Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Global wealth has grown but at the expense of future prosperity: World Bank

Global wealth has grown overall—but at the expense of future prosperity and by exacerbating inequalities, according to the World Bank’s new 'Changing Wealth of Nations' report released today.

Countries that are depleting their resources in favour of short-term gains are putting their economies on an unsustainable development path, the report reads. While indicators such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) are traditionally used to measure economic growth, the report argues for the importance of considering natural, human, and produced capital to understand whether growth is sustainable.

The 'Changing Wealth of Nations 2021' tracks the wealth of 146 countries between 1995 and 2018, by measuring the economic value of renewable natural capital (such as forests, cropland, and ocean resources), nonrenewable natural capital (such as minerals and fossil fuels), human capital (earnings over a person’s lifetime), produced capital (such as buildings and infrastructure), and net foreign assets. The report accounts for blue natural capital—in the form of mangroves and ocean fisheries—for the first time.

“A deeper and more nuanced understanding of the sustainability of wealth is crucial to a green, resilient, and inclusive future,” said World Bank managing director for Development Policy and Partnerships, Mari Pangestu. “It is essential that renewable natural capital and human capital are given the same importance as more traditional sources of economic growth, so that policymakers take steps to enable long-term prosperity."

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Listed companies now must deposit cash dividend with a detail to bank accounts

The capital market regulator today directed all the listed companies to deposit cash dividend with a clear detail at the shareholders’ bank accounts.

The Securities Board of Nepal (SEBON) -- issuing a directives -- asked the listed companies to deposit cash dividend at the shareholders account with details, because only the share registrar's name is mentioned in the bank statement currently. But the regulator directed the companies to mention with a details including name of the company, fiscal year and the rate of the dividend.

The shareholders have been repeatedly complaining with the regulator about the lack of clear information while receiving the dividends in the bank account.

"The company must have to clearly include the name, income and amount while paying cash dividend to the shareholder's bank account by itself or through its share registrar," the directives read.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Imports increased by 68.13 percent in first quarter

Imports increased by 68.73 per cent to Rs 543.57 billion in the first three months of the current fiscal year.

According to the data from Customs Department, the import expenses surged by 63.73 per cent to Rs 478.52 billion in the first quarter, though the export volume has doubled. However, the export earning in the first quarter that stood at Rs 65.52 billion is almost enough to pay a single commodity -- petroleum products -- bill. "The trade deficit stood at 

The country had imported merchandise worth Rs 292.26 billion in the first quarter of the last fiscal year, due to restriction in trade because of Covid-19 pandemic. 

The worsening trade balance has, however, added pressure in foreign currency reserves, which has been going down in recent months also due to drop in remittance earnings. The forex reserve has depleted pushing the balance of payments (BoP) -- one of the key macroeconomic indicators -- into the red zone. The BoP recorded negative in the past few months also due to a whopping rise in imports along with slow rate of remittance inflows.

Nepal imported Rs 23.32 billion worth diesel, Rs 12.86 billion worth petrol, and Rs 12.18 billion worth cooking gas, apart from kesosene, which comes to around the country's total export earning.

Apart from petroleum products, Nepal imported Rs 11.07 billion worth gold, and Rs 10.17 billion worth silver in the firts quarter of the cirrent fiscal year, despite the government's increament in customs of the silver.

Remittance inflow drops for the second straight month

Remittance inflow to Nepal has dropped for the second straight month in the current fiscal year.

Nepal’s remittance income declined by 6.3 per cent to Rs 155.37 billion during the first two months of the current fiscal year, according to a report published today by the central bank.

In the same period last fiscal year, remittance inflows had increased by 8.1 per cent, the central bank report added. But the remittance inflow started dropping from the beginning of the current fiscal year due to massive decline in Nepali migrant workers outflow since last 18 months due to Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the two months’ report ‘Current Macroeconomic and Financial Situation of Nepal’, published today by the central bank, the country’s receipt from remittance declined despite a notable rise in the outbound workers, though in the last month. The Nepali migrant workers outflow starting picking from last month, and it will take at least 6 to 8 months for them to start sending remittance back home. During mid-July and mid-September this year, the number of Nepali workers (institutional and individual-new and legalised) taking approval for foreign employment stood at 38,492, almost 100 times more than the same period in the last fiscal year.

Likewise, the number of Nepali workers (Renew entry) taking approval for foreign employment increased significantly to 22,976 from mid-July and mid-September compared to a decline of 86.5 per cent in the same period of fiscal year 2020-21.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Floods damage ready-to-harvest paddy worth Rs 8.21 billion

Farmers lost an estimated Rs 8.21 billion worth paddy due to floods triggered by the torrential rain after monsoon last week.

A preliminary study report of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD) has estimated some 269,842 tonnes of paddy across the country. According to the ministry, the 19 districts of six provinces lost their produce.

According to the ministry, Lumbini Province suffered the largest amount of loss by the disaster as it lost 161,223 tonnes of ready to harvest paddy that is worth Rs 4.51 billion. Likewise, Kailali and Kanchanpur districts of the Sudurpaschim Province also lost an estimated Rs 1.91 billion worth paddy. "The flood damaged 68,400 tonnes of paddy in the province," according to the ministry.

Province 1 also suffered a damage of some 28,469 tonnes of the paddy as the farmers in Morang, Jhapa and Sunsari districts of the province were hit hard by the disaster. "These three districts lost an estimated Rs 800 million worth paddy crop," the ministry confirmed, adding that the Province 2 lost Rs 560 million worth paddy, whereas Gandagi and Karnali province each lost Rs 130 million worth paddy crop.

IPPAN warns government to not discourage power producers

The power producers today blamed the government for restricting private sector from getting survey licenses, production licenses and power purchase agreement (PPA) for hydropower projects.

Organising a press meet in the Valley today, The Independent Power Producers' Association Nepal (IPPAN) also demanded the government to revert the decision. According to them, a meeting chaired by the chief secretary on September 23 decided not to provide any survey licence to the private power producers. They also blamed the government for taking unilateral decision.

IPPAN also expressed its serious concern over the directive on non-life insurance fee recently endorsed by the Insurance Board. According to IPPAN, these provisions will discourage potential investors in the hydropower sector.

Demanding the government to adopt a flexible policy for the private sector power producers, under an open electricity trade policy, IPPAN president Krishna Prasad Acharya, on the occasion, said that the government should distribute electric stoves at concessional rates to increase electricity consumption, increase the use of electric vehicles and provide cheap electricity to industries.

IPPAN, on the occasion, also urged the government to formulate a cross-border electricity trade policy, expand quality transmission lines to sell and distribute electricity to neighbouring countries and formulate proper policy on transmission billing fees.

Nepal to get over 100,000 Pfizer vaccines tomorrow

Nepal is receiving as many as 100,620 doses of Pfizer vaccines tomorrow, according to the US Embassy in Kathmandu.

The US embassy in Kathmandu today informed through twitter that the Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine -- donated by the United States through COVAX, the international vaccine sharing scheme backed by the United Nations -- will arrive by Monday. "The vaccines are provided by the US to help control the spread of Covid-19 pandemic as well as to accelerate vaccination drive in Nepal," according to the twitter.

The US has already provided 1.53 million doses of J&J vaccines to Nepal in July.

The ministry has decided to provide the vaccines from 22 hospitals throughout the country to the people with compromised immunity.

The Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine will be the fourth vaccine to be used in Nepal. Nepal has so far received AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in India, Japan and Europe; Vero Cell vaccine manufactured by Sinopharm of China; and the single-shot Janssen made by Johnson & Johnson in the United States.

This is the first time Nepal is getting Pfizer vaccines. Pfizer-BioNtech, the first mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine, is developed jointly by the US-based Pfizer and the German firm Biontech uses a copy of a molecule called messenger RNA (mRNA) to produce an immune response.

It is said that the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine was 95 per cent effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed infection with the coronavirus.

Nepal has received 18,857,590 doses of Vero Cell, AstraZeneca and J&J vaccines till today.

Friday, October 22, 2021

India hands over Jaynagar-Kurtha cross-border rail section

India today handed over the Jaynagar-Kurtha cross-border rail link, built with government of India assistance, to the government of Nepal.

Ambassador of India to Nepal Vinay Mohan Kwatra and minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Renu Kumari Yadav witnessed the occasion, according to a press note released by the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu.

The executing agency for the project, IRCON International Ltd (on behalf of Government of India) handed over the assets of the section to Nepal Railway Company Ltd (on behalf of Government of Nepal) during the event.

Under the grant assistance of Government of India, the gauge conversion of 34.9-km narrow gauge section into broad gauge, from Jaynagar in India to Kurtha in Nepal, has now been completed, the press note reads, adding that the 34.9-km Jaynagar-Kurtha section is part of 68.72-km Jaynagar-Bijalpura-Bardibas rail link being built under Government of India grant assistance of Rs 8.77 billion. "This section was earlier a narrow gauge rail link between Jayanagar and Bijalpura."

There are total 8 stations and halts on the Jaynagar-Kurtha section, which include the historically important city of Janakpur.

Once operationalised, it would be the first broad gauge cross-border rail link between India and Nepal, and would further boost trade and commerce activities as well as people to people linkages between the two countries, the press note adds.

Cross-border rail linkages are an important facet of India-Nepal Development cooperation, which include Jaynagar-Bijalpura-Bardibas rail link and Jogbani-Biratnagar (18.6-km) rail link, both being constructed under Government of India grant assistance.

However, the government has not been able to bring Railway Act, and also lacks manpower to operate the railway service. Nepal has brought two modern trains from India last September. Though, it was supposed to run between Jaynagar in Bihar and Kurtha in Dhanusa district from last December, marking the beginning of the first broad-gauge railway service in Nepal, the two modern Diesel-Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) trains have been lying idle.

The Konkan Railway had delivered two modern DEMU trains, manufactured by Integrated Coach Factory, Chennai with modern amenities and latest AC-AC propulsion technology, to the Nepal Railway.

International conference on reconstruction in December

The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) is going to organise an international conference on reconstruction in Kathmandu on December 7-9.

The authority has successfully completed most of the reconstruction and rehabilitation work of the damage caused by the devastating earthquake on April 25, 2015, and the subsequent aftershocks, informed the chief executive of the authority Sushil Gyawali.

The authority has handed over the remaining responsibility to the concerned body. The experience and learning of the post-earthquake reconstruction and rehabilitation work has laid the groundwork for fulfilling the national goal of making Nepal safe from disasters, he claimed, adding that an international conference on reconstruction will help Nepal share the experience and learning in post-earthquake reconstruction and rehabilitation.

With the slogan 'From Reconstruction to Upliftment', the conference will include research-based presentations on various aspects of private housing reconstruction, cultural heritage reconstruction, public infrastructure reconstruction, livelihood and economic rehabilitation, and good governance, as well as thematic seminars.

According to the authority's executive committee member and International Conference organising committee coordinator Dr Chandra Bahadur Shrestha, local and foreign guests, experts and representatives of various organisations have been invited to participate in the conference.

Requesting to register online to participate in the conference, he also informed that a website of international conference has also been launched.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Platform for collaboration on tax strengthened support to countries during the Covid-19 pandemic

The Platform for Collaboration on Tax (PCT) – a joint initiative of the IMF, OECD, UN and the World Bank (WB) – enhanced its support to countries in the area of domestic resource mobilisation during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the PCT Progress Report 2021.

The report, released today, highlights that the PCT Partners are committed to deepening their tax collaboration further with a revamped work program to help countries develop resilient tax systems and better fiscal policies in response to the crisis.

The PCT Progress Report 2021 examines activities that the PCT has undertaken in five focus areas since July 2020: medium-term revenue strategies (MTRS), Covid-19, tax and sustainable development goals (SDGs), international taxation, and coordination. The new workstreams reflect the changing global tax landscape and the challenges of the pandemic for governments and policymakers as countries around the world try to balance the increased spending and lower revenues due to the Covid-19 crisis.

During this period, the PCT Partners increased their support to countries through the release of joint knowledge products, technical assistance concerning tax-related responses to the crisis, and workshops on critical issues, as the report reveals. The PCT released the final versions of two toolkits on Transfer Pricing Documentation and Tax Treaty Negotiations with virtual consultations and public workshops, hosting over 1,300 participants from governments and other stakeholders.

Additionally, the PCT Secretariat collaborated with the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to hold three regional workshops on MTRS, which provided 53 governments from Africa, Asia and the Pacific with a platform to exchange information on how the MTRS can benefit their tax system reform in the face of the pandemic. The PCT Partners also raised awareness on the role of taxation in promoting gender equality and growth through a joint blog and a public workshop.

The report illustrates that the PCT website continues to serve as a global resource on international taxation for tax officials from developing and emerging economies with its enriched content. The MTRS resource page, the e-learning calendar of the PCT Partners’ tax-related courses and the regularly updated Online Integrated Platform, which is the public database of domestic resource mobilisation activities and projects of the Partners, are among the new and existing products that provide countries with capacity-building support and transparent information.

Looking ahead, the PCT Partners will, in the coming months, focus on areas where coordination brings the most value by identifying new priorities and activities for their work in light of the recent developments in the global tax agenda. Further activities on the interconnection between tax and SDGs, more and improved resource pages on the PCT website and expanded engagement with countries on the PCT toolkits and MTRS are among the future PCT initiatives that aim to offer tax officials more capacity-building tools and resources.

The Platform for Collaboration on Tax (PCT) is a joint initiative of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations (UN) and the World Bank Group (WBG). The PCT Secretariat is generously supported by the governments of France, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, according to the IMF.

Code Rush calls for a new batch of 'Code Like Her' Fellowship-2021

After the huge success of first national level fellowship in Nepal, Code Rush is back again with ‘Code like her Fellowship programme-2021’.

The programme is organised by Code Rush in association with Kina, targeted mainly to provide industry-focused training programs to recent IT, Engineering graduates, according to a press note. "Code Rush, a female-led IT company in Nepal was established to support the digital transformation of other businesses through consultation, website development, and digital marketing by employing only female staff."

With an objective to bridge the gap between the technical sector and the participation of women in the industry, Code Rush aims not only to increase female participation in the industry but also help them thrive, it claimed, adding that Code Rush, till date, has conducted multiple events, programmes, competitions to provide a headstart for women to excel in their careers.

The first fellowship incorporated 16 females from all over Nepal, most of which are currently employed in reputed companies of Nepal as Software Engineers.

According to founder and chief executive of Code Rush Astha Sharma, she represents 10 per cent of the females in the class, which is true for most of the engineering colleges. "Even though the number of girls pursuing technical fields is increasing in Nepal, the retention rate is still low due to the challenges like pressure to start a family, career sacrifices,  and a lower average age of marriage than men," she said, adding that the only way to disrupt and change these facts is to provide women with a head start early on.

Code Rush has already announced its call for applicants for the fellowship programme-2021. The training programme starts on December 12, and like the previous one, it will also be organised virtually.

The programme is a four-month-long fellowship programme and is designed for passionate and enthusiastic fresh graduates seeking a career in full-stack development. The participants of the fellowship will get the opportunity of coding Bootcamp that combines lectures, workshops, projects, and more to help them master the practical skills—both technical and professional.

"An applicant is required to fill up a lengthy form that consists of questions on personal information, educational background, areas of interest, motives, and expectations of the applicant," according to the organiser. "After which enthusiastic candidates will be notified to appear on a written exam focused on basic programming knowledge and problem-solving skills followed by an interview."

Some 18 candidates will be finally selected for the Code Like Her Fellowship. The selected fellows will get hands-on knowledge and skills on UI/UX, NodeJs, ReactJs and Postgres, and GitHub along with various additional interpersonal skills development sessions by experienced and expert mentors.

"I am more confident and have gained insights regarding problem-solving. Breaking down problems into parts and working on a part of a problem without fearing the complexity of the entire problem is the major change that I feel in myself," one of the previous fellows Bisikha Subedi, currently a junior developer at Infinity Development Agency, said.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Government doctors pay and perks to increase

The government is planning to increase pay and perks of the doctors working in government hospitals.

Minister of State at the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers Umesh Shrestha today confirmed that the government is preparing to increase the perks and benefits of the doctors working at government hospitals. "The government is planning to increase the pay and perks of the doctors in the government hospital so that they do not have to work at private hospitals and clinics," he said, speaking at a programme organised after the monitoring and inspection of Shivanagar Primary Health Center.

"The government is trying to prevent doctors working in government hospitals from serving in private sector hospitals and clinics," he said, adding that the government has formed a committee to study and recommend the pay and perks.

Stressing that hospitals should be built in a place where people can get services easily and where doctors can go and stay, he said, adding that the construction of municipal level hospitals is underway in 753 municipalities and rural municipalities across the country. "But a proper planning is needed while constructing hospitals."

Rainfall damages paddy crops

The incessant rainfall since Sunday destroyed the harvest-ready paddy crops in several districts across the country.

As the paddy contributes largest chunk in the agriculture gross domestic production (AGDP), the damage is also going to hit the economic growth, apart from the food shortage looming large due to unseasonal rainfall. It was predicted to have a good paddy harvest this season due to adequate monsoon rainfall but the recent rains is going to hit rice output.

Some farmers have just recently cut the paddy crops and was planning to thresh them before the rainfall damaged the crops, while others were planning to harvest, and the crops are submerged in rainwaters, damaging the crops. 

Districts in Sudurpaschim, Lumbini, Karnali and Gandaki provinces are hit hard by the unseasonal rainfall. The rainfall also damaged paddy crops in Baitadi, Kapilvastu, Banke, Bardiya, Rupandehi, Dang, Jumla, Surkhet, Kaski, Nawalparasi (East), Syangja, Parbat and Tanahun, whereas many districts in province 2 also have been flooded, displacing the locals.

China to provide an additional two million Covid-19 vaccines to Nepal

 China is providing additional two million doses of Covid-19 vaccines -- Vero Cell vaccines manufactured in China -- to Nepal under grant assistance.

During a telephonic conversation with foreign minister Narayan Khadka, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi announced to provide an additional vaccine, according to a press note from the Foreign Ministry.

The two foreign ministers -- during an hour-long telephone conversation -- discussed entire gamut of the bilateral relations between the two countries, including vaccine cooperation, trade and commerce, development cooperation and border management, the press note reads, adding that the two foreign ministers also talked about progress of different development projects, return of Nepali students to China for continuation of their studies, increasing the number of containers of fertilisers and other goods and their shipment through Tatopani-Zhangmu and Rasuwagadhi-Kerung border ports and resumption of regular air services between Nepal and China. "The two leaders agreed to work closely on issues of common interest and to further promote friendly and long-standing bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries."

China is the largest provider of vaccines to Nepal, both under grant and commercial deals.

The state councilor and foreign minister Yi also extended an invitation to foreign minister Dr Khadka to visit China at a mutually convenient date.

ADB to give priority for accessible energy to marginalised people for sustainable growth

Asian Development Bank (ADB) has sought to promote cleaner cooking and heating solutions to the people from developing member countries (DMCs), who are living without access to modern energy systems.

The multilateral lending institution in its proposed 2021 Energy Policy has planned to expand its investment in the sector. "The proposed policy is consistent with Strategy 2030 and its seven operational priorities," said the ADB in a press note.

Progress on access to energy has been rapid across developing Asia and the Pacific, reaching an overall electrification rate of 96 per cent in 2019, which is a 16 per cent increase since 2010. However, the electrification rates of individual DMCs vary widely and many power systems continue to be hampered by unreliable supply.

Currently, about 940 million people in Asia and the Pacific still experience frequent interruptions, about 350 million people do not enjoy an adequate supply, and about 150 million people still have no access to electricity. The issue of how to achieve adequate, reliable, and affordable universal access will therefore remain on the agendas of governments as well as national and international development financing institutions.

According to ADB, persistent and widespread unequal access to energy services makes it imperative to prioritise support to all disadvantaged and vulnerable groups—women, the poor, racial and ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, older persons, and other marginalized people. To achieve its objectives, the ADB has targeted to focus its energy sector operations in five policy principle areas.

In its first policy principle, ADB will support efforts to bring affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy to all, so as to eradicate extreme poverty and reduce social inequalities. The second policy principle will be targeted for providing support to its DMCs to tackle climate change, enhance environmental sustainability and build climate and disaster resilience.

In the third policy principle, ADB will support the institutional development, financial sustainability, and good governance of energy sector institutions and companies as well as private sector participation. It will also assist in creating the policy frameworks needed to manage the energy transition. Promotion of regional energy cooperation and the integration of energy systems to strengthen energy security and increase cross-border access to cleaner energy sources will be among its key priorities, the press  note reads.

Similarly, ADB has sought to give continuity to combine finance, knowledge, partnerships, and its country-focused approach to deliver integrated solutions with comprehensive and magnified development impacts.

Central bank intervenes after banks raise interest rates on savings

 Though its wrong principally to interfere in the free market, the central bank has interfered in the banks and financial institutions asking them to return the interest rate imposed on savings from October 18.

Claiming that the banks have increased the interest rates arbitrarily to attract deposits from other financial institutions Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) has issued a three-point directive tonight. Most of the banks and financial institutions (BFIs) termed the central bank's move as a 'micromanagement' in the financial market.

According to the free market principle, the central bank cannot interfere in the interest rates of the BFIs. "But some banks have created fake deposits and others have tried to lure the deposits by offering higher interest rate, which is going to hit the economy," a central bank official claimed, adding that the banks have given no space but to intervene in the interest rate due to their cut throat competition to literally 'snatch' deposit. "The central bank wishes the interest rate to remain in the single digit."

But according to the banks, they are facing lonable fund crunch also due to central bank's policy to scrap credit to core capital plus deposit ratio (CCD) and implement credit-deposit ratio (CD) -- through the Monetary Policy 2021-22 -- which means banks can lend Rs 90, only if they have Rs 100 deposit. 

Most of the banks increased interest rates on savings and term deposits with effect from October 18 as is the practise of announcing the interest rate on the monthly basis, under the regulatory compliance. Some banks offered more than 11 per cent interest rates -- on personal and institutional deposits -- which is more than 30 per cent increment from the interest rate a month ago.

According to the directive, banks and financial institutions can change -- upward or downward -- the interest rate of any type of deposit by only 10 per cent of the previous month’s interest rate.

Likewise, the interest rate on institutional term deposits (including bidding) should be at least one per cent lower than the maximum interest rate on term savings to the public, the directives reads, asking the banks and financial Institutions to republish the new interest rate on its website by Wednesday and in national daily newspapers within Friday.

One banker said that the central bank has always been micro-managing the banks and financial institutions, and the current directive is only a step forward.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

IMF cuts global economy forecast amid Delta surge, vaccine divide

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) yesterday slightly revised down its global economic forecast amid the Delta variant-fueled Covid-19 surge, highlighting the 'great vaccine divide', supply bottlenecks and inflation risks.

"The global recovery continues but momentum has weakened, hobbled by the pandemic," IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath told a virtual press conference during the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank Group.

In its newly released World Economic Outlook (WEO), the IMF projected the global economy to grow by 5.9 per cent in 2021, down by 0.1 percentage points from July's forecast, while noting that the 'modest headline revision' for the global economy 'masks large downgrades' for some countries.

Noting that overall risks to economic prospects have increased and policy trade-offs have become 'more complex,' Gopinath said the outlook for the low-income developing countries, in particular, has 'darkened considerably' due to worsening pandemic dynamics.

Low-income developing countries are on track to grow by 3 per cent this year, down by 0.9 percentage point from July's forecast, the report showed.

Stressing that a 'dangerous divergence' in economic prospects across countries remains a major concern, Gopinath said these divergences are a consequence of the 'great vaccine divide' and large disparities in policy support.

"We are very concerned -- about the vaccine divide -- and we are doing everything that we can to make the case to be clear on the numbers, which are troubling,"  deputy director of the IMF's Research Department Petya Koeva Brooks said, adding that about 60 per cent of the population in advanced economies is fully vaccinated and about a third in emerging markets, whereas the corresponding number for low income countries is below five percent of the population.

The IMF urged the global community to step up efforts to ensure equitable vaccine access for every country, overcome vaccine hesitancy where there is adequate supply, and secure better economic prospects for all.

Recent pledges by China, the Group of Seven (G7) industrialised nations, and other countries in that direction are 'welcome' steps, though donations should be accelerated to rapidly fulfill the commitments, according to the report. "the advanced economies are on track to grow by 5.2 per cent this year, down by 0.4 percentage point from July's forecast, which reflects more difficult near-term prospects, in part due to supply disruptions."

The United States and the euro area are projected to see economic growth of 6 per cent and 5 per cent respectively.

While investors still expect recent price pressures to moderate and then gradually subside, they have also highlighted the possibility that supply chain disruptions and shortages of labor and materials may be 'more persistent than currently anticipated,' leading to an unmooring of inflation expectations, according to the IMF's Global Financial Stability Report released on Tuesday.

Looking ahead, the IMF urged central banks to provide 'clear guidance' about the future stance of monetary policy to avoid an unwarranted tightening of financial conditions and minimise the risk of market volatility.

The multilateral lender projects that headline inflation will likely return to pre-pandemic levels by mid-2022 for the group of advanced economies and emerging and developing economies. There is, however, considerable heterogeneity across countries with upside risks for the United States, Britain, and some emerging market and developing economies.

Emerging market and developing economies are projected to grow by 6.4 per cent in 2021, up by 0.1 percentage points from July's forecast, which is in part due to the upgraded projections for some commodity exporters on the back of rising commodity prices, the report added.

ADB raises climate finance to $100 billion

 The Asian Development Bank (ADB) today announced it is elevating its ambition to deliver climate financing to its developing member countries (DMCs) to $100 billion from 2019 to 2030.

“The battle against climate change will be won or lost in Asia and the Pacific,” ADB president Masatsugu Asakawa said, adding that the climate crisis is worsening daily, prompting many to call for increased climate finance. "We are taking action to meet this call by elevating our ambition to $100 billion in cumulative climate finance from our own resources by 2030."

In 2018, ADB committed to ensuring at least 75 per cent of the total number of its operations support climate action and its own climate finance resources reach at least a cumulative $80 billion by 2030. Today’s announcement elevates the ambition of this financing.

ADB expects the cumulative climate financing from its own resources in 2019–2021 to reach about $17 billion.

The expanded climate finance ambition is a key element of ADB’s efforts to support its DMCs. Facing the interconnected challenges of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic and the climate crisis, many DMCs are taking bold action to promote a green, resilient, and inclusive recovery, the mulyilateral development partner said.

The additional $20 billion will provide support for the climate agenda in five main areas:

First, new avenues for climate mitigation, including energy storage, energy efficiency, and low-carbon transport. ADB expects its cumulative climate mitigation finance to reach $66 billion.

Second, a scale-up of transformative adaptation projects. Projects in climate-sensitive sectors, such as urban, agriculture, and water, will be designed with a primary purpose of effective climate adaptation and enhanced resilience. ADB expects its cumulative adaptation finance to reach $34 billion.

Third, an increase in climate finance in ADB’s private sector operations. This includes creating more commercially viable projects for both ADB and private investors. The expansion will be underpinned by improvements in operational efficiencies, a post-pandemic recovery in market demand for financing, new technologies and innovations in climate financing, and new areas of business for private sector climate operations. ADB intends to support these initiatives with $12 billion in cumulative private sector climate finance from its own resources and anticipated crowding in of an additional $18 billion to $30 billion.

Fourth, support for a green, resilient, and inclusive recovery from Covid-19, including through innovative financing platforms such as the ASEAN Catalytic Green Finance Facility and Green Recovery Platform, which are expected to leverage funds from capital markets and private sector investors for low-carbon infrastructure.

Fifth, support to advance reforms in DMCs to unlock actions through policy-based lending to support policies and institutions for enhanced climate resilience and climate mitigation.

Across these areas, ADB will continue to expand access to new, climate-focused technologies and mobilize private capital toward climate finance.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members, 49 from the region.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Goldstar goes to the USA

 Kiran Shoe Manufacturers (KSM) has officially started selling Goldstar shoes through its authorised outlets in the US market.

The manufacturer of Goldstar shoes has inaugurated the official launching of its products amid a special function organised in New York, USA, on Monday, according to a press note issued by the footwear company. "We are hopeful to expand our business also in the US market with our attractive products," KSM chair Amir Pratap Rana said, adding that the manufacturer has collaborated with a US-based company, for the distribution of the Goldstar shoes across the US market. ""We are proud to bring the designs from the top of the world to the US."

Goldstar has been widely known as an everyday brand, he added. "People from all walks of life, regardless of economic strata have chosen Goldstar as an affordable brand."

Started its business some three decades ago, the footwear company has been expanding its hold in the domestic market with its wide variety of products. Goldstar footwear has also been a source of revenue as it has been exporting shoes to Indian and Australian markets as well.

Goldstar footwear products are popular among people due to its high quality products at cheaper prices.

According to the company, currently, more than 3,000 people are employed directly in five different operating units in Kathmandu, producing more than 75,000 pairs daily. The company has also been facilitating women in particular to manufacture its products, according to the company that has been producing Hathi brand hawai slippers. The company also claimed to be the biggest footwear producer in Nepal maintaining an annual growth of 25 per cent to 35 per cent since the last 5 years. "The company’s portfolio comprises more than 150 footwear products," Rana informed.

Late Noor Pratap Rana started the Kiran Shoes Manufacturers, after the democratic movement that gave economic freedom to Nepalis.

The company envisioned Goldstar to be part of people’s lives in every continent of the world by 2025.

Japan hands over health training center and emergency shelter

 Japan has handed over a newly-built Health Training Centre and Emergency Shelter to the Nona Koirala Smriti Pratisthan in Biratnagar, Morang district today.

The new building was built with grant assistance of $107,860 under the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP) of the Japanese Government, according to a press note issued by the Japanese Embassy in Kathmandu.

On the occasion, ambassador of Japan to Nepal Kikuta Yutaka sent a message congratulating everyone, who was involved in the project. Appreciating all who worked together with the Embassy to complete the project, he hoped that the health training centre and shelter would become a community asset and serve the local people which is all the more important in the Covid-19 pandemic.

Biratnagar lies in a flood prone area but lacks adequate emergency shelter facilities, causing many people to suffer from infectious diseases. The newly-built facility is also expected to contribute towards improving local knowledge of health and sanitation and serve as a shelter during floods and other calamities.

The Embassy of Japan in Kathmandu said that it is confident the project will further strengthen the bilateral relations between Japan and Nepal, deepen the people-to-people friendship between the peoples of the two countries.

GGP that was established to implement projects directly benefiting the people at grassroots level for the socio-economic development of the country, and over 200 projects have been implemented in Nepal since 1991.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Low-income country debt rises to record $860 billion

Governments around the world responded to the Covid-19 pandemic with massive fiscal, monetary, and financial stimulus packages. While these measures were aimed at addressing the health emergency, cushioning the impact of the pandemic on the poor and vulnerable and putting countries on a path to recovery, the resulting debt burden of the world’s low-income countries rose by 12 per cent  to a record $860 billion in 2020, according to a new World Bank report.

Even prior to the pandemic, many low- and middle-income countries were in a vulnerable position, with slowing economic growth and public and external debt at elevated levels. External debt stocks of low- and middle-income countries combined rose by 5.3 per cent in 2020 to $8.7 trillion, according to the new International Debt Statistics 2022 report, which encompasses approach to managing debt is needed to help low- and middle-income countries assess and curtail risks and achieve sustainable debt levels.

"We need a comprehensive approach to the debt problem, including debt reduction, swifter restructuring and improved transparency," World Bank Group president David Malpass said, adding that sustainable debt levels are vital for economic recovery and poverty reduction.

The deterioration in debt indicators was widespread and impacted countries in all regions, it reads, adding that across all low- and middle-income countries, the rise in external indebtedness outpaced Gross National Income (GNI) and export growth. "Low- and middle-income countries’ external debt-to-GNI ratio (excluding China) rose to 42 per cent in 2020 from 37 per cent in 2019 while their debt-to-export ratio increased to 154 per cent in 2020 from 126 per cent in 2019."

In response to the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic and at the urging of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in April 2020, the G20 launched the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) to provide temporary liquidity support for low-income countries. The G-20 countries agreed to extend the deferral period through the end of 2021. In November 2020, the G20 agreed on a Common Framework for Debt Treatments beyond the DSSI, an initiative to restructure unsustainable debt situations and protracted financing gaps in DSSI-eligible countries.

Overall, in 2020, net inflows from multilateral creditors to low- and middle-income countries rose to $117 billion, the highest level in a decade. Net debt inflows of external public debt to low-income countries rose by 25 per cent to $71 billion, also the highest level in a decade. Multilateral creditors, including the IMF, provided $42 billion in net inflows while bilateral creditors accounted for an additional $10 billion.

"Economies across the globe face a daunting challenge posed by high and rapidly rising debt levels,” senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank Group Carmen Reinhart said, adding that policymakers need to prepare for the possibility of debt distress when financial market conditions turn less benign, particularly in emerging market and developing economies.

Greater debt transparency is critical in addressing the risks posed by rising debt in many developing countries. To facilitate transparency, International Debt Statistics 2022 was expanded to provide more detailed and disaggregated data on external debt than ever before. The data now gives the breakdown of a borrowing country’s external debt stock to show the amount owed to each official and private creditor, the currency composition of this debt, and the terms on which loans were extended, according to the World Bank. "For DSSI-eligible countries the dataset was expanded to include the debt service deferred in 2020 by each bilateral creditor and the projected month-by-month debt-service payments owed to them through 2021."

International Debt Statistics (IDS) is a longstanding annual publication of the World Bank featuring external debt statistics and analysis for the 123 low- and middle-income countries that report to the World Bank Debt Reporting System (DRS).

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the World Bank Group has deployed over $157 billion to fight the health, economic, and social impacts of the pandemic, the fastest and largest crisis response in its history. The financing is helping more than 100 countries strengthen pandemic preparedness, protect the poor and jobs, and jump start a climate-friendly recovery. The bank is also supporting over 50 low- and middle-income countries, more than half of which are in Africa, with the purchase and deployment of Covid-19 vaccines, and is making available $20 billion in financing for this purpose until the end of 2022.

Central bank bars BFIs from auctioning collateral for up to six months

 The central bank has directed the bank and financial institutions (BFIs) not to auction the collateral of borrowers, if the loan amount remains overdue for six months only.

Revising the unified directives today, Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) has revised the provision to give respite to the borrowers, who have been adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Currently, most of the BFIs have been taking into auction the debtors’ property even, when the payment is delayed by just a month.

The central bank has also intervened in the financial market earlier this year, after many BFIs hav been found threatening the borrowers to make public their profiles in daily newspapers or blacklist them as loan defaulters due to delayed payment. According to the new provision, the BFIs can initiate auction, only if the loans fall in ‘doubtful’ category.

The central bank, through revised unified directives, has also revised the list of businesses highly affected by the pandemic. The list of highly affected business by the pandemic now includes private and residential schools, higher secondary schools, colleges and universities, vocational training institutes, preschool and child care. Similarly, land transport, beauty parlors, cosmetic surgery and related businesses, consultancies and health centers, and fitness centers are also categorised as highly affected businesses due to pandemic. Earlier, those businesses were listed under the medium-affected group.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Industry Ministry gets temporary minister

Though, the cabinet gets full shape today, nearly three months after formation of new government, the Industry Ministry gets a temporary minister.

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has expanded his cabinet, after 88 days from his assumption of the office following the Supreme Court's ruling. Deuba assumed office on July 13 as per a Supreme Court’s order on July 12, which had also ousted KP Sharma Oli as prime minister and restored the House of Representatives, which was dissolved by Oli on May 21.

But Deuba has appointed Gajendra Bahadur Hamal, who is not a parliamentarian, as the minister for Industry and Commerce Ministry. Hamal’s name had courted controversy over allegations that he was picked from the quota of Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana. Since Hamal is not a member of the Federal Parliament, he can be minister only for six months.

According to the Constitution, any Nepali can become a minister for six months but then one has to be the member of federal parliament -- either lower or upper House -- to continue as the minister. Thus, Hamal can be industry and commerce minister for only six months. The business community has been waiting for a ministry on whom it can trust but the incumbent government led by Sher Bahadur Deuba has appointment a temporary minister, who needs to boost the confidence of the private sector. The private sector has lost its confidence due to prolonged Corona pandemic.

The coalition cabinet, which had previously inducted only four minister, three from the Nepali Congress (NC) and two from the CPN-Maoist Center, has now members from CPN-Unified Socialist and Janata Samajwadi Party Nepal.

The prime minister also reshuffled the portfolios of some ministers in his cabinet. Gyandendra Bahadur Karki has been shifted to Ministry of Communication, Information and Technology from the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, whereas state minister for health Umesh Shrestha has been shifted to the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers.

Prime Minister Deuba has appointed 16 new ministers and two state ministers, according to a press note issued by the Office of the President.

President Bidya Devi Bhandari has expanded the Cabinet according to the recommendation of the prime minister under Article 76 and its sub-article (9) and Article 78 and its sub-article (1), the press note issued by the Office of the President reads.

Nepali Congress (NC)

Ministry of Home Affairs: Bal Krishna Khand

Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Narayan Khadka

Ministry of Communication and Information Technology: Gyanendra Bahadur Karki

Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs: Dilendra Badu

Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens: Uma Regmi

Ministry of Defense: Minendra Rijal

Ministry of Water Supply: Umakanta Chaudhary

Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies: Gajendra Hamal

Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP)

Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration: Rajendra Shrestha

Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport: Renu Yadav

Ministry of Forest and Environment: Ramsahay Yadav

Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development: Pramod Shah

CPN (Unified Socialist)

Ministry of Health and Population: Birodh Khatiwada

Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Aviation: Ram Kumari Jhankri

Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security: Krishna Kumar Shrestha

Ministry of Urban Development: Prem Ale

Minister of State for Health and Population: Bhawani Prasad Khapung

CPN (Maoist Center)

Ministry of Finance: Janardan Sharma

Ministry of Education, Science and Technology: Devendra Poudel

Ministry of Energy: Pampha Bhusal

Ministry of Land Management, Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation: Shashi Shrestha

Ministry of Youth and Sports: Maheshwor Gahatraj

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Economy to grow by 3.9 per cent: World Bank

The World Bank (WB) has projected that the Nepali economy will grow by 3.9 per cent in the current fiscal year, an improved average from 2020-21, as theh country is lifting containment measures due to vaccination picks up and tourism and migrant worker flow recover.

A week ago, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) revised its projection for Nepal to 4.1 per cent from earlier 5.1 per cent, though the government, through its replacement budget has targetted to achieve some 7 per cent economic growth.

Unveiling its latest South Asia economic focus, 'Shifting Gears: Digitisation and Services-Led Development,' today, the multilateral development partner attributed an improved economic growth largely to an expansion of the services sector.

In Nepal, the pandemic has accelerated the growth of digital services, with the use of electronic payment transactions increasing by double digits, the report reads, adding that the growth in the service sector as a whole is expected to drive Nepal’s recovery, despite structural constraints like slow domestic job creation, the country’s high vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change, and large infrastructure gaps.

The World Bank country director for the Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka Faris Hadad-Zervos said that the pandemic provides an opportunity for a number of South Asian countries to craft a recovery path that draws lessons from the crisis. He also praised Nepal for stepping up for green development.

"Nepal has recently adopted the Kathmandu Declaration as a joint commitment of the government and development partners towards the country’s Green, Resilient and Inclusive Development (GRID)," he said, adding, "mobilising the private sector through green investment and support for small and medium enterprises with job growth potential in the services sector is a key part of Nepal’s GRID strategy."

According to the World Bank, in South Asia, recovery continues as global demand rebounded and targeted containment measures helped minimise the economic impacts of the recent waves of Covid-19. But the recovery remains fragile and uneven, and most countries are far from pre-pandemic trend levels. "In Nepal, recovery is vulnerable to risks, and will rely on the continued gradual resumption of economic activities alongside social distancing and an effective vaccination rollout this year," it adds.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Impact of Covid-19 on poor mental health in children and young people 'tip of the iceberg' : UNICEF

 Children and young people could feel the impact of Covid-19 on their mental health and well-being for many years to come, UNICEF warned in its flagship report today.

According to 'The State of the World’s Children 2021; On My Mind: promoting, protecting and caring for children’s mental health', UNICEF’s most comprehensive look at the mental health of children, adolescents and caregivers in the 21st century, even before Covid-19, children and young people carried the burden of mental health conditions without significant investment in addressing them.

According to the latest available estimates, more than 1 in 7 adolescents aged between 10 and 19 is estimated to live with a diagnosed mental disorder globally. Almost 46,000 adolescents die from suicide each year, among the top five causes of death for their age group. Meanwhile, wide gaps persist between mental health needs and mental health funding. The report finds that about 2 per cent of government health budgets are allocated to mental health spending globally, the report reads.

"It has been a long, long 18 months for all of us – especially children," said UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore. "With nationwide lockdowns and pandemic-related movement restrictions, children have spent indelible years of their lives away from family, friends, classrooms, play – key elements of childhood itself,” Fore said, adding that the impact is significant, and it is just the tip of the iceberg. "Even before the pandemic, far too many children were burdened under the weight of unaddressed mental health issues."

Too little investment is being made by governments to address these critical needs, and not enough importance is being placed on the relationship between mental health and future life outcomes, Fore added.

Indeed, the pandemic has taken its toll. According to early findings from an international survey of children and adults in 21 countries conducted by UNICEF and Gallup – which is previewed in The State of the World’s Children 2021 – a median of 1 in 5 young people aged 15–24 surveyed said they often feel depressed or have little interest in doing things.

As Covid-19 heads into its third year, the impact on children and young people’s mental health and well-being continues to weigh heavily. According to the latest available data from UNICEF, globally, at least 1 in 7 children has been directly affected by lockdowns, while more than 1.6 billion children have suffered some loss of education. The disruption to routines, education, recreation, as well as concern for family income and health, is leaving many young people feeling afraid, angry, and concerned for their future. For example, an online survey in China in early 2020, cited in The State of the World’s Children, indicated that around a third of respondents reported feeling scared or anxious. Mental- health features as one of the top three concerns of children adolescent according to community respondents in Nepal.

Diagnosed mental disorders, including ADHD, anxiety, autism, bipolar disorder, conduct disorder, depression, eating disorders, intellectual disability, and schizophrenia, can significantly harm children and young people’s health, education, life outcomes, and earning capacity, the report reads.

While the impact on children’s lives is incalculable, a new analysis by the London School of Economics in the report indicates that lost contribution to economies due to mental disorders that lead to disability or death among young people is estimated at nearly $390 billion a year.

The report notes that a mix of genetics, experience and environmental factors from the earliest days, including parenting, schooling, quality of relationships, exposure to violence or abuse, discrimination, poverty, humanitarian crises, and health emergencies such as Covid-19, all shape and effect children’s mental health throughout their lifetime.

In Nepal 20 per cent of suicide ideation calls to psychological helplines are correlated with violence including GBV and 25 per cent with economic deprivation.

While protective factors, such as loving caregivers, safe school environments, and positive peer relationships can help reduce the risk of mental disorders, the report warns that significant barriers, including stigma and lack of funding, are preventing too many children from experiencing positive mental health or accessing the support they need.

The mental health of caregivers is also a critical protective factor for children and adolescents. Supporting parents and caregivers to identify stressors, seek help will enhance their capacity to care for children when they need it the most.

The State of the World’s Children 2021 calls on governments, and public and private sector partners, to commit, communicate and act to promote mental health for all children, adolescents and caregivers, protect those in need of help, and care for the most vulnerable, including: 

    • Urgent investment in gender-sensitive child and adolescent mental health across sectors, not just in health, to support a whole-of-society approach to prevention, promotion and care, to ensure availability and accessibility of basic quality mental health and psychosocial support services for all and specifically for vulnerable children and parents.

    • Integrating and scaling up evidence-based interventions across health, education and social protection and child protection sectors - including parenting programmes that promote responsive, nurturing caregiving and support parent and caregiver mental health; and ensuring schools support mental health through quality services and positive relationships.

    • Breaking the silence surrounding mental illness, through addressing stigma and promoting better understanding of mental health and taking seriously the experiences of children and young people.

    • Carry out studies to determine the needs of the most vulnerable groups with mental health problems and prioritize them in the government’s plans, policies and programs.

"Mental health is a part of physical health - we cannot afford to continue to view it as otherwise,” Fore said, adding that for far too long, in rich and poor countries alike, too little understanding and too little investment in a critical element of maximizing every child’s potential has been seen. "This needs to change."