pacific Asia Travel Association’s (PATA) unique contribution to the region’s tourism industry. "For 60 years PATA has played a key role in the remarkable development of travel and tourism in the Asia Pacific region," said Bisignani.
With the Asia Pacific now the world’s largest aviation market, he expressed significant optimism about future growth in the region. “IATA fosters aviation's continued development as an even safer, greener and more profitable industry," he said, adding that aviation’s success helps drive travel and tourism growth that delivers broad economic benefits.
With this agenda, he said IATA looks forward to the next 60 years of working together with PATA.
Bisignani is the second global industry leader to have commended PATA during its 60th anniversary year. David Scowsill, president and chief executive officer, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), recently described PATA as “among the leading authorities in travel and tourism”, having put the Asia Pacific region on the global tourism map. PATA’s 60th Anniversary and Conference takes place on April 9-12, at the China World Hotel, Beijing.
Taking the theme ‘Building Tourism: Past, Present and Progressive’, the conference is the focal point of PATA’s year-long campaign of anniversary events and activities.Starting life as a small group of enthusiastic travel professionals back in 1951, PATA has grown into a powerful and dynamic membership association, driving responsible tourism growth across the Asia Pacific region.
Over the course of 60 years, it has led the development of the Asia Pacific region from a little-known, untouched part of the globe, into what is today the fastest growing, most exciting tourism destination in the world. By 2020 PATA expects international arrivals to soar to 530-million. The PATA 60th Anniversary and Conference will be a pivotal event for the Asia Pacific travel and tourism sector and a must-attend for anyone interested in the on-going development of this dynamic region.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Global trade regime urged to be pro-LDC

Global trade regime should be pro-Least Development Countries (LDCs), according to the experts.
"The World Trade Organisation (WTO) must find ways to possible accomodation of LDCs," said Prof Dr Bishwambher Pyakurel, addressing an interaction on 'How Nepal can Benefit from the Multilateral Trading System and Doha Round," organised by Ministry of Commerce and Supplies, Nepal Trade Enhanced Capacities for trade and Development, and supported by EIF, WTO in association with Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) in the valley today.
Including Nepal 31 LDCs are WTO members among the 154 members, who represent more than 97 per cent of total world trade.
Nepal has not been able to reap benefits from the accession to WTO, said former National Planning Commission (NPC) member Dr Puspa Rajkarnikar. "In 2004, when Nepal became the member of WTO, contribution of exports to GDP stood at 10.8 per cent that has come down to 5.2 per cent in 2010," he said, adding that the supply constriants coupled with land-lockedness has fuelled the transaction cost of Nepal.
Former finance minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat was of the view that the rich nations have benefitted from the free trade that the WTO intends to propagate. "Nepal has huge potential in commercial agriculture, hydropower and tourism," he said, adding that the government has to enhance capacity to make Nepal competetive in the international market.
Similarly, another former finance minister Dr Prakash Chandra Lohani, on the occasion, opined that Nepal should look to India and China and enhance exports capacity.
Visiting WTO deputy director general Dr Harsha Vardan Singh, however, promised to help enhance Nepal's trade capacity. "In addition to the normal increase in market access through much lower tariffs for industrial items, Nepal would benefit from faster reduction of tariffs on certian identified export items which are large revenue earners among clothing exports," he said, adding that the results of the Doha round will ctreate additional markets for Nepal.
The Doha Round was launched in 2001 to boost the world economy and to stimulate growth and wealth in developing countries through trade. But the talks stalled in 2008 over disagreements over agriculture imports.
Speculation has been circulated that there is a renewed emphasis on finally completing the Doha Round of WTO global trade talks.
Welcoming the participants Commerce and Supplies secretary Purushottam Ojha said that the government policy papers -- Trade Policy, Nepal Trade Integration Strategy and three-year Interim Plan -- emphasised on identifying exportable items that have comparative advantages.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Domestic airfare goes up

The domestic air travel is going to be expensive by Rs 250 to Rs 500 from Wednesday in all sectors.
"Though the government permitted us to increase airfare from February 13, we are increasing the airfare effective from Wednesday," said Rupesh Joshi, marketing manager of Buddha Air.The airlines were asking the government to let them increase airfare as it has been five years that they have not revised the airfares. "Though, airfares are revised every two years, this time it is being done after five years," he said, adding that the airlines have increased the fares to only 33 per cent from what the government permitted.
The Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation has on the basis of the inflation rate of the last five years, permitted the airlines to hike the airfare. Generally, every two years, the airfare has been revised based on the increasing price in the market.
The government had formed a committee to revise the airfare in November, 2010 and the committee had submitted its report to the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation in December suggesting the airfare hike.
The Airlines Operators Association of Nepal (AOAN) has requested the government to revise airfare upward due to rise in Air Turbine Fuel (ATF), insurance fee, lease tax, VAT, renewal fee in the last five year.However, the operators have adjusted the minimum airfare and fuel surcharge to increase in the total fare.
Earlier in December too, the airlines operators had hiked the additional fuel surcharge by Rs 60 to Rs 80 according to the distance, citing the reason of the hike in ATF price.
Meanwhile, the chopper companies have also made their fares uniform by making it $2,500 in tourist season and $2,200 in off-season. "Though some light helicopters were charging $1,880 earlier, others were already charging $2,500 in tourist season and $2,200 in off-season," said Bikash Rana, chairman of Fishtail Air -- a helicopter charter company operating within Nepal based in Kathmandu. "The uniform fare will be effective from March 1," he added.

Goma Air to fly soon

Goma Air is bringing Cessna Caravan tomorrow.
"We will be based in Surkhet and fly to the five western hilly districts -- Jumla, Mugu, Humla, Bajhang, and Bajura -- currently," said Goma Air chairman Upendra Bhattarai.
"But we will be expanding our services to Rolpa soon," he said adding that the two Cessna Caravan of Goma Air have been flying to Kathmandu from Muscat, Oman today through New Delhi and land at the Tribhuwan International Airport (TIA) by tomorrow afternoon.
The airlines with an investment of Rs 250 million plans to have passenger and cargo flights. "The nine-seater aircraft will be modified to 14-seater for the passenger flight," he said, adding that the aircraft has 1300-kg cargo carrying capacity, though it depends on district-to-distrcist, as the western hilly districts have various altitudes.
The airlines that has six captains and two aeronautical engineers among the promoters also have chartered flights apart from the cargo and passenger flight.
There are eight domestic airlines and five helicopter services currently operating from Kathmandu.
While the domestic passenger movement has grown by 13 per cent, domestic aircraft movement increased a nominal 2.09 per cent in a year, according to the data. Almost all the domestic carriers saw their business taking off during the period.
Today it is possible to reach to most of the tourist destinations in Nepal from the remote airfields to major cities in the country by air and the private airlines have greatly contributed to the tourism industry too.
The step taken by the government after 1990 by adopting an open sky policy allowing the private airlines to step in the domestic air service front has not only strengthened the development of tourism sector, but also create employment for thousands educated professionals.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Indians more intent on travelling to newer destinations

The Indian leisure traveller is now more open to exploring newer destinations, reveals the latest edition of the Nielsen India Outbound Monitor.
A study done by the Nielsen Company in association with the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), shows that destinations such as China, Maldives, Indonesia, the African continent and even neighbouring Bangladesh, have witnessed an increase in interest amongst Indian travellers as destinations they plan to visit in the future.
While on the current list of most visited destinations, Singapore remains the top destination for both, the business and leisure traveller, but its dominance has diminished since 2008.
“The diversification in destinations indicates a greater sense of adventurism and discovery that should be heartening for tourism as a whole, and a clear symptom of a confident Indian consumer mimicking their country’s confidence and prominence," Surekha Poddar, executive director, The Nielsen Company, said, adding that the Indian traveller is set to become a prized possession as potential spending power and disposition to travel to new countries increases.
In terms of trips taken in the last year, Singapore’s share based on travellers indicating their most recent trip taken, has reduced to 24 per cent from 32 per cent in 2008. Similarly, for business travel its share has fallen from 25 per cent in 2008 to 15 per cent in 2010. Malaysia ranks second for leisure travel and Dubai for business travel.
Countries that have shown a rise in business traffic from India include Japan, China, and Sri Lanka. On the whole, Asian countries account for 76 per cent of leisure travel by Indians and 63 per cent for business travel. Regions such as Europe attract a higher percentage of business traffic (14 per cent) rather than leisure (10 per cent).
The top reasons which drive destination choice for leisure travellers are visiting friends/ relatives (26 per cent), range of leisure and entertainment activities (18 per cent), and scenic/natural beauty of the destination (10 per cent).
Visiting friends/ relatives is the most cited reason for older travellers and their destinations largely tend to be USA and the UK. The corporate segment which forms the bulk of business travellers, choose destinations based on perceived business conduciveness for conferences and off-sites.
“Countries competing for Indian globetrotters can take definitive cues from the drivers of destination decision-making. By showcasing their receptivity to visitors and a variety of recreational facilities ‘country’ marketers can hope to become the destination of choice,” said Poddar.
Among places that leisure travellers plan to travel to, there seems to be a significant shift to newer destinations such as China, Indonesia and Africa, amongst others. While most outbound travellers from India belong to the affluent, well educated segment of urban India, there are some differences in the profile of travelers based on the size of the town or city.
With the growth of India as a source market for the travel industry, there is an increasingly greater focus on targeting the Indian traveller. One of the most critical observations is that the Indian traveller is not a homogenous entity. Apart from the natural segments of those travelling for business or leisure, there are key sub-segments across tiers of towns and different life stages and work profile. Travel motivations also differ in each of these sub-segments as do their planning and their choices,” added Poddar.
The Indian traveller remains as value conscious as ever. With growing choices at home, Indians have not really expanded their travel budgets. Overall, travel expenditure has remained the same as 2008 among leisure travelers. Business travellers have however, seen a significant reduction in overall trip expenses.
According to the study, the average trip cost for the entire family is around $3663. As the average group comprises two travellers, it works out to $1645 per traveller. Flight and accommodation account for around 45 per cent of costs and the rest is available for the traveller to apportion across other expenses like shopping, food, recreational/ sightseeing activities and communication. Of the discretionary spend, shopping gets the lion’s share and outbound tourists spend $1,000 on an average on shopping, per family.
Thai Airways emerged as the top airline among leisure travellers in terms of customer satisfaction followed by Jet Airways and Malaysia Airlines. For business travellers, Singapore Airlines tops the list, followed by Emirates and Malaysia Airlines.

The travel agents
KATHMANDU: For travellers booking via travel agents, small local travel agents combined account for a little over a quarter of all bookings. Among the Indian players, the Online Travel Agents (OTAs), Yatra and Make My Trip, and travel agencies SOTC and Thomas Cook together, account for the bulk of bookings. Leisure travellers who booked through SOTC gave it the highest satisfaction ratings while business travelers said they preferred booking through Thomas Cook the most.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

FDI to be allowed in travel, trekking agencies

The government is opening up the service sector in line with its commitment to World Trade Organisation (WTO).
A recent meeting of Investment Promotion Board has 'decided to open the sector for the foreign investment.
"We are planning to allow 51 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in travel agency,” said a Investment Promotion Board member, who was in the meeting.
According to the current law, travel agency, trekking agency, tourist lodging, water rafting, pony trekking, horse-riding are under the list of industries not to be granted permission for foreign investment.
However, Nepal had committed to open up foreign investment in travel agency and tour operator service after the WTO membership, but limited to 51 per cent. "But up to 80 per cent foreign investment has already been accepted in hotel, lodging services and graded restaurants with government's permission," he said, adding that Nepal’s commitments under GATS in twelve sectors including tourism sector, the country needs to access Nepal’s capabilities and resources to compete in the global tourism industry, find the optimum balance between local and foreign participation in this industry, access the ability and resource to fight barriers to market access created by other counties through technical standards, subsidies, discriminatory access to information and distribution channels.
"Currently there is only one travel agency that has FDI," chief of Travel Section under Tourism Industry Division Deepak Silwal said, adding that the agency was regiestered before the law banned the foreign investment in 2049 BS on travel agencies.
At present, there are 2,669 registered tour guides and 1,765 travel agencies in the section that also monitors these agencies. "We have fined some agencies also in the last fiscal year," he said, adding that after Nepal Tourism Year 2011 declaration, more agencies have been registered.
"Tourism industry will have the largest monetary turnover in the world by the year 2020," according to the global survey. Thus, trade liberalisation constraints in tourism must be acknowledged and differences between the SAARC nations must be rectified in order to reap the highest benefit of this growing industry.
"The Industrial Promotion Board is being formed under the chairmanship of Minister for Industry, in order to increase the pace of the industrialisation in the country, to formulate the policy regarding industry and investment and to coordinate between central and implementing level," the source said, adding that the board has to render necessary co-ordination in formulating and implementing policies, laws and regulations pertaining to the industrialisation of the country, and give guidelines in attaining the objectives of liberal, open and competitive economic policies pursued by the country.
"Thus the opening of the travel sector is i nline with the policy," he added.

Economy may grow by five per cent: Governor Khatiwada

Briefing the newly appointed finance minister Bharat Mohan Adhikari the central bank governor Dr Yuvraj Khatiwada said that the economy will grow by 4.5 per cent to five per cent.
"Propelled by the good agriculture production -- especially paddy -- the economy is expected to grow by 4.5 to 5 per cent," he said, adding that the inflation, however, could not be tamed due to imported inflation from India and expected-hike in the petroleum products.
Similarly, the country is also bearing the burnt of the load-shedding. "The regular power outage has also raised the production cost that has ultimately fuelled the price hike," Khatiwada added.
He briefed that the mobilisation of foreign grant and reimbursement from the donors will help ease Balance of Payment (BoP) deficit. By the fifth month of the current fiscal year, the BoP deficit stands at Rs 3.35 billion.
However, he also informed that the government has Rs 25 billion in its tresuary. "The government's inability to spend, coupled with deposits flow to coopetaives has led to tight liquidity in the commercial banks," he briefed the minister. The money has not come to banking channel due to low-confiodence of the people on banks and financial institutions and anti-money laundering act that is an international obligation, though no one should fear of the regulation. "The 'informal economy' has also sqeezed the liquidity situation," he added.
Finance secretary Rameshwor Prasad Khanal, welcoming the minister, said that the ministry is working on maintaining the financial displine.
Similarly, revenue secretary Krishnahari Baskota briefed Adhikari of the encouraging revenue mobilisation. "By the end of seventh month (mid-February), the revenue mobilisation has touched Rs 108.50 billion," he said.
"Though there are challenges to the economy, its government's duty to uplift the living standard of the people," Adhikari said, adding that the people should feel the change.

Finance minister open to a new budget or supplementary one

Adversity might turn into a good opportunity at least for this time as it is leading to a change of fiscal calendar for better, if the finance ministry will show a little courage.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Bharat Mohan Adhikari said that he is open to the any idea of bringing a new budget or the supplementary one.
The finance ministry has some time ago floated a concept of changing the date for the budget announcement and bring it by April end instead of the tradition of bringing in mid-July to make more effective implementation from the day one of the new fiscal year.
"I am open to the suggestion of a new budget or supplementary budget to address the new government's vision," Adhikari said, "But there must be consensus among the political parties.
"Budget should reflect the government's vision and the newly formed government with changed political equation definitely could have some aspirations, he said, after being welcomed by the finance ministry officials in the morning here today.
Adhikari will tomorrow table Replacement Bill -- the last procedure to replace the ordinance budget that has been passed yesterday -- before the Legislature Parliament.
He is also hopeful of Replacement Bill being passed by February 15 to give the validity to the ordinance budget.
After a long political deadlock, the outgoing finance minister Surendra Pandey had brought Rs 337.90 billion budget for the current fiscal year on November 20 -- four months late than the regular schedule -- through an ordinance.
The four time finance minister Adhikari will however find it a Herculean task to live up to the budget promises and balance the coalition partner UCPN (Maoists) and former partner Nepali Congress.
Though, the newly-elected government has formed a panel to amend the budget for the fiscal year 2010-11, it does not enjoy the luxury of time.
Budget is a means of expressing economic commitment of political parties in power, thus some changes are inevitable, he indicated.
Adhikari was finance minister in the first elected communist government of Manmohan Adhikari in 2051 BS and again in 2054 BS and in the 2061 BS too.
It could also be a better opportunity to change the fiscal calender and start the fiscal year from April end instead of present mid-July to bring uniformity with the Nepali calender that starts from mid-April.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Coca-cola is numero uno for the 11th year in row

For 11 straight years, Coca-Cola has retained its spot as No 1 in Interbrand’s annual ranking of the '100 Best Global Brands' followed by IBM, Microsoft, Google and GE.
The 2010 report estimates the Coca-Cola brand value at $70.5 billion, up by two per cent since 2009, said the Interbrand that uses a combination of analysts’ projections, company financial documents and its own qualitative and quantitative analysis to arrive at a net present value.
"Year after year, Coca-Cola demonstrates its ability to adapt to whatever challenges the marketplace throws its way," the report said, adding that the number one brand for the 11th year in a row makes its brand central to its business operations.
This year, for example, it oriented business operations around a new philosophy of 'consumer engagement', which yielded benefits such as a more robust social media strategy, continued development of owned media projects like its World of Coca-Cola Museum, smart product placements and ads that stir emotions.
"This renewed focus on the customer, and Coca-Cola’s capable integration of its philosophy into every touch point of its brand, was evident at this year’s FIFA World Cup – a campaign that marketing managers will be looking to as a case study for years to come," the report added.
Coca-Cola® originated as a soda fountain beverage in 1886 selling for five cents a glass. Early growth was impressive, but it was only when a strong bottling system developed that Coca-Cola became the world-famous brand it is today.
The Coca-Cola bottling system grew up with roots deeply planted in local communities. This heritage serves the Company well today as people seek brands that honor local identity and the distinctiveness of local markets. As was true a century ago, strong locally based relationships between Coca-Cola bottlers, customers and communities are the foundation on which the entire business grows.
Immersed in nearly 70 years of rich history, Coca-Cola Sabco has grown into a multinational organisation that prides itself in its people and its products. Today, Coca-Cola Sabco serves the beverage needs of over 240 million consumers across its 12 territories in Africa and Asia and continues to grow along its journey to becoming the best Coca-Cola bottler in the world, it added. Coca-Cola was first introduced into Nepal in 1973, when it was imported from India, but local production would only begin in 1979, with the establishment of Bottlers Nepal Ltd (BNL).
Coca-Cola Sabco acquired bottling rights from The Coca-Cola Company for Nepal in 2004. BNL, which has plants in the capital Kathmandu and Bharatpur, is the only bottler of Coca-Cola products in Nepal. It has 1, 000 employees.
"BNL is also committed to strengthening the community through various programmes, particularly in the health sector, as the country has the lowest per capita public health expenditure in the world," the company said.

Top 5 Global brands in 2010
1. Coca-Cola -- $70,452m
2. IBM -- $64,727m
3. Microsoft -- $60,895m
4. Google -- $43,557m
5. GE -- $42,808m

Friday, February 11, 2011

Blue chip companies on rise

Despite poor performance of the secondary market, number of blue chip companies has increased by four times to 117 from 31 in last one decade.
Nepal Stock Exchange (Nepse) has added 28 companies in its Class-A category making it to a total of 117 listed companies in the elite group of companies ranking.
"Of the 28 new entrants in the Class-A category, seven are commercial banks, nine development banks, five insurance companies, six finance companies and one hydropower company," said Shankar Man Singh, chief executive officer and general manager of the Nepse.
Of the total 176 listed companies by the end of 2009-10, some 117 companies are ranked in the Class-A companies, he said, adding that the secondary market has also declassified five companies from the elite group.
The Class-A companies, also called blue-chip companies in the domestic secondary market, have to register profits from last three consecutive years to be classified in this class.
"A company that has minimum 1,000 share holders, paid up capital of Rs 20 million, has been in profit for last three consecutive years, has paid up value of share not less than its book value and submitted its reports to the Nespe within six months of the completion after the fiscal year will be ranked in the Class-A companies," according to the regulation.
"The five companies do not comply with the regulation prompting the Nepse to declassify from Class-A," according to the Nepse. "The Nepse has been classifying the listed companies according to the international norms."
The global credit rating firms like Standard and Poor and ICICI rank the listed companies globally.
Of the total 24 listed commercial banks, 22 made it to the Class-A, whereas of the 69 listed finance companies, 47 are classified in the class.
One each from hotel subgroup (Soaltee Hotel), others subgroup (Nepal Telecom), manufacturing subgroup (Unilever Nepal Ltd) and two (Chilime Hydropower and Arun Valley Hydropower) from hydropower subgroup are in the Class-A. There are four listed hotels, Taragaon (Hyatt hotel), Oriental (Radisson Hotel), Hotel Yak n Yeti and Hotel Soalte. There are 18 companies under the manufacturing subgroup but only Unilever Nepal Ltd is classified under Class-A.
Similarly, there are four listed hydropower companies: Chilime Hydropower, National Hydropower, Butwal Hydropower and Arun Valley Hydropower but only two are classified under Class-A.
Interestingly, not a single company from the trading subgroup made it to the elite group.
"Of the total 20 listed insurance companies under inusrance subgroup 15 are classified under Class-A, whereas of the total 52 development banks only 28 made it to the Class-A," according to the Nepse.

The blue-chip companies
2009-10 -- 117
2008-09 -- 94
2007-08 -- 78
2006-07 -- 71
2005-06 -- 66
2004-05 -- 56
2003-04 -- 48
2002-03 -- 43
2001-02 -- 36
2000-01 -- 31
1999-00 -- 26
1998-99 -- 23
1997-98 -- 18
1996-97 -- 15
1995-96 -- 07

Casinos paying dues, fear licence revoke

After government decree to clear dues or face action, casinos have started paying their dues.
The parliamentary Public Accounts Committee had directed the government either to collect revenue from the casinos within a month or revoke their licences.
Today was the last day of the monthlong deadline and four of the gambling houses — Casino Venus, Casino Rad, Casino Grand and Shangrila Casino — turned up at Department of Revenue Investigation to settle their dues.
However, two of the oldest casinos — Casino Nepal and Casino Anna — have sought 30 and 15 days, respectively, to clear their dues, according to DRI. According to a letter signed by Rabindra Kumar Deuja, Managing Director of Casino Nepal, it has sought one month and another signed by Tapta Bahadur Bista, General Manager of Casino Anna, it has sought 15 days. The department will decide on Sunday whether to revoke their licences or grant them some days.
Casino Nepal based at Soaltee Hotel has to clear dues pending for the last five years, whereas Casino Anna has not paid for the last four years, said DRI.
Kathmandu-based Casino Venus and Casino Rad and Pokhara-based Casino Grand paid Rs 5 million each today. Casino Tara and Casino Everest paid Rs 20 million each yesterday. Shangrilla Casino today cleared half of its dues — Rs 20 million. It had to pay Rs 40 million except fines and interest.
The PAC had directed the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation to revoke the licences of eight casinos, if they failed to settle all their tax liabilities by today, prompting DRI to issue a 35-day notice on January 9 to clear their dues standing to the tune of Rs 300 million.
The country has 10 casinos: Casino Royale (Hotel & Yeti), Casino Venus (Hotel Malla), Casino Rad (Hotel Radisson), Casino Grande (Hotel Pokhara Grande), Fulbari Casino (Hotel Fulbari), Casino Nepal (Hotel Soaltee), Casino Anna (Hotel de’l Annapurna), Casino Everest (Hotel Everest), Casino Tara (Hotel Hyatt) and Casino Shangrila (Hotel Shangrila). Two casinos are in Pokhara, while the rest are being operated in the Capital.
When Casino Nepal — the first casino in Asia — began operations back in 1968, it was open only for foreigners, but the casinos lately are accused of letting Nepalis enter, which is against the law of the land.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

DPM Adhikari tables ordinance budget

Deputy Prime Minister Bharat Mohan Adhikari today tabled the ordinance budget before the Legislature Parliament.
After a long political dead-lock the outgoing finance minister Surendra Pandey had brought Rs 337.90 billion budget for the current fiscal year on November 20 -- four months late than the regular schedule -- through ordinance. The ordinance has to be indorsed by the Legislature Parliament by February 15 for its validity. The Parliament might also approve the ordinance but it will be herculian task for the government to live up to the budget promises.
Though, the newly elected government has formed a panel to amend the budget for the fiscal year 2010-11, it doesnot enjoy the luxury of time as the current fiscal year has already passed nine months and only five months are remaining for the new fiscal year to start.
However, the possibility of amendment could also be not neglected. "Budget is a means of expressing economic commitment of political parties in power," finance secretary Rameshwor Prasad Khanal said, adding that the bureaucracy will honour the will of the political parties towards the people and the country.
"We can accomodate the changes within the present budget, if needed," he said, being hopeful of the approval of the ordinance.
But other experts express that the ordinance will be passed as the preparation of the next budget for the fiscal year 2011-12 has already been started.
Experts doubted the caretaker government's ability to contain inflation under the target and acheive growth rate due to the political dead-lock that has fuelled the shadow economy that is as big as formal economy. They had also questioned government's capacity of spending on development activities, and that has come true. The inability of the government on development spending has sqeezed the liquidity from the market and the banks are facing the liquidity crunch.
"Though, country used to face liquidity crunch for almost three months -- November, december and January -- every year, this year it has been extended till now," said Parshuram Kunwar Chhetri, chief executive officer of the Bank of Asia Nepal.
The delayed budget has not only find it difficult to achieve growth target as there is no supporting fiscal measures, it has also created confusion in the private sector.
Though there has been Balance of Payment (BoP) deficit situation in the past too, this time the situation has continued for almost 16 months, which is in itself a record in the history.
The new deputy Prime Minister Adhikari, who is also projected as the finance minister in the Jhalanath Khanal government, will not find it easy this time to manage the economy though he has experience of being a finance minister.
Though the government will easily meet the revenue target of Rs 216.64 billion, it will be a herculian task for the government to spend Rs 129.54 billion development expenses.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Housing may get breather from loan-cap

Central bank might separate home loan from real estate cap giving a breathing space to the cash-strapped banks and real-estate sector.
Nepal Rastra Bank governor Dr Yubraj Khatiwada indicated that the central bank doesnot want any sector to be hurt due to its directives, though it will continue to work for the healthy financial sector. However, he suggested the real estate entrepreneurs to build housing units at the range of Rs 3 million to Rs 4 million that is within people's purchasing power.
"Adding the investment from finance companies and credit cooperatives, the investment in the real estate sector could come roughly to around Rs 200 billion," he said, addressing an interaction ''Real Estate sector and its contribution on economy,' organised by Nepal Land and Housing Developers' Association (NLHDA) in the Valley today.
He also suggested the bankers to asses risk before lending in a single sector. "Only profit bench-marking should not be the lending criteria," he said, indicating that the mid-term review of the Monetary Policy might separate the home loan and real estate loan.
The bankers and real estate entrepreneurs have asked the central bank to separate home loan and real estate loan. "The ceiling on real estate investment of 40 per cent has to be separated in housing loan for developers and home loan for users," said Om Rajbhandari, vice-president of the NLHDA. "The cost of the developers and buyers both has increased due to the central bank's cap on real estate loan."
Supporting the real estate entrepreneurs Rajan Singh Bhandari, vice-president of Nepal Bankers Association (NBA) said that the developers are not getting the buyers for their housing units due to 'no access' to credit. "The developers, who have borrowed from the banks, could not sell their housing units and apartments that has put the pressure on the lending bank," he said, adding that the banks non-performing assets (NPA) would shoot up in case of the borrower developers' inability to pay back the banks.
"In case of inability of payment for six months, the banks have to provision 50 per cent of the loan," he said, adding that the situation will hit the already cash-crunch commercial banks hard. Commercial banks have roughly lent Rs 50 billion in the sector.
Real Estate -- be it in Nepal or the most developed countries as USA -- tends to follow a definite cycle. Analysing the real estate development cycle from post 1990, it faced a favourable climate fuelling the land transactions high up. "It was the Recovery Phase of real estate," Rajbhandari said, adding that after some years due to excessive price hike, it fell down a little around 1998.
"In the year 2000, the sector touched the Prosperous Phase because not only land transactions increased, but with the introduction of new concepts like Community Living, other product as housings in well developed lands along with all necessary infrastructures were also very much in demand," according to him.
"Till 2007, the sector reached its Peak Phase with many new housing and apartment projects being launched every other day. However, in 2009, there were amendments in the Fiscal Policy like income source to show in case of ownership of land worth Rs 2.5 million above and land plus house worth more than Rs 5 million, new Capital Gain Tax, Voluntary Declaration of Income Source (VDIS) and VAT.
Because of the policies, the sector reached the stage of Recession. Banks also faced difficulties, as the surplus money made in transactions did not go to banks, and this was, in fact a major catalyst for the liquidity crunch.
"With the introduction of NRB directives one year ago, the environment for the housing sector was not favourable and it faced controlled mechanism," he said, adding that currently the Real Estate has reached the phase of Depression and moving further towards the Bottom, with no Real Estate transactions taking place.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Asia's share of global ICT exporters surges to record high

New UNCTAD data released today reveal that Asian economies in 2009 accounted for 66.3 per cent of global exports of information and communication technology (ICT) goods, up from 63.8 per cent in 2008.
That supports recent findings that the global financial crisis has led to significant shifts in world trade of ICT goods towards Asia, said the report.
More than one third of world ICT goods exports now originate in China and Hong Kong (China). Global ICT exports, which represented 12 per cent of world merchandise trade in 2009, are increasingly dominated by Asia. Seven of the top ten exporters are Asian economies.
China is by far the largest, with ICT goods exports amounting to $356 billion in 2009, followed by Hong Kong (China at $142 billion), and the United States ($113 billion). The ICT goods are of great significance for many developing economies, especially in Asia. Reliance on ICT products is most pronounced in the case of Hong Kong (China), where such items represent more than 43 per cent of all merchandise exports.
Other economies in which ICT goods make up by 30 per cent or more of exports include China, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan Province of China, and the Philippines. While ICT exports from most major exporters fell in 2009 as a result of the financial crisis, the decline was particularly pronounced among several European countries.
For example, ICT exports dropped by more than half in Portugal and Finland, by 36 per cent in Ireland, and by more than 20 per cent in the Czech Republic, France, Germany, and Sweden. Japan and the United States also saw sharp declines.
At the other end of the spectrum, a few economies saw increases. India 's exports increased by a whopping 244 per cent, and those of Malaysia by 18 per cent. Moreover, declines in exports experienced by China, Hong Kong (China), the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, and Thailand were relatively modest.
In terms of ICT goods imports, the United States tops the list, followed by China and Hong Kong (China). Among major importers, declines of more than 35 per cent were registered in 2009 by Finland, Ireland, Portugal, the Russian Federation and Spain.
India, on the other hand, experienced a rapid increase in ICT goods imports, moving from 28th to 17th in the global ranking of importers. Economies for which ICT goods represent large shares of their imports are mainly found in East and South-east Asia, which are part of global value chains related to ICT products.
A few Latin American countries also report a high reliance on ICT goods imports, including Costa Rica (17 per cent), Mexico (20 per cent) and Paraguay (26 per cent).

Top five exporters
1. China
2. Hong Kong (China)
3. United States
4. Singapore
5. Republica of Korea

Top five importers
1. United States
2. China
3. Hong Kong (China)
4. Germany
5. Singapore

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Import bill reflects power outage impact

Load-shedding reflects in the country's import bill too.
The country's import list shows that import of dry cell is going up. Similarly, petroleum products are the largest import of the country.
Nepal imported 647.3 per cent higher dry cell battery in the first five months of the current fiscal year compared to the same period last fiscal year, the central bank's data revealed. Petroleum products’ import tops the country’s import chart in terms of money spent on the import.
The country imported Rs 23.67 billion worth petroleum products, 56 per cent more than the same period last fiscal year, from India. In the first five months of the last fiscal year, the country had imported Rs 15.17 billion worth of petroleum products. However, in the first five months of the fiscal year 2008-09, Nepal imported Rs 19.11 billion worth of petroleum products. "Similarly, the country has imported 445 per cent more cement, 396.5 per cent more fruits and 203.8 per cent higher pipe and pipe fittings in the first five months of the current fiscal year compared to the same period last fiscal year," according to the central bank.
Similarly, vehicles and spare parts come second in the import list with the country importing Rs 10.88 billion worth of vehicles and spare parts in the first five months of the current fiscal year from India. In the same period Nepal had imported Rs 10.50 billion worth of vehicles and spare parts against imports of vehicles and spare parts worth Rs 5.93 billion in the five months of the fiscal year 2008-09.
The country has imported a total of Rs 104.40 billion worth of goods from India in the period against Rs 82.12 billion worth import in the same period last fiscal year, according to the central bank’s data.
Similarly, the country has imported Rs 49.87 billion worth goods from abroad – except India – against Rs 71.26 billion in the same period in the last fiscal year.
The central bank data revealed that amount-wise, Nepal imported crude palm oil worth Rs 3.85 billion, followed by telecommunication equipments and parts worth Rs 3.21 billion, computer and parts worth Rs 2.99 billion, electronic goods worth Rs 2.83 billion, and transport equipments and parts worth Rs 2.18 billion in the first five months of the current fiscal year.
Amazingly, gold – the second most imported commodity in the last fiscal year – import stood around 25 times less at Rs 1.33 billion, against the last fiscal year’s first five months import of Rs 25.54 billion.

Overall top five imports in the fiscal year 2009-10
1. Petroleum products -- Rs 53.24 billion
2. Gold -- Rs 41.63 billion
3. Vehicles & Spare parts -- Rs 23.77 billion
4. Other machinery parts -- Rs 15.88 billion
5. M S Billet -- Rs 14.32 billion

Mid-Hill highway to be completed by 2013

In about two years time, Kathmandu will be connected to Biratnagar through the Mid-Hill Highway as the highway -- popularly known as Lokmarga -- will be ready for the vehicular movement.
"We expect the vehicular movement on the highway by 2013 January," said finance secretary Rameshwor Prasad Khanal, after returning from the field trip of Khurkot-Ghurmi stretch of the highway that is motorable but needs black-topping.
"The Khurkot-Ghurmi 60-km section of the Mid-Hill Highway has been opened in fifteen months," he said, adding that it will be black-topped by the end of next fiscal year.
"Similarly, the track of Ghurmi-Chatara 134-km section -- probably the last section -- will also be opened in another 15 months," he added.
The current fiscal year's budget has allocated Rs 1.21 billion for the opening of the track. "But the budget will not be problem," finance secretary said, assuring that the government is ready to allocate needed budget for the highway that is expected to bring a massive socio-economic and cultural changes in the millions of the lives of the people in the mid-hills. "Around seven million people will be connected to the national road network after the completion of the highway," according to him.
The 1,750-km long mid-hill highway project is one of the major physical infrastructure projects that will link 25 districts from Chiyo Bhanjyang of Panchthar district in the east to Jhulaghat of Baitadi district in the west.
The highway also passes through Kavre, Kathmandu, Pokhara and Baglung districts.
It is also expected to open new possibilities in the western hills for entrepreneurs. Similarly, the highway could to developed further more road network through North to South interconnecting it, after the completion.
A total of Rs 43.38 billion has been estimated for the construction -- including the cost for blacktopping, track opening, construction of 48 bridges and culverts and pavement works -- of the highway.
The 1,750-km-long highway will add some 600-km of new road and will upgrade and use 1,100-km of existing roads. However, unlike most of the existing roads in the hills, this highway will have double-lane.
According to the Department of Roads, as of 2007, the total length of roads stands across the country at 19,207 km.

Global mobile phone market grows by 17.9pc in fourth quarter

The worldwide mobile phone market grew by 17.9 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2010, a new quarterly high driven by smartphones, according to a study by IDC.
Vendors shipped by 401.4 million units, compared to 340.5 million units in the fourth quarter of 2009. Vendors shipped a total of 1.39 billion units on a cumulative worldwide basis in 2010, up by 18.5 per cent from 1.17 billion in 2009.
ZTE, a company that sells primarily lower-cost feature phones in emerging markets, moved into the number four position worldwide in fourth quarter. Nokia, Samsung and LG remained the top three vendors, while Apple was in fifth place. IDC believes the worldwide mobile phone market will be driven largely by smartphone growth through the end of 2014. The market researcher estimates that the smartphone sub-market will grow by 43.7 per cent in 2011.
The Asia/Pacific mobile phone landscape was driven by low-cost and high-end devices in the fourth quarter. Domestic brands in India like G-Five, Micromax and Karbonn grew with aggressive advertising and branding activities for entry-level phones, while ZTE and Huawei worked closely with carriers to push low-cost Android smartphones in China.
High-end smartphones, however, were equally well-received, resulting in higher shipments from Apple, Samsung, and HTC in the fourth quarter. Korea had the biggest smartphone appetite accounting for two-thirds of phones shipped in the fourth quarter, up from one-eighth a year ago.
In Western Europe, carrier smartphone promotions motivated more users to scrap their feature phones, resulting in strong smartphone sales. The iPhone 4, HTC Desire, Nokia N8, Samsung Galaxy S and Blackberry 8520, which were among the region''s top sellers, contributed to the overall market''s growth. Consequently, feature phones experienced their sharpest decline ever. In CEMA, quarterly volumes breached the 70 million unit threshold for the first time, marked by an influx of Chinese and unbranded handsets. Meanwhile, smartphones experienced brisk growth due to falling prices and more Android-powered devices.
The US mobile phone market closed out the year with more vendors becoming more active in smartphones. Market leaders RIM and Apple maintained a healthy lead, while newcomers Dell, Huawei, Kyocera and Sanyo launched their first smartphones in the US market. In addition, 4G took another step forward with the commercial launch of Verizon Wireless'' LTE network.
Similarly, in Canada, the focus was on smartphones. Android-powered devices from multiple players, along with incumbent vendors RIM and Apple, pushed shipment volumes to a new record level.
In Latin America, sustained user interest in smartphones drove the market, resulting in strong results for Nokia, RIM, and Samsung as well as relative newcomer Huawei. Smartphones, as well as Qwerty-enabled feature phones, helped boost social networking and messaging. Finally, Alcatel and ZTE once again thrived in the inexpensive entry-level device market.
Nokia’s overall unit volume slipped by 2.4 per cent in the fourth quarter, which the vendor attributed to the ‘intense competitive’ environment and component shortages. The result was lower feature phone shipments. The company did, however, grow smartphone volume by 38 per cent compared to the same prior-year quarter. Still, smartphone ASPs dropped by 16 per cent on a year-over-year basis.
Samsung reached a new milestone in the fourth quarter, pushing through the 80 million unit threshold for the first time in the company''s history and improving its profit margins for the second straight quarter. Driving shipment volumes was the continued success of its Galaxy S smartphones, of which the company sold nearly 10 million units worldwide for the year.
Similarly, Samsung''s mass-market and touch-screen phones earned a strong following in emerging markets.
LG crossed the 30 million unit mark for the quarter, due in part to the success of Optimus One smartphone sales across multiple regions. LG's feature phones comprised the majority of shipments, but an aging portfolio and lower prices within emerging markets left the company vulnerable to the competition.
ZTE finished the quarter in the number four position with shipments steadily spreading from its home country of China to developing regions such as Africa and Latin America. ZTE has also recently made inroads in developed markets such as Western Europe and the US as well as Japan. While most of its shipments have concentrated on entry-level and mid-range devices, some of its recent success is directly attributable to its rapidly expanding smartphone line, such as the Android-based Blade and Racer devices.
Meanwhile, its S- and C-series entry-level feature phones provided additional competition within emerging markets.
Apple slipped to the number five position despite a record quarter for unit shipments. The iPhone sold particularly well in developed regions of the world, such as North America and Western Europe.

Sub-Saharan Africa conference on resource mobilisation

International Monetary Fund (IMF) is organising a Sub-Saharan Africa conference on resource mobilisation in Nairobi, Kenya on March 21-22.
The aim of this conference is to identify lessons on what has and has not worked, and to consider how best to deal with emerging challenges -- from trade liberalisation and the spread of tax incentives, for example.
The emphasis will be on discussing experiences of African countries that have successfully reformed their tax policy and revenue administration systems and lessons to be learned from them.
This event will mark the launch of two Topical Trust Funds created in support of the IMF’s technical assistance in tax matters, and the discussion will inform a global conference on resource mobilisation to be held on April 17–19, 2011 in Washington, DC.
Improving resource mobilisation — raising more revenue, and doing so in ways more supportive of growth and good governance — remains a central challenge in many developing countries faced with pressing spending needs.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Visitor arrivals record healthy growth in January

As anticipated, the year 2011 started with healthy arrivals of international tourists in the very beginning of January.
The first month of the year witnessed an increase of 26.2 per cent to 32,914 compared to the same month last year, according to the figures released by Immigration Office, Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA).
Chinese and Indian visitors propelled the growth as the Chinese market posted 79.6 per cent and Indian market recorded a 35.5 per cent growth in January, the data revealed.
"However, all the regions have shown positive growth in the first month of 2011," the Immigration Office said, adding that in the SAARC region, arrivals from Bangladesh and Pakistan have registered positive growth by 10.3 per cent and 13.3 per cent respectively.
The arrivals from Srilanka, has however, declined by 47.5 per cent. "In aggregate the South Asian segment has registered a positive growth of 28.8 per cent," it added.
Arrivals from Asia (other than South Asia) also recorded positive growth of 36.6 per cent in aggregate with all markets showing improved performance. The visitor's arrivals from China have increased significantly by 79.6 per cent.
Similarly, the arrivals from Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and South Korea have also increased by 8.2 per cent, 51.9 per cent, 29.1 per cent, 3.2 per cent and 20.3 per cent, respectively.
Nepal has enjoyed a sustained positive growth in the international visitor arrivals since June 2009 and the trend continues even in year 2011. The figures reflect rising confidence among international visitors and tour operators to Nepal. The sustained positive growth is expected to be helpful in achieving the target of one million tourists in Nepal Tourism Year 2011, according to the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB).
An overall positive growth of 14.6 per cent has been observed from the European markets with arrivals from major generating markets such as the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Russia up by 7.5 per cent, 35.3 per cent, 48.9 per cent and 40.3 per cent, respectively.
However, the arrivals from France, Italy and Switzerland have declined by 17.4 per cent, five per cent and 5.5 per cent respectively compared to the same month last year.
Tourist arrivals from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and USA have also registered robust growth of 23.8 per cent, 59.7 per cent, 9.8 per cent and 27.6 per cent, respectively.
According to the data, a total of 40,507 foreign tourists departed from TIA in the month of January, whereas the number of Nepali arrivals stood at 64,755 and 72,100 Nepalis departed from TIA in January.

Women face various constraints to entrepreneurship

Gender mainstreaming is one of the five drivers of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), said Shireen Lateef, ADB's senior advisor on Gerder issues speaking at the sub-Regional Workshop on 'Gender, Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment in South Asia' organised by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Nepal Resident Mission (NRM) here today.
"Women are facing various constraints like lack of access to finance, land and market to entrepreneurship," she said, adding that 42 per cent of the total ADB projects are in line with the ADB policy of gender and social inclusion.
"Entrepreneurship can help women gain their status in the society," said Meena Acharya general secretary of Tanka Prasad Acharya Memorial Foundation. "Government intervention to improve climate for investment for women is a must," she said, adding that it could help them benefit.
The three-day workshop aims at expanding opportunities for entrepreneurship for women in South Asia and raising their economic empowerment through knowledge and skills will be its focus.South Asia is the home to two-third of world's poor and of the total 1.8 million live on less than $2-a-day.
"ADB's experience has shown, if left unaddressed, gender disparities will seriously undermine otherwise well conceived policies and programmes," said Barry J Hitchcock, ADB’s country director for Nepal. "Any meaning effort to reduce poverty and improve the quality of lives of people in the region must include targetted programmes to assist women," he added.
Senior government and private sector officials from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka are attending the workshop.
ADB's Strategy 2020 recognises gender equality and empowerment of women as fundamental elements in realising the vision of an Asia-Pacific region that is free of poverty.

Nepal features in 'Ten places you never thought you could afford'

Nepal is featured in the ‘Ten places you never thought you could afford’ in USA Today travel site.
The other places include Dubai, Cook Islands, Hawaii, Istanbul, Barbados, New York City, Ecuador, Shanghai and Morocco.
The site has selected 10 hand-picked destinations that may be far-flung, but also offer unexpected values. "With the arrival of 2011, you may be dreaming of a big, once-in-a-lifetime trip, but are concerned about how to pay for it,” the site said, adding that Nepal has declared the year 2011 as 'Nepal Tourism Year', with the country's 16 political groups uniting to welcome tourists throughout the year.
"This means all strikes, demonstrations, or other impediments resulting from political differences will be put on hold for the duration of 2011, to ensure visitors feel safe and free to explore all that Nepal has to offer,” it said, adding that one hopes the goodwill will last into the coming years, tourists may want to take advantage of the special agreement, when touring conditions are as close to ideal as possible.
“If you're planning to trek, familiarise yourself with the regulations on the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA),” it has suggested. “Other adventure activities are only limited by your imagination, with paragliding, rafting, horseback riding, mountain biking, and bird- and butterfly-watching representing just a few possible activities.”
It further writes that per-diem costs are remarkably inexpensive, as Frommer's reports three-star hotels can be had for as low as $43 per night, double occupancy. “By spending so little on accommodations and other day-to-day costs, tourists may have plenty left over in your budget for adventure tours and excursions.”
The site has also suggested finding the best vacation package that suits budget by checking the listings on the Nepal tourism website. The number one destination, the site has referred is Dubai, followed by Cook Islands and Hawaii.
Istanbul comes fourth and Barbados the fifth destination, according to the site worth visiting in 2011.
New York City, Ecuador, Shanghai and Morocco are also referred to visit this year for the new experience seekers