Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Foreign investors might lose confidence on Nepal due to World Bank's relocation of country director

At a time when the country is in dire need of foreign investment, the relocation of World Bank country representative might further erode confidence of foreign investors, and of course bilateral donors.
“The relocation might send a wrong signal to the foreign investors and bilateral donors as the presence of multilateral agencies like World Bank, Asian Development Bank and International Monetary Fund will boost their confidence on Nepal,” said former finance secretary Rameshwor Prasad Khanal.
After four decades of its diplomatic partnership with Nepal, the World Bank has decided to relocate its country representative to Dhaka to reduce cost of operation, though the current office would still be functional in Kathmandu.
The incumbent World Bank country representative Susan Goldmark is completing her term on June 30 and after her departure, the Nepal office will have no country representative.
Earlier, International Monetary Fund has also shifted its office to New Delhi.
“The investors might not feel comfortable in absence of ‘strong’ presence of multilateral agency like World Bank in the country and that too in the transition phase,” he said, adding that the bilateral donors might also shift their strategy to off budgetary aid than on budgetary aid.
“They might seek alternative mechanism by channelling their aid through I/NGOs or UN systems instead of through government as psychologically they will loose confidence on government agencies.”
However, the relocation of senior staff will not hit the World Bank aid to Nepal. “Its financing to Nepal is not dependent on what level of management is heading Bank’s Nepal office,” Khanal, who has a long experience of working with multilateral donors said, “aid volume goes up or down on the basis of Nepal’s development policy, performance and economic management. The World Bank does Country Policy and Institutions Assessment (CPIA) every year and the score Nepal gets on this drives the level of World Bank aid.”
Similarly, the key role of World Bank that is to regularly advise Nepal either voluntarily or when sought, will also continue, according to the World Bank Kathmandu office sources.
The multilateral agency except also offers technical advises apart from the financial aid. “It has a pool of best economists in the world and they are involved in policy research to support governments continuously.
“However, there will be no difference in its advisory role, too,” Khanal said.
“A country director in Dhaka will be looking after Nepal,” according to the World Bank. “After the relocation of country representatives, there will be only four country representatives in the eight nations of South Asia.”
Currently, a country representative of Pakistan looks after Afghanistan and a country representative of Sri Lanka looks after Maldives, whereas there is country representative in India. The World Bank head office in washington looks after Bhutan directly.

Nespe plunges to six-year low

Low investors’ confidence due to uncertain political scenario coupled with over supply of shares, low liquidity and poor economic performance pulled the Nepse today to over six years low.
The market plunged by 6.04 points to 336.73 points today from the morning’s opening of 342.77 points making it lower than on April 25, 2006, when the Nepse was at 338.54 points.
The increasing selling pressure due to nearing closing has dragged the Nepse down, according to Share Brokers Association Nepal’s newly elected president Anjan Poudyal.
All the subgroups — except insurance companies — ended in the red zone today.
Chilime Hydro shed Rs 38 per unit share — due to its primary issue that started today — while Arun valley lost Rs 14 per unit of its share to pull the hydropower subgroup by 12.08 points to 528.89 points in a day’s trading.
Similarly, Nepal Telecom lost Rs 7 per unit share to drag the others subgroup by 8.22 points to 464.12 points.
Laxmi Bank gained Rs 34 per unit, but Standard Chartered Bank Nepal lost Rs 62 per unit share, Nabil lost Rs 50, Nepal Investment Bank lost Rs 29 and Nepal SBI Bank lost Rs 25 per unit share to pull banks subgroup by 7.66 points.
Bishal Bazar lost Rs 56 per unit share, and Unilever lost Rs 110 per unit to drag manufacturing subgroup by 5.71 points to 498.46 points.
The day witnessed a total 1,695 transaction of 78,545 unit shares amounting to Rs 22.51 million.
The transaction amount has come down to almost half to Rs 9.86 billion in the fiscal year 2009-10 from a year ago’s Rs 16.98 billion. “It is a decline by over 41per cent, whereas there is a decline of 53 per cent in an average daily transaction,” said share analyst Rabindra Bhattarai, who opined that the country’s economy has also not supported the secondary market.
The number of listed companies has increased from 169 to 204 in a year but the phenomenal increase in the supply of shares could not boost the confidence of investors. There is also lack of liquidity in the market, he said, adding that in five years the number of shares has increased by 400 per cent but the number of investors has not increased. “The investors instead are opting to exit from the market due to rising interest rates in the banks.”
Similarly, 11. the year on year Nepse declined by 16.1 per cent to 373.20 points in mid-April 2011 against 444.76 in the same period last year. The decline in share prices was on account of significant increase in the supply of securities.
The year-on-year stock market capitalisation also decreased by 3.9 per cent to Rs. 331 billion, in mid-April 2011.

The market movement

April 17, 2006 -- 331.88
April 25, 2006 -- 338.54
August 31, 2008 -- 1175.38
May 4, 2011 -- 338.86
May 31, 2011 -- 336.73

Sebon new site
KATHMANDU: Securities Board of Nepal (Sebon) has started www.sedfar.gov.np, a website that enables the listed companies and other securities business person to submit their financial reports via internet to the regulator. "To access the service of that site the listed companies need to acquire user identification and password from Sebon," it said, adding that the website is supposed to make the information flow faster and more efficient.

Buddha Air to fly to Tumlingtar

Buddha Air will be starting regular flights to Tumlingtar from Sunday.
The airlines has even conducted a successful test flight on the route on its Beech 1900 ‘D’ aircraft, the private airliner said.
Buddha Air will operate two 30 minutes flights daily three days a week from Kathmandu. From Biratnagar the airline will operate three 20 minutes flights daily, it added.
Buddha Air currently flies on nine destinations in the country with a fleet of world’s best aircrafts in operation with four 18 seat Beechcraft-1900 D, three 47 seat ATR-42 and one 72 seat ATR 72-500 flying out currently.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Chilime hydropower shares from today

Chilime Hydropower is floating 134,4000-unit primary shares to the public from May 31 at Rs 408.36 per unit.
The company is floating the primary issue adding premium of Rs 308.36 in the face value of Rs 100. Chilime -- which has its Earning Per Share (EPS) stands at Rs 107 -- has been distributing dividends since last five years. It has distributed 60 per cent dividends from last fiscal year's profits.
The company is planning to collect Rs 548.83 million in total from this issue and it is expected to be oversubscribed as the Chilime shares are being traded at around Rs 900 per unit currently in the market. The After the primary issue to the public, the paid up capital of the company will be Rs 960 million.
One of the model hydro companies of the country has appointed Citizen Investment Trust (CIT) and NCM Merchant Bank as its issue and sales managers.
Chilime Hydropower -- with installed capacity of 22.1 MW is a subsidiary company of Nepal Electricity Authority with NEA's 51per cent equity ownership -- is based in Rasuwa district has distributed 10 per cent shares to the locals of project affected area.

Balance of Payment deficit increases to Rs 14.79 billion

The overall Balance of Payment (BoP) recorded a deficit of Rs 14.79 billion -- in the nine months of the current fiscal year -- some Rs 3.49 billion more from Rs 11.30 billion in the eight months, according to the central bank.
"But the BoP was deficit at Rs 17.99 billion in the same period last fiscal year," stated the current macroeconomic situation based on the nine months of the current fiscal year that has attributed to the current account and service account deficit.
The current account registered a deficit of Rs 14.99 billion compared to a deficit of Rs 28.56 billion in the same period last year. But due to growth of trade deficit along with improvement in the service account attributed to a decline in the current account deficit, though the BoP position has not improved.
Similarly, the Free On Board (FOB)-based merchandise trade deficit increased by 2.1 per cent to Rs 231.85 billion aganist a growth of by 58.1 per cent in the same period last year. However, the service account deficit declined significantly by 33.1 per cent to Rs 8.22 billion compared to an increase by 36.5 per cent to Rs 12.30 billion in the same period last year, the report said.
The net transfer account registered a growth of 8.4 per cent to Rs 221.21 billion compared to that of a year ago. Under the transfers sub-group, grants decreased by 13.4 per cent to Rs 17.95 billion, while pension receipts rose by 6.7 per cent to Rs 21.63 billion. "Likewise, workers' remittances increased by 10.3 per cent to Rs 181.84 billion compared to its growth of 9.6 per cent in the same period last year.
Likewise, under the financial account foreign direct investment of Rs 5.60 billion was recorded compared to Rs 1.71 billion in the same period last year.
Total trade deficit increased by 2.2 per cent to Rs 240.08 billion against an increase of 56.5 per cent in the same period last year. Trade deficit with India rose by 28.5 per cent compared to a growth of 53.1 per cent in the same period last year, whereas trade deficit with other countries declined by 28.6 per cent compared to a growth of 60.6 per cent in the same period a year ago. "The improvement in exports coupled with deceleration in import contributed to an increase in the ratio of export to import to 16.7 per cent from the ratio of 16.2 per cent a year ago," it added.
According to the report, merchandise exports increased by 5.7 per cent to Rs 47.98 billion compared to a decline by 10.9 per cent to Rs 45.39 billion in the same period last year, whereas on a monthly basis, exports increased by 4.4 per cent in March-April against a month ago.
"Exports to India increased by 8.1 per cent in contrast to a drop of 7.1 per cent in the same period last year but exports to other countries increased by a nominal 1.2 per cent against to a plunge of 17.3 per cent in the same period last year," it said, attributing the increase in the exports to India mainly to the increase in exports of zinc sheet, jute goods, thread, plastic utensils and juice.
Similarly, merchandise imports also increased by 2.8 per cent to Rs 288.06 billion against a growth of 39.4 per cent to Rs 280.26 billion in the same period last year. "Imports from India grew by 24.6 per cent compared to a growth of 36.5 per cent in the same period last year, whereas imports from other countries declined by 24.8 per cent in contrast to a growth of 43.2 per cent in the same period last year," the central bank stated.
The import of petroleum product, MS billet, cold rolled sheet in coil, chemical fertiliser and other machinery and parts increased from India whereas import of gold, readymade garments, steel rod and sheet, other machinery and parts and betelnuts declined from other countries.

Inflation at 10.6pc
KATHMANDU: The y-o-y inflation as measured by the consumer price index (2005/06=100) increased to 10.6 per cent in mid-April from 14.3 per cent in the same period last fiscal year. The index of food and beverage group increased by 17.3 per cent and the index of non-food and services group increased by 5.2 per cent against 16.1 per cent and 6.3 per cent increase in the same period last fiscal year.

Wider solar power use critical for Asia's future growth

Asia must expand solar energy generation if the region is to stay on its strong economic growth path and reduce carbon emissions, Asian Development Bank (ADB) vice-president (Operations 1) Xiaoyu Zhao said today.
Zhao was speaking here at the opening of the third meeting of the Asia Solar Energy Forum, which is gathering over 300 government officials, private companies, and solar energy experts.
The forum, set up to promote knowledge exchange, is part of the Asia Solar Energy Initiative, established in May 2010 with support from ADB. The initiative aims to boost solar power use in the region by identifying and developing suitable projects. To do so, it will work closely with the private sector to design suitable business models that help spread the cost and risks of using new technologies.
"Asia could account for half of global output, trade, and investment by 2050," Zhao said, adding that Asia must manage its energy security and innovate away from the traditional, high-resource, high-carbon development path toward sustainable, low carbon growth to sustain its impressive growth momentum.
Many countries in Asia have a natural solar energy advantage given they are both sunny and have large areas of land unsuitable for other uses. However, large-scale solar power generation has been hampered by a lack of suitable project financing mechanisms, institutional and policy constraints, and knowledge gaps. Around 900 million people in developing Asia have no access to electricity, and many others in remote areas pay very high prices for power that is typically generated by fossil fuels.
At present, less than 0.25 per cent of Asia's overall electricity production comes from solar power. Pointing to the 'significant potential' for solar energy, Zhao said the aim is to increase that contribution to three pre cent to five per cent in the near future. The ultimate goal of the Asia Solar Energy Initiative is to provide solar energy at a cost equal to, or lower than, electricity from the grid.
"The initiative is consolidating our efforts to take advantage of the wider adoption of solar technologies resulting from rapid technological advances, larger scales of production, and lower production costs," said Zhao.
Promoting clean, renewable energy is one of ADB's highest priorities. In 2010 it invested $1.8 billion in clean energy, exceeding its $1 billion target for a third year in a row. From 2013, the target will rise to $2 billion a year.
In Thailand, ADB is helping to finance the construction of two private sector solar projects. The Natural Energy Development Company's initial 73-megawatt plant in Lopburi – one of the world's largest solar photovoltaic power plants – and the 38-megawatt project from Bangchak Petroleum Company PCL in Ayutthaya will both be generating electricity later this year.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Foreign exchange reserve declines

The gross foreign exchange reserve has declined in the first eight months, according to the central bank.
“The gross foreign exchange reserves declined by 4.4 per cent to Rs 257.05 billion in mid-March from a level of Rs 268.91 billion as in mid July 2010,” the central bank data revealed, adding that such reserves had decreased by 14.7 per cent to Rs 244.29 billion in the same period last fiscal year.
On a monthly basis, foreign exchange reserve of Rs 761.6 million declined in the month of February-March from the level of previous month of this year. Out of the total reserve, Nepal Rastra Bank’s reserves declined marginally by 2.7 per cent to Rs 199.86 billion from a level of Rs 205.37 billion as at mid-July 2010.
The gross foreign exchange reserves in the US dollar terms also declined by 1.3 per cent to $3.57 billion in mid-March 2011. “Such reserves had decreased by 8.1 per cent in the same period last year,” the report added. Based on the trend of import during the eight months of the current fiscal year, the current level of reserves is sufficient for financing merchandise imports of 8.3 months and merchandise and service imports of 7.1 months, according to the central bank that has termed the forex reserve situation comfortable as it is more than normal reserve that is needed for the import.
However, the central bank purchased Indian currency equivalent to Rs 117.97 billion through the sale of $1.62
billion in the Indian money market. “Indian currency equivalent to Rs 101.80 billion was purchased through the sale of $1.35 billion in the same period of the previous year,” said the central bank that has injected net liquidity of Rs 108.93 billion through the purchase of $1.50 billion from foreign exchange market (commercial banks).

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Income tax second largest contributor to government coffer

Income tax has become the second largest contributor to the government coffer after Value Added Tax (VAT).
By the first 10th month of current fiscal year, income tax has contributed Rs 31.97 billion -- almost 20 per cent of the total revenue -- to the total revenue mobilisation that stood at Rs 158.98 billion.
Generally, VAT, customs and excise are the major contributors to the government coffer but the trend has changed since last one year as the income tax has prominently been contributing to a total revenue mobilisation.
The mandatory permanent account number (PAN) has also contributed to increase in income tax revenue. Though, it was in practice for some time, Nepal officially started distributing PAN from August 24, 2009 by awarding President, vice-president and Prime Minister it.
According to the regulation, all individuals with an yearly income of over Rs 160,000 and couples with an annual income of over Rs 200,000 have to get PAN. Similarly, house owners renting out to government agencies and other organisations as well as car owners renting out their vehicles should also have PAN that is mandatory for professionals like engineers, chartered accountants, journalists, lawyers and even actors as well as people buying shares worth over Rs 1 million.
There are above 400,000 institutions and people holding the PAN currently.
PAN is allotted only once in the lifetime of a taxpayer and it never changes. It is necessary for computer data processing of taxpayer's information.
After income tax, customs is the third largest contributor to the government coffer as it has contributed 18 per cent to Rs 29.11 billion, whereas VAT is the largest contributor -- as usual -- as it has contributed 32 per cent to Rs 50.48 billion in the total revenue mobilisation.
Non Tax revenue -- the fourth largest contributor -- has 14 per cent contribution to Rs 21.52 billion by Baishakh (mid-May) to the government coffer.
The government has been able to mobilise a total of Rs Rs 158.98 billion by the end of 10th month of the current fiscal year. "It is 14.7 per cent increment compared to the same period of last fiscal year," informed finance secretary Krishnahari Baskota the Revenue Evaluation Committee meeting today. "In the same period last fiscal year, the government had mobilised Rs 138.56 billion revenue," he added.
Deputy prime minister and finance minister Bharat Mohan Adhikari, on the occasion, hailed the progress in revenue mobilisation. He, however, told the officials to work toward meeting revenue target that seems to fail this fiscal year. The budget for the current fiscal year has targetted Rs 216 billion revenue.
Revenue mobilisation has been exceeding its target since last couple of years as the finance ministry had appointed a separate secretary to look after it. But the current government seems not serious on revenue mobilisation as it has not yet appointed revenue secretary after incumbent revenue secretary Baskota has been promoted to the finance secretary.
The first revenue secretary Rameshwor Prasad Khanal had started e-PAN, e-filing of returns and e-filing of withholding tax to boost the revenue mobilisation that has shown results now.

Income Tax
KATHMANDU: Income tax is imposed on persons, natural or artificial, that is entity like a partnership, trust, company, and foreign permanent establishment or government body. Income Tax was imposed in Nepal by the first parliamentary government in 1959. Income Tax Act 1962 was enacted in 1962 replacing business, Profit and Remuneration Tax Act of 1959. The Income Tax Act, 1962 was replaced by Income Tax Act 1974, that has been amended for eight times and existed for 28 years. The Income Tax Act 1974 and all the income tax related provisions made under other special enactment have been repealed and the existing Income Tax Act 2058 became effective since April 1, 2002.

Tax structure
The taxable income is charged for unmarried;
Up to Rs 160,000 - one per cent
From Rs 160,000 - upto Rs 260,000- @ 15 per cent plus Rs 1,600
Above Rs 260,000 - @ 25 per cent plus Rs 16,600.

* For a couple:
Up to Rs 200,000 - one per cent
From Rs 200,000 - upto Rs 300,000- @ 15 per cent plus Rs 2,000
Above Rs 300,000 - @ 25 per cent plus Rs 17,000

- The business person who have registered own Proprietary firm should not pay above one per cent tax.

- Any individual or couple having pension income can enjoy 25 per cent of the normal exemption limit as an additional basic exemption.

- Any individual working in prescribed remote area is entitled to deduct prescribed amount as remote area allowance from taxable income.

- Any individual is entitled to deduct the following amount from taxable amount, if one is having investment insurance policy: "Rs 20,000 amount or the actual premium paid, whichever is less."

- For the purposes of the Act, net gains from the disposal of non-business chargeable assets will be taxed at the rate of 10 per cent.

- The presumptive tax for individuals conducting small businesses (who have a turnover of Rs 2 million or an income of Rs 200, 000) in the Metropolitan or Sub-Metropolitans, Municipalities and anywhere else in Nepal amounts to Rs 5,000 Rs 2,500 and Rs1,500 respectively.

- The taxable income of a non-resident individual is taxed at the rate of 25 per cent.

- The taxable income of an entity will be taxed at the rate of 25 per cent unless prescribed otherwise.

- The taxable income of a bank, or financial institution, or general insurance business, or an entity conducting petroleum work under Petroleum Act, 2040 for an income-year is taxed at the rate of 30 per cent.

- Gain from Lump sum retirement payment made by an approved retirement fund or the government is taxed at the rate of five per cent as a final withholding tax.Gain is calculated by deducting 50 per cent of the payment or Rs 500,000 whichever is higher from the total lump sum payment.

- The taxable income derived by an individual from special industry or export business will be taxed at the rate of 20 per cent.

- The taxable Income derived by an entity engaged in an industrial enterprise or export business or derived from operating any road, bridge, tunnel, ropeway, or flying bridge. Construction business or any trolley bus or tram manufacturing business is taxed at the rate of 20 per cent.

- The taxable income of an entity engaged in power generation, transmission, or distribution is taxed at the rate of 20 per cent.

- The taxable income of an estate of a deceased resident individual or trust of an incapacitated resident individual will be taxed at the normal tax rate as though the estate or trust was a resident individual.

- The repatriated income of a foreign permanent establishment of a non-resident person situated in Nepal will be taxed at the rate of 10 per cent.

- The taxable income of a non-resident person deriving income from providing shipping, air transport or telecommunication services in Nepal will be taxed at the rate of five per cent.

- The taxable income of an entity wholly engaged in the projects conducted by any entity so as to build public infrastructure, own operate and transfer it to the HMG/N in power generation, transmission, or distribution for an income-year shall be taxed at the rate of 20 per cent.

Gold price hits record high

The price of precious yellow metal broke yet another record today in the domestic market as it was traded for Rs 43,157 for a tola (11.664 grams).
The gold price touched Rs 43,100 in the domestic market on May 1 but moderated a little, however, the precious yellow metal started to look up once again after reaching the old record price of Rs 43,100 for a tola yesterday.
"Stong dollar has pushed the gold price up in the domestci market," said Nepal Gold and Silver Dealers Association president Tej Ratna Shakya.
On May 1, the sister metal silver also stood at Rs 1,350 the highest price so far. However, silver crossed Rs 1,100 for a tola from yesterday to be traded at Rs 1,107 per tola today.
The foreign exchange rate for US dollar also stood at Rs 72.05 today. The stron dollar has started pushing the prices of the precious metal upward in the domestic market since yesterday.

Gold price hits record high

The price of precious yellow metal broke yet another record today in the domestic market as it was traded for Rs 43,157 for a tola (11.664 grams).
The gold price touched Rs 43,100 in the domestic market on May 1 but moderated a little, however, the precious yellow metal started to look up once again after reaching the old record price of Rs 43,100 for a tola yesterday.
"Stong dollar has pushed the gold price up in the domestic market," said Nepal Gold and Silver Dealers Association president Tej Ratna Shakya.
On May 1, the sister metal silver also stood at Rs 1,350 the highest price so far. However, silver crossed Rs 1,100 for a tola from yesterday to be traded at Rs 1,107 per tola today.
The foreign exchange rate for US dollar also stood at Rs 72.05 today. The stron dollar has started pushing the prices of the precious metal upward in the domestic market since yesterday.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Banking system is safe: Central Bank

Central bank today assured bankers that it is ready to help the public build their confidence in the banking system.
At a time, when the public seems to be losing confidence on the banking system due to poor corporate governance, overnight profit seeking mentality and mismanagement of some of the institutions’, central bank governor Dr Yubraj Khatiwada, senior deputy governor Gopal Kafle, deputy governor Maha Prasad Adhikari and executive directors of various departments briefed the bankers that overall financial indicators are better, except for some institution.
"The central bank is ready to help banks and financial institutions, provided they maintain their financial discipline, manage portfolio, and follow central bank’s directives,” the central bank higher officials told the representatives of Nepal Bankers Association (NBA) at a meeting today morning.
There is a need of confidence boosting of public on the banking system and that can be done jointly by regulatory authority of the financial market – central bank – and banks and financial institutions. "The psychological pressure on depositors, either to believe banks and financial institutions or not, is a temporary phenomenon, it will not last long,” the central bank official said.
"The public need not fear," he said, adding that the loss of confidence is due to various reasons, except poor corporate governance of some of the financial institutions like Nepal Share Markets and Finance that has already been brought under the book and will be penalized.
"Except some cases of some of the financial institutions that have not adhered to the prudent banking norms, it is not a systemic problem, and the banking system is safe,” assured the central bank.
It has also asked the bankers to come straight forward, if they have any problem. "We are ready to solve problems of the banks and financial institutions, if they have any,” said the officials.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Nepal may escape blacklisting

Nepal might escape black listing from Financial Action Task Force (FATF) – a global anti-money laundering agency -- as the Parliament today passed the much awaited Anti-Money Laundering Bill (first amendment).
"Apart from giving executing agencies legal teeth, it has paved the way for approval of two other bills – Mutual Legal Assistance Bill and Extradition Bill,” according to theFinance Ministry officials. The Task Force could also consider our request and not black list us as Nepal has fulfilled one of commitments.
The government has tabled it yesterday in the Parliament after Statutory Committee under parliament has cleared it on Friday.
However, Nepal still needs to approve two other Bills – Mutual Legal Assistance Bill and Extradition Bill, apart from two UN conventions –Convention on Suppression of Financing of Terrorism and Conventions against Organised Financial Crime.
The regional review meeting of FATF in Macau on May 13 has asked Nepal to submit the progress report by June 21 before its plenary takes place on June 23-25.
"The Act -- that has formed a coordination committee led by finance secretary -- has also defined up to five years jail term and penalty of up to Rs 500,000 for such crime,” according to the Bill that has defined money earned through tax evasion, earnings made from arms trade, flouting of foreign exchange law, robbery, dacoit, fake documentation, drugs peddling, human trafficking, banking and organised financial crime under money laundering.
The Bill has also made all the regulatory agencies more responsible apart from Financial Information Unit under the central bank that will now issue directives and Revenue Investigation Department that will investigate suspected activities.
Nepal has requested for deadline extension to meet the requirements as the country is passing through transitional period.
Financial Action Task Force had given June 7 deadline -- after Nepal failed to meet the first deadline of December 2010 -- to fulfill its commitments on Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing.
If Nepal could not meet the deadline, it will be blacklisted in 170 countries.
Though under international laws, the blacklisting carries no formal sanction, it causes intense financial pressure as Nepal will find it difficult to get foreign aid from international organisations like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Foreign banks may not trust the letters of credit issued by Nepali banks creating difficulties for Nepali businessmen at the international level. Nepali businessmen may have to face harassment at foreign customs offices, with those authorities not allowing Nepali goods to go through the green channel. Nepalis may also face hassles while undergoing immigration procedures in other countries.
There are 36 members of FATF currently and Nepal falls under Associate Member – Asian Pacific Group – that has 40 countries including Nepal.
The purpose of the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering is to ensure the adoption, implementation and enforcement of internationally accepted anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing standards set out in the FATF's 40 recommendations and eight special recommendations.

Monday, May 23, 2011

LDCs meet calls for facilitating migration, remittance flows

The programme of action of the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, Istanbul that concluded on May 13 explicitly called for reducing remittance costs and improving the development impact of remittances.
The conference called on the LDCs to make efforts to improve access to financial and banking services for easy transaction of remittances; simplify migration procedures to reduce the cost of outward migration; take appropriate measures to better utilise knowledge, skills and earnings of the returning migrants; provide necessary information, as available, to workers seeking foreign employment.
The five day conference (May 9-13) also identified some actions like resisting unfair and discriminatory treatment of migrant workers and the imposition of unreasonable restrictions on labour migration in order to maximize the benefits of international migration, while complying with the relevant national legislation and applicable international instruments; developing, where appropriate and in accordance with domestic laws, a system of short-term migration, including workers from least developed countries; removing unnecessary restrictions on outward remittances and support the lowering of transaction costs; and supporting the least developed countries (LDCs) in establishing the International Migrants Remittance Observatory, on a voluntary basis.
It has also called on the development community to ‘undertake measures to enhance understanding, coordination and cooperation with regard to climate change-induced displacement, migration and planned relocation, where appropriate, at national, regional and international levels.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Grounded pilots to take off

Nepal Airlines co-pilots, who were barred from flying Twin Otters, are back to their duty from tomorrow.
Operation manager Captain Shishir Sharma today held dialogue with the agitating pilots and let them fly from tomorrow, one of the grounded co-pilot said, adding that the management has realised that it has made mistake by not letting them fly.
The management has grounded them alleging of being involved in politics in the office. "However, we have only objected to the appointment of a co-pilot, who has no flying experience of twin otter and is against the corporation's rule," he added.
Managing Director K B Limbu had appointed Man Bahadur Tumbahanfe to the post of captain about three months ago. "Tumbahanfewas with the Yeti Airlines and has been flying Jetstream and he has no experience of flying Twin Otter," the co-pilots accused, protesting the decision.
The managment has suspended the protesting co-pilots -- Sajal Kuinkel, R Banjare, Suresh KC, S Paudel, A K Khadka, D K Gupta, B Kathayat, P Shrestha, A R Shakya and Raman Ghimire -- from flying until further notice from the verbal order by Limbu accusing them of complaining to the anti-corruption agency.
There are only two Twin Otters currently in operation and the pilots get a chance to fly once in a wek as there are 27 pilots for domestic flights. According to the current flight schedule, only five pilots will be enough to handle the domestic operations.
R Banjare -- one of the grounded co-pilots -- told The Himalayan Times that managing director's decision to suspend them from flying was not legitimate. "The action was taken after the pilots were found approaching different institutions like CIAA and ministry -- lobbying against the management's decision to hire another pilot ouster,” Limbu said.
After today's decision to let them fly, the agitating pilots vow to continue to fight within the organisation.
Though the national flag carrier has five Twin Otters, only two are currently in operations in domestic route apart from two age old Boeing 757s that fly on the international route.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Chhurim Sherpa sets world record of by scaling Mt Everest twice within 11 days

A 27 years old Chhurim Sherpa from Taplejung in Mechi has conquered Mt Everest twice within 11 days.
"No women has climbed Mt Everest twice even in one mountaineering season but a brave lady Sherpa from Ghunsa made it within 11 days," said her agency. "It is a new World Record in the field of mountaineering history."
On her first successful summit, she reached on the summit of Mt Everest on May 12 in the morning at 7.00 as a climbing Sherpa together with team leader of Arun Friendship Mt Everest expedition team Anshu Jamsenpa of India and Lakpa Rangdu Sherpa, Ngima Nuru Sherpa and Lakpa Chhiri Sherpa.
She made her second trip to summit on May 19 in the morning. On the second attempt, two trekking companies Arun Treks and Expedition, Nepal and Himalayan Sherpa Expedition USA, logistically supported her.
She has started her first summit on May 9 with team members from base camp and successfully reached on the top of the World of Mt Everest on May 12. She returned to Base Camp, took few days rest and again started her second summit on May 17 straight to Camp II, on May 18 to Camp IV skipping Camp I and III, proving her strong willpower and extra ordinary zeal to climb.

India, China propel global gold sales

Sustained momentum in Chinese and Indian jewellery demand is also expected to underpin growth in the jewellery sector throughout 2011, according to the quarterly report of World Gold Council (WGC).
Strong demand in India during the recent Akshaya Tritiya festival and the beginning of wedding season, alongside extensive purchasing on dips in the gold price, underlines the strength of the Indian market,it said, adding that jewellery demand in the first quarter of 2011 registered a gain of seven per cent from year earlier levels of 521.3 tonnes to reach 556.9 tonnes. It equated to a record quarterly value of $24.8 billion.
India and China, the two largest markets for gold jewellery, together accounted for 349.1 tonnes or 63 per cent of the total, a value of $16 billion.
China’s jewellery demand reached a new quarterly record of 142.9 tonnes to $6.4 billion up by 21per cent from 118.2 tonnes in the first quarter of 2010.
The outlook for global gold demand remains robust throughout 2011 against a background of another strong quarter, the geographic and sectoral diversity of demand and strong fundamentals, the report added.
Demand for gold in the rest of 2011 will be driven by a number of key factors like prevailing global socio-economic conditions that is expected to continue to drive investment demand for gold; continued uncertainty over the US economy and the dollar, ongoing European sovereign debt concerns, global inflationary pressures and continued tensions in the Middle East and North Africa.
Net purchasing by the official sector is expected to continue in 2011 as central banks turn to gold as a means of diversifying their reserves into an asset with no credit or counterparty risk. The Central bank purchases jumped to 129 tonnes in the quarter, exceeding the combined total of net purchases during the first three quarters of 2010.
"Global gold demand in the first quarter of 2011 totalled 981.3 tonnes, up by 11 per cent year-on-year from 881 tonnes in the first quarter of 2010," it said, adding that in value terms, it translated to $43.7 billion, compared with $31.4 billion in the first quarter of 2010 -- an increase of almost 40 per cent.
The Quarterly Gold Update attributed the increase largely to a widespread rise in demand for bars and coins, supported by an improvement in jewellery demand in key markets.
The quarterly average gold price hit a new record of $1,386.27/oz (London PM Fix), its eighth consecutive year-on-year increase. Despite a period of price consolidation in the early part of the quarter, it climbed to record highs throughout March and has continued to achieve new highs in April and May.
During the first quarter of the year, investment demand grew by 26 per cent to 310.5 tonnes from 245.6 tonnes in the first quarter of 2010. In value terms, investment demand was $13.8 billion. The main growth came from bar and coin demand which increased by 52 per cent year-on-year, to 366.4 tonnes. In value terms, it represented a near-doubling of demand to $16.3 billion from $8.6 billion in the first quarter in 2010.
Similarly, ETFs and similar products witnessed net outflows of 56 tonnes to $2.5 billion. Redemptions were concentrated in January. Despite the outflows, the collective volume of gold held by global ETFs by the end of the quarter was in excess of 2,100 tonnes equating to more than $95 billion.
Technology demand remained steady in the first quarter at 113.8 tonnes to $5.1 billion. A revision to the fourth quarter figures now means that 2010 was the highest year on record for gold demand in electronics at 326.8 tonnes or $12.9 billion.
In the first quarter of 2011, gold supply declined by four per cent year-on-year to 872.2 tonnes from 912.1 tonnes in the first quarter of 2010. The decline was due to a sharp increase in net purchasing by the official sector and a fall in the supply of recycled gold, which was down by six per cent on year-earlier levels to 347.5 tonnes from 369.3 tonnes in the first quarter of 2010.
Mine production increased by 44 tonnes year-on-year, a growth rate of seven per cent from year earlier levels, with negligible net producer de-hedging.

Domestic market remain constant
KATHMANDU: The precious yellow metal remained immovable throughout the week, while silver price continued its decline. Gold started the week with at Rs 42,000 for a tola (11.664 grams) in the domestic market and remained constant throughout the whole week. But silver that opened at Rs 1,050 on the first day of the week dropped to Rs 996 per tola on Wednesdayand closed at Rs 1012 for a tola on Friday. In the international commodities market, gold started off at $1,495 and by the end of the week the price had reached $1,497. Similarly, strengthening US dollar against Nepali rupee did not allow the gold and silver price decreasing as much as it should have been. The exchange rate for a US dollar against Nepali rupee has strengthened this week as the week started with Rs 71.46 on Sunday but ended at 71.62 for a dollar.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sajha Yatayat plans flag carrier to neighbouring countries

Sajha Yatayat -- once very popular means of transportation in the country is planning to operate land transport flag carrier service -- to neighbouring countries -- apart from operating urban transport service in Kathmandu Valley and inter-district transport service.
"We have three-point goal," said newly elected chairman of Sajha Yatayat Cooperatives after assuming his charge here today.
"We will work on the goals phase-wise," he said, adding that it will now seek a good management team first.
Sajha Yatayat -- a 50-year old organisation that started mass transport service in Nepal -- failed to retain its past glory post 1990 movement and the private sector started coming aggressively in mass transportation sector.
The extraordinary general meeting of Sajha Yatayat Transport cooperative unanimously elected its new board today. Journalist Kanak Mani Dixit has been elected as chairman in the newly elected board that has former registrars of the Cooperatives Department Shanker Raj Joshi and Binod Kumar Adhikary, banker Bandhana Thapa and environmentalist Bhushan Tuladhar.
The annual general meeting two months ago decided to take the organisation away from government control and revive it as a genuine cooperative by directly electing board members.
The other members of the board are DG of Department of Transport Krishna Prasad Dawadi and Registrar of the Cooperatives Department Sudarshan Raj Dhakal.
"The government has taken an extraordinary step in helping Sajha Yatayat evolve as a cooperative," said immediate past chairman and secretary at Labour and Transport Ministry Dinesh Hari Adhikary handing over the charge to the new board. He also hoped that the new board will work effectively to provide the public with efficient, secure and economical public transport service.
Ending almost fifty years of government control Sajha Yatayat has been transformed into a fully cooperative model with directly elected board directors from today.
It has been dysfunctional for the last four years due to political bickering by successive governments and mismanagement.
Registered under the Cooperative Act, Sajha Yatayat was controlled by the government majority, though it has a total of 233 members.
"It needs to procure at least 20 new buses in the first phase, and gradually expand its fleet to lessen the private sector monopoly in the public transport sector," according to Sajha Yatayat.
Earlier, it used to operate a total of 182 buses on different routes in the country but it has only eight buses at present.
Sajha Yatayat had twice tried to operate on Kathmandu-Lhasa route too but it could not continue its service for long.

Worldwide mobile device sales total 427.8 million units

Worldwide mobile communication device sales to end users totalled 427.8 million units -- an increase of 19 per cent from the first quarter of 2010 -- in the first quarter, according to a study by Gartner.
Smartphones continued to outpace the rest of the market. Smartphones accounted for 23.6 per cent of overall sales in the first quarter, an increase of 85 per cent year-on-year.
Nokia sold 107.6 million mobile devices in the first quarter. Its market share declined by 5.5 percentage points year-on-year, and its share has reached its lowest since 1997.
Similarly, Samsung experienced strong first quarter with 68.7 million units sold and market share of 16.1 per cent, whereas Apple sold 16.9 million units to end users worldwide, more than doubling its sales of iPhones year-on-year.
HTC recorded a strong first quarter with 9.3 million mobile communication devices sold and moved to the number seven position. Strong high-end products enabled HTC perform well with all major US CSPs, and in the first quarter it became the number two smartphone manufacturer in the region, overtaking Research In Motion.
Although in mature markets the shift from feature phones to smartphones is accelerating, smartphones overall moved down-market in the first quarter. Several manufacturers, including HTC, Sony Ericsson, Alcatel and ZTE, announced a broader portfolio of mid-tier devices, mainly based on Android, which will reach the market in the second quarter.
Android and Apple's iOS continued to dominate the smartphone OS wars. Windows Phone saw only modest sales that reached 1.6 million units in the first quarter, as devices launched at the end of 2010 failed to grow in consumer preference and CSPs continued to focus on Android.
In the long term, Nokia's support will accelerate Windows Phone's momentum.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

EU narrowing trade gap with Nepal

Increasing imports and decreasing exports has made Nepal loose its comfortable trade position with the European Union (EU) as in the last five years it has narrowed down its trade deficit with Nepal by eight times, according to the data.
In the year 2006, trade deficit of the EU with Nepal stood at Euro24 million and last year, it came down to Euro3 million only, the data revealed.
In the year 2006, Nepal exported Euro88 million worth goods to the EU and last year (2010), Nepal exported Euro3 million less goods to Euro85 million only.
Similarly, Nepal used to import Euro64 million worth goods -- in 2006 from the EU -- which has increased to Euro82 million -- in 2010 -- fast loosing its comfortable trading situation.
However the total trade between two trading partners have increased consistantly in the last five year. In the year 2006, the total trade between them stood at Euro152 million and in 2010, it has increased to Euro167 million.
EU is the third largest trading partner of Nepal as Nepal exports raw hides and skins, leather, furskins and articles; wood and articles of wood; wood charcoal; cork and articles of cork; textiles and textile articles -- that has plunged in recent years -- natural or cultured pearls, precious or semi-precious stones.
Similarly, Nepal imports machinery and mechanical appliances; electrical equipment, vehicles, aircraft, vessels and associated transport equipment, optical, photographic, cinematographic, measuring, checking and products of the chemical or allied industries from the EU.
An Agreement between the European Community and Nepal on Trade in Textile products was signed on December 10, 2003 that had given a boost to the textile products in the past.
Nepal and European Commission (EC) have also singed a Framework Agreement for exporting sugar to EC under the Everything but Arms (EBA) initiative.
As EU is also a key development partner of Nepal, it has committed more than Euro130 million in development assistance to Nepal since 1977 in irrigation and rural development, as well as programmes in animal health, watershed management, reproductive health, primary education and institution building.
On December 20, 2004, the European Commission adopted the regulation prolonging Nepal's derogation from GSP rules of origin for certain textile products for the period of two years December 31, 2006.

NAC forms committee to buy aircraft

Nepal Airlines Corporation has formed a study committee to purchase aircraft for the ailing national flag carrier.
The 10-member committee -- that has directors from different departments of the NAC -- is headed by Dr Kiran Poudel Chhetri as the coordinator.
According to the corporation the committee will study directives and suggestions of Public Accounts Committee before recommending to amend the Public Procurement Act.
After 24 years, Nepal Airlines Corporation had tried to purchase an aircraft through a direct deal but the Public Procurement Act landed its executive chairman Sugat Ratna Kansakar in the soup as the national anti-corruption agency arrested him on the charge of misusing his authority.
The fiasco made Airbus -- with which the NAC entered into an agreement to purchase aircrafts -- cancel its deal and return lock up money.
Earlier on February 27, the Special Court set a bail amount of Rs 60 million for Kansakar, the main accused in the Airbus purchase deal. He has been subsequently sent to Dilli Bazaar Prison after he failed to deposit the amount. The Court concluded that Kansakar had gone ahead with the deal worth Rs 10 billion and sent the non-refundable lock-up money to the European Airbus company without making any arrangement for the budget. The court found it very surprising that the lock-up money was sent without having reached any purchase agreement with the company.
NAC had to modernise its international fleet planned to purchase one A330-200 wide body and one Airbus A-320 single aisle and had signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the Dubai air show with the European aircraft manufacturer.
The purchase of A330 and A320 could have opened Nepal’s doors to the world, according to the travel and tour operators, who wanted the deal to materialised.
The Special Court has, however, acquitted Kansakar -- including five other officials -- of the graft charges.
The airlines started in 1958 has tow age old Boeing 757-200 and it has been trying to add some new aircraft to increase its destinations. However, every attempt of purchasing new aircraft has been dogged by controversy.

Chilime to float primary shares to public

Chilime Hydropower is floating 134,4000-unit primary shares to the public from May 31.
The company is floating the shares adding premium of Rs 308.36 in the face value of Rs 100 making a total of Rs 408.36 million that will fetch the company Rs 548.83 million. After the primary issue to the public, the paid up capital of the company will be Rs 960 million.
According to the rule, a company can add premium to its face value, if it is in profit and distributing dividends for last three consecutive years.
Chilime -- which has its Earning Per Share (EPS) stands at Rs 107 -- has been distributing dividends since last five years. It has distributed 60 per cent dividends from last fiscal year's profits.
One of the model hydro companies of the country has appointed Citizen Investment Trust (CIT) and NCM Merchant Bank as its issue and sales managers.
Chilime Hydropower -- with installed capacity of 22.1 MW is a subsidiary company of Nepal Electricity Authority with NEA's 51per cent equity ownership -- is based in Rasuwa district has distributed 10 per cent shares to the locals of project affected area.
It had floated 960,000-unit of ordinary shares to the local people of Rasuwa from November 10 to December 14 last year. Of 960,000-unit set aside for the locals, 636,000-unit was for the locals of project-affected Goljung, Chilime and Syafru Village Development Committees, while the remaining 624,000-unit was for the locals of 15 other VDCs of the Rasuwa district.
The locals of three VDCs of project-affected areas got the shares at a face value of Rs 100 per. Currently, it has listed 7,296,000-unit of shares at the secondary market and is being traded at around Rs 900 per unit. Its total market capitalisation as of today stands at Rs 6,384 million.
The first domestic hydropower company that has been constructed with domestic capital and technical know-how had issued shares to the employees of Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) as it was NEA’s brainchild.
The Chilime model hs been followed by Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower.
According to the amended Securities Registration and Issuance Regulation – 2065, hydropower companies must float shares for the locals before they open the issue for general public. A company has to float a minimum of 30 per cent of the shares to the public and out of the 30 per cent, five per cent has to be set aside for the company’s staff, 10 per cent for the locals and remaining 15 per cent will be floated to the general public, the amended regulation said.

Hydro pulls Nepse
KATHMANDU: Hydropower sub gruop shed 37.97 points on Thursday to 626.14 points to pull the secondary market index by 2.07 points to close the day's trading at 344.84 points. Butwal Power lost Rs 66 per units share, whereas Chilime Hydro lost Rs 25 per unit share to pull the hydropower sub group that pulled the secondary market.

Tourist arrivals to Asia, Pacific up by five per cent

The year-on-year tourist arrivals to Asia and the Pacific increased by five per cent in the first quarter of this year, according to the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) preliminary figures for international visitor arrivals into Asia and the Pacific for the first quarter of 2011 released on Thursday.
The sharp fall in arrivals to Japan following the March 11th earthquake and tsunami, coupled with the decline in arrivals from the Middle East and North Africa, contributed to the subdued three per cent growth seen for the whole region in March, it said.
International visitor arrivals to South Asia grew by ten per cent in March and 13 per cent in the first quarter. All the leading destinations in the subcontinent – India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka – reported double-digit growth for the quarter.
Similarly, Southeast Asia arrivals increased by 10 per cent also had a strong quarter after recording growth of 10 per cent in arrivals for the month of March too. "The majority of the destinations in the sub-region reported strong positive results, particularly Myanmar (+30 per cent), Cambodia (+18 per cent) and Thailand (+14 per cent)," the report said.
However, Northeast Asia registered a sharply slower growth of three per cent for the quarter, depressed by the subdued one per cent growth in arrivals for the month of March. The devastating earthquake and tsunami hurt Japan’s inbound and outbound travel flows and neighbouring destinations including China, Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR and South Korea recorded subsequent declines in Japanese visitors for the quarter.
International arrivals to the Pacific, hurt by a weak result in March -- a drop by three per cent -- still managed to record growth of three per cent in the first quarter 2011, according to the figures.
Increases in arrivals to the leading Pacific destinations of Australia and New Zealand, were flat and negative respectively. However, this was somewhat offset by positive growth recorded by each of Kiribati, Palau, Hawaii and New Caledonia.
"After recovering strongly from recession-hit 2008-09, the travel and tourism industry in Asia Pacific has once again been confronted with many challenges in the first quarter of the year," Bill Calderwood, Interim CEO of PATA, said, adding tht the challenges included rising oil prices, political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa, and natural disasters in Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
PATA believes that, at five per cent, Asia Pacific’s inbound growth for the first quarter of the year was a good result given the circumstances. Growth was supported by the key origin markets of China, South Korea and India as well as by the strong intra-regional flows in the Southeast Asia sub-region. The long-haul origin markets performed well too, with arrivals from Europe growing by a relatively healthy six per cent for the first quarter. However, results were mixed for the leading European origin markets – the Russian Federation (up by 25 per cent), France (up by nine per cent), the UK (drop by five per cent) and Germany (drop by one per cent). Arrivals from the US grew by five per cent, while overall arrivals from the Americas increased by about seven per cent.
"It is now over two months since the earthquake and tsunami hit the coast of Tohoku region in Japan and the situation appears to be slowly returning to normal. Thankfully, many countries have eased travel restrictions. The larger part of Japan remains physically unaffected by the disaster,” he said.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Balance of Payment to remain deficit this fiscal year

Central bank governor said that Balance of Payment (BoP) will remain deficit in this fiscal year against the Monetary Policy 2010-11 target of Rs 9 billion surplus.
"The current account and financial account deficits are hurting Balance of Payment," said Nepal Rastra Bank Dr Yubraj Khatiwada here today.
Huge withdrawal of Indian Currency from Indian banks through ATMs and open border contributed to the deficit that was projected to be at Rs 9 billion surplus.
In the first seven months of the current fiscal year, the IC withdrawal through ATMs in India has been recorded at Rs 19 billion against Rs 3 billion in the same period of the last fiscal year. "The huge amount of IC withdrawal was also due to increasing informal economy at the Nepal-India border," he said, adding that the problem in reimbursement and low foreign aid mobilisation has also hurt the balance of Payment situation.
The governor has however, claimed that the economy is not in bad shape, though there are some problems. "The Fiscal Policy and Monetary Policy are on right track," he claimed, adding that the forex reserve is also in the comfortable position despite Nepal has to buy Indian currency selling the dollar.
There is problem in some of the financial institutions but the whole financial system is doing fine, Khatiwada said. "The capital market is in the corrective mood and low supply of easy money has also pulled the current secondary market.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Agriculture Ministry prepares draft to comply with WTO norms

Agriculture Ministry has prepared a draft of Plant Variety Protection Act.
"We are waiting for the government's approval of the draft Act to finalise it," said spokesperson of the ministry Dr Hari Dahal.
The Act is one of the key components under Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights of the global trade regime.
As Nepal has already become a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), it is now a challenge to formulate appropriate policies and enhance the institutional capabilities in order to comply with and take advantage from the WTO. “We is also preparing Food Safety and Quality Policy and amending some of the old Acts to comply with Nepal's commitments by 2013," he said, adding that the ministry is also finalising the draft of Food Safety and Quality Policy.
Nepal still has to get international Laboratory Accreditation and enhance capacity of employees to meet the WTO standard under agriculture sector, Dahal said, though, the country has already become member of International Plant Protection Convention, ratified International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, and established National Codex under the requirements of WTO. “We are in the process of establishing Post Entry Quarantine facility at Harihar Bhawan in Lalitpur also."
Nepal became a member of the world trade regime on April 23, 2004 through negotiation. During the accession, Nepal has made commitments in the agriculture, goods and services sector, which are substantial compared to those made by original members at a comparable level of economic development.
Nepal had made commitments to comply with all WTO trade rules latest by the end of 2006 and fully implement the provisions of Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade and Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures by January 1, 2007 but the country has extended the deadline to 2013. “We got the time extension also due to delayed accession," Dahal said.
Though, WTO members agreed to discipline the agriculture sector by reducing domestic and export subsidies at the time of the establishment of the WTO, they are negotiating on the new reduction commitments and time period.
Nepal will have to be cautious that the modalities for tariff reduction ensures enhanced market access in the developing countries and elimination of tariff peaks and tariff escalation in the developed countries -- incase these are not addressed by duty-free quota-free access.
Nepali exports of agriculture products are concentrated in few products and also in few countries like vegetable fats, wheat, lentils, cardamom, oil seeds are exported to India whereas the major market for sugar is Europe.
Thus, the focus of Nepal on market access could be on opening markets in developing countries rather than in the developed countries.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Aviation fuel surcharge, taxi fare hike

No sooner than the Airlines Operators Association of Nepal (AOAN) hiked fuel surcharge from today, the government is hiking taxi fare effective from tomorrow.
Though the Department of Transport Management had recommended Ministry of Labour and Transport Management to raise taxi fare by 18 per cent, the ministry is increasing taxi fare by 17 per cent effective from tomorrow, according to Department that said that mounting pressure from meter taxi operators due to rising petroleum prices and other maintenance costs forced the government to hike taxi fare.
The passengers will now have to pay Rs 27 per km. Earlierr it was Rs 23 per km with flag-down fare of Rs 10. The flag-down fare has not been hiked," the department said, adding that fare per 200 meter has increased to Rs 5.4 from earlier Rs 4.6. The government had last hiked taxi fare last March 26.
It has also raised tourist taxi fare to Rs 370 from current Rs 315 for 5 km distance apart from that taxi drivers are allowed to charge an additional Rs 53 per extra km.
Similarly, Airlines Operators Association of Nepal (AOAN) decided to hike fuel surcharge effective from Monday, to cope up with the hike in the price of Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF).
Nepal Oil Corporation has increased Rs 10 per litre from Rs 90 for domestic aviation fuel. AOAN has also expressed its disappointment on NOC''s decision on repeated price hike of ATF that will directly hurt its consumers. The board meeting of NOC on May 7 has decided to increase the price of ATF to Rs 100 per litre. Similarly, ATF (international) has increased to $1275 from $1075 on a kilolitre. With price hike, the state oil monopoly has made a profit of Rs 17.90 on a litre of ATF (domestic). According to member of Nepal Tourism Year 2011 working committee Dhurba Narayan Shrestha, there is hike of Rs 1,000 in domestic and Rs 3,000 in International flights'' fares after addition of fuel surcharge. However, among the 26 international flights Qatar Air is going to make an airfare hike from July 15 only.
Domestic Airlines earlier has increased its fuel surcharge by Rs 180 with rise in the ATF prices by Rs 10 per litre. As per the domestic airlines operators the surcharge has been revised only after a huge hike in the ATF.
However, domestic carriers have increased fuel surcharge by 20 per cent to Rs 775 per ticket from yesterday.
Domestic carriers had not revised fuel surcharge since March when NOC raised ATF price by Rs 10 per liter.
According to regulations, airlines can increase fuel surcharge when ATF price is increased by more than Rs 4 per liter but they can revise airfare only in two years.
Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) reviews airfare every two years on the basis of inflation rate, fuel price and maintenance cost.