Saturday, June 24, 2023

Himalaya Airlines resumes regular flights on Kathmandu-Beijing route

After an interval of three-year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Himalaya Airlines restarted regular flights between Kathmandu and Beijing from today.

Nepali ambassador to China Bishnu Pukar Shrestha, along with other passengers, flew to Beijing in the resumed first direct flight of the Himalayan Airlines from Kathmandu to Beijing, according to the airlines that has reassured that the scheduled flight operations between Kathmandu and Beijing will be operational every Saturday. "The new service will provide a convenient and efficient travel option for passengers seeking to explore the dynamic cities of Beijing and Kathmandu."

The airline also believes that the resumption of this flight route will be a significant boost to both Nepalese tourism and trade.

The Kathmandu-Beijing-Kathmandu route – that has commenced on June 24, 2023 – departed from Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu at 7:40 hours (local time) and will arrive at Beijing Daxing International Airport at 14:15 hours (local time) in Beijing, with a flight duration of 4-hour-and-45 minutes. "The return flight, H9 666, will depart from Beijing at 15:25 hours (local time) and land in Kathmandu at 18:30 hours (local time)," the airliner informed.

"We are thrilled to initiate scheduled flights between Kathmandu and Beijing, especially after the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic," expressed vice president of the airline Bijay Shrestha. Emphasising that this route will enhance the airline's international presence, Shrestha informed that passengers can now book tickets for the Kathmandu-Beijing-Kathmandu flight at the Himalaya Airlines ticketing counter. "The company is confident that the resumption of this route will facilitate convenient and efficient travel options for individuals commuting between Beijing and Kathmandu, benefiting Nepal's tourism and business sectors."

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Government, World Bank launch $275 million Butwal-Gorusinghe-Chanauta road

The Government and the World Bank today jointly launched the $275 million (equivalent to Rs 34.96 billion) Accelerating Nepal’s Regional Transport and Trade Connectivity (ACCESS) Project aiming at upgrading Butwal-Gorusinghe-Chanauta road.

Under the project, the 69-kilometer two-lane section of the Butwal-Gorusinghe-Chanauta road along the East-West Highway will be upgraded to a climate-resilient four-lane highway, according to a press note issued by the World Bank. "With a focus on ensuring better road safety, the project is expected to reduce travel time by 30 percent, thus providing better access to India’s western seaports."

The project will construct at least three market areas with required internet and trade information facilities along the highway to help enhance economic opportunities, especially for women entrepreneurs and traders, the press note reads, adding that the project will also support advancing Nepal’s preparedness and subsequent implementation of the Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) signed by Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal to allow smooth passage of goods and passenger vehicles in each other’s territories. "It will help improve trade and connectivity by reducing trade and transport costs and transit time along selected corridors in Nepal."

The project was jointly launched by Minister of Physical Infrastructure and Transport Prakash Jwala and the World Bank Vice President for South Asia, Martin Raiser.

“The ACCESS project will help develop resilient infrastructure in Nepal and help unlock Nepal’s economic potential through better connectivity and trade, both between the provinces as well as regionally,” said minister Prakash Jwala, after launching the project.

“Enhanced trade and transport connectivity promotes economic integration and opens larger markets among South Asian countries," World Bank vice president for South Asia Region Martin Raiser, on the occasion, said, adding that the ACCESS project will help improve regional trade and promote sustainable infrastructure development to support Nepal’s green, resilient, and inclusive development.

The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, Ministry of Industries, Commerce and Supplies, and Ministry of Forests and Environment. The project’s financing agreement was signed by the Government and the World Bank in September 2022, the press note adds.

Friday, June 9, 2023

Government, stakeholders discuss actions and investment priorities for GRID

The World Bank and Finance Ministry convened a high-level roundtable meeting today on investment priorities and enabling policies to operationalise Nepal’s vision for Green, Resilient, and Inclusive Development (GRID).

Government officials and development partners including Asian Development Bank (ADB), France, Australia, UK, Republic of Korea, European Union (EU), Germany, Japan, Finland, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Norway, Switzerland, the United States of America (USA), United Nations (UN, World Bank Group, International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), and Association of International NGOs; as well as representatives from civil society, the private sector, youth groups, and think tanks participated in the event and took stock of efforts to implement GRID since the government and development partners endorsed the Kathmandu Declaration on GRID in September 2021.

“Nepal formally adopted the integrated approach to green, resilient, and inclusive development, or GRID, as its national development vision,” said chief secretary Shanker Das Bairagi, on the occasion. "This approach can be an engine of sustainable growth, good jobs and livelihood opportunities, and resilience in the face of multiple risks.”

The Roundtable also reviewed priority actions in the government’s emerging draft GRID strategic action plan including managing land, water, and forests in a more productive, sustainable, and integrated way; equipping people with new skills and resilient livelihoods; greening urban development; scaling up water supply and sanitation, managing pollution and waste; scaling up renewable energy; boosting the sustainability and resilience of the transportation system; strengthening disaster risk management and financing; and enhancing social protection to be responsive to shocks, according to a press note issued by the World Bank.

“Green, resilient, and inclusive development is about lifting incomes, improving opportunities for all, and achieving growth in harmony with nature,” World Bank vice president for the South Asia Region Martin Raiser said, adding that the World Bank and development partners are fully committed to supporting Nepal's GRID priorities and we are excited to see the impactful outcomes of GRID unfold.

Nepal’s draft GRID strategic action plan defines an economy-wide shift to a GRID development path, and specifies a set of high-priority investments with ready financing and a set of priority policy commitments. The priorities in the strategic action plan derive from Nepal’s key development, climate, environmental, and sector strategies. Financing sources include public expenditure from the government, overseas development assistance, innovative financing such as carbon finance, and private sector investment.

The event also served to consolidate the GRID partnership led by the government, which has grown to 20 development partners. In addition, the event was a milestone for the government to begin consultations with provincial and local governments and other stakeholders on the emerging strategic action plan. "It is anticipated the strategic action plan will be further refined and finalized this year," the press note reads.

हरित, उत्थानशील र समावेशी विकासका कार्य र लगानी प्राथमिकतामाथि छलफल

विश्व बैंक र अर्थ मन्त्रालयले नेपालको हरित, उत्थानशील र समावेशी विकास (ग्रिड) सम्बन्धी दृष्टिकोणको प्रभावकारी कार्यान्वयनका लागि आवश्यक पर्ने लगानी प्राथमिकता र अनुकूल नीतिहरूबारे छलफल गर्न आज काठमाडौंमा एक उच्चस्तरीय गोलमेच बैठक आयोजना गर्यो । 

कार्यक्रममा सरकार र विकास साझेदारहरूका साथै नागरिक समाज, निजी क्षेत्र, युवा समूह र प्रबुद्ध वर्गका प्रतिनिधिहरूको सहभागिता रहेको थियो । सो अवसरमा सहभागी प्रतिनिधिहरूले नेपाल सरकार र विकास साझेदारहरूबाट असोज २०७८ मा ग्रिड सम्बन्धी “काठमाडौं घोषणापत्र” संयुक्त रूपमा अनुमोदन गरिएयता भएका कार्यान्वयन प्रयासहरूको लेखाजोखा गरेका थिए ।

विकास साझेदारहरूमा हाल एसियाली विकास बैंक, फ्रान्स, अष्ट्रेलिया, संयुक्त अधिराज्य, गणतन्त्र कोरिया, युरोपेली संघ, जर्मनी, जापान, फिनल्याण्ड, अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय मुद्रा कोष, नर्वे, स्विट्जरल्याण्ड, संयुक्त राज्य अमेरिका, संयुक्त राष्ट्रसंघ, विश्व बैंक समूह, अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय एकीकृत पर्वतीय विकास केन्द्र (इसिमोड), अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय गैरसरकारी संस्था संघ लगायत बैठकमा उपस्थित थिए।

नेपालले  राष्ट्रिय विकासको दूरदृष्टिका रूपमा हरित, उत्थानशील र समावेशी विकास (ग्रिड) सम्बन्धी अवधारणालाई औपचारिक रूपमै अंगीकार गरेको मुख्य सचिव शंकर दास बैरागीले बताए । “विभिन्न जोखिमहरूका बीच यो अवधारणा समृद्धि, दिगो आर्थिक वृद्धि, राम्रा रोजगारी र जीविकोपार्जनका अवसर एवं उत्थानशीलताको एउटा साधन बन्न सक्छ,” उनले भने । 

उक्त गोलमेच बैठकले सरकारको मस्यौदा ग्रिड रणनीतिक कार्ययोजनामा उल्लेखित प्राथमिकता प्राप्त कार्यहरूको समेत समीक्षा गर्यो । ती प्राथमिकताप्राप्त कार्यहरूमा जमिन, जल र वनलाई थप उत्पादनशील, दिगो र एकीकृत रूपमा व्यवस्थापन गर्ने, मानिसहरूलाई नयाँ सीप र उत्थानशील जीविकोपार्जनबाट सुसज्जित बनाउनेस सहरी विकासलाई हरित बनाउने, खानेपानी तथा सरसफाइको पहुँच र प्रदूषण तथा फोहोरमैला व्यवस्थापन अभिवृद्धि गर्ने, नवीकरणीय ऊर्जा विस्तार गर्ने, यातायात प्रणालीको दिगोपना र उत्थानशीलता बढाउने, विपद् जोखिम व्यवस्थापन र वित्तीय लगानी सुदृढ गर्ने र विपदबाट आइपर्ने आघातहरूप्रति अनुकूलन हुन सामाजिक सुरक्षालाई सबल बनाउने  रहेका छन् ।

हरित, उत्थानशील र समावेशी विकासले आयस्रोत बढाउने, सबैका लागि अवसरहरू सुधार गर्ने, र प्रकृतिसँगको सामन्जस्यतामा वृद्धि हासिल गर्ने कार्य गर्छ भन्दै दक्षिण एसिया क्षेत्रका लागि विश्व बैंकका उपाध्यक्ष मार्टिन रेजरले भने, “ग्रिड सम्बन्धी प्राथमिकताहरूलाई साकार पार्न विश्व बैंक लगायत अन्य विकास साझेदारहरू पूर्णरूपमा प्रतिवद्ध छौं र हामी नेपालमा यसको प्रभावकारी नतिजाहरू हेर्न उत्सुक छौं ।”

विश्व बैंकका अनुसार नेपालको मस्यौदा ग्रिड रणनीतिक कार्ययोजनाले ग्रिड विकासको मार्गतर्फ जान अर्थतन्त्रव्यापी परिवर्तनको व्यवस्था गर्नुका साथै तयारी अवस्थामा रहेका बित्तिय प्रावधान सहितको उच्च प्राथमिकताका लगानी र प्राथमिकता प्राप्त नीतिगत प्रतिवद्धताहरू निर्दिष्ट गरेको छ । रणनीतिक कार्ययोजनाका प्राथमिकताहरू नेपालका प्रमुख विकास, जलवायु, वातावरणीय र क्षेत्रगत रणनीतिहरूबाट साभार गरिएका छन् । यसका वित्तिय स्रोतहरूमा नेपाल सरकारको सार्वजनिक खर्च, वैदेशिक विकास सहायता, कार्बन वित्त जस्ता नवीनतम स्रोत र निजी क्षेत्र लगानी रहेका छन् ।

उक्त बैठकले नेपाल सरकारको नेतृत्वमा रहेको ग्रिड साझेदारीलाई थप मजबूत बनाएको छ । यसका २० वटा विकास साझेदार छन् । साथै, उक्त बैठक आसन्न रणनीतिक कार्ययोजनाका सम्बन्धमा प्रदेश तथा स्थानीय सरकार र अन्य सरोकारवालाहरूसँग परामर्श सुरू गर्न सरकारका लागि एउटा कोशेढुंगा बनेको पनि विश्व बैंकको बुझाइ छ । सो रणनीतिक कार्ययोजनालाई थप परिष्कृत गरी यसै वर्ष अन्तिम रूप दिने अपेक्षा पनि विश्व बैंकले गरेको छ ।