Saturday, August 31, 2019

Kathmandu Airport to be closed for seven hours daily for repairs from Sunday

Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) will be closed for seven hours daily for the second phase of airport rehabilitation – to restore the taxiway – from Sunday.
From January, the only international airport plans to open 24-7 for the first time since its operation in 1949, according to general manager of the airport Raj Kumar Chettri.
The airport will reduce operations until four months to December 31 – from 11:30 pm to 6:30 am the next day – as it has already asked the international airlines to reschedule their flights. But the airport will be opened exclusively for half an hour for Nepal Airlines flight to Osaka in Japan bypassing the time-sensitive ‘notice to airmen’ period during which the crucial second-phase of taxiway construction will be ongoing.
The 1,950-metre-long parallel taxiway that has been experiencing problems in its pavement, primarily rutting has now been covered with a new layer of asphalt. “Taxiway rehabilitation, taxiway-runway link road rehabilitation, and installation of runway centreline light will be carried out under the second phase,” he said, adding that the TIA will open for 24 hours, after the renovation of the taxiway is completed. “The runway and taxiway are being renovated in a Rs 3.78-billion project.”
China’s state-owned enterprise China National Aero Technology International Engineering Corporation has received the rehabilitation contract.
TIA sees some 400 flights, including 100 international flights, per day. The international airport’s runway was built in 1975. Runways of international airports, as per the international standard, should be refurbished with the use of new bitumen every 10 years but it took TIA some four decade to do the same. According to the data, the TIA handled some 7.19 million passengers last year. There were a total of 129,511 flights over Nepali skies – some 74 per cent of them domestic flights – creating congestion in the sky and on the ground.
For the last seven years, aircraft weighing more than 196 tonnes have been barred from the airport to prevent damage to the runway as it had been frequent occurrences of cracks in the pavement.
The 1,143 metres long runway of TIA was extended to 2,011 metres in 1967 and again extended in 1975 to 3,050 metres. Earlier the international airport was closed partially for the rehabilitation of runway, during the first stage of rehabilitation to renovate works on the 3,050-metre-long runway. The TIA had been shut down for 10 hours a day from April 1 for a period of three months to June 30, and is currently in operation for 21 hours daily.
Likewise, the pavement strengthening of the runway and taxiway was last conducted in 1995.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Nepal Ice Crity Awards concludes

The 11th Nepal Ice Crity Awards –organised by the Advertising Association of Nepal (AAN) in association with Nepal Telecom – concluded here today.
Inaugurating the event, minister for Information and Communications Gokul Prasad Baskota, said that the government is committed to implementing the clean feed policy in the country. “The government is preparing a bill and framework by cooperating with the concerned stakeholders,” he said, adding that the implementation of the clean feed will benefit the Nepali advertising industry.
The event also witnessed the distribution of awards under 31 different categories, according to a press note issued by the Advertising Association of Nepal (AAN). “Among the 61 nominee agencies, some 23 agencies received the Crity awards under different titles,” it reads, adding that Avani Advertising received six awards, Business Advantage received six awards and Prisma Marketing four awards. “Likewise, Out Reach Nepal grabbed four awards, V-Chitra three, Consult One three, Digitalin three, Key Advertising two and Original Entertainment grabbed two awards in the event.”
Meeting Point grabbed two awards, whereas Ad Desire, NNS Creation, Creo Communication, Digiadvertising, Full Circle, Makeways, MX Creation, Mars Advertising and Research along with Media Journal received one award each under various titles. “The Square Design and White Feathers also received one award each under different categories,” the note reads further.
The awards were sponsored by Nepal Ice and powered by CG Cement.

Asia-Pacific governments embrace technological innovations, regional network to boost disaster resilience

Governments across Asia and the Pacific this week endorsed a set of collective recommendations and initiatives, including scaling up regional cooperation to complement national efforts in reducing disaster risk, in recognition of the changing geography and intensification of disaster risks.
Convened by the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the sixth session of the Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction endorsed the operationalisation of the Asia-Pacific Disaster Resilience Network, to mobilise expertise and resources of existing networks and partnerships and deploy them towards developing practical resilience solutions.
“With disaster risk increasingly disrupting hard-won socioeconomic gains from development processes, countries in this region can offer rich policy experiences and lessons in dealing with the ever-changing dynamics of disaster risk,” said UN under-secretary-general and executive secretary of ESCAP Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana at the opening. She called for governments to strengthen collective regional preparedness and responses, as well as address the needs of vulnerable communities, adding, “The time is now.”
“We must be bold and innovative in our resolve to overcome the catastrophic impacts on our communities from the curse of disaster risk,” she added.
The Asia-Pacific region has some of the world’s most extensive transboundary disaster risk hotspots. According to ESCAP’s recently released Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2019, disasters are five times more likely to affect a person in the region than a person living elsewhere. The report also projects that if disaster risks are unmitigated, 119 million people in the region will be left behind in absolute poverty by 2030.
“End-to-end early warning systems save lives and are key to empowering communities to effectively reduce their disaster risks,” shared Police Lieutenant General Nadhapit Snidvongs, vice minister of Interior at the Royal Thai Government. “However, challenges are increasing to protecting poor and vulnerable communities, our economic assets and critical infrastructure,” Snidvongs said, adding, “As policymakers we are also increasingly concerned that disasters may reverse implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
“No country alone can succeed in restraining disasters with transboundary origins and impacts,” deputy minister for Disaster Management at the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority Mohammad Qaseem Haidari, said, adding that the opportunity lies in our collective wisdom and the sharing of knowledge and experience.
Countries in the region agreed to strengthen risk assessment and multi-hazard early warning systems for common transboundary disasters, by promoting effective regional and subregional efforts and applying technological innovations such as big data and space applications, to strengthen the region’s resilience.
In this regard, the Committee welcomed the offer of the government of Indonesia to host the region’s fourth Ministerial Conference on space applications and geospatial information.
They further agreed to promote the inclusion and empowerment of at-risk communities in disaster risk hotspots such as transboundary river basins, ‘Ring of Fire’, Pacific small island developing States, and sand and dust storm risk corridors.
The ESCAP Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction, which meets biennially, brings together senior government officials and experts to discuss pragmatic solution-oriented efforts to support disaster risk reduction across the region. This year, the meeting took place alongside the ESCAP Disaster Resilience Week 2019 which featured a series of events, workshops and exhibits in support of the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Health Ministers of WHO South-East Asia Region to discuss key challenges next week

Health Ministers of member countries of WHO South-East Asia Region are meeting next week to discuss ways of addressing health impact of climate change, the high burden of tuberculosis and strengthening capacities for emergency risk management.
Elimination of measles, a childhood killer disease; cervical cancer and other non-communicable diseases; and strengthening health services and workforce for universal health coverage are other key issues that will be taken up at the seventy-second Regional Committee Session of WHO South-East Asia from September 2 to September 6.
India’s Minister for Health and Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan, Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Upendra Yadav, and Regional Director at the WHO South-East Asia Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, will be addressing the inaugural session of the Regional Committee, the governing body of WHO in the region. Health ministers and senior officials from all 11 member countries and senior WHO officials will be attending the week-long deliberations.
This is the first Regional Committee Session after unanimous re-election of Dr Khetrapal Singh as Regional Director for a second five-year term. Dr Khetrapal Singh, whose first term was marked by unprecedented public health achievements and progress in the region, would be further firming up regional goals and targets along with member countries for the next five years.
The regional director’s vision for the next five years is to sustain progress, accelerate efforts and innovate to achieve the targets of priority health programmes.
The region has eight flagship priority programmes – measles elimination and rubella control; preventing non-communicable diseases; reducing maternal, under-five and neonatal mortality; universal health coverage with a focus on human resources for health and essential medicines; combating antimicrobial resistance; scaling up capacities for emergency risk management; eliminating neglected tropical diseases and accelerating efforts to end TB.
The regional priorities are aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and WHO’s global triple billion - one billion more people benefitting from universal health coverage (UHC); one billion more people better protected from health emergencies; and one billion more people enjoying better health and well-being.
Home to over one-fourth of the global population, WHO South-East Asia Region has made remarkable progress in several priority programmes in the last five years. In 2014 the region was certified polio-free. In 2015 Maldives and was certified malaria-free. Sri Lanka soon achieved the same. In 2016 the region became the second WHO region to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus. In the same year Thailand became the first country in Asia – and the first globally with a large HIV epidemic – to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis. Maldives achieved the same in 2019.
Bhutan, Maldives, DPR Korea, Timor-Leste and Sri Lanka have eliminated measles. Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Timor-Leste have controlled rubella. Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand have eliminated lymphatic filariasis. India is yaws-free; Nepal has eliminated trachoma. Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Thailand have controlled Hepatitis B.
Between 1990 and 2015 maternal mortality ratio declined by 69 per cent, under-five mortality by 70 per cent. DPR Korea, Indonesia, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand have already achieved global SDG targets for neonatal and under-5 mortality. Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand have done the same for maternal mortality. All countries in the region have multi-sectoral plans to address non-communicable diseases and are addressing antimicrobial resistance with ‘One Health’ approach.
In the region’s pursuit of universal health coverage, access to safe, good-quality medicine is being enhanced through the South-East Asia Regulatory Network, which was launched in November 2016. Investments in strengthening capacities for emergency risk management have resulted in better management of major health emergencies such as Nepal earthquake, the recurring events of cyclone, floods etc.

Central bank to issue new banknotes for Dashain from mid-September

The central bank is preparing to distribute new banknotes targeting Dashain festival from mid-September.
Spokesperson for the central bank Laxmi Prapanna Niraula confirmed that Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) is preparing to finalise the date to distribute new banknotes for the festive season as always. “The central bank will most probably begin to supply new banknotes from mid-September or 15 days before Dashain festival starts,” he said, adding that it is expected to circulate new banknotes of different denominations worth almost Rs 14 billion for the festive season this year. “The central bank had issued new banknotes equivalent to the same amount for Dashain last year.”
After circulating the new bank notes, the central bank scraps old currency notes of the equal amount to maintain money supply.
Last Dashain, the central bank had distributed lower denomination notes of up to Rs 27,000 for each person from the central bank banking office in Thapathali, Rastriya Banijya Bank and Nepal Bank Ltd. The central bank had also allowed individuals to get 100 units of banknotes of Rs 100 and 200 units each of Rs 50, Rs 20, Rs 10 and five-rupee denominations from the central bank and designated branches of Rastriya Banijya Bank and Nepal Bank Ltd.

Government mulls introducing inheritance tax

The government is considering introducing inheritance or estate tax to widen parameter of revenues on wealth.
Speaking at an interaction on ‘Contemporary prospects and challenges of Nepali economy’ organised by Nepal Chamber of Commerce (NCC) in the capital today, finance minister Dr Yuba Raj Khatiwada said that the Finance Ministry is exploring various options for inheritance tax although it has not yet reached a decision.
The ministry is currently discussing on the modality of inheritance tax, he said, adding that the issue will be tabled at the to-be-formed Revenue Board, though the ministry is planning an extensive discussions before introducing such tax.
Though, inheritance tax is common in the developed countries, it could flare a negative debate in Nepal as according to culture, the children naturally inherit their parents property after death. The inheritance tax is levied on property inherited from person who has died. The inheritance tax rates are determined on the basis of various factors including the condition of the residence, property, total worth of the inheritance, and the beneficiary's relationship to the deceased. Several countries across the world including Britain and Japan have such tax. The tax is either imposed as duty on the estate of a deceased or as an inheritance tax on the inheritor.
Though, Dr Khatiwada didn't go into the details, inheritance tax could be one of the perfect tools to check corruption and red tape in the country. But the proposal for inheritance tax as it has been proposed at a time when the three tiers of government are being criticised for creating 'tax terror' to meet their resource needs, has sent negative message to the business and industry fraternity.
On one hand the government officials and political leaders are being blamed for misuse of government funds and tax paid by the citizen in luxury vehicles, foreign junkets and paying perks to people's representatives, on the other additional tax, in the name of inheritance, is not going to please the citizens.
After the country is federated into three tiers of government, they are under tremendous pressure to manage funds for their operations. The local and provincial governments have lately been imposing taxes arbitrarily to meet their funds needs.
Dr Khatiwada, on the occasion, also said that the government will not excuse traders and businesses that are found to be evading taxes. “The private sector undoubtedly is the major force to drive the economy and the intention of the government is to facilitate businesses, not to trouble them but businesses should abide by the legal framework,” he said, urging the traders to come and have discussions with the government regarding their concerns or any change in policies that is hampering business growth.
The minister also reminded the traders that the government is tightening imports to give a boost to domestic production and encourage exports.
Regarding the government’s recent move of implementation of permanent account number (PAN) and vehicle and consignment tracking system (VCTS), Dr Khatiwada said that their implementation will prove to be a boon for the economy in the long run.
But the NCC president Dr Rajesh Kazi Shrestha, on the occasion, said that the government should hold enough consultations with the private sector before introducing such business-related policies.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Nepali embassy in Egypt organises Nepal promotion programme

The Embassy of Nepal in Cairo organised two-day tourism promotion programme concluded in Marsa Alam of Egypt today.
The two-day program was held under the banner of the most popular icons of Nepal and Egypt the Mt Everest and the Great Pyramids with the highlights of forthcoming ‘Visit Nepal Year 2020’, according to a press note from the Embassy of Nepal in Cairo.
Addressing the programme, ambassador of Nepal to the Arab Republic of Egypt Jhabindra Aryal said that Nepal and Egypt have huge potential of tourism, the press note reads, adding that the two countries attract tourists from around the world and they offer huge opportunities for visitors particularly in adventure tourism. "Ambassador Aryal also urged the participants to visit Nepal at least once in their lifetime."
“Nepal welcomes tourists as its guests and treats them like gods and goddesses," he said.
Travel and tour operators, travel agents, airlines representatives, hoteliers, resorts owners, and media persons attended the programme, where brochures and pamphlets related to Nepal's major tourist destinations were also distributed and displayed.

Nepali migrant workers may resume Malaysian employment

Nepali migrant workers will soon start going to Malaysia after almost 14 months as the two governments have come closer to an agreement.
A Labour Ministry team is visiting Kuala Lumpur for the final deal on September 11 for a two-day discussion as the Malaysian authorities positively responded to Nepal's demand concerning medical centers, informed the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security.
Every prospective worker from Nepal must undergo health checkup prior to their departure from the Malaysian government prescribed medical centres. But the dispute over prescribed medical centres has created confusion that made Nepal government stop sending Nepali migrant workers to Malaysia.
However, a note verbale – sent by the Embassy of Malaysia in Kathmandu to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday – reads that Malaysia will consider all 122 medical centers proposed by the Nepal government to perform BMS screening process for recruitment to Malaysia ‘in the future as long as they fulfill the criteria and requirements set by the Malaysian government’.
The Malaysian government has recognised only 36 of the total 122 medical centers proposed by Nepal to conduct mandatory medical test now. “… the 36 medical centers will continue to perform the BMS screening process for recruitment to Malaysia on the basis that these medical centers have been equipped with BMS; have been audited annually by the Government of Malaysia through the Embassy of Malaysia and Bestinet Sdn Bhd and have been certified by the Ministry of Health of Nepal and Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security of Nepal to conduct medication examination on Nepali going abroad for work,” reads the Note Verbale.
“The Government of Malaysia is of the view that the decision will ensure no further delay to the resumption of recruitment process to Malaysia that continue to be suspended by the Government of Nepal even after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the government of Malaysia and the Government of Nepal on the Recruitment, Employment and Repatriation of Workers on 29 October 2018,” the note further reads.
Malaysia is one of the largest labour destination countries for Nepal, with about 1.1 Nepali migrant workers currently working there. Around 130,000 Nepali migrant workers go to Malaysia each year, according to the data of Department of Labour.
According to an official at the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security, the ministry is preparing agendas to present during Nepal and Malaysia the joint working group (JWG) meeting on labour migration on September 10 and 11 in Kuala Lumpur.
The agreement – between Nepal and Malaysia – that ensured recruitment of Nepali migrant workers in Malaysia at zero cost has not come into effect due to lack of a proper mechanism and structure to facilitate recruiting process. According to the agreement, both governments had agreed to call a meeting of the JWG to review the progress and plan on future steps to be taken.
The supply of Nepali workers to Malaysia has been halted since last May after the government cracked down on Immigration Security Clearance and One Stop Centre that had been levying additional charges on Nepali migrants. Though the two governments signed a bilateral labour pact in October, the outflow of Nepali migrant workers to Malaysia is still uncertain due to delay in finalising medical-related issues by both governments.

Government starts operation of its own CFS in Kolkata

Minister of Industry, Commerce and Supplies Matrika Prasad Yadav today inaugurated the container freight station (CFS) built by Nepal at Kolkata dry port in India. The CFS came into operation from today itself.
The private sector has expressed its gratitude towards the government for operating its own CFS, according to a press note issued by the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) today. FNCCI vice president Kishor Kumar Pradhan also participated in the inauguration ceremony of the CFS. Other high ranking officials from the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies and Kolkata dry port and other Nepali stakeholders also took part in the inauguration ceremony, the FNCCI press note reads, adding that CFS is a warehouse, where goods carrying vehicles are kept to complete the legal process of import and export. “This initiative of the government will reduce the extra charges that Nepali traders have been paying for the import and export of goods via Kolkata dry port.”
The FNCCI had been requesting the government for this facility since long,” the press note reads, adding that the government has finally brought its own CFS into operation and FNCCI believes that this initiative will provide some respite to Nepali traders. “With the government’s own CFS, Nepali traders can now store their cargo containers at a cheaper rate.”
The statement adds that the CFS has the capacity to store around 500 containers.
Kolkata dry port was charging Rs 45 to Rs 65 Indian Currency (IC) per tonne per day from Nepali importers. However, after the operation of the Nepal government-owned container freight station (CFS), Nepali importers can now store their goods at half the amount, the press note adds.
Earlier, the government had launched the electronic cargo tracking system on February 15 to clear cargo vehicles coming via Kolkata dry port.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Indian Embassy, NRA jointly organise training on EXIM Bank's guidelines

Indian Embassy in Kathmandu and National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) jointly organised a training programme from yesterday on the Export Import (EXIM) Bank of India’s Line of Credit (LoC) guidelines and procedures.
The two-day training programme – that concluded today – was organised as part of a bilateral understanding reached between the two governments during the seventh Line of Credit (LoC) Review Meeting held in June 2019 in India, according to a press note issued by the embassy today.
The first day of the training programme – yesterday – covered a general introduction to the EXIM Bank of India’s Line of Credit (LoC) modality including project identification, prequalification and tendering process, and evaluation of tender documents, empanelment process, project implementation, and monitoring, the embassy press note reads, adding that the second day – today – of the training included a session by officials of the government on import-export and domestic tax for Indian contractors involved in LoC projects in Nepal. “A total of 28 Indian contractors attended the training session.”
According to the embassy, the two sides also agreed to collaborate on future capacity building efforts of the Nepali officials, who will work on the government of India’s LoC supported projects.
A total of 27 Nepali officials participated in the training programme. Three senior experts from the EXIM Bank of India conducted the training programme, the press note reads further.

Nepal Army changes Express Way alignment to preserve historic Khokana

Nepal Army has changed the alignment of Express Way to preserve the historic Khokana settlement.
Holding a press conference at its headquarters, the Nepal Army informed that the Nepali Army (NA) has changed the entry point of 72.5-km-long Kathmandu-Tarai Express Way in two places – Khokana area, and Mahadevtar-Lendanda according to the recently-approved DPR – to preserve Sikali Temple in Khokana and Kodesh area which hold cultural and historical significance.
Earlier, locals from Khokana had staged a series of a protest demanding preservation of the antique settlement, and the temple.
“As per the demand of locals of Khokana and Bungmati, we have changed the alignment of Express Way,” said spokesperson for Nepali Army Brigadier General Bigyan Dev Pandey.
Pandey further said the Army had consulted the Department of Archaeology to change the entry point of the Express Way to address the concerns of the locals.
However, the change in alignment has increased the estimated cost of the project though the distance has decreased. “The estimated cost of the Kathmandu-Nijgadh Express way has been reestimated at Rs 175.19 billion – which is Rs 63.19 billion more than the earlier estimate of Rs 112 billion – though the length has been reduced by 3.7-km to 72.5-km from its preliminary estimate of 76.2-km due to change in alignment,” the Pandey said, adding that Express Way has now added extra tunnels along Mahadevtari-Lendanda section following the change in alignment.
Ealier, the DPR by the Indian firm Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Transportation Networks (IL&FS) had estimated the construction cost at Rs 133.70 billion ($1.12 billion at the current exchange rate), if it were to be built with a soft loan. The cost would have increased, if it was a commercial loan.
Likewise, the Nepal Army had proposed Rs 213 billion estimation to the Cabinet but the widespread criticism has made the Cabinet to reduce the cost to Rs 175.19 billion. However, the project chief of Express Way Brigadier General Sarad Lal Shrestha said that South Korean consultant firm Soosung Engineering and Consultancy Co had estimated the cost of the project based on government set rate and international standards. The Express Way will be constructed based on ‘Asian Highway Class I’ standards, which means it will have four lanes and the construction material used for the pavement will be asphalt or cement concrete, Shrestha informed.
The Express Way that will extend from Khokana in Lalitpur to Nijgadh in Bara with a width of 25 meters in the hilly region and 27 in the plains is set to be completed within next three-and-a-half years. Earlier, the Nepal Army had aimed to complete Nepal’s first Express Way within two years of initiating the project.
“We plan to begin construction of tunnels and bridges by September-end,” Pandey said, adding the process to award tenders to build bridges and tunnels is in final stage. “The NA will build 87 special and normal bridges of the project with total length of 10.59-km, and three tunnels measuring altogether 6.42-km in Mahadev Danda, Dhendra Danda and Len Danda.”
Likewise, there will be three interchange and toll plazas in Khokana of Lalitpur, Budhune of Makawanpur and Nijgadh of Bara district, apart from 12 passenger underpasses, five vehicle underpasses, one passenger overpass, four vehicle overpasses and 141 box/pipe culverts.
According to the Nepal Army, some 151,000 trees will be cut down during the Express way construction.
The DPR of the one of the national pride projects, prepared and submitted by a South Korean firm Soosung Engineering and Consulting Company was approved by the cabinet meeting of August 19.
Of the total length, four km of the Express Way will lie in Kathmandu district, 7.9-km in Lalitpur, 53-km in Makawanpur and rest 7.6-km in Bara.
Due to delay in approval of the DPR by the Cabinet, the government has extended the deadline for Kathmandu-Tarai Express Way by more than two years, pushing the completion date to February 2024.
When the national pride project was handed over to the Nepal Army in August 2017, the government had set August 2021 deadline. But even two years since the start of the construction, the national defence force has hardly completed eight per cent of the work. The Army has already spent Rs 14 billion in the last two years. The government has allocated Rs15 billion in the current fiscal year for the four-lane national pride project.
The Kathmandu-Tarai Express Way was first conceptualised in the mid-1990s. But it failed to take off for almost a decade and a half. The government revived the project in 2013 and two years later, the Indian consortium won the bid for the project – in February 2015 – but in October the Supreme Court ordered a halt to the preparations to award the project to the Indian developer IL&FS.

Nepal Airlines to take off to Osaka after 12 years

The national flag carrier is resuming its flights to Japan after 12 years from tomorrow morning. The Airbus A330-200 series aircraft will be taking off at 2:30am on Thursday from Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) to Osaka International Airport. The Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) will fly to Osaka with 130 passengers – 90 commercial passengers and remaining 40 are representatives from NAC and Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation – according to the NAC spokesperson Ganesh Kumar Chand, who will be flying to Osaka with State Minister for tourism Dhan Bahadur Budha, joint secretary Suresh Acharya and six lawmakers.
NAC is offering Rs 36,999 per person for a one-way ticket to Osaka as a promotional offer, whereas roundtrip fare is fixed at Rs 72,814 per person, including value added tax (VAT), he said, adding that the NAC is flying three days a week – Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays – to Osaka. “It takes around six-and-a-half hours to reach Osaka from Kathmandu, whereas it will take around 8 eight hours to fly back to Kathmandu from Osaka.”
The NAC will operate direct passenger flights to Osaka with the Airbus A330-200.
Earlier, the NAC used to operate commercial flights on Kathmandu-Osaka route via Beijing twice a week between 1994 and 2007. But lack of aircraft, rising fuel price and lack of human resources forced the national flag carrier to halt the service 12 years ago. Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) permitted the corporation to resume its flight to Osaka after Nepal and Japan signed the Exchange of Notes on revising the Air Service Agreement (ASA) earlier this year.
Though, NAC had been planning to operate the Osaka flights from July 5, it started flights in August due to low flow of passengers till July-end. NAC, however, used to suspend flights to Japan during monsoon season when passenger flow declines 12 years ago too.
The NAC has targeted to fly some 63,000 Japanese tourists this year, according to the national flag carrier that is also preparing to operate direct flights to China and Saudi Arabia soon.
Currently, the national flag carrier is operating flights to 10 cities – including Dubai, New Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Qatar and Osaka – of 8 countries with its 2 narrow-body and 2 wide-body Airbus.

OYO Hotels and Homes launches OYO Lite

OYO Hotels and Homes – India and South Asia's largest chain of hotels, homes and spaces – announced the launch of OYO Lite, a lighter version of the consumer app in Nepal.
The app is also available globally, the company said, adding that the new Lite app incorporates all the functionalities of the OYO app and has been designed to work in low connectivity areas or low networks to enhance the user experience. “With a size of less than 800 KB, OYO Lite app consumes less space while offering an optimised user interaction time and a seamless experience no matter how connected the user is,” reads a press note issued by the company.
With this launch, OYO reiterates its commitment to providing quality living spaces to travelers. “It offers quality and affordable accommodations at the tap of a button with technology by its side,” the press note reads, adding that the launch further reinforces the fact that technology is deeply embedded in OYO’s DNA and plays a key role in solving all areas of guest experience. “At OYO, we are committed to creating multiple touch-points with guests for a seamless, convenient and comfortable experience by leveraging our technology prowess.”
The Lite app is a step forward in that direction and will enable travellers to make last minute travel plans without worrying about network and availability of quality accommodations at the tap of a button, according to chief technology officer of OYO Hotels and Homes, Anil Goel. “With security, quality, location and price being key considerations for a majority of travellers in the budget to mid-scale segment, OYO aims to help create a perfect space in every place by solving for each of the said considerations through a combination of technology and on-ground interventions,” he said, adding that OYO Lite has also been designed as a solution to key problems users face, connectivity and space/storage constraints on phones. “We feel that this product would be ideal for travellers who are remotely connected to the internet as well as those with basic smartphones.”
Over 330+ franchised hotels with 5,500+ exclusive rooms are a part of OYO’s chain in Nepal. Backed by strong local talent and execution, the company has been consistently growing its footprint in the country while reiterating its strong commitment towards adding value to Nepal’s hospitality industry.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Central bank to launch real time gross settlement system by mid-September

The central bank is launching the real time gross settlement system – to help ease settlement of online payment – in mid-September. “The central bank plans to launch the real time gross settlement system on September 15,” confirmed the central bank.
The real time gross settlement system is a fund transfer system in which money is moved from one bank to another in real time and on a transaction by transaction basis, which means there will be no waiting period. The real time gross settlement transactions can also be carried out between individuals via a legal framework. It is typically used for high-value transactions or urgent transactions that require and receive immediate clearing, according to the central bank.
“Once the system is activated, digital payment service providers will be incorporated in the system and they will be issued a separate licence to operate in the country,” according to the central bank. “Currentlym several digital payment service providers have been operating without being linked to the country’s payment system – which has led to revenue leakage and misappropriation of foreign currency – in the absence of a real time gross settlement system.
According to the central bank, real time gross settlement helps prevent risk by integrating digital payment settlement in its account before payment is passed to the collecting bank.
The central bank had – in April – banned accepting payment via AliPay and WeChat Pay – China’s most popular mobile payment platforms – as they have not been registered with the central bank. The central bank has termed the payments illegal as they were not incorporated in the country’s tax system, and Nepal was losing foreign income due to illegal use of these payment applications by Chinese tourists.
The central bank has after the incident is working – in collaboration with the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) – to introduce regulatory policies for digital financial service providers. The real time gross settlement system will help monitor all the payment systems, and payments of value added tax (VAT), income tax and excise duty can be made digitally.
Though, the payment system was under full control of banks and financial institutions (BFIs) until 2009, the operation of eSewa digital wallet in 2009, has changed the scenario of payment as customers can pay, send and receive money from their mobile phones and also over the internet even without a bank account. Apart from eSewa, there are many digital wallet products including Khalti, IME Pay, 4Enet Pay and I-Pay, currently.
Globally the central banks are facing the challenge to devise a mechanism to track payment settlement due to increasing number of digital payment service providers. Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) – the central bank of Nepal – also was forced to bring Nepal Payment System Development Strategy with the aim of launching the real time gross settlement system.
Though, Nepal Clearing House was established as a public limited company in December 2008 to digitise cheque clearing services, it also looks after multiple payments, clearing and settlement systems. Apart from facilitating electronic cheque clearing services, it provides automated clearing house services in the form of the Interbank Payment System (IPS).
Fllowing the implementation of the real time gross settlement system, the clearing house will serve as an intermediary to enable banks to initiate and process transactions between the real time gross settlement system and its internal system, the central bank claimed, adding that the real time gross settlement system will help minimise systemic settlement risk in particular.

Gold price drops by Rs 900 per tola

The price of precious yellow has today declined by Rs 900 to Rs 72,600 per tola (11.664 gram).
According to the Federation of Nepal Gold and Silver Dealers’ Association (Fenegosida), the price of gold has dropped to Rs 72,600 per tola from the historic record high price of Rs 73,500 per tola yesterday.
Likewise, the silver was traded at Rs 860 per tola today. 

Finance Minister blames auto importers of tax evasion

Finance Minister Dr Yubaraj Khatiwada blamed the auto importers of tax evasion.
Inaugurating the 14th edition of NADA Auto Show 2019 here today, he accused them of tax evasion while importing hybrid vehicles. Urging to run business honestly, he reminded that the government has a policy of tax exemption only for the electric vehicles. “The hybrid vehicles that run 90 per cent from fuel and only 10 per cent from electric energy are not exempted from taxation,” he said, reiterating that the government has given tax incentives for the import of hybrid vehicles to promote hybrid vehicles but automobile dealers, in turn, are importing battery-operated vehicles which run on diesel or petrol.
He also said that the government is ready to protect and promote those entrepreneurs wishing to set up electric vehicle plants. “Instead of depending on sales of imported vehicles, the government encourages automobile entrepreneurs to build assembly plants in the country itself and is always open to discuss this topic,” he added.
“As the nation’s economy continues to grow, people’s paying capacity is also increasing which leads to increase in demand of automobiles,” he said, adding that the government is liable to develop road infrastructure and safety, but until and unless the Melamchi Water Supply Project is completed, the government will not be able to construct black-topped roads.
Speaking on the occasion, NADA Automobiles Association chair Shambhu Prasad Dahal, demanded government to focus on road infrastructure development. Dahal, also asked the government to exempt excise duty on vehicle accessories. “Nepal’s automobile industry has been contributing a lot of revenue to the economy and it’s now time for the government to encourage automobile industrialisation in the country.”
The 14th edition of NADA Auto Show that will last until September 2 is organised by NADA Automobiles Association of Nepal and managed by Global Exposition and Management Services. The most anticipated automobile extravaganza is also seeing participation from 23 four-wheelers, 19 two-wheelers, 12 lubricant, nine tyre, five battery, 14 garage equipment and auto components brands and 13 financial institutions.
The venue also has a Traffic Information Desk set up by the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division where visitors can learn about road rules and safety.

Nepal and Saint Lucia established diplomatic relations

Nepal and Saint Lucia established formal bilateral diplomatic relations.
Permanent Representative of Nepal to the United Nations (UN) in New York Amrit Bahadur Rai and Permanent Representative of Saint Lucia to the UN Cosmos Richardson signed a joint communiqué to this effect amid a brief ceremony held at the Permanent Mission of Saint Lucia to the United Nations in New York this morning, according to a press note issued by Nepal's Permanent Mission to UN.
On the occasion, the two ambassadors expressed their confidence that the formal diplomatic relations will prove instrumental in bringing the two countries and peoples closer at the bilateral and multilateral forums. They also discussed measures to further deepen and expand the relations, the press note reads.
The two ambassadors also jointly informed secretary-general of the United Nations (UN) António Guterres about the establishment of Nepal-Saint Lucia diplomatic relations today.
A small island country in the Caribbean Sea, with its capital at Castries, Saint Luciacovers a land area of 617-sq-km and has an estimated population of 1,70,000. Tourism is a major contributing sector of the economy, which accounts for about 65 per cent of the total GDP. Many tourists visit the island country because of its volcanic origin and its location in the path of the northeastern trade winds and warm tropical maritime climate. The country exports bananas, cardboard cartons, clothing, coconut products and electronic goods.
Saint Lucia became member of the UN on September 18, 1979 following its independence from Great Britain.
Both Nepal and Saint Lucia are members of the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). With this development, the number of countries with which Nepal has established diplomatic relations now reached 167.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Supreme Court rules in favour of Ncell

The Supreme Court today quashed a decision of the Large Taxpayers' Office (LTO) to impose Rs 62.63 billion capital gain tax (CGT) on the Ncell Private Limited, popularly known as Ncell.
A five-member full bench of justices Tej Bahadur KC, Purushottam Bhandari, Dambar Bahadur Shahi, Sushmalata Mathema and Manoj Kumar Sharma has annulled the claim of LTO that the telecom service provider has to pay remaining Rs 39 billion as CGT as it has already paid Rs 23.57 billion.
The Ncell – on April 22 two days before the expiry of the seven-day deadline for settling the balance of the CGT assessment including fines and interest – had moved the Supreme Court challenging the CGT assessment made by the LTO. The telecom service provider claimed that it needed to pay only Rs 14.5 billion as CGT, and not Rs 39.06 billion as determined by LTO for the sale of its shares to Axiata Investment UK Ltd by the TeliaSonera. The SC had – after the Ncell’s claim – stayed the LTO’s decision to collect remaining Rs 39.06 billion tax. But today issuing a verdict, the apex court gave a ruling in Ncell’s favour and against Large Taxpayers’ Office (LTO) for determining Rs 62.63 billion as applicable CGT on Ncell buyout deal.
The Ncell had maintained that the tax assessment was against the SC verdict handed down by a larger full bench led by Chief Justice Cholendra SJB Rana on February 7 this year. The court verdict stated that Ncell and its parent company Axiata should pay the CGT and asked the LTO to assess the tax within three months. The LTO had simply transferred the assessed tax from TeliaSonera to Ncell and its parent company Axiata.
The LTO had officially determined Rs 62.63 billion as applicable CGT on the Ncell buyout deal on April 16 and ordered Ncell to deposit remaining Rs 39.06 billion, as the telecom company had already deposited Rs 23.57 billion as CGT and late fee.
Today the SC ruled that LTO’s decision to impose remaining Rs 39.06 billion CGT on Ncell was wrong, as the LTO calculated the whole due amount without deducting the advance CGT that Ncell had paid earlier. After the decision, the Ncell has to pay Rs 14.5 billion in CGT in the Ncell buyout deal by the Axiata Investment UK Ltd from the TeliaSonera, a public listed company from Scandinavian country that boosts transparency in financial dealings. 

Elderly to get 50 per cent discount on airfare : Tourism Minister

Unveiling his one-year work plan, tourism minister Yogesh Bhattarai today during a press meet announced that domestic passengers above 70 years will get 50 per cent discount on their airfare.
The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation will hold discussions with stakeholders to implement the new policy, he said, claiming that his ministry will form new legal provisions and reform the old policies to meet the standards of the European Union (EU) aiming to get off from the EU’s air safety list.
Presenting a gamut of his to-do list for a year at a press meet – almost a month after his appointment as the tourism minister – Bhattarai said that the ministry will conduct a feasibility study of opening an international standard flying school to produce skilled manpower for the aviation sector. “Draft of new acts will be prepared soon,” he said, adding that he is prepared to complete all the activities that are scheduled for the current fiscal year efficiently, citing that he has a strong team backing him up.
Likewise, the minister has also announced to provide incentive package to airline companies that operate flights to Gautam Buddha International Airport (GBIA). “Construction of GBIA is all set to be completed by December,” he said, hoping that the airport will be fully operational within three months after the completion of the construction. “We will be providing incentive packages to those airline companies that operate commercial flights to and from GBIA.”
He also claimed that the site clearance for Nijgadh International Airport (NIA) will also be completed by the end of the year.
On the occasion, minister Bhattarai also said that the ministry will issue expression of interest (EoI) to develop those airports as air sports activity centres. Many a airports in the country have remained non-operational at the moment.
Bhattarai, talking about upgradation of Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), said that the country’s sole international airport is capable of providing 24-hour service. “The ministry will offer special packages to those airline companies that operate flights after midnight,” he said, adding that the ministry will also prepare new criteria for VIP movement at TIA to address the congestion and traffic jams during VIP movements. “The ministry is also preparing to organise a Global Tourism Ministers’ Conclave – by the end opf the year – in association with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) with the theme ‘New Year in Nepal’, to make Visit Nepal Year (VNY) 2020 successful.”
Bhattarai, on the occasion, also announced about organising tourism investment summit, to complete the work of Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) to provide skill-based training related with tourism sector to 12,000 interested candidates and to instal GPS tracking system to make mountaineering sector more reliable and secure.

Ncell joins hand with Rato Bangala and government to hold international conference on quality education

The second International Conference on Quality Education 2019 (ICQE2019) concluded here in Kathmandu today.
Ncell – under its corporate social responsibility (CSR) – had partnered with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) and Rato Bangala Foundation (RBF) to organize the three-day conference that saw participation of officials from the government as well as district level, teachers and national and international researchers, according to a press note issued by the Ncell.
The chief guest of the opening ceremony of the conference, education minister Giriraj Mani Pokharel, on the occasion, said that Nepal will be able to achieve its 2030 of Nepal's School Sector Development Plan (SSDP) vision of ensuring equitable access to safe and quality education for all only by focusing on providing quality education in the classroom, from early-childhood onward.
"We are extremely happy to partner with MoEST for its overarching strategic plan to attain SSDP Goals,” the press note quoted chief executive office of Ncell Andy Chong, as saying during the programme. “Ncell's focus is to empower foundational skills by providing platform for teachers from public sector that do not have access to training opportunities.”
The conference featured more than 75 expert-led presentations, 60 workshops, 14 parallel sessions over the three days, focusing around the theme ‘Learning by doing approach on early-childhood development model’, the press note reads, adding that over 700 participants, including more than 300 government level teachers from 55 districts, attended the conference. “Experts from Singapore, the United States, India, China, and Bangladesh trained the participants in the conference.”
Ncell aims at empowering education from the roots by delivering special skills, knowledge, and expertise within the education sector to help empower in aspects such as skills training, enhancing early-childhood education and knowledge sharing with those involved in the education sector at large, with this partnership in ICQE 2019 with Education Ministry and Rato Bangala Foundation, the telecom service provider claimed.
The post-conference workshops are scheduled to be organised at each of the seven provinces with a focus on quality education at early childhood education, the press note adds. 

Gold price soars to reach Rs 73,500 per tola

The precious yellow metal –that has been breaking its record price every day – has set a new record of Rs 73,500 per tola (11.664 gram) in the domestic market today also.
The price of fine gold has reached Rs 73,500 per tola, confirmed the Federation of Nepal Gold and Silver Dealers’ Association (Fenegosida).
Due to trade war between US and China, the price of the gold may continue to set new record high, the association said, adding that the international market price will push the price in the domestic market too. 

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Third Responsible Business Summit next week

National Business Initiative (NBI) is organising the third Responsible Business Summit on September 5-6 in the capital.
Organising a press meet, president of NBI Padma Jyoti confirmed that the two-day summit will help promote business leadership in attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Nepal. “It will cover 16 different sessions, in which various corporate groups, SMEs, banks, government agencies, development partners and other stakeholders will discuss about the scope, nature, benefits and challenges of business responsibility in Nepal,” he said, adding that the summit is also expected to motivate and facilitate businesses to integrate SDGs into mainstream business practices and also support in implementation of corporate social responsibility laws of Nepal. “Organised by National Business Initiative (NBI) in partnership with Kathmandu University (KU), the summit will see some 500 top executives, businesspeople and activists engaged in responsible business.”
The summit will cover issues related to fast-paced and sustainable prosperity to address needs of stakeholders, including employees, consumers and local communities. “Discussions will also be held on ensuring sustainability of natural and man-made environment and to explore partnerships necessary to achieve SDGs in Nepal,” Jyoti added.
The summit – to be inaugurated by acting prime minister Ishwor Pokharel – will cover Prosperity, People, Planet and Partnership.

Employers need to embrace social security scheme: Minister Bista

Minister for Labour, Employment and Social Security Gokarna Bista today said that employers need not worry and should embrace the contribution-based social security scheme (SSF), which demanded a small contribution from employers to relieve them from greater economic risk.
Addressing a programme organised by the Joint Trade Union Coordination Center (JTUCC) here today, he said that the employers need not panic as the scheme will not add any financial burden to them. “Under the scheme, employees shall contribute 11 per cent of the basic pay to the fund and employers concerned shall provide 20 per cent to take a total 31 per cent contribution.,” he said, adding that the scheme will be eventually beneficial for both employees and employers. “The trade union should play a key role for the effective enforcement of the scheme.”
The scheme has come as a tripartite agreement among the government, employees and workers and no one could escape it, he added.
Accusing trade union leaders and entrepreneurs for obstructing effective implementation of social security programme across the country, he Bista said that the government has been unable to effectively implement the social security scheme owing to politicians, who own businesses and industries and have not complied with the government’s direction to sign up for the scheme.
He also called the trade union to hold in-depth discussions on the matter. The minister asked the employers to enlist employers and workers under the scheme by coming October 17, otherwise face the music.
Minister Bista has held meeting with the PABSON on the matter the day before and with hoteliers today. He is holding next meeting with the banks and finances.
The JTUCC chair Binod Shrestha, on the occasion, sought the stronger role of the government to implement the scheme effectively. So far, some 4,092 enterprises and 35,500 workers have been listed in the scheme that came into effect from July 17, 2018. According to the official statistics, there are around 900,000 enterprises operating in the country.
The final deadline for all the companies, industries and enterprises to register in the programme has been fixed at October 17. 

Canada grant supports UN ESCAP’s project to help women entrepreneurs in Nepal

Global Affairs Canada, in partnership with the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Government of Nepal, held a consultation today related to a new initiative to support the growth of women entrepreneurs as a strategy to address poverty reduction, improve social well-being and promote sustainable economic growth.
The five-year project titled, ‘Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship: Creating a Gender-Responsive Entrepreneurial Ecosystem’ aims to create an enabling policy and business environment that enhances women entrepreneurs’ access to capital through innovative financing mechanisms as well as increase their use of ICT and digital solutions.
In September 2018, Global Affairs Canada announced a $13.9 million grant to ESCAP, over five years (2018-2023) for projects that aim to reduce the barriers women-owned micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in South Asia, Southeast Asia and the South Pacific face in growing their businesses. For example, access to finance is a key barrier that the project will address through the use of innovative financing mechanisms, such as impact investing and women`s bonds.
More than 110 policymakers, MSME representatives and other stakeholders participated in today’s national consultation on integrating women’s needs and considerations into policy and other initiatives supporting entrepreneurship, financial inclusion and creating an enabling environment for businesses.
“Promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls is the most effective approach to achieving sustainable development goals,” said acting deputy ambassador of Canada to Nepal Amanda Strohan. “However, women entrepreneurs continue to face barriers,” she said, adding that tackling the unique challenges faced by women entrepreneurs will require innovative approaches, including novel financing mechanisms and technologies. “Canada is pleased to support the Catalysing Women’s Entrepreneurship project to provide women-owned enterprises in Nepal with the resources, skills and an enabling environment needed to grow their businesses and generate sustainable and inclusive economic growth.”
“Developing women’s entrepreneurship presents an invaluable tool for boosting Nepal’s economy as well as empowering women,” said UN under-secretary-general and executive secretary of ESCAP Armida Alisjahbana. “Yet women’s entrepreneurship is hindered by lack of access to finance and ICT tools for business development,” she said, adding that the case for investing in women’s economic empowerment is compelling. “Women are true agents of change whose innovations can lift companies, communities, and countries. Together, governments, the UN, civil society and the private sector can improve women’s and girls’ prospects.”
During the consultation, ESCAP and the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) announced the winners of the project’s Women Fintech MSME Innovation Fund and thanked the Government of Canada, the Dutch Development Bank (FMO) and Visa Inc for their support to this initiative.
Nepal’s Aeloi Technologies and Khalti (Sparrow Pay) were among the 10 winning innovative business models.
In recent years, Nepal has made significant progress regarding its socio-economic status. However, it is estimated that women own only three per cent of MSMEs and face various barriers to entrepreneurship. These barriers include, amongst others, limited access to finance and ICT infrastructure, lack of financial and business knowledge, and discriminatory social norms.
The Canada Fund for Local Initiatives announced a total grant of $77,900 to three projects to be implemented by civil society organizations in Nepal this year. The projects include reducing incidences of sexual and gender-based violence in Godavari Municipality in Nepal through transformative behavioural change, including awareness-raising, training and advocacy; to be implemented by Prerana. Likewise, decreasing violence and discrimination against LGBTIQ+ people in Nepal through sensitisation workshops, capacity building, media messaging, and local stakeholder coordination meetings; to be implemented by Blue Diamond Society, and promoting the adoption of climate smart agriculture practices among female smallholder farmers of Kageshwori Manohara Municipality through integrated training and establishment of resource centres/demonstration sites of Climate Smart technologies; to be implemented by Small Earth Nepal.

Gold price hits a new record

The price of precious yellow metal has set a new record today in the domestic market by rising Rs 1,200 per tola (11.664 grams) overnight to be traded at Rs 72,500. “The gold is being traded at 72,500 per tola today at the domestic market,” according to Federation of Nepal Gold and Silver Dealers’ Association (Fenegosida) that fixes reference price for gold dealers across the country every day. “Similarly, the price of silver has also increased by Rs 25 per tola today, making it Rs 850 per tola.”
As the American Federal Reserve lowering the interest rate for the first time in years, the price of gold in the international market has sharply increased,” the association said, adding that the domestic market has witnessed a sharp rise in the gold price due to rise in the international market.
The precious yellow metal was traded for Rs 71,300 per tola on Friday.
The price has been rising in line with the international market and American Federal Reserve Bank's recent cut in interest, US-China trade war, and current Kashmir tension, the association said, adding that due to continuous rise in price, the daily demand has been dropping with only 10 per cent daily demand. “The daily demand of gold that used to stand at 35 kg per day has dropped to around 3 kg per day.”

Auto dealers call for lowering tariffs to support growth

The dealers called for the lowering of the tariffs on the imports of automobiles.
The auto sales growth rate has dropped to 1.5 per cent from an average growth rate of 20 per cent to 25 per cent – from a year ago – also due to unclear and inconsistent policies, apart from high tariff on imports and government perception that automobiles are luxury goods, they said, adding that the drop in auto sales will hit the government treasury too.
“The slowdown in the growth of automobile business is not a positive sign, according to the immediate past president of Nada – the umbrella organisation of automobile dealers across the country – that is organising Nada Auto Show 2019 from the day after. The slow growth due to rising tariffs on imports of vehicles and tightening of credit flow to the auto sector has not only hit the business but also the revenue mobilisation target of the current fiscal year. The government gets nearly Rs 100 billion in revenue from the auto sector every year.
“The government has imposed a tariff of 255 per cent to 320 per cent on the import of automobiles.”
People, though can ride a car based on their capacity, the high tariff rate is curbing the rights of the people to ride a car, he added.
The failure of the government to expand the road network and build infrastructure are also some of the roadblocks for the smooth ride of the automobile business in the country. “The complaints that there are a lot of vehicles on the road which has caused traffic congestion, is just due to fewer and smaller roads in the country,” he said, adding that the successive governments have failed to spend the budget allocated for the construction of roads.
The recent government move to make permanent account number (PAN) mandatory, online-based vehicle and consignment tracking system (VCTS) and mandatory enrollment in the social security fund (SSF) scheme also made the doing business difficult in Nepal, Shrestha added.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Department of Railways seeks human resources

The Department of Railways has sought 200 technical and non-technical staffers to revive the Nepal Railway Company to timely operate Janakpur-Kurtha railways.
The government is planning to operate the Janakpur-Kurtha railway service from October and the department has asked the government to provide staffer to timely start the service.
Nepal Railway Company used to operate Janakpur-Jayanagar railways – which is now non-functional – since 2014, some five years ago – which the government is planning to resume by the end of this year.
“We asked the line ministry, Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, in writing to provide us with necessary human resources to revive the company and start Janakpur-Kurtha railway service from October,” Department of Railways confirmed. “The government is planning to operate both passenger and freight trains in the Janakpur-Jayanagar section.”
The Janakpur-Jayanagar railway track reconstruction work is ongoing – at present – with technical and financial support from India..
The department has started the process to revive the government-owned railway company from April 24, the department informed, adding that it has already amended the bylaws for the operation of railway service and hiring of staffers. “It is necessary to revise the previous bylaws and make them more contextual to revamp the railway company and also resume the railway service.”
The department needs to revamp the current organisational structure of the company, apart from adding human resources, also as the government is planning to construct various railway projects across the country.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Civil aviation's conference concludes, Dhaka next destination

Announcing to hold next conference in Dhaka of Bangladesh on November 2020, the 56th Conference of Directors General of Civil Aviation- Asia and Pacific Region (DGCA) concluded here today.
During the closing ceremony, president of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, director-general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) Rajan Pokhrel and chairman of Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) Muhammad Mafidur Rahman addressed.
The closing ceremony of the conference – with theme ‘Harmonising Efforts to Meet Capacity Constraints’ – also witnessed handover of ICAO flag to the CAAB by CAAN, to host the 57th Conference next year. ICAO organises the conference every year
According to a press release issued by the ICAO, Aliu appreciated concerned bodies of member states for cooperating and collaborating in helping the states live up to their ICAO obligation. “These are important priorities to consider today given the critical relationship between the concerted actions taken by governments to invest in and improve their levels of ICAO compliance, and the resulting increase in international air connectivity which is so essential to the prosperity of all states, especially those with 'landlocked' or 'small island developing' status," Aliu was quoted – as saying – in the press note.
The conference also provided a forum for a sideline meeting between the director-general of CAAN and the deputy administrator of CAAC (China), where they discussed on flights of Nepali airlines to China, flights of Chinese carriers to Gautam Buddha International Airport of Nepal, and other matters of technical cooperation.
Nepali participants also discussed on safety and mutual cooperation with different countries including South Korea, on the sidelines during the conference.
Nepal has hosted the five-day DGCA conference for the third time. Earlier, Nepal had earlier hosted the conference in 1978 and 1998.
The director generals of Asia Pacific's aviation sector, chief of European Union regulatory body, high delegates, representatives from regulatory bodies of countries including the US, the UK, and France and representatives from aircraft manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus attended the conference.
They discussed a work plan on aviation safety, security, capacity, air navigation, economic development and air transport, aviation and environment, technical and regional cooperation and other contemporary issues related to aviation during the conference.
ICAO is also celebrating its 75th anniversary this year and had prepared a special flag – for the occasion – that was hoisted at the peak of Mt Everest this May 23 according to the decision of the council of ministers of the organisation.

Yeti Airlines introduces use of electric van

Yeti Airlines – Nepal’s first and only carbon neutral airline – is further enhancing their efforts towards a greener future by testing the use of an electric van in the airport premises. According to a research by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) a typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year.
Yeti Airlines by adopting the use of an electric van for their services will be creating a major positive environmental impact. “If the electric van trial brings a positive response, Yeti Airlines commits to replace all of its 20 units of petrol engine vans with these Mahindra e-Supro electric vans,” a press note from the airlines reads, adding that the initiative of Yeti Airlines will further promote Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No 13 ‘Climate Action’. “Setting an example to all the airlines in Nepal, Yeti Airlines has been working on this goal for a long time with remarkable results to show for their efforts.”
Yeti Airlines was also able to offset its GHG emissions by procuring carbon credits that is Certified Emission Reductionsunder the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) through the ‘Climate Neutral Now’ platform.
In the past, Yeti Airlines undertook various environmental and social projects such as the Yeti Green Re-forestation Project, and Green Far West Project, and continues to work on the Everest Clean Up campaign also, it adds.
Yeti Airlines’ managing director Chanda Sherpa and UNDP Nepal Resident Representative Ayshanie Medagangoda Labé were present during the inauguration for the trial use of the electric van today.
On the occasion, managing director Sherpa said that introduction of an electric van is an opportunity to show the airlines commitment to carbon neutrality, which is the company’s honest and realistic approach to environmental conservation. “We take pride in being a pioneer to endorse a positive change which I believe will encourage everyone to make a conscious effort to save our earth.”
Congratulating Yeti Airlines on unveiling its first electric car, Resident Representative of UNDP Ayshanie Medagangoda Labé said that Yeti’s one more step forward in its carbon neutrality journey made the UN happy. “We are with the company in this journey to advance the sustainable development that I am sure will inspire many others so that our collective efforts will curve pollution and save our planet.”

NEA to connect all households with electricity by 2022

The government has planned to provide electricity to every household across the country within three years. Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) is the implementing agency of the government plan of connecting all households across the country in the national grid in line with the government's guidelines.
“The NEA is working according to the plan to supply electricity to all households of the country by 2022," confirmed NEA's managing director Kulman Ghising. By the end of the last fiscal year 2018-19, some 3.91 million household – up by 10 per cent from a fiscal year ago in 2017-18 – across the country, the state power utility claimed, adding that some 78 per cent households are connected to the national electricity grid, if the clients of community organisations and Butwal Power Company (BPC) are also included. “It means that 22 per cent households are still without access to electricity.”
The NEA has supplied electricity from the national grid to Manang, Solukhumbu, Bajhang and Darchula districts in the last fiscal year, Ghising claimed, adding that the NEA is working on connecting Rukum Purba, Kalikot, Bajura, and Jumla districts in the national grid in the current fiscal year. “The NEA has a target to supply electricity to Mugu and Dolpa in two years.”
After electrification of these two districts, Humla district will be our priority," he added.
A total of 7.55 billion units of electricity were available in the national grid in the last fiscal year, according to the data of NEA that has been giving priority to the use of modern technology to improve its operational efficiency, reduce power leakage, and provide quality services to its clients, it claimed.
The NEA also plans to install smart meters and smart grid technology for the automation, Ghising said, adding that the centralised online bill payment system will be expanded. “There are 83 hydropower projects from the private sector with an installed capacity of 560 MW, apart from additional 120 private sector projects that are under construction after achieving financial closures, with a combined installed capacity of 2,613 MW.”
The state power utility has signed power purchase agreements (PPA) with 85 projects for the supply of 1,480 MW in the last fiscal year 2017-18. The NEA has so far signed PPA with 340 independent power producers for the supply of 6,044 MW of electricity.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

NRNA to hold ninth global conference on October 15-17

Non Resident Nepalese Association (NRNA) is going to hold its ninth global conference in Kathmandu on October 15-17 with the theme ‘Me, my NRNA and my Nepal’.
The NRNA international executive committee meeting today decided the date and venue for its international convention on the suggestion of the Foreign Ministry. The convention will be jointly organized by the government of Nepal, Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) and NRNA, as usual. “A high-level organising committee is going to be formed under the convenorship of foreign minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali,” reads a press release issued by the NRNA secretariat. “Similarly, the internal organising committee has already been formed under the chairmanship of NRNA chair Bhaban Bhatta.”
The global conference of the umbrella network of diaspora community, on the occasion, will also elect a new working committee for the next two year-term. 

New UN report warns of a new climate reality where economic losses are set to quadruple

The relentless sequence of natural disasters in Asia and the Pacific the past two years was beyond what the region had previously experienced or was able to predict and this is a sign of things to come in the new climate reality, according to the latest report by the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
The Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2019 launched today reveals that recent disasters, especially those triggered by climate change and environmental degradation, have deviated from their usual tracks and are growing in intensity, frequency and complexity. It is now more difficult to determine which areas should prepare for what kind of disaster.
In 2018, almost half of the 281 natural disaster events worldwide occurred in the region, including eight out of the ten deadliest. An average of 142 million people in the region have been affected annually, since 1970, well above the global average of 38 million.
For the first time, the Asia-Pacific Disaster Report includes the costs of slow-onset disasters, notably drought which results in a quadrupling of annual economic losses as compared to previous estimates. The annual economic loss for Asia and the Pacific is now $675 billion, or around 2.4 per cent of the region’s GDP, of which $405 billion or 60 per cent are drought-related agricultural losses, impacting the rural poor disproportionately.
“Countries across the region have committed themselves to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 to ensure that no one is left behind,” said UN under-secretary-general and executive secretary of ESCAP Armida Alisjahbana at the report launch in Bangkok.
“But they cannot achieve many of the SDG targets, if their people are not protected from disasters that threaten to reverse hard-won development gains,” Alisjahbana said, adding that it means not just building resilience in the priority zones but doing so across the entire region, reaching the most marginal and vulnerable communities. “Vulnerable and marginalised communities are among the hardest hit by disasters in the region.”
Almost 40 per cent of disaster impacts are on the social sectors resulting in deeper inequalities of opportunity that are transmitted over generations. Disasters are also set to slow down poverty reduction. Furthermore, the number of people living in extreme poverty (under $1.90 a day) is projected to be 56 million by 2030. However, with unmitigated disaster risk, the number more than doubles to 123 million. 
“However, this is not inevitable,” Alisjahbana, said, adding that governments can break this vicious cycle by investing to outpace disaster risk as the report also shows that investments will be far smaller than the damage and losses from unmitigated disasters. “Moreover, these same investments will deliver co-benefits, in the form of better education, health, social and infrastructure services, and higher agricultural production and incomes.
The report identifies four distinct hotspots in the region where fragile environments are converging with critical socioeconomic vulnerabilities. They include the transboundary river basins of South and South-East Asia, the Pacific Ring of Fire in South-East Asia and East and North-East Asia, sand and dust storm corridors in East and North-East Asia, South and South-West Asia and Central Asia, and climate-related hazards in the Pacific Small Island Developing States. A person in the Pacific is found to be three to five times more at risk than those in other parts of the region.
The report also calls for transformative change, with social policies and disaster resilience no longer treated as separate policy domains. It highlights how policymakers can enhance the quality of investments through policy reforms for more inclusive and empowered societies, to ensure that poor and vulnerable groups are not excluded from the benefits of investments due to barriers in accessing land, reliable early warning systems, finance and decision-making structures.
Similarly, the report explores how emerging technologies such as big data and digital identities can be used to ensure the poorest and most vulnerable groups are included in policy interventions. The report also points out that many of the region’s disaster hotspots extend across national boundaries and proposes a set of regional policy actions to be implemented through the Asia-Pacific Disaster Resilience Network, supported by ESCAP.
The Asia-Pacific Disaster Report is a bi-annual flagship publication of ESCAP which aims assist policymakers, in both public and private sectors, to better understand disaster risk and resilience and take the many opportunities for action.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Fifth Nepal-India Joint Commission meeting concludes

The fifth meeting of Nepal-India Joint Commission concluded successfully here in Kathmandu today.
Foreign minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali and his Indian counterpart minister of external affairs Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar co-chaired the meeting, leading their respective country.
During the meeting that started with opening remarks by the two foreign ministers, both sides reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations with specific focus on the areas of connectivity and economic partnership, trade and transit, power and water resources sectors, culture, and education, according to a press note issued by the Foreign Ministry.
Likewise, the two ministers, on the occasion, emphasised the importance of tourism in socio-economic development and agreed to enhance their cooperation in tourism sector, particularly in the context of Visit Nepal Year 2020. “Nepal on the occasion, requested for additional air entry routes to Nepal but India replied that discussion which are underway between the civil aviation authorities of the two countries will yield positive results,” according to an official at the meting.
The Joint Commission – being held after a long interval of three years – expressed happiness over the momentum generated in the overall aspects of Nepal-India relations following the exchange of high-level visits in the past two years. The visit of Dr Jaishankar, India’s newly appointed external affairs minister, is the first high-level visit from India since the reelection of Narendra Modi earlier this summer.
“The Joint Commission meeting also expressed satisfaction over progress in three new areas – Raxaul-Kathmandu Electrified Rail Line, Inland Waterways and New Partnership in Agriculture – agreed during the visit of Prime Minister Oli to India in April 2018,” the press note reads, adding that matters related to cooperation in international, regional and sub- regional fora were also discussed. “The meeting expressed happiness at the progress made in the bilateral projects like Motihari- Amlekhgunj Petroleum Products Pipeline, four segments of Hulaki Roads, and post-earthquake reconstruction of private housing in Nuwakot and Gorkha districts which have been completed.”
They expressed happiness over progress made in Jayanagar-Janakpur and Jogbani-Biratnagar sections of cross-border railway projects and Integrated Check Post in Biratnagar. The Joint Commission meeting also agreed to expedite the early completion of remaining bilateral projects.
Noting that inundation is a serious problem for people living in border areas, the Joint Commission meeting agreed to take action on the recommendations made by a joint team comprising of officials from both side.
The two ministers, on the occasion, witnessed the signing and exchange of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and Department of Food Technology and Quality Control of Nepal on food safety and standards. They also witnessed handing over of two cheques – for Tarai Roads Project and Post-earthquake Reconstruction Project.
Indian ambassador to Nepal Manjeev Singh Puri handed over a cheque of Rs 2.45 billion as reimbursement for housing reconstruction in Nuwakot and Gorkha districts to chief executive officer of National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) Sushil Gyawali, and another cheque of IRs 80.71 crore – that is a part of India's commitment of IRs 500 crores – for strengthening road infrastructure in the Tarai Region to infrastructure secretary Devendra Regmi, on the occasion.
Meanwhile, Gyawali hosted a dinner in honour of visiting Indian counterpart and his delegation.
Dr Jaishankar arrived in Kathmandu today to take part in the meeting, and is scheduled to depart for New Delhi tomorrow.
Before the meeting, Dr Jaishankar paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, and discussed on various issues of mutual interests on the occasion. He is also paying a courtesy call to the President Bidya Devi Bhandari tomorrow morning.
The Nepal-India Joint Commission was founded in June 1987. Its meetings are held alternately in Nepal and India. But the last meeting of the Joint Commission was held in New Delhi in October 2016.

Cabinet okeys Kathmandu-Tarai express way DPR

The cabinet has approved detailed project report (DPR) of the much talked Kathmandu-Tarai express way.
According to the spokesperson of Nepali Army Brigadier General Bigyan Dev Pandey, the cabinet meeting held on Monday has approved the DPR of the project. “We plan to start construction of tunnels and bridges by September-end,” he said, adding that Nepal Army aims at completing the country’s first express way project within two years. “The process of short-listing contractors for construction of bridges is in the final phase, work related to the detailed design has already been completed and NA is preparing necessary documents to call tender for construction of tunnels.”
According to Pandey, the project will be constructed based on ‘Asian Highway Class I’ standards. “The highway will have four or more lanes and the construction material used for the pavement will be asphalt or cement concrete,” he added.
A South Korean firm – Soosung Engineering and Consulting Company on February 4 – had submitted the DPR of the project to Nepali Army. The Ministry of Defence forwarded it to the cabinet on March 16.
The DPR has, though reduced the length of the express way by 3.7 kilometres to 72.5 km due to change in alignment of the route in Khokana, has estimated construction cost at Rs 175.19 billion, which is Rs 63.19 billion more than the earlier estimate of Rs 112 billion. “The consultant company has determined the estimated cost of the project based on the government fixed rate and international standards,” Pandey explained.
Before the revision in length, NA had said it would construct 17 km on its own, hire Nepali contractors for 37 km of the stretch and assign foreign contractors to construct the remaining 22.2 km section, which includes tunnels and bridges. “Though only a width of 25 metres of the express way section will be metalled, the Nepal Army has cleared a breadth of 30 metres,” he sid, adding that 3.9 km of the express way – of the total length – will lie in Kathmandu district, 6.9 km in Lalitpur, 55.7 km in Makawanpur and 6 km in Bara. “Meanwhile, NA has already signed contract with 32 local contractors for different sections of the project but some works were halted in the absence of the final DPR.”
The Nepal Army will construct three tunnels – one in Mahadev Danda of Lalitpur district and one each in Dhandre Danda and Len Danda of Makawanpur district – and the total length of the tunnels will be 4.41 km. There will be 87 small and big bridges along the express way according to the approved DPR that has changed the alignment to preserve the Sikali temple and other historic places around Khokana and Bungamati areas, also due to protest from the locals.
The government has assigned Nepal Army a full responsibility of carrying out the express way project, segregating it into three segments.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

One-day training for guides concludes

Korea Tours and Trekking Operator Association Nepal (KTTOAN) organised a-one-day training on Korean etiquette, high-altitude sickness, first-aid and rescue for guides and assistant guides here today.
Organised with the support of the South Korean Embassy in Kathmandu, the training was jointly inaugurated by ambassador of South Korea to Nepal Park Young-sik, chief executive officer of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) Deepak Raj Joshi and KTTOAN president Amar Bahadur Shahi.
Altogether, 55 participants from different travel trekking companies benefitted from the training programme, according to a press release issued by the South Korean embassy in Kathmandu.
Addressing the inauguration, Korean envoy Park said that the number of Korean tourists visiting Nepal will exceed 37,000 this year. Hoping that the training will help ensure the safety of tourists, he said that Nepal is mostly known for its Himalayas and mountains in Korea. “Because of this perception, Korean visitors come here mainly for trekking.”
But accommodation facilities and food should be upgraded to attract more Korean tourists,” he added, asking to promote Lumbini in South Korea. “Lumbini could be yet another attraction and major tourist destination among Korean tourists.”
On the occasion, Joshi said that NTB is always ready to work together with KTTOAN for tourism promotion, as Korea is a major market for Nepal. Requesting the South Korean government to extend support to Nepal for tourism promotion in Korea for making the upcoming Visit Nepal Year 2020 campaign a success, he said that more tourists from South Korea will visit Nepal in the days to come.
Welcoming the guests, Shahi hoped that the training will minimise the risk of casualties and ensure safe travel.
Calling on NTB to join hands with KTTOAN for organising tourism promotion programmes in South Korea for better performance and results, he said that the number of South Korean tourists visiting Nepal has been increasing considerably over the past five years.

Nepal Airlines to fly to Osaka from August 29

Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) is prepared to start its scheduled commercial flight on the Kathmandu-Osaka-Kathmandu route from next week, after 12 years. Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) permitted the NAC to resume its flight to Osaka after Nepal and Japan signed Exchange of Notes on revising the Air Service Agreement (ASA) earlier this year.
The state-owned airlines – organising a press meet in Kathmandu today – confirmed that the corporation is all set to fly to Osaka from August 29. “The national flag carrier will use Airbus A330-200 aircraft with the capacity of 274 passengers for Osaka flights,” the executive chairman of the NAC Madan Kharel informed, adding that the first flight to Osaka has received a positive response from the public. “Bookings will pick up pace from the last week of September.”
Kharel, however, said that the seat occupancy is likely to improve from October. “Within one year of the flight operation, I assure you that the flight occupancy will be more than 80 per cent per flight,” he added. “With the current booking trend, we are expecting at least 100 passengers.”
At least 30 officials, including tourism minister Yogesh Bhattarai, are also flying on the median flight to Osaka on August 29.
The national flag carrier had initially planned to fly to Narita International Airport but as the Japanese authorities refused to give permission to fly to the other two cities, the NAC decided to fly to Osaka for some time.
Likewise, the corporation had planned to fly to Osaka from July 5. But the poor booking forced it to postpone the flights to August. “The non-stop seven-hour flight on Kathmandu-Osaka route is scheduled to operate three times a week – on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays – and depart Kathmandu at 2:30 am and land Osaka at 11:55 am (local time),” he said, adding that the NAC has introduced promotional fare for the flights at Rs 36,999 for one way and Rs 72,814 for round trip, reducing the earlier fixed rates of Rs 45,000 and Rs 75,000- Rs 90,000, respectively. “The promotional fare will be valid till September,” Kharel added.
NAC is resuming direct flights to Osaka after a hiatus of 12 years. Nepal Airlines launched its Japan service in 1994, flying to Osaka via Shanghai in China. In 2007, it was forced to suspend the route as it did not have enough planes. The NAC used to fly Boeing 757 aircraft to Osaka.
The resumption of direct flights is expected to benefit Nepalis residing in Japan and also Japanese tourists visiting Nepal, apart from contribute to the Visit Nepal Year 2020 campaign.
The NAC has been operating scheduled flights to New Delhi, Doha, Dubai, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Mumbai, and Bangalore with two Airbus A320-200 and two Airbus A330-200 airplanes. But Kharel, on the occasion, also informed that Nepal Airlines will operate flights to Narita International Airport in Tokyo from January 1. But the corporation has scheduled to fly to Narita on September 26 and October 2, as it has applied for chartered flights to Narita. The NAC will use wide body aircraft – Airbus A330-200 – for the chartered flights, he informed.
Kharel also informed that the China flight will take some time as the Chinese government wants to first conduct a safety audit before allowing the flight. Though half dozen Chinese airlines fly to Kathmandu, not a single airlines has been permitted to fly to China.

KUSOM job and internship fair concludes

Kathmandu University School of Management (KUSOM) organised its flagship event, KUSOM Job and Internship Fair (KJIF) today at KUSOM premises. The Fair witnessed the participation of as many as 40 companies including Unilever Nepal, Beed Management, Gorkha Brewery, Golchha Organisation, F1Soft International and eSewa, Movers and Shakers (M&S), Standard Chartered Bank, OYO, Sipradi Trading, Panchakanya, Samsung India, Yeti Airlines, Laxmi Group, and Shikhar Insurance. More than 130 students of Kathmandu University comprising of BBA, MBA, and BBIS students participated and were interviewed as potential employees this year, according to the university.
The annual, highly sought-after event by corporates, KUSOM Job and Internship Fair organised by Placement Cell of Kathmandu University School of Management (KUSOM), acts as a bridge between students of KUSOM and corporate houses. The KUSOM Job and Internship Fair provided students with the platform to connect with the company of their choice as well as provided employers an opportunity to explore the talent pool of KUSOM.
The event provided a win-win solution to both the parties, the university said.
Since its establishment in 2011, the event has been receiving an overwhelming response from the leading national and multinational companies every year. The event has been able to achieve its mission of establishing right connections with the industry which is being reflected in the success rate of placements and feedback given by companies about the event.

CAAN temporarily suspends all flights of Simrik Airlines

The aviation regulator has temporarily suspended all flights of Simrik Airlines from today as it failed to meet the standards of the Civil Aviation Regulation 2002.
According to Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), it has suspended all flights of Simrik Airlines after the airline company failed to meet the technical standard of airworthiness requirements under the Civil Aviation Regulation. The CAAN inspection team had found that the airline company was using substandard spare parts in its aircraft. Airline companies are allowed to use spare parts permitted by CAAN only. According to CAAN, the inspection team had inspected the aircraft and its workshop on August 18 and 19. A year back too, the airline was found to be using substandard spare parts, however CAAN had not taken any action against the firm back then and only directed it to get proper maintenance done of its aircraft. “But this time, CAAN has grounded both its Beechcraft 1900 series aircraft,” it confirmed, adding that basically CAAN has two levels of inspection findings – level I and level II. “Earlier, the aircraft was in level II, so we directed the company to do the required maintenance works.” But this time the inspection finding was at level I, forcing the regulator to suspend flights.
“The Director General may issue an order to cancel the airworthiness certificate of such aircraft or to suspend it for up to the period mentioned in the same order in case an aircraft is flown in contrary to the terms and conditions mentioned in the airworthiness certificate provided to any Aircraft and the prevailing law related to Civil Aviation, these Rules, Annex and Manual,” Rule number 20 of Chapter 4 of the Civil Aviation Regulation reads.
The aircraft will be grounded until the airline company replaces its spare parts and conducts the required maintenance of its aircraft. After conducting the required maintenance, the airline company has to submit an application to CAAN requesting for resumption of its flights.
Established in 2009, Sirmik Airlines has been operating domestic flights to Bhairahawa, Bharatpur and Pokhara.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Nepal Satellite Telecom’s licence revoked

The license of Nepal Satellite Telecom (NST) has been automatically terminated as it failed to clear outstanding dues by the deadline that was yesterday, according to the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA).
The private telecom company operating under the Hello Nepal brand owes some Rs 799.2 million as of July 16 as royalty, licence renewal fee, frequency fee, service expansion fee and Rural Telecommunication Development Fund (RTDF). But the Nepal Satellite Telecom has failed to clear its dues, despite repeated calls from the telecom regulator.
“The license has been automatically terminated as the company failed to pay its dues within the deadline of August 18,” the NTA informed, adding that the telecom company can, however, appeal within 35 days in regard to the automatic termination of the license, and the court’s verdict will be final in relation to its licence, if it moves to court.
“After a negotiation, the NTA had earlier directed Nepal Satellite Telecom to deposit the first tranche – Rs 70 million – of its dues by August 18 and clear the remainder of the outstanding dues within three months,” the NTA said, adding that the Nepal Satellite Telecom’s licence has been revoked automatically as the telecom service provider failed to deposit the first tranche of its tax dues by yesterday (August 18). “Had the telecom service provider paid the first installment, the company would have gotten an additional three months to clear the rest of its dues.”
Earlier, the telecom regulator asked Nepal Satellite Telecom to deposit its dues by the end of the last fiscal year. Instead of paying, the telecom company moved to the court to cancel the amount payable to NTA and an interim order was duly issued. But the Supreme Court refused to continue the interim order.
After the Supreme Court’s order, the NTA had – on July 22 – also sought a clarification from Nepal Satellite Telecom asking why its licence should not be revoked, to which the telecom company responded with a bargain that it would clear the dues, if it was allowed to expand its services in Kathmandu.
The NTA board meeting on August 3, however, directed the company to pay Rs 70 million – the first installment – within 15 days and pay the remaining amount within three months. But Nepal Satellite Telecom failed to deposit the Rs 70 million by August 18.
Nepal Satellite Telecom – owned by businessman Ajeya Raj Sumargi – has also been dragged into tax issues, earlier in May too. The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) had directed Nepal Satellite Telecom to pay Rs 4.31 billion capital gains tax (CGT) out of the gains the company made, while transferring 75 per cent of its share to TeliaSonera eight years ago.
Though NTA claimed that it was not in favour of scrapping licences of telecom service providers, they were obliged to scrap the licence as many telecom companies regularly failed to pay their dues by holding on to licences, not expanding telecom services as promised by them, and also not clearing applicable tax dues to the government on time.
But In February, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) had directed the telecom regulator to recoup the amount and revoke the licences of all operators that failed to pay their dues within a month. Likewise, Finance Committee under the parliament had also instructed the Finance Ministry and Ministry of Communication and Information Technology to do the needful to recover dues from different telecom companies. The committee had even instructed the NTA to scrap their licenses, if they fail to clear their dues in time.
According to the authority, nine telecom service providers including Nepal Satellite Telecom, United Telecom, Smart Telecom, and BroadLink Network have yet to clear Rs 4.31 billion accrued as frequency charges, royalties, and RTDF.
In 2007, Nepal Telecom Authority had issued telecom service licence to Nepal Satellite Telecom that has been providing telecom services to a limited number of customers primarily based in the far-west region, though it had acquired licence to provide telecom services across rural areas. “The company did not expand its telecom services as was promised,” the regulator added.