Saturday, June 30, 2018

Nepal-India EPG agrees to update all bilateral treaties

The Eminent Persons' Group (EPG) – in a major breakthrough – has agreed to update all the bilateral treaties and agreements reached by Nepal and India in the past in line with the current reality of both the two countries.
The ninth meeting of the EPG that concluded in Kathmandu today prepared a single joint report that will soon be submitted to the prime ministers of Nepal and India.
The single report became possible after both sides agreed to replace the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship by a new one, to regulate the Nepal-India border by making people produce identity cards while crossing over to either side, and to jointly tackle common challenges in areas of combating terrorism, extremism and all kinds of trafficking, according to the nembers of the group.
Though the group had the mandate to review the entire gamut of Nepal-India relations and recommend updates in the bilateral agreements and treaties including Nepal-India Friendship Treaty 1950, it had to look into five broad areas of bilateral relations – politics, government-to-government ties, development cooperation, economic deals, and cultural relations – between Nepal and India. The formation of the EPG was first agreed during the Nepal visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August 2014, and formed in January 2016.
They said that the report will be submitted to prime ministers of Nepal and India soon. "The group will submit the report to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and then to Nepali Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli," according to a member of the group.
"This is a step forward in reviewing and resolving various bilateral issues," he said, adding that the group has succeeded in preparing the joint report in consensus. 
There are four members each from Nepali and Indian sides in the group. Bhekh Bahadur Thapa, Nilambar Acharya, Suryanath Upadhyay and Rajan Bhattarai are from Nepal and Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Mahendra P Lama, Jayanta Prasad and B C Upreti are the members from India. "Both sides have agreed to suggest the governments of Nepal and India replacement of the 1950 Treaty by a new one," according to Nepal coordinator of the group Bhekh Bahadur Thapa.
On the 1950 Treaty, which Nepal considers unequal, both sides have suggested replacing it with revision to articles 2, 5, 6 and 7," another member of the group said, adding, "On the issue of national treatment for citizens of the other country, both sides have agreed to consider the nations’ sizes of geography and population."
After the EPG submits the report, both the governments will be responsible for the implement the recommendations.
Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali had couple of weeks ago also said that only ‘two issues’ remained to be sorted out to finalise the report. The eighth meeting was held in New Delhi on April 12 and 13. The meetings used to be held alternatively in Nepal and India.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Danuwar wins top US honour

Sunita Danuwar from Nepal is among the ten activists working against human trafficking selected by the US Department of State for 2018 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) honour’s list.
Danuwar – the co-founder and executive director of the anti-trafficking NGO Shakti Samuha –  works to elevate survivors’ perspectives and raises awareness about human trafficking in poor and rural communities.
Issuing a press note today, the US Embassy in Kathmandu congratulated Danuwar for her efforts in the face of serious challenges to protect victims, punish traffickers, and raise awareness on human trafficking.
The US Embassy in Kathmandu also said that Danuwar was recognised for her commitment to providing services to survivors and at-risk communities across Nepal. “The report assesses governments around the world on their efforts to combat modern slavery and presents an updated, global look at the nature and scope of trafficking in persons," the press note reads.
US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo joined the advisor to the President Ivanka Trump to release the US Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report 2018 in Washington, DC. During the ceremony, secretary Pompeo also honoured the State Department’s 2018 TIP Heroes including Sunita Danuwar.
Danuwar is one of the only 10 anti-trafficking TIP Heroes selected from around the world to receive the international honour, which celebrates the work and achievements of exceptional individuals, who have devoted their lives to the fight against human trafficking. Danuwar was recognised for her commitment to providing services to survivors and at-risk communities across Nepal.
"Modern slavery has no place in the world, and I intend to ensure, through diplomatic engagement and increased action, that the US government’s leadership in combating this global threat is sustained in the years to come," said secretary Pompeo speaking on the occasion.
The report assesses governments around the world on their efforts to combat modern slavery and presents an updated, global look at the nature and scope of trafficking in persons. This year’s report also focuses on the effective ways local communities can address human trafficking proactively and on how national governments can support and empower them.
The report also recognises that Nepal has made progress to eliminate human trafficking through increased efforts to prevent it, as well as modest improvements in law enforcement and victim protection efforts.
It has recommendaed for improvements that Nepal can make to meet the minimum international standards for the elimination of trafficking. The recommendations include acceding to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol, which would send a strong signal of Nepal’s continued commitment to fighting human trafficking. The UN TIP Protocol – also known as one of the Palermo Protocols – has already been ratified by 173 countries.
The US Embassy in Kathmandu is committed to continue its support to Nepal government and people of Nepal in their efforts to combat trafficking in persons, the statement further reads.

Buddha Air begins Kathmandu-Varanasi scheduled flight

Domestic private air carrier Buddha Air today started scheduled commercial flights on Kathmandu- Varanasi-Kathmandu route to cash in on growing religious tourism between Nepal and India. The airliner has been operating chartered passenger services on the sector since 2012.
Varanasi – in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh – is a holy city for Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. The Kathmandu-Varanasi-Kathmandu flights will be operated twice weekly, on Fridays and Mondays.
Tourism Minister Rabindra Adhikari flagged off the flight today at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA). "We also have to focus cross-border flights to other Indian states to increase India footfalls in Nepal,” Adhikari said, adding that the airports in the bordering areas will be upgraded to international standards.
"The government has announced Visit Nepal 2020 with the aim of attracting 2 million tourists," the minister said, adding, "such initiative will help to realise the government’s goal."
"The plan to conduct scheduled flights is to promote religious tourism as the number of pilgrims has been growing," informed managing director of Buddha Air Birendra Bahadur Basnet. "The direct flight connectivity is not only to bring Indian pilgrims to Nepal but also to provide affordable packages for Nepalis going for a holy tour," he added.
Buddha Air will be operating a 45-seater ATR aircraft for the 50 minutes flight.
Buddha Air has also developed three different packages – Varanasi-Sarnath package at Rs 32,500, Varanasi-Bodh Gaya package at Rs 34,000 and Varanasi-Allahabad-Ayodhya package at Rs 41,500, according to the airliner.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

PM inaugurates ‘Gaddi Baithak’ post reconstruction

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli today inaugurated the historic Gaddi Baithak post reconstruction.
The historic building located at the heart of Basantapur Durbar Square was destroyed by the devastating earthquake of April 2015.
On the occasion of the inaugural ceremony of the renovated Gaddi Baithak the premier recalled the devastating earthquake that florred many historic sites apart from residential buildings, health posts, police posts and schools. "It also caused huge losses of lives," the prime minister said, thanking the US Embassy in Kathmandu for financially supporting the restoration of infrastructure.
The government is committed to maintaining the standard in reconstruction of quake-damaged structures, he said, adding that the country has entered into a new era with the promulgation of constitution through Constituent Assembly.
The historic Gaddi Baithak – dating back to the Rana regime – stands as a tribute to the European architectural style. It was retrofitted and renovated under the partnership of Miyamoto Global Disaster Relief and Nepal Government’s Department of Archaeology. The US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) has funded $700,000 for the reconstruction.
US Charge d’ Affaires Peter Malnak, On the occasion, said that the collaborative effort between Nepali and American cultural heritage experts has presented an opportunity to restore and seismically strengthen Gaddi Baithak.
"Gaddi Baithak is one of the most important structures of Nepal’s cultural heritage and history," Malnak said, adding that the real result was achieved by the US governments and communities working together collaboratively.
PM Oli and Charge d’ Affaires also jointly inaugurated the newly reconstructed Mahadev Temple, Kageshwor Temple, Laxmi Narayan Temple and Saraswati Temple in the premises that were built in the 17th and 19th centuries.
These Newari style architectural monuments were restored and seismically strengthened by Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust (KVPT) with financial aid from the American government through AFCP which had provided $2 million through emergency grant.
According to the American Embassy in Kathmandu, AFCP is the most significant cultural preservation initiative abroad by the American government and since 2001 it has supported over 850 projects to preserve cultural heritages in more than 125 countries.
In Nepal, over the past two decades, 22 projects were completed worth over $3.4 million.

Nepal, Belgium pact to spur economic ties

Nepal and Belgium today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for bilateral consultation between the two countries.
Foreign secretary Shanker Das Bairagi and secretary general of Belgium Dirk Achten signed the agreement on behalf of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Nepal and Belgium in Brussels today.
According to the MoU, Nepal and Belgium will hold consultations either in Kathmandu and Brussels or on the sidelines of international conferences to review their bilateral relations and cooperation. They also shared their views on the importance of exchange of high level visits, according to a press release issued by Nepali Embassy in Brussels.
The two sides while acknowledging huge potentials for enhancing economic collaboration and cooperation between the two countries underlined the need to promote trade, tourism and investment, it reads, adding that they also shared views on regional and global issues of mutual concerns and underlined the importance of multilateralism to address global issues facing the international community.
Similarly, foreign secretary Bairagi also had a meeting with the director general of the Directorate General of International Cooperation and Development of the Commission Stefano Manservisi at the latter’s office in Brussels.
Secretary Bairagi and DG Manservisi reviewed EU’s support to Nepal‘s development efforts in areas of sustainable rural development, education, health and good governance among others. They discussed the need to enhance Nepal-EU cooperation on knowledge generation, trade, investment and tourism, the press note adds.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Nepse retreats below 1,200-point threshold

Nepal Stock Exchange (Nepse) index shed some 15.29 points or 1.26 per cent to close the share market at 1,194.80 points today.
After hitting a record high of 1,881.45 points on July 27, 2016, the share market index had slumped to a two-year low at 1,168.55 points on March 26 this year. The market has been not able to look up after immediately after the Dr Yubaraj Khatiwada has been appointed finance minister. The investors have not been able to feel comfortable due to Khatiwada's attitude towards the share market.
The sensitive index also dropped 3.11 points or 1.22 per cent to 250.86 points and float index fell 1.12 points or 1.29 per cent to 85.67 points during the day's trading. Likewise, all the sub-indices recorded losses today. Banking subgroup, which has the highest weightage in benchmark index, fell 12.73 points or 1.24 per cent to 1,010.28 points, whereas the hotels subgroup dipped by 2.81 per cent or 52.02 points to land at 1,796.81 points.
The market witnessed total transaction of Rs 231 million today.
In terms of stock-wise turnovers, banking stocks remained active on the day led by Nabil Bank Promoter Share. Over Rs 13 million worth of its shares were traded on the day. Nepal Investment Bank was next on the list with a turnover of Rs 10 million. Besides, Kumari Bank, Standard Chartered Bank Nepal and Mega Bank were the other companies on the list of highest turnover of stocks.
The market sentiment has been hit due to left government's attitude towards the market and also the new tax rule – which is currently under review in the finance ministry – on calculation of capital gains tax on rights and bonus share.
Khatiwada, though, has urged investors to be aware of the risks involved in their investment citing investing without assessing the risks could lead to a crisis.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

रेल, तेल र समृद्धि सपना

प्रधानमन्त्री केपी ओली मंगलबारदेखि चीन भ्रमणमा छन् । धेरैलाई लाग्ला, ओलीले चीनबाट रेलमा समृद्धि बोकेर ल्याउँछन् । तर, कटु सत्य के हो भने चीन वा भारत वा अन्य कुनै मुलुकले पनि नेपाललाई समृद्ध बनाउन सक्दैनन्, सिर्फ र सिर्फ नेपालीले मात्रै नेपाललाई समृद्ध बनाउने सामथ्र्य राख्छन् । चीन, भारत वा अन्य मुलुक नेपालको समृद्धि यात्राका विकास साझेदार मात्र हुन् । त्यसो भए ओलीको चीन भ्रमणले के दिन्छ त, प्रश्न उठ्न सक्छ ? ओलीको चीन भ्रमणलाई नेपालले पूर्वाधार विकासमा चाहिने सहयोग जुटाउने अवसरका रूपमा प्रयोग गर्न सक्छ । बिनापूर्वाधार विकास समृद्धिको बाटोमा ओली सरकारको विकासका सपना नागढुंगा कट्न नपाई मृत भइसक्छन् र नेपाल भनेको काठमाडौं मात्र होइन, त्यसैले नेपाल साढे ६ दशकको राजनीतिक लडाइँपछि संघीयतामा गएको छ । त्यसको अर्थ पूर्व नेपालदेखि पश्चिमसम्म समाजिक न्यायसहितको विकास हुनुपर्छ भन्ने नै हो, अन्यथा संविधानमा उल्लिखित समाजवादउन्मुख अर्र्थतन्त्र झूटो नारा मात्र हुन जान्छ । हुन त पञ्चायती संविधानले पनि नेपालीलाई गरिबीको कुचक्रभित्रै राख्ने र अल्पविकसित अवस्थामै राख्ने भन्ने लेखेको त थिएन, तर पञ्चायती संविधान राजाले बनाएको र त्यसमा जनताको कुनै भूमिका नभएकाले स्वामित्व पनि नभएको भनेरै दशकौंको ‘सशस्त्र’ तथा निशस्त्र लडाइँपछि संविधानसभामार्फत जनाताले आफैंले संविधान लेखेका हौं । त्यसैले संविधानलाई पाखा लगाएर कुनै अधिनायकवाद नेपालमा फेरि जन्मन सम्भव छैन, २०१७ सालदेखि हालसम्म बाग्मतीमा धेरै पानी बगिसक्यो र एकतन्त्रीय, केन्द्रीकृत तथा अधिनायकवादी शासनका पितृहरूले पनि वैतरणी तरिसके । कानुनी राज्य, प्रतिस्पर्धी व्यावसायिक वातावरण तथा आर्थिक सुधारबाट मात्रै समृद्धि सम्भव छ । तर, आफैंले बनाएको संविधान र कानुनको स्वामित्व नलिने र सुरुबाटै मिच्दै जाने हो भने प्रधानमन्त्री ओलीका समृद्धिका सपनाको मार्गचित्र के हुन्छ त ?

वास्तवमा रेल प्रधानमन्त्री ओलीको समृद्धि सपनाको विम्ब हो भने, केरुङ काठमाडौं, वीरगन्ज काठमाडौं रेलले नेपालको आर्थिक विकासमा मद्दत गर्छ त ? एकपल्ट सोचौं । ओलीको वर्तमान चीन भ्रमणमा नेपालले रेलको विस्तृत अध्यायन प्रतिवेदन बनाउने सहमति गर्ने प्रस्ताव राखेको छ । तर, चीनले सम्पूर्ण अनुदानमा बनाउन अनिच्छा देखाएपछि अब रेलको भविष्य हाल चिनियाँहरूले गरिरहेको सर्भेको प्रतिवेदनमा भर पर्ने परराष्ट्र मामलाका जानकारहर बताउँछन् । तर, चीनले अनुदानमा रेल त्यसदिन बनाइदिन्छ, जुन दिन भारतले वीरगन्ज काठमाडौं रेल बनाउने पक्का हुन्छ । अर्थात् चीनले नेपालको समृद्धिका लागि काठमाडौं रेल ल्याउने होइन, उसको भारतसँगको व्यापार विस्तारका लागि पुलका रूपमा नेपाललाई प्रयोग गर्ने हो । भलै ओलीका लागि रेल समृद्धि सपनाको विम्ब होला, चीनका लागि विशाल भारतीय बजारसम्मको पहुँच तथा विस्तार हो । नेकपाका केन्द्रीय सदस्य देबेन्द्र पौडेलका अनुसार पनि ‘मेलम्चीको पानीले काठमाडौं धुने कृष्णप्रसाद भट्टराईको भाषण सुनेर हामी सानोमा हाँस्थ्यौं, आखिर २५ वर्षपछि भए पनि मेलम्ची त आउने भयो नि ।’ अर्थात् उनको भनाइको तात्पर्य सपना देखेपछि भलै २५–३० वर्ष लागोस्, नेपाल चीन तथा भारतबीचमा रेल बन्छ । तर यसो भनिरहँदा के कुरा भुल्नु हुन्न भने, फेरि पनि नेपालको समृद्धिका लागि सपना चीन वा भारत वा अन्य कुनै मुलुकले होइन, सिर्फ र सिर्फ नेपालीले मात्रै देख्ने हो, किनकि नेपालीले मात्रै त्यो सपना पूरा गर्ने सामथ्र्य राख्छन् ।

नेपालले कुल वस्तु निर्यातबाट प्राप्त गरेको आम्दानीभन्दा दोब्बर रकम बराबरको पेट्रोलियम पदार्थ आयात गर्छ । नेपाल राष्ट्र बैंकका अनुसार नेपालले पछिल्लो १० महिनामा जम्मा ६६ अर्ब ६५ करोड रुपैयाँ बराबरको वस्तु निर्यात गर्दा १ खर्ब ३२ अर्ब रुपैयाँ बराबरको पेट्रोलियम पदार्थ मात्रै भारतबाट आयात गरेको छ । अर्थमन्त्रालयले १ सय अर्बको वस्तु निकासी गर्ने लक्ष्य राखेको आधा दर्जन वर्षभन्दा बढी वर्ष भयो? तर प्रतिवर्ष वस्तु निर्यात भने घट्दो छ भने आयात बढ्दो छ । यसअघि पनि १ सय अर्बको वस्तु निर्यात गर्न निर्यात योग्य प्रतिस्पर्धी तथा तुलनात्मक लाभका वस्तुको सूची बनाउने, प्राथमिकीकरण गर्ने, अनुदान दिने अझ नगद अनुदान नै दिने काम पनि भएका हुन् । तर निर्यात बढ्दै बढेन, झन् घट्यो । कसरी बढ्छ त वस्तु निर्यात ? वस्तु निर्यात बढ्न वा आयात प्रतिस्थापन गर्न पनि नेपालमा बन्ने त्यही वस्तु आयातित वस्तुका तुलनामा मूल्यमा सस्तो, गुणस्तरीय तथा सहजै उपलब्ध हुने व्यवस्था हुनुप¥यो । तर, भन्सार मूल्य हेर्ने हो भने वस्तु आयातमा लाग्ने भन्सारभन्दा त्यो वस्तु उत्पादन गर्न चाहिने कच्चापदार्थमा लाग्ने भन्सार बढी छ । यो त एउटा उदाहरण मात्रै हो— कसरी सरकार नै नेपाललाई आयातमुखी अर्थतन्त्र बनाउन चाहन्छ भन्ने । यस्ता उदाहरणहरूको सूची लामो छ । त्यसमाथि अस्पष्ट कानुनको बुई चढेर कर्मचारीतन्त्रले दिने दुःख र प्रशासनिक झन्झटको त कुरै नगरौं । राष्ट्रंसेवक तथा सेवाप्रवाह भन्ने शब्द नेपालमा शब्दकोषमा मात्रै भेटिन्छ झैं लाग्छ, सरकारी कार्यालयको कामकाजको तरिका भोग्नेलाई थाहा छ । नेपाल तेल मात्र होइन, आज हरेक चिजवस्तु आयात गर्छ र सरकार आयातमा आधारित भन्सारलाई नै देशको ठूलो आयस्रोत भन्न गर्व पनि गर्छ । यी र यस्ता व्यवस्था चीन, भारत वा कुनै तेस्रो मुलुकले नेपालमाथि लादेका हैनन्, नेपाल सरकारले नै गरेको व्यवस्था हो । त्यसो भए प्रधानमन्त्री ओलीको आत्मनिर्भर अर्थतन्त्रको गीत किन उनकै मन्त्रीमण्डलले सुन्दैन त ? व्यापारघाटा कम गर्न कहिले भारतका प्रधानमन्त्री नरेन्द्र मोदी त कहिले चीनका राष्ट्रपति सीसँग छलफल भइरहन्छ । वास्तवमा नेपालको व्यापारघाटा बढ्नमा न त मोदीको हात छ, नत सीको । दुवै छिमेकी देशले नेपाललाई बिनाभन्सार निर्यात गर्ने वस्तुको लामा सूची नै दिएका छन् । त्यसैले नेपालको समृद्धिका लागि हाम्रा पुराना तथा अव्यावहारिक कानुन संशोधन गरेर लगानीमैत्री, निर्यातमुखी औद्योगिक वातावरण बनाउने जिम्मा फेरि पनि चीन वा भारत वा अन्य कुनै मुलुकले होइन, सिर्फ र सिर्फ नेपालीकै हो ।

समृद्धि सपना
अर्थमन्त्री डा. युवराज खतिवडा, काठमाडौं तथा ललितपुर महानगरका मेयर विद्यासुन्दर शाक्य तथा चिरिबाबु महर्जनलाई राजधानी आस्तानाको २० औं वार्षिकोत्सव तथा आस्तानास्थित फाइनान्सियल टावरको उद्घाटन समारोहमा निमन्त्रणा दिन गत साता काठमाडौं आएका गणतन्त्र काजाकिस्ताका भारत तथा नेपालका लागि राजदूत बुलट सार्सनबएभका अनुसार पूर्वसोभियत संघबाट छुट्टिएका अन्य धेरै राष्ट्रमा अझै राजनीतिक संक्रमण काल सकिएको छैन । तर, काजाकिस्तान पूर्व सोभियत संघ टुक्रिएर बनेका देशहरूमध्ये हाल आर्थिक रूपमा सबैभन्दा सम्पन्न तथा समृद्धिको शिखरमा रहेको छ । काजाकिस्तानको प्रतिव्यक्ति आय करिब ३४ सय अमेरिकी डलर रहेको बताउँदा उनको अनुहार गर्वले धपक्क बलेको थियो । उनका अनुसार सोभियत संघबाट छुट्टिँदा कजाकिस्तान आर्थिक रूपमा ध्वस्त थियो । उनी मेयर रहेको तत्कालीन नगरपरिषद् चारै महिनामा बजेट सकिएर टाट पल्टेको उनलाई अझै स्मरण छ । तर अन्य राष्ट्र अझै राजनीतिक संक्रमणसँग लड्दै गर्दा कजाकिस्तानमा के चमत्कार भयो र आर्थिक रूपमा नै कायापलट भयो त ? ‘अन्य मुलुकले राजनीतिमा ध्यान दिए काजाकिस्तानले आर्थिक सुधारमा ध्यान दियो,’ उनले बिस्तारै रहस्य खोले, ‘जो पहिला राजनीति ठीक पार्नुपर्छ भन्दै थिए ती अझै अस्तव्यस्त छन्, हामीले आर्थिक सुधार सुरु गर्यौं र आज पूर्वी सोभियत संघबाट टुक्रिएका देशहरूबीच मात्र होइन, विश्वका अन्य सम्पन्न मुलुकसँग पनि धेरै कुरामा दाँजिन सक्ने सामथ्र्य राख्छौं ।’
नेपालले त्यसो भए समृद्धिको मार्ग तय गर्न प्रतिस्पर्धात्मक व्यावसायिक वातावरण निर्माणका लागि आर्थिक सुधार गर्नुप¥यो । तर, विद्वान् अर्थमन्त्री डा. युवराज खतिवडाले ऐतिहासिक अवसरलाई उपयोग गरेर आर्थिक सुधारमार्फत आफ्नै प्रधानमन्त्रीले भन्ने गरेको आत्मनिर्भर अर्थतन्त्र बनाउने एउटा सुवर्ण मौका खेर फालेका छन् ।
आर्थिक सुधारपछि अर्को महŒवपूर्ण पक्ष निजी क्षेत्रलाई उत्पादनमा सहभागी गराउनु हो । भन्न त प्रधानमन्त्री ओली बारम्बार निजी क्षेत्रलाई ‘म रेल ल्याउँछु, तपाईहरू त्यसलाई खाली फिर्ता जान नदिनु होला, के भरेर पठाउने हो तपाईंहरू उत्पादन गर्नुहोस्’ भन्छन्, तर उनका कुरा सही भए पनि सारमा भने उद्योग चलाउने तथा उत्पादन बढाएर आत्मनिर्भर अर्थतन्त्र बनाउने वातावरण सिर्जना गर्ने मन्त्रालयहरूचाहिँ निजी क्षेत्रलाई पुलिस लगाएर समाउँछन् र अपराधीलाई झैं व्यवहार गर्छन् । कानुन सबैलाई लाग्छ र लाग्नुपर्छ तर किन निर्माण व्यवसायी मात्र समातिन्छन् ? उनीहरूलाई ठेक्का दिनेदेखि अनुगमनसम्मको जिम्मेवारी पाएका कर्मचारीवर्ग उन्मुक्ति पाउँछन्, यसको जवाफ छैन । त्यसैले एउटा सरल तथा सबैले बुझ्नुपर्ने कुरा के हो भने, निजी क्षेत्रको बन्ध्याकरण गरेर समृद्धि आउने भए पञ्चायतकालमै नेपाल एसियाली मापदण्डमा पुगिसक्ने थियो ।
प्रधानमन्त्री ओली भारत जाँदा होस् वा चीन जाँदा उद्योगी–व्यवसायीलाई अगाडि–पछाडि लगाएर लैजान्छन् र निजी क्षेत्र नै विकासको संवाहक हो पनि भन्छन्, उनको नियतमा कुनै खोट छैन होला । तर, व्यवहारमा उद्योगी–व्यापारीहरू आज त्रस्त छन् र बोल्नै चाहन्नन् । जब बोल्न समेत हिचकिचाउँछन् भने लगानी गर्न पक्कै हिचकिचाउने नै भए । स्वदेशी लगानीकर्ताहरूले लगानी नगरेपछि विदेशी लगानीकर्ताहरूले त लगानी गर्ने कुरै आएन ।
यसको अर्थ नेपालको निजी क्षेत्र एकदम प्रतिस्पर्धी छ र गल्ती नै गर्दैन भन्न पनि खोजिएको होइन, तर गल्ती गर्ने उद्योगी–व्यवसायीलाई सीधै पुलिस लगाउनुअगाडि उनीहरू सम्बद्ध आधिकारिक सरकारी नियामक निकायले कारबाही प्रक्रिया अगाडि बढाउनुपर्ने होला । नियामक निकायलाई सक्रिय एवं शक्तिशाली बनाउनु साटो गृह मन्त्रालय आफैंले सबै क्षेत्रमा हात हाल्दा नेपाल ‘पुलिस स्टेट’ बन्दै त छैन भन्ने शंका गर्ने प्रशस्त आधार छन् ।
पञ्चायती व्यवस्थामा एक परिवार, एक समूह वा एक वर्गलाई कानुन नलाग्ने र सर्वसाधारणलाई मात्र कानुन लाग्ने भएकाले ‘सानालाई ऐन ठूलालाई चैन’ भन्ने उक्ति प्रख्यात थियो । तर, संघीय गणतन्त्र नेपालमा पनि छानी–छानी केही समूह, संस्था तथा व्यक्तिलाई विभिन्न बहानामा कारबाही गर्ने परम्परा सुरु भएपछि प्रधानमन्त्री केपी ओलीको समृद्धि सपनामा कतै सरकारभित्रैबाट षड्यन्त्र त भइरहेको छैन ? प्रश्न सोध्न त पाइन्छ नि !
अन्त्यमा, नेपालमा कुनै पनि दल सत्तामा पुग्दा सत्ता वरिपरि घुम्ने एउटा वर्ग छ । फेरि तिनै वर्ग प्रधानमन्त्रीको वरिपरि देखिनु समृद्धि सपनाका लागि शुभ संकेत होइन । दलाल पुँजीवादका पृष्ठपोषकहरूले घेरिएको नेतृत्वले न त समाजवादउन्मुख अर्थतन्त्र बनाउन सक्छ, न त समृद्धि यात्राको मार्गचित्र तय गर्न नै । यसले त मात्र दलाल पुँजीवादलाई बढावा दिने काम गर्छ र कानुनी राज्यको मान्यतामा पञ्चायती शैलीको ‘मेरालाई चैन, अन्यलाई ऐन’ हुन थालेपछि जनतामा कानुनी राज्यप्रतिको वितृष्णा सिर्जना हुन्छ, जुन हाल बिस्तारै सतहमा प्रकट हुन थालेको छ । त्यसैले समृद्धि सपना सार्थक पार्न समयमै सचेत हुनु राम्रो । किनकि विश्वमा कानुनी राज्य भएका देश मात्रै आर्थिक समृद्धिको बाटोमा अगाडि बढेका छन् ।

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Nepal, China sign 9 deals worth $2.50 billion

Nepal and China today signed 9 agreements – including government and private sector – worth $2.50 billion on the second day of Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli's visit to Beijing.
The agreements – reached between the two governments and private sectors – signed at the Nepali Embassy in Beijing in the presence of Prime Minister Oli include hydroelectricity, cement industries, establishing highland food parks, water resources, cement factories, pashmina, and fruit cultivation and farming.
Some more memorandum of understandings (MoU) and agreements – between the two governments – will be signed tomorrow after delegation-level talks between Oli and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang.
On the occasion, chief executive officer of Investment Board of Nepal (IBN) Maha Prasad Adhikari and vice president of Huaxin Cement of China Xu Gang signed the project investment agreement (PIA) between the Board and Huaxin Cement Narayani Private Ltd. The Chinese firm has pledged $144 of FDI to generate 3,000 metric tonnes of cement per day.
Likewise, Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation, and China Communications Construction Company signed a MoU to prepare a detailed feasibility study on Eastern Terai River Training in Biring, Kamala, Kankai rivers. Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Energy Dinesh Kumar Ghimire and deputy general manager of China's Communications Construction Company Liu Dongyuan signed the agreement.
Similarly, Fortuna Investment and Guizhou Maritime Silk Road International Investment Cooperation signed another MoU on establishing the highland food park for varieties of fruits and vegetables. Chairperson of Fortuna Investment and Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce (FNCCI) president Bhawani Rana and Zhag Zao of Guizhou Maritime Silk Road International Cooperation signed the agreement of over $46 million for project.
Yunnan Xinhua Water Conservancy and Hydropower Investment Company, Hydrosolutions Group and Shanghai Investigation, Design and Research Institute signed a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) for the development of 164 MW Kaligandaki Gorge Hydropower Project. Hydrosolutions executive chairman Gyanendra Lal Pradhan and Xu Jianxiang of Yunnan Xinhua Water conservancy and Hydropower Investment and S Xiaoquang of Shanghai Investigation, Design and Research Institute jointly signed the MoU to develop the project under BOOT model.
Likewise, Shailendra Guragain of Siuri Nyadi Hydropower Plant Project and Zhang Yanfei of National Electric Engineering Company signed an agreement for the construction of 40.27 MW Siuri Nyadi Hydropower Plant Project in EPCF model.
On the occasion, Nepal Pashmina Industries Association and One Belt One Road (OBOR) International Trade Platform of CIC Mutual Trade Investment Company also signed an agreement for the sale of Nepali pashmina in China. Nepal Pashmina Industries Association president Durga Bikram Thapa and chairperson of OBOR International Trade Platform of CIC Mutual Trade Investment Company Shu Ya signed the MoU that guarantees purchase order from China would be between 200,000 to 500,000 pieces every year.
Similarly, Butwal Power Company (BPC) chairman Padma Jyoti and the representative of Sichuan Investment Group Company, Chengdu Xingcheng Investment Group Company and Sichuan Qingyuan Engineering Consulting Company signed a MoU on Framework Agreement for Cooperation in Marsyangdi Cascade Hydropower Project of 600 MW.
Siddhakali Power Company chairman Guru Prasad Neupane and vice president of Dongfang Electric International Corporation Chen Qiang signed a MoU on Cooperation Framework Agreement for the Construction of 75 MW Trishuli Galchhi Hydropower Project in EPCF model in the presence of Prime Minister Oli.
However, the agreement on much-talked about Kerung-Kathmandu railway is expected tomorrow though, the modality has not ben finalised yet. The land-locked Nepal is keen to enhance cross-border rail-road connectivity, infrastructure development, trade and tourism cooperation with China under its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to strike the geo-political balance.
Oli has been claiming that his government is fully committed in implementing the MoU on cooperation under the framework of the BRI signed with China two years ago in 2016.
"Our two countries have common views on the concept of Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Transport Network," said Oli after the signing ceremony. "Based on the broad framework, we want to seek cooperation with China on cross-border connectivity of railway, road, transmission lines and other related areas for mutual benefit," he said, adding that Nepal viewes the BRI as an important development initiative.
He also believed that China can help a lot in Nepal's socio-economic transformation as the country is marching ahead to achieve economic prosperity.
During his six-day visit, Prime Minister Oli is scheduled to hold bilateral talks with his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang and address a Nepal-China Business Forum and think-tanks in Beijing.
During Oli's visit – second visit as Prime Minister and also immediately after a trip to India soon after his election as Prime Minister and followed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's return visit to Kathmandu – Budhi Gandagi and West Seti hydropower projects will figure out or not is yet unknown, though both the projects have created lots of hush-hush between the two nighbours.
The then Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government had suspended a Chinese-funded dam construction deal – Budhi Gandagi – citing irregularities, and the incumbent Finance Minister Dr Yubraj Khatiwada in his budget speech stated that Nepal will construct West Seti by itself, which Chinese government immediately protested claiming that the project is still under Chinese company.

Friday, June 15, 2018

MIT launches global start up labs in Nepal

The US-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) launched MIT Global Start-up Labs (GLS) – a global initiative that promotes technology entrepreneurship among youths, especially in emerging nations – in Nepal.
Sri Lankan envoy to Nepal Swarna Perera; cultural affairs officer of US Embassy Grace Caroll; senior director of Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) Ananda Raj Khanal; registrar of KU Professor Bhola Thapa, MIT’s Prof Amarasinghe, and MD of Ncell Amarasekera jointly inaugurated the MIT GSL in Nepal.
The MIT, Ncell and Kathmandu University (KU) will jointly collaborate to promote technology entrepreneurship in Nepal targeting the country’s technological advancement, a press note issued by Ncell reads. "This collaborative effort that focuses on mobile technology and entrepreneurship, will engage 35 selected students of KU to take part in an intensive boot camp where instructors from MIT will help them grow as entrepreneurs and foster start-ups."
The boot camp will last until August 2 starting today. MIT GSL-Nepal will last for seven weeks, during which the students will develop start-up projects, from ideation stage to execution, it adds.
MIT has been conducting such programmes since the last 18 years in 25 countries, including India and Sri Lanka in South Asia, promoting economic development by cultivating young technology entrepreneurs.
The MIT GSL programme focuses on mobile and internet technologies and is structured so that students are exposed to the commercial possibilities of technologies.
"We are delighted to partner with MIT and KU to bring the MIT GSL programme to Nepal," managing director of Ncell Suren J Amarasekera said, adding that it is in line with the company's vision to help nurture ‘technopreneurship’ spirit among young talent through innovation.
During the launch event, faculty director of MIT Global Start-ups Lab at MIT Prof Saman Amarasinghe said that the programme has trained nearly 3,000 budding entrepreneurs across the world to become leaders in the new information economy. "MIT has brought GSL programme to Kathmandu for the first time," he said, hoping that some of the participants will be able to use this experience to revolutionise Nepali digital ecosystem and even make a global impact.
Likewise, vice chancellor of KU Prof Ram Kantha Makaju Shrestha, on the occasion, said that the boot camp will provide the participating students an opportunity to get utmost exposure and encourage them to go back to their own community to identify their needs and the potential that exists in their own community and come up with innovative ideas that would be globally validated and propagated.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Trading resumes after government rolls back decision to hike CGT threshold

Nepal Stock Exchange (Nepse) resumed trading – in the second half of the trading session today – after the government rolled back its earlier decision to revise the method of calculating capital gains tax (CGT) on trading of bonus and rights shares for two weeks.
The investors withdrew their protest against the new CGT calculation method enforced by the Inland Revenue Department (IRD), according to the investors. "The protest was called off following the government's decision to put the new calculation method on hold for the time being," they said. "According to the new calculation method, CGT on selling bonus and right shares has to be calculated with face value as the base rate."
"The new decision – announced in the budget for the next fiscal year 2018-19 – is irrational decision, which can never be implemented because investors will not pay capital gains tax when there is no capital gain," according to Nepal Investors Forum.
Earlier, the government used to charge 5 per cent CGT on trading bonus and rights shares in the secondary market. With the increase in the CGT to 7.5 per cent through the federal budget 2018-19 on May 29, the tax administration had also changed the CGT calculation method. Prior to the enforcement of the new rule, CGT used to be levied on the income made from the difference in actual price of shares traded and adjusted base price of stocks. Adjusted base price of the stock means the price of stock immediately before book closure plus the value of shares received from rights and bonus divided by the number of shares.
The investors had been protesting against the IRD circular that imposed CGT on difference between the actual price of shares traded and base price of bonus and rights shares that is Rs 100 per unit share.
The share market has witnessed a large sell off on Sunday as soon as the IRD issued the circular levying 7.5 per cent CGT on the difference of actual price of share traded and its base price. On Monday, the investors hold discussion with the government asking the government o take back the circular.
But their discussion ended inconclusively forcing the investors to not to do any transaction yesterday, though the market was open for trading. Yesterday, the ministry has also formed a committee led by joint secretary at the Economic Policy Analysis Division Uttar Kumar Khatri to examine the revision in CGT calculation and suggest a solution.
Yesterday witnessed not a single transaction in the share market – for the second time in two years – in a year after VAT on brokers' commission row, which has been eliminated by the budget.
The protest continued today as well and the investors did not do any transaction during the first half of the trading hours.
The benchmark Nepse index ended 13.91 points higher to close at 1,282.75 points even in the second half – one-and-a-half hour transaction – recording turnover of Rs 238 million.
However, the investors are still under pressure as they do not know what will happen after 15 days. The seven-member task force led by Khatri – including representatives from the IRD, Department of Revenue Investigation, Securities Board of Nepal, Nepse and CDS and Clearing, and a capital market expert as members – will submit a report in 15 days. "Based on the study report, the ministry will plan the next move from the next fiscal year,” Khatri added. "After mid-July, the government will decide a formula based on the recommendations of a task force."

IFC may extend $15m financing to Nepal’s Global IME Bank

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) – a member of the World Bank Group – has proposed to extend a $15 million financing facility to Global IME Bank to support the lender’s programme for small and medium sized enterprises, it said.
The bank is ranked as fifth among commercial banks in Nepal based on its total asset base of Rs 124 billion ($1,151 million) and loan portfolio of Rs 89.7 billion ($833 million) as of April 13, 2018. The bank will prioritise lending to enterprises in tourism, agriculture, micro finance and small and cottage industry sectors. SME financing will cover both daily business operations and capital expenditure. "This project is part of a concerted effort by IFC in the Nepali financial sector to enable local banks to access long term US dollar resources,” as per the disclosure.
Global IME Bank has a network of 129 branches across the country. The Nepal Stock Exchange (Nepse)-listed bank is 51.2 per cent owned by the promoter group while the remaining is held by the public. IME Group, chaired by Chandra Prasad Dhakal, is engaged in a number of sectors including banking and insurance, automobiles, energy, logistics, IT, infrastructure and tourism.
IFC has also proposed a $15 million investment in NMB Bank to support its lending activities in the SME space. IFC has been present in Nepal started since 1956 and is among a handful of organisations financing sectors like agribusiness, transportation and trade finance. In 2015, IFC financed $7 million equity in Business Oxygen (BO2) – a private equity fund in Nepal – followed by a $7.3 million add on investment in the fund.

Global FDI flows fall sharply

Global foreign direct investment (FDI) flows fell by 23 per cent in 2017 to $1.43 trillion from $1.87 trillion in 2016, according to UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2018. The decline is in stark contrast to other macroeconomic variables, which saw substantial improvement in 2017.
"Downward pressure on FDI and the slowdown in global value chains are a major concern for policymakers worldwide, and especially in developing countries,” UNCTAD secretary-general Mukhisa Kituyi said, adding that investment in productive assets will be needed to achieve sustainable development in the poorest countries.
The global fall was caused in part by a 22 per cent decrease in the value of cross-border mergers and acquisitions (M&As). But even discounting the large one-off deals and corporate reconfigurations that inflated FDI in 2016, the 2017 decline remained significant. The value of announced greenfield investment – an indicator of future trends – also fell by 14 per cent to $720 billion. Prospects for 2018 are therefore muted.
Global flows are forecast to increase marginally but remain well below the average over the past 10 years. An escalation and broadening of trade tensions could negatively affect investment in GVCs. Tax reforms in the United States are likely to significantly affect global investment patterns.
UNCTAD observed that the negative FDI trend is caused in large part by a decrease in rates of return. The global average return on foreign investment is now at 6.7 per cent down from 8.1 per cent in 2012. Return on investment is in decline across all regions, with the sharpest drops in Africa and in Latin America and the Caribbean. The lower returns on foreign assets also affect longer-term FDI prospects.
As a result of the investment downturn, the rate of expansion of international production is slowing down. The modalities of international production and of cross-border exchanges of factors of production are shifting from tangible to intangible forms. Sales of foreign affiliates continue to grow – up by 6 per cent in 2017 – but productive assets and employees are increasing at a slower rate. This could negatively affect the prospects for developing countries to attract investment in productive capacity.
Growth of GVCs has also stagnated. GVC trade peaked in 2010–2012 after two decades of continuous increases. UNCTAD’s data shows foreign value added in trade – the key GVC indicator – down by 1 percentage point to 30 per cent of trade in 2017. The GVC slowdown shows a clear correlation with the FDI trend and confirms the impact of the FDI trend on global trade patterns.
FDI remains the largest external source of finance for developing economies. It makes up 39 per cent of total incoming finance in developing economies as a group. It now accounts for less than a quarter in the least developed countries (LDCs), with a declining trend since 2012.

Home Ministry claims to take action against notorious contractors

Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa today claimed to take action against those contractors, who fail to complete their task within the deadline.
Addressing a press conference – on the occasion of completion of his 100-day in the cabinet – at the ministry today he warned of stern action against anyone who violates the law regardless of their status.
Though, he has been making claims of taking action against the erring contractors, two of the contractors – namely lawmaker Hari Narayan Prasad Rauniyar (chairman of Pappu Construction) of the ruling Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal and Sharada Prasad Adhikari (chairman of Shailung Construction), who is the landlord of Nepal Communist Party (NCP) co-chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal are in the news for their notorious acts.
The number of projects of these two contractors' have seen delays and time and cost over run and they have been misusing their power to get away with it.
“We have already made it clear that whoever violates the agreement and misuses the state coffers are criminals," he said, adding that the issue is under the jurisdiction of the law.
The government’s crackdown on non-performing and under-performing contractors will be continued, the minister asserted, though the contractors have been claiming that they have been targeted for political motive, and amassing the wealth like the government did with the transporters.
Asked on the on the gold smuggling case, the home minister said that ‘big fish’ of the gold smuggling racket have become restless as the investigation into the case nears its conclusion. "We have arrested some small and medium 'fish'," he said, being hopeful that the government will get hold of the big fish behind the gold smuggling.
Though, he admitted that some elements are trying to influence the ongoing investigation into the case, the case under trial at the Biratnager Court has been scripted to save what the minister said 'big fish'. The main accused including Chudamani Upreti aka Gore and DSP Shyam Khatri have surrendered to the court asking to save their life as they have been under threat. They however have denying their involvement in the gold smuggling and murder of Sanam Shakya claimed that they are innocent.
Minister Thapa said the deadline of the probe committee could be extended, if necessary, but the government is reaching a conclusion soon. The extended deadline of the probe committee is coming to an end on June 14.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Shares close lower amid CGT dispute

Share market today closed lower as talks between investors and government on newly implemented in Capital Gains Tax (CGT) ended inconclusively.
The government-issued circular yesterday changing calculation method on bonus and right shares of capital gain tax, which according to them has increased tax liability for them. In some cases, investors are liable to pay CGT even when a transaction is closed with loss, the investors claim.
The market turned volatile during today's trading as the index swung back and forth around the 1,270-point mark. At the end of the trading hour, the index was down by 5.11 points to close the market at 1,268.84 points as shares worth Rs 424 million changed hands
The Others sub index gained over 3 per cent but all the major sub indices logged losses on the day.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Nepal-Bangladesh to jointly promote trade, tourism

Nepal and Bangladesh could promote trade and tourism jointly, according to a higher Bangladeshi official.
Addressing a Round Table Meeting on 'Nepal-Bangladesh Relations: Exploring Trade and Commerce', in Kathmandu today jointly organised by the Asian Institute of Diplomacy and International Affairs (AIDIA) and Embassy of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh commerce secretary of Bangladesh Shubhashish Bose said that Nepal and Bangladesh could both develop a joint tourism package. "Both the countries can cooperate to formulate such policies that could offer a joint package to the tourists who can visit both the countries easily," he said
Saying that Nepal could be the chief exporter of commodities like tea, garlic, lentils, cardamom to Bangladesh, he also suggested that Export Function Bureau of Bangladesh and Trade and Export Promotion Centre (TEPC) of Nepal could sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to better facilitate trade and commerce between the two nations.
The visiting Bangladeshi commerce secretary Bose, on the occasion, said that both the nations need to cooperate to be self-reliant and support the South Asian market rather than wholly depend on their Western or European counterparts.
Likewsie, commerce secretary Chandra Kumar Ghimire, on the occasion, emphasised that the population of Nepal has great potential, if guided in the right direction and the utilisation of the demographic dividend will be in its full form if proper actions taken in the form of education and practice. He mentioned that partnership with our immediate neighbour like Bangladesh is necessary to achieve the estimated gross domestic product (GDP) of Nepal to be 8 per cent in the next fiscal year. "Liberal policies are necessary regarding tariffs and connectivity," he said, mentioning the agendas like generation and export of hydropower sector in Nepal, tariff related issues, and preferential market access, Rohan Singbad route, simplification of pharmaceutical products, etc will be put into action.
He also expressed the need of trilateral cooperation between Nepal-India-Bangladesh to better facilitate trade and commerce.
Likewise, president of Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) Hari Bhakta Sharma, on the occasion, wished to see the trade agreement happen between both the nations regarding the hydropower sector. He talked about the acute deficiency of infrastructure regarding tourism which needs to be developed to better enhance revenue from tourism industry. Sharma also suggested that there can be a common visa for Bangladeshi tourists to India and Nepal. He mentioned that a lot of things need to be done in future but the most important thing to be done is the immediate implementation of the decisions made.
Ambassador of Bangladesh to Nepal Mashfee Binte Shams concluded the round table, which aimed at discussing the possible trading arenas between the two countries focusing on connectivity through which trade between the two neighbouring countries can flourish and benefit both the parties, according to the organisers.