Thursday, September 14, 2017

Nepal, MCC sign largest grant agreement

Nepal has signed a long-awaited deal with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to mobilise $500 million grant for the development of energy and road transport sector, which are considered the major constraints for the economic growth of the country.
Finance minister Gyanendra Bahadur Karki and acting chief executive officer of the MCC Jonathan Nash signed the pact, on behalf of the Government of Nepal and US Government’s MCC respectively, in US Department of State’s Treaty Room in Washington DC today.
The signing ceremony was attened by US deputy secretary of State John J Sullivan, Nepal’s ambassador to US Dr Arjun Kumar Karki, US ambassador to Nepal Alaina B Teplitz and senior officials from both the governments.
"I am pleased to be one of the signatories of this Compact Agreement that opens up an additional avenue of US-Nepal bilateral relations and economic cooperation," finance minister Gyanendra Bahadur Karki said after the signing ceremony.
"Today, as we sign this $500 million MCC compact with Nepal, we are celebrating a new chapter in the US-Nepal partnership,” MCC acting chief executive Jonathan Nash said, adding that this compact is designed to spur economic growth and private investment, and open new markets to benefit the economy, regional security and the broader global community.
According to head of the International Economic Cooperation Coordination Division
Baikuntha Aryal, the US government’s grant will be instrumental in transforming the economic landscape of the country through development of electricity transmission line via major load centres of the country to Indian border, which will also facilitate cross-border electricity trade. "The upgradation of major highways will be the lifeline for country’s economic development," he added.
Nepal will be able to mobilise $630 million – $500 million from MCC and $130 million counterpart fund – for the installation of 300-km high voltage electricity transmission lines along with three substations of 400 kV and maintenance of roads with total length of 305 km that would help spur economic growth and reduce poverty in Nepal.
"These projects need to be implemented within five years from the starting date of project, otherwise the money will go back to the US,” Aryal said. "Nepal government is responsible for land acquisition, resettlement and right of way clearance to implement the projects."
The Nepal Compact – MCC’s first compact in South Asia – aims at strengthening Nepal’s energy sector, improve regional energy connectivity, and control transportation costs to encourage growth and private investment for job creation. MCC’s investment is expected to benefit about 23 million people.
The MCC had selected Nepal for a smaller threshold programme in December of 2011. The MCC and government had analysed economic growth constraints and jointly prepared a policy improvement programme based on the results. Given Nepal’s strong performance in its MCC policy indicator scorecard through 2014, MCC’s board of directors selected Nepal to be eligible to develop a compact, a larger grant-based investment.
Nepal first passed the MCC scorecard – as it met at least 10 of a set of 20 indicators ranging from child health to fiscal policy to government effectiveness – in late 2014 before the MCC’s board officially approved Nepal for a compact – in December 2014 – and the deal has been in development since then.
A group of MCC and local economists first worked on a growth diagnostic to identify binding constraints that were impeding private sector investment. They had identified power and transportation as key barriers for Nepal's economic growth.
On the basis of the study, the compact programme is investing in an Electricity Transmission Project (ETP) and a Road Maintenance Project (RMP). The ETP is expected to transform power sector by expanding and strengthening the high voltage electricity transmission network to support new investments in generation and allow greater cross-border electricity trade. Likewise, the RMP is expected to improve the road maintenance regime and complement existing efforts to build new roads by other parties.
Out of the $500 million, $398.2 million will be spent on the electricity transmission project while $52.3 million has been allocated for the transportation project. The remaining fund of $49.5 million is for the monitoring and evaluation and programme administration, according to the MCC, an independent US government agency working to reduce global poverty through economic development.
Office of the Millennium Challenge Nepal (OMCN) – a Nepal government office which coordinates development of MCC programme – in coordination with MCC, had finalised the projects that are going to be implemented under the MCC grant.

Identified Energy projects
Transmission line and substations (400 kV)
Lapsifedi (Kathmandu)-Damauli (Tanahu)
Galchhi (Dhading)-Hetauda (Makawanpur)
Damauli (Tanahu)-Sunwal (Nawalparasi)
Three substations (of 400 kV) at Galchhi, Damauli and Sunwal (India border)

Road maintenance
Mechi Highway
Koshi Highway
Sagarmatha Highway
Tribhuvan Rajpath (Bhaise-Hetauda section)
Bhaise-Bhimphedi
Amelia (Dang) to Tulsipur (Dang)

Monday, September 11, 2017

UN Global Emergency Response Fund provides $4.8 million for flood affected

The UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has announced $4.8 million new humanitarian funding to help address urgent needs amongst flood affected communities in the Terai.
"The CERF is one of the fastest ways that the UN has to support people affected by crises,” UN Resident Coordinator Valerie Julliand said. "These funds will allow the Humanitarian Country Team through UN agencies and their partners to quickly scale-up their urgent activities and deliver additional shelter, food, critical health care and more to 700,000 people," he said, adding that the latest disaster has impacted already vulnerable and poor regions of Nepal including areas of the Terai which were affected by major flooding in 2014. "Schools, medical centres and houses have been destroyed and large areas of crops washed away."
Immediate assistance is now needed to help people recover and to prevent a further worsening of the humanitarian situation," Julliand added. "The rapid allocation from the CERF is hugely important and my appreciation goes to all donors to the fund whose support will help to reduce human suffering and to restore dignity."
At least 66 persons were killed and 35 were injured in the floods and landslides triggered by torrential rainfall in various parts of the country in August last month.
According to the Home Ministry, hundreds of families have been displaced after floodwaters gushed into human settlements in most parts of the Terai region.
Panchthar, Ilam, Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Siraha, Rautahat, Mahottari,  Sindhuli, Bara, Parsa, Makawanpur, Chitwan and Lalitpur are some of the most flood-affected districts.

MDBs increase 2016 financing to tackle climate challenge, South Asia gets largest chunk

The world’s six largest multilateral development banks (MDBs) continued to make a strong contribution to the global climate challenge in 2016, increasing their climate financing in developing countries and emerging economies last year to $27.4 billion from $25 billion in 2015.
Of the total, $21.2 billion or 77 per cent was dedicated to climate mitigation finance, with the remaining 23 per cent devoted to climate adaptation.
Combined with additional co-financing from other investors, the total amount of finance mobilised for climate action reached $65.3 billion last year.
The MDBs have reported jointly on climate finance since 2011. Collectively, the banks have committed over $158 billion in climate finance during the past 6 years.
The latest MDB climate finance figures are detailed in the 2016 Joint Report on Multilateral Development Banks’ Climate Finance, combining data from the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank Group, and the World Bank Group.
"ADB acknowledges MDB’s pivotal role in providing climate finance and remains committed to strengthen its collaboration with other MDBs and ultimately to the successful implementation of the Paris Agreement,” ADB vice president for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development Bambang Susantono said, adding that the ADB has recently approved its Climate Change Operational Framework 2030, which will guide in enhancing resilience and strengthening climate actions in the Asia and Pacific region.
Broken down by region, the largest share of last year’s MDB climate finance went to South Asia, with 20 per cent, followed by East Asia and the Pacific and non-EU Europe and Central Asia, with 19 per cent and 18 per cent, respectively. The Middle East and North Africa, at 9 per cent and Sub-Saharan Africa, at 7 per cent, received the least climate finance.
The MDBs also reported again on climate finance according to financial instrument. The vast majority of finance, or 73 per cent, was provided in the form of investment loans.
The MDBs’ methodologies for climate finance tracking align with the Common Principles for Climate Change Mitigation Finance Tracking, jointly agreed by the MDBs and by the International Development Finance Club (IDFC), and first published in March 2015.
The MDBs and the IDFC agreed on the Common Principles for Climate Adaptation Finance Tracking in July 2015. The MDBs and the IDFC have begun taking the next steps to harmonize their approaches in tracking adaptation finance.
The MDBs are continuing to work to update their joint tracking methodologies for mitigation and adaptation to support the goals of the Paris Agreement, playing a key role in defining the finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate resilient development.
ADB – based in Manila – is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members, 48 from the region. In 2016, ADB assistance totaled $31.7 billion, including $14 billion in co-financing.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

With 22 per cent population, South Asia has only 1.3 per cent of world’s income

While South Asia houses 22 per cent of the world’s population, the region, however, has only 1.3 per cent of the world’s income, according to a report.
Sharing some of the findings of the triennial report on the poverty scenario in South Asian countries – produced by the Nepal-based South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE) – released at the Institute for Development Communication (IDC), today regional coordinator of SAAPE Prof Netra Timsina, said that the idea that the market will correct imbalances through demand and supply has led to the gradual withdrawal of the state from publicly providing services such as education and health.
A Chandigarh-based study circle, ‘Dialogue Highway’, in collaboration with the IDC, facilitated the release of the report.
"The SAAPE report, in its essence, brings out the failure of South Asian countries to lift their masses out of poverty and withdrawal of the state from providing basic needs such as food, education, health and safety to the people at the margins,” Dialogue Highway managing trustee Devinder Sharma said.
SAAPE is a regional platform of civil society organisations, social movements and people’s network fighting against the structural causes of poverty and social injustice in the region and beyond.
While launching its fifth Poverty Report, SAAPE, which has been publishing the triennial South Asia Poverty Report since 2003, questioned the existing development paradigm. This report is a knowledge document that brings out the commonality of experiences of all South Asian countries.
Punjabi University vice chancellor Prof BS Ghuman said that the report should form the part of the policy planning. "A social audit of poverty alleviation programmes should also be included in the process to assess the results of poverty eradication," he said, adding that the policy should not be top down but participatory.
In a scholarly exposition, IDC director Dr Pramod Kumar said the state had been usurped by the market and the people at the margins do not have a voice.

Alleged Dawood Ibrahim aide becomes a mayoral candidate in Birgunj

A man alleged to have close ties to fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim is a mayoral candidate in Birgunj sub–metropolitan city.
Today the main opposition party CPN-UML announced Basaruddhin Ansari’s candidature for the third phase of local polls that is slated for September 18.
Ansari – a controversial figure who owns National Medical College in Birgunj and Kathmandu – is believed to be close to Dawood, the notorious don. It is alleged that Dawood has invested millions of rupees into the colleges that Ansari owns.
After Ansari’s candidature was announced, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba instructed Tribhuvan University (TU) to scrap the affiliation of National College – that has neither students nor faculty, students or patients – at a rented apartment building at Anam Nagar in Kathmandu. The CPN-UML chairman KP Oli, however, immediately hit back, calling the decision 'unfair' and 'unjust'.
According to reports, the Indian embassy in Kathmandu has made several correspondents to the government through the ministry of foreign affairs to probe Ansari’s properties.
In its letter, the embassy has written that it has credible information that National Medical College, Birgunj received a large investment from Dawood, and under the UN Security Council Resolution number 1526, the property should be seized.
Following the embassy’s request some 12 years ago, the foreign ministry had forwarded the letter to the ministry of home affairs.
The government had – after the request from the Indian embassy – formed a probe committee but Ansari refused to assist them, saying that they did not have authority to probe his property and threatened to move the Supreme Court.
However, according to Ansari, he has long faced similar charges and claimed he was feeling 'insecure' as a mayoral candidate, though he did not disclose the reason for feeling threatened. 

Flooding in Nepal affecting 680k children: UNICEF

About 1.7 million people, including 680,000 children, have been affected with 352,738 displaced from their homes and are in urgent need of life-saving support due to 'catastrophic' flooding in Nepal, according to a UN agency said.
Likewise, more than 185,126 homes have been damaged or destroyed in addition to 1,958 schools, affecting the education of 253,605 children in Nepal, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said.
About 16 million children across India, Bangladesh and Nepal are in urgent need of life-saving support due to 'catastrophic' flooding in the three South Asian countries. "Millions of children have seen their lives swept away by these devastating floods" said Jean Gough, UNICEF regional director for South Asia. "Children have lost their homes, schools and even friends and loved ones," she said, adding that there is a danger the worst could still be to come as rains continue and flood waters move south.
Weeks of torrential monsoon rains and catastrophic flooding in Nepal, India, and Bangladesh have devastated the lives of millions of children and families. UNICEF estimates that almost 16 million children and their families are in urgent need of life-saving support.
Many areas remain inaccessible due to damage to roads, bridges, railways and airports. The most urgent needs for children are clean water, hygiene supplies to prevent the spread of disease, food supplies and safe places in evacuation centres for children to play, the UN agency said.
The UNICEF is on the ground working in close coordination with respective governments and humanitarian partners from three countries to scale up its responses and respond to immediate needs of affected children and their families.
"Massive damage to school infrastructure and supplies also mean hundreds of thousands of children may miss weeks or months of school" Gough said, adding that getting children back into school is absolutely critical in establishing a sense of stability for children during times of crisis and provides a sense of normality when everything else is being turned upside down.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Government, UN signs strategic development assistance framework

National Planning Commission (NPC) and United Nations (UN) Country Team in Nepal signed the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) for 2018 -22 at a special function here today.
The UNDAF lays out the development strategy for the UN Country Team in Nepal for the next five years. The $635 million package involving 26 individual UN agencies, spans interventions aimed at assisting in four broad areas including Inclusive Economic Growth; Social Development including Resilience, Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction; and Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights.
"We are pleased to sign this framework with the UN in Nepal to broadly align with our national priorities as envisioned by the government," said the National Planning Commission (NPC) chair Swarnim Waglé after signing ceremony. "It will contribute to Nepal's ambition to achieve the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development."
Likewise, UN resident coordinator Valerie Julliand, on the occasion, said that the UNDAF shows what the UN can achieve when it works together across agencies and mandates. "The strong alignment of the UNDAF with the national plans, international conventions, and the Constitution of Nepal provides the foundation to support Nepal’s efforts in ensuring that ‘no one is left behind’ as laid out in the Sustainable Development Goals."

Monday, August 21, 2017

Sebon plans to enforce separate regulation

The capital market regulator is going to enforce a separate regulation to take action against listed companies that fail to report on time. Many listed companies that have been disregarding Securities Board of Nepal's (Sebon) directive have been getting away with it at present.
According to the regulation, the listed companies are required to submit their unaudited quarterly financial reports to it within a month of the completion of the quarter. Likewise, organisations that have received operating licences from Sebon, including stockbrokers and merchant bankers, also need to submit their financial reports within the deadline. But of them has been disobeying the regulator.
According to the regulator, some 98 out of the 226 listed companies have not submitted their financial reports till date evenafter the deadline August 16.
Most of them are development banks. According to the Sebon, some 40 out of the 77 development banks have not submitted their financial reports. Likewise, some 20 out of the 34 finance companies have not submitted their reports, whereas some 15 companies related to manufacturing and processing, four companies in the trading group, seven commercial banks and six hydropower companies have failed to submit their reports.
However, Sebon has not taken any action against these companies due to lack of separate regulation to take action against such firms. According to the Securities Act 2006, companies violating the rule can be fined or their transactions suspended.
The listed companies have to submit their annual audited reports within five months from the start of the fiscal year. The deadline for Sebon’s licensed institutions is three months from the end of the previous fiscal year.

Nepse suspends trading of shares of 6 firms
KATHMANDU: The Nepal Stock Exchange (Nepse) on Monday suspended share trading of six stock broking companies – including Agrawal Securities, Ashutosh and Brokerage and Securities, Bhrikuti Stock, Creative Securities, Shree Krishna Securities and South Asian Bulls – for failing to pay the regulation fee to the Securities Board of Nepal (Sebon). According to capital market regulator, stock broking companies are required to pay 0.6 per cent of the total service charge they receive. 

Nepal's graduation from LDC possible

Nepal’s gradation from the current Least Developed Countries (LDC) status to the developing countries' rank by 2022 is possible, according to
At the National Consultation seminar organised by Least Developed Countries (LDC) Watch, National Planning Commission (NPC) joint secretary Lal Shankar Ghimire confirmed that Nepal will graduate from the current status to the developing country status within 5 years.
He also reminded that the NPC has in its 13th periodic plan set a goal of upgrading Nepal from the LDC group by 2022, a step forward from its previous target in 12th periodic plan of upgrading Nepal by 2030.
Ghimire opined that realisation of the goal entailed renewed stress on tackling corruption, upholding good governance and bringing political stability for extensive growth and social development.
The LDC Watch’s International Coordinator Gauri Pradhan, on the occasion, noted the possibility of Nepal graduating to developing country status between the period of 2017 and 2024, and underlined the need for positive socio-economic development.
The civil society organisations, on the occasion, endorsed a 12-point Kathmandu Declaration.

Government starts embossed number plates distribution

After some 25 years, the government has implemented its Act as the Department of Transport Management started issuing high security embossed number plates from today.
Though, the embossed number plates are against the new Constitution -- that does not recognise Zones -- these number plates are readable by automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) camera systems. "The number plates carry a chip which is connected to the vehicle’s GPS system," the department informed, adding that it helps to locate the vehicle in the event of theft.
The government had been long planning to replace the old number plates but it took some two-and-a-half decade to implement the Act that had 25 years envisioned to use embossed number plates. "The department plans to replace all the old number plates by the next five years," it added. "In the first phase, all the government-owned vehicles will have embossed number plates to be followed by diplomatic and personal vehicles."
Five colours of plate and text will be used to differentiate between government vehicles, private and diplomatic vehicles. The numbers will be however be in English only and it might be widely criticised for not using the Nepali numbers, apart from using the Zones instead of Province. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

ADB, GCF sign agreement to scale Up Climate Finance delivery in Asia

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF) today signed an Accreditation Master Agreement (AMA) that will allow ADB to access and administer GCF funds and scale up the bank’s climate financing to its developing member countries.
The agreed AMA – a framework agreement detailing the overarching rights and obligations of an accredited entity and GCF – will enable ADB to access a new funding source to further increase its climate mitigation and adaptation efforts in Asia and the Pacific. “The Accreditation Master Agreement between the GCF and ADB will open the way to deeper collaboration between our institutions,” said ADB General Counsel Christopher Stephens. "Working together with the GCF, we will build a robust pipeline of climate projects that support the development and climate objectives of our developing member countries.”
GCF works exclusively with accredited entities to support climate mitigation and adaptation projects and programs. Today’s signing of the AMA is the conclusion of ADB’s accreditation process – approved in March 2015 – that enables ADB to apply for GCF funding for all sizes of projects, as well as all environmental and social risk categories. These funds would be in addition to ADB’s own commitment of providing climate financing of $6 billion per year by 2020.
“As the dynamo of global economic growth, with Asia Pacific continuing to record the world’s strongest growth, this region has a key role to play in tackling climate change,” said Acting GCF General Counsel Raul Herrera. “The vital importance of Asia in meeting the climate challenge, along with GCF’s mandate to pursue transformative low-emission and climate-resilient development across the planet, means a shared strategic approach between GCF and ADB in this area is essential.”
GCF also commended ADB for highlighting in its own study how sensitive the Asia and Pacific region is to climate change. 'A Region at Risk-The Human Dimensions of Climate Change in Asia and the Pacific', an ADB report released in July, indicates climate change could diminish the major achievements made during the past few decades in lifting large numbers of people living in the region out of poverty.
Access to GCF financing starts with a submission by ADB of a funding proposal, followed by its review and approval by the GCF board. GCF financing may include a combination of public and private sector initiatives and provide a range of financing instruments such as grants, loans – including concessional loans – equity, and risk mitigation instruments such as guarantees.
In November 2015, GCF approved a first $31 million climate adaptation grant for ADB’s Fiji Urban Water Supply and Wastewater Management Project that will benefit a third of the country’s population of 860,000. The grant to Fiji was among the first group of projects approved by the GCF Board. GCF has also approved a $12 million grant for the Cook Islands Renewable Energy project along with a $5 million grant for a regional technical assistance to seven Pacific Island countries to transition to renewable energy.
ADB’s current GCF accreditation is valid until March 2020, subject to reaccreditation every 5 years.
GCF, based in Songdo, is a global fund created to support the efforts of developing countries to respond to the challenge of climate change. It was established in 2010 by 194 governments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries and catalyze a flow of climate finance to invest in low-emission and climate-resilient development. As of June 2017, 42 countries and one city have signed contribution agreements with GCF worth $10.1 billion out of the $10.3 billion pledged.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members; 48 from the region. In 2016, ADB assistance totaled $31.7 billion, including $14 billion in cofinancing. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Himalaya offers direct Kathmandu-Dammam flights

Privately airliner Himalaya Airlines announced the launch of its first direct flight from Kathmandu to the Saudi Arabia city of Dammam from September 1.
The Kathmandu-Dammam airfare will start from Rs 23,800 for one-way and Rs 38,000 for a round trip, exclusive of taxes, the domestic private carrier said, adding that the flight would facilitate Nepali migrant workers to return home during the upcoming Dashain and Tihar festivals. "Dammam is one of the most sought after destination of Nepalis for foreign employment with an estimated 500,000 Nepalis working there currently."
In 2015, the government had amended the air service agreement (ASA) with Saudi Arabia, boosting the frequency between the two countries to 28 weekly flights from two weekly flights. Nepal had signed the ASA with Saudi Arabia in October 1999 permitting flights to Riyadh only. The revised ASA has accepted a multiple designation system and Saudi Arabia has adopted an open sky policy at its international airport in Dammam, which means there will be no restriction on the frequency.
The daily direct flight would ease the travel for thousands of Nepalis, who have been paying hefty ticket airfares as well as spending more travel time while commuting between Saudi Arab and Kathmandu.
Himalaya will depart from Tribhuvan International Airport at 22:30 hours (local time) and will arrive in King Fadh International Airport, Dammam at 00:50 hours (local time) the next day, the airliner said in a press note. "The return flight will depart from Fadh International Airport, Dammam at 01:50 hours (local time) and will arrive in Kathmandu at 09:15 hours (local time)."
According to Himalaya Airlines vice president of Administration Vijay Shrestha the company is always looking forward to provide the passengers with the most convenient and time-efficient way of air travel. "Considering the hours of hassle Nepalis have been facing while traveling to Saudi Arabia, we believe the launch of this direct flight will definitely achieve our objective," he said, adding that the launch of daily direct flight to Dammam is Himalaya Airlines special Festival gift.
The free baggage allowance for both the routes is 40 kg for business class and 30 kg for economy class. The airline has appointed Asfar Travel and Tourism as its general sales agents, who will represent the airline in Saudi Arabia and will be responsible for the airline’s sales and marketing, market development, reservations and ticketing services.
Established in August 2014, Himalaya Airlines, a Nepal China Joint Venture, is a private airline of Nepal providing international air service.  

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Electricity from India to cost Rs 10 per unit

Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has fixed the new tariff for the electricity imported from India.
The meeting of Nepal-India Electricity Exchange Committee held today in New Delhi has fixed Rs 8.88 minimum to Rs 10.32 maximum per unit based on the capacity of the transmission lines. The new rate will be applicable immediately and until the next power exchange committee meeting which is scheduled for March 2018. The new tariff for the electricity to be imported from India will be fixed by another meeting of the committee agreed to hold within next March.
According to NEA spokesperson Prabal Adhikari, who also attended the meeting of the Committee at New Delhi, the new tariff has been determined at IRs Rs 5.55 minimum for the electricity imported through big transmission line and IRs 6.45 maximum per unit for the electricity imported through small transmission line.
He also explained that the electricity imported through transmission line of 11 kv will cost Rs 10.32 (IRs 6.54), Rs 9.60 (IRs 6) of 33 kv and Rs 8.88 (IRs 5.55) of Rs 132 Kv.
With the new decision, per unit price of electricity being imported from 12 various Indian border points for the next seven months via 132 kv, 33 kv and 11 kv cross-border transmission line will be cheaper by IRs 0.07, IRs 0.08 and IRs 0.09, respectively, he added.
After a Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) delegation led by managing director Kulman Ghising today requested Central Electricity Authority (CEA) of India to slash the electricity price, they have agreed to reduce the price of electricity exported to Nepal. The Ghising-led delegation is currently in New Delhi in the second meeting of Nepal-India Power Exchange Committee. The committee is a bilateral platform to make decision on a number of issues including cross-border electricity trade like tariff rate, quantity and modality.
The first meeting of the Nepal-India Power Exchange Committee in 2011 had fixed the tariff at less than IRs 4 per unit. It agreed to review prices at subsequent meetings that would be held annually. As no meetings could be held since then, the tariff rate grew by 5.5 per cent every year for six consecutive years according to the decision of the first meeting.
Currently, Nepal is paying Rs 8.99 per unit for up to 50 MW and Rs 8.88 above 50 MW. Although committee meetings were supposed to be held annually, they didn’t happen because of India’s unwillingness to do so. The meeting which hadn’t become possible despite relentless efforts by Nepal took place today at the Indian initiative on the eve of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s India visit next week.
The meeting also decided constructions of the three transmission lines of 132 Kv and two of 22 Kv, Adhikari said, adding that the meeting also agreed to re-operate the long defunct 33 kv Dhangadi-Paliya transmission line within two months. Around 50 per cent of the total electricity import is done through the Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur and Tanakpur-Mahendranagar power lines.
The meeting also decided that Nepal will import additional 100 MW through inter-country transmission line. It is expected to help Nepal prevent from power outage during the winter. Adhikari said that 50 MW each will be imported through the new 132 kv Kataiya-Kusaha and Raxaul-Parwanipur transmission lines under the ‘take and pay’ modality. Although, the construction of the Raxual-Parawanipur and Kushaha inter-country transmission line was completed some six months ago, no electricity had been imported through the line from India yet.
Currently, Nepal has been importing 380 MW of electricity from India. The NEA has been importing about 50 MW of electricity through 33 kv transmission lines at Raxaul, Siraha, Jaleshwar, Kataiya and Nanpara border points. Similarly, 830 KW of electricity is being imported through 11 kv transmission lines at Lali, Huti and Jaulijiwi border points. Likewise, NEA has been importing 130 MW and 30 MW of electricity through the Kataiya-Kusaha and Gandak-Ramnagar 132 kv transmission lines, respectively.

Tibet Airlines starts Chengdu-KTM flights

After a successful proving flight on June 19, Lhasa-based Tibet Airlines has commenced its direct flight service on Chengdu–Kathmandu-Chengdu sector beginning today.
The inaugural flight, TV 9899, departed Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport at 6:16 pm (China’s local time) and touched down at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu at 7:15 pm (Nepali local time), according to a press release issued by Himalaya Airlines, the general sales agent of Tibet Airlines for Nepal.
Tibet Airlines will conduct 4 flights a week on Chengdu–Kathmandu-Chengdu sector on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
The airline will operate Airbus 319 on the route, featuring a two-class cabin with a seating capacity of 128 passengers, including 8 in business class and 120 in economy.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Government to send staff to local bodies within a week

General Administration Minister Tek Bahadur Basnet said that the government is preparing to send staff in local bodies within a week.
Warning that the government would take stern actions against those staff defying orders, he urged the government employees to comply with their transfers to respective places to facilitate locally elected representatives to implement federalism and constitution.
Speaking at an interaction programme organised in the capital today, the newly appointed minister Basnet said that government will consider employee’s sentiment, their position, and other factors also while adjusting to various provinces in the near future.
"Government is preparing to sent the staffer to province number 2 for the coming September 18 local polls," he said, adding that other locals levels of 6 provinces as locally elected representatives would get their staff soon.
The government is preparing to sent staff on contract basis and increase salary, perks and benefits of employees deputed in local bodies across the nation, until the Employees Adjustment Bill is endorsed by the Legislature-Parliament.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

NRA starts orientation to new engineers

The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) has started a three-day orientation training for newly appointed engineers, who will be mobilised to carry out resurvey of private homes. The 332 newly appointed engineers will be mobilised to handle complaints registered by people in the 14 districts that were highly affected by the devastating earthquake of April 2015.
Among the selected engineers, 168 engineers will be mobilised in Okhaldhunga, Ramechhap, Dolakha, Sindhupalchowk, Kavrepalanchowk, Nuwakot, Rasuwa and Gorkha from August 10. Likewise, the NRA will mobilise the remaining 164 engineers in the other six districts that include Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Sindhuli, Makawanpur and Dhading from August 14. The move followed by massive complaints from the earthquake survivors on segregation of beneficiaries based on several criteria will resurvey houses and come out with the actual number of beneficiaries by mid-October.
On the occasion, secretary of the NRA Sarbajit Prasad Mahato, urged the engineers to settle the complaints of quake-hit people in a speedy manner. The major task of the engineers will be to verify the complaints registered by those who were left out from the beneficiary list, he said, adding that they also have to handle other complaints lodged by affected people.
According to the NRA data, a total of 207,500 quake-hit people have registered complaints at the authority that has planned to do survey in eight districts in the first phase in collaboration with the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS).
The authority is planning to collect on-field statistics of the 14 districts within September 16. During this process, it will verify status of 81,082 families, who have already been included in beneficiary list and status of 52,278 families, who have been left out of the list.
NRA has already looked into complaints filed by households which had not been included in the beneficiary list and included 39,097 families in the list. Likewise, 13,565 families who needed their houses to be retrofitted have been included in the ‘retrofitting’ list.
According to NRA, a large number of complaints filed in Sindhuli, Makawanpur, Kavrepalanchowk and Dolakha districts have to be verified again. The number of complaints that need to be verified again are lower in Rasuwa, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur.
Meanwhile, the authority has deputed local social mobilisers and engineers to carry out the resurvey in coordination with newly elected local representatives.
It has also appealed the people in affected districts, local representatives, political parties and other related agencies for help in making this campaign a success.

House panel team to carry out onsite monitoring of land purchased by NOC

After increased controversy, the Industry, Commerce and Consumer Welfare Committee – under the Legislature-Parliament – has decided to carry out an onsite visit of the land purchased by Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) for petroleum storage in four districts.
Committee chair Bhishmaraj Angdembe in today's meeting said that a group of lawmakers including those elected from Jhapa, Sarlahi, Chitwan and Rupandehi districts will be sent for the onsite monitoring. "The groups will collect real facts by holding discussion with representatives of concerned offices, people's representatives of local-level and locals of the area, where the NOC had purchased the land, of the four districts," he added.
On the occasion, Lawmakers Subas Chandra Thakuri, Bhesh Kumari Raut, Krishna Prasad Poudel, Shambhu Lal Shrestha, Deepak Karki and Shyam Kumar Shrestha stressed the need of carrying out comprehensive probe into the land purchase scandal.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Contractor okays Dhalkebar project October deadline

The Central Power Grid International Economic and Trade Corporation (CCPG) – that is constructing 220 kV Substation Project at Dhalkebar – has pledged to meet the deadline of October 2017 after a high level team led by energy minister Mahendra Bahadur Shahi directed the Chinese contractor.
On the occasion, project manager of CCPG Geng Jialing, said that the project can be completed within the next two months, if the contractor is provided necessary resources promptly. "The government should also assure working environment in the project site," he said.
A high-level team led by energy minister included energy secretary Anup Kumar Upadhyay and NEA managing director Kulman Ghising. They visited the construction site today and asked the Chinese contractor to start the construction work at war footing to complete the job on time. Responding to the team's direction, the contractor agreed to meet the deadline of October 2017.
The monitoring team had also concluded that though almost 80 per cent of the construction work was completed, the remaining work was delayed due to lack of coordination between the contractor and the consultant company of the project regarding bill payments and cable trench.
The representative of Power Grid Corporation of India – the consultant of the project – on the occasion also agreed to provide final drawing of the cable trench required for the project to the contractor to expedite the construction.
Earlier, the contractor had stopped all the work at the construction site a couple of weeks ago without formally informing Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA). Although, the Chinese contractor resumed the construction of crucial substation a week later, it was carrying out the work at a snail’s pace, raising doubts over project completion well before the dry season to enable the country to increase electricity imports from India.
NEA managing director Ghising, on the occasion, said that CCPG should complete the Dhalkebar substation project by the October deadline as project carries national significance.
As NEA had terminated the contract of CCPG, which was also working in the Bharatpur-Bardaghat transmission line on June 5, the contractor had begun showing dissatisfaction with NEA by delaying work at the Dhalkebar substation project, which was supposed to be completed by early 2017.
Promising to solve as soon as possible, Minister Shahi asked the contractor to report any work related problems immediately from the project level directly to him.
If the project is not completed by October, it will hit the power utility’s plan to increase electricity imports from India via Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur cross-border transmission line during the dry season.
The state-owned power utility has repeatedly said it will be difficult to keep the country load-shedding free during the dry season, if the substation at Dhalkebar is not completed on time. The country's power demand is expected to increase by around 200 MW then.
Even though the installed capacity of domestic hydroelectricity is expected to go up by additional 130MW during next dry season, power generation is expected to drop by a third around that time when water level goes down in most of the river basins.
If the 220 kV sub-station is built at Dhalkebar by that time, the country can import another 100 MW of power from India theough Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur cross-border transmission line.
Currently, the cross-border transmission line has the capacity to import 160 MW of electricity only. According to agreement signed between NEA and the Chinese company in June 2014, the sub-station should have been up and running by September 2015. But the deadline has been repeatedly pushed back. The October deadline was extended recently.
The CCPG and NEA had signed the Dhalkebar substation project contract on June 12, 2014 with a target to complete it within 15 months.

RBB, NIDC merger talks gathers momentum

The merger process between state-owned Rastriya Banijya Bank (RBB) and NIDC Development Bank has once again gathered speed.
The separate merger committees formed by both the banks have agreed to form a joint merger committee led by joint secretary of the Finance Ministry Nirmal Hari Adhikari.
"We have formed a joint merger committee, which will be responsible for finalising all the merger related issues,” said RBB chief executive officer Kiran Shrestha. "The committee has set a target to finalise the merger process by October 17 this year," he said, adding that the long Dashain vacation in between will surely affect the merger process. "We will do our best to meet the deadline."
Earlier, the individual merger committees formed by the two banks has finalised a first draft of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) yesterday. They have now given the authority to finalise the MoU to the joint merger committee.
The banks have yet not yet discussed into technical issues of the merger like capital ratio and management of employees. "Technical issues are yet to be solved," Shrestha added.
NIDC has already finalised the Due Diligence Audit (DDA) to begin the merger process with RBB. RBB has also already calculated its net worth before starting the merger process.
Expecting merger soon, the Finance Ministry has asked NIDC Development Bank not to extend the agreement of the staffs, who have been hired on contract basis. The ministry has – issuing  a letter on May 7 – also asked NIDC not to appoint any new staff on contract.
A cabinet meeting on January 27 had also urged both the institutions to expedite the merger process. A committee that had been formed under the leadership of former secretary Prithvi Raj Ligal had also suggested NIDC to merge with RBB or to establish itself as an investment bank in collaboration with Hydropower Investment and Development Company.
The RBB has, however, planned to widen its branch network after the merger process is completed. The bank, which already has a presence in 68 districts with a network of 166 branches, has planned to add 43 new branches.
The RBB has paid-up capital of Rs 8.5 billion and NIDC has Rs 650 million.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Shree Airlines operates proven flight to Biratnagar

Domestic carrier Shree Airlines has – after a long wait – operated its first proving flight from Kathmandu to Biratnagar today. Shree Airlines operated its 50-seater CRJ 200 with callsign 9N-AMA for its proving flight.
The airline – the largest helicopter operator in the country – is preparing to begin fixed-wing operations. It has already acquired three aircraft – two 50-seater Bombardier CRJ 200s and one 70-seater CRJ-700 – to start commercial passenger service. However, according to civil aviation rules, it has to conduct a proving flight to get Air Operator's Certificate (AOC).
According to Shree Airlines corporate manager Anil Manandhar the proving flight was operated to fulfill the requirements of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN). "Now, the inspection team of CAAN, which was on board the proving flight, will submit its report to the aviation sector regulator within two or three days," he said, adding that the CAAN will take a decision on AOC based on the report.
The airlines is expecting CAAN to issue AOC by next week. “Once we get AOC, we will start scheduled flights immediately after we get AOC,” Manandhar added.
Shree Airlines is planning to operate scheduled flights to five destinations; Bhadrapur, Biratnagar, Bhairahawa, Nepalgunj and Dhangadhi. It also plans to operate mountain flights offering affordable fares and promising a safe and pleasing experience to the passengers.
Shree Airlines is the largest helicopter operator in the country, operating a fleet of Mi-17 and AS 350 B3e helicopters.

Sebon issues code of conduct for Board of Director

The capital market regulator has directed its Board of Directors (BoDs) not to invest in the promoter shares of any company that has received any kind of permission from the board. Issuing a code of conduct for its Board of Directors, Securities Board of Nepal (Sebon) has also asked them to refrain from making any investment in the secondary market. It has said that they should not invest in the secondary market and promoter shares during his or her tenure at the board ‘to maintain secrecy and integrity’.
According to the direction, the board members can also no longer join the board of any brokerage company or any company either listed or is in the process of being listed in the secondary market. The board members have also been barred from working as full-time staff at any such organisations.
Sebon has a seven-member board, including the chairman. Three members from government agencies – joint secretaries from Finance Ministry and Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, and executive director of central bank – whereas remaining three are the representatives from Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nepal (ICAN) and an independent member.
"Sebon board members should maintain financial transparency," the capital market regulator said in its press note. "They should not abuse the authority granted to them,” the note reads, adding that the regulator is also planning to issue corporate governance directive to the organisations that are under the supervision of the authority.
Board members will now have to get a clearance from the board before they can speak to the media as any information given by them can directly affect individual companies or the market. They are also not allowed to accept any gifts without permission, the release adds.
Sebon has already issued code of conduct to its staff members.

NRNA-Thailand to provide civil scholarships

Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA) Thailand and Civil Initiative entered an agreement to set up a Civil Scholarship Fund to support the needy students from the disadvantaged communities.
The agreement was announced with the main objective to enhance positive effect on the school enrolment, attendance, learning outcomes, reducing the drop out and repetition rates and promoting the school cycle completion rate on June 14 last month, in Kathmandu, a press release issued by the NRNA Thailand reads.
The scholarship will be awarded to the students between Grade VIII and Grade XII with the principle of inclusion. The students will be supported from the bank interest of the Endowment Funds.
NRNA Thailand has already contributed a sum of Rs 3.6 million. The amount has been deposited in the fixed deposit account at Mega Bank Nepal.
A ‘Civil Scholarship Fund Guidelines, 2017’ have been developed containing the scholarship eligibility criteria. The scholarship will be allocated to the earthquake affected districts for the first five years. For the first year, the project will be implemented in Dolakha and Gorkha districts, for 40 students, with 20 students in each district as pilot project and the following years minimum 100 students will be awarded the scholarship each year.
The Scholarship Determination and Implementation Committee (SDIC) led by coordinator Hemanta Raj Dahal (educationist) with Khagendra Raj Dhakal (scholarship promoter), Motikala Subba Dewan (advocate and educationist), Pralhad Karki (educationist), Ramesh Khadka (media representative) as members has also been formed. Two other members include a representative of Education Ministry and a president or representative of NRNA Thailand (Ex-officio Member), who are yet to be confirmed, the statement reads.
With a view to promote the scholarship fund, Mega Bank Nepal and Civil Initiative signed a memorandum of understanding that Mega Bank Nepal shall donate a sum of Rs 300,000 per year, initially for five years.
The recently held first meeting of the Civil Scholarship Board with the presence of representatives from NRNA Thailand and Civil Initiative has decided to implement the minimum of 40 scholarships in Gorkha and Dolakha districts for this year. The board has been working to award the scholarships for the first batch by the first week of October.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Finance Ministry forms AML Cell

The Finance Ministry has formed an ‘Anti-Money Laundering Cell’ to facilitate the government initiatives to curb money laundering activities.
The cell – that will to monitor the progress made by various bodies in combating financial crime, such as money laundering and terror financing, in a bid to prevent the country from falling back into the watch-list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) – has been under the leadership of Economic Policy Analysis Division of the Finance Ministry, will help various regulatory bodies, like the Nepal Rastra Bank, the Insurance Board, the Securities Board of Nepal, and Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nepal, and state agencies, like the Immigration Department and the Customs Department, to conduct self-evaluation of their performance in combating financial crime.
It will also study the government’s initiatives on anti-money laundering programmes and recommend necessary corrective measures, according to the ministry. "The representatives of Anti-Money Laundering Department and Nepal Rastra Bank will be the members of the cell."
The government has also formed 16 sub-committees under the main committee, which will study the laws related to anti-money laundering, capacity enhancement of related organizations. Based on outcomes of self assessments, various legal and policy reforms would be made, and capacity of institutions conducting research and analysis into money laundering and terrorist financing would be enhanced. Based on these assessments, various measures would be recommended to control money laundering and terror financing in the country. The committee has also been assigned to formulate a national strategy on anti-money laundering and against financing of terrorist activities.
These initiatives are being taken to prevent the country from being enrolled in the watch-list of the FATF, an international body that creates standards to fight global financial crime. A country’s entry into FATF’s watch-list will tarnish its image and make it difficult for Nepali financial institutions to collaborate with international financial institutions, raises various financial transaction costs, and deters foreign investment and aid from entering the country.
The FATF had included Nepal in its watch-list in 2010 citing Nepal had not made adequate legal reforms and strengthened institutions to tackle financial crime according to Nepal's commitment with the international body. The FATF removed Nepal from its watch-list in June 2014 after the parliament passed Money Laundering Prevention Act, Proceeds of Crime (Confiscating, Seizing and Freezing) Act, Mutual Legal Assistance Act, Organised Crime Control Act and Extradition Act.
The FATF will now review Nepal’s performance in controlling financial crime in fiscal year 2019-20. The assessment will continue till 2020-21. During the assessment, the FATF will oversee compliance of its 40 recommendations, which constitute the international standards for anti-money laundering and combating financing of terrorism.
The newly formed cell, which comprises representatives of the Finance Ministry, the Department of Money Laundering Investigation and the Nepal Rastra Bank, will remain in place until the FATF’s assessment is over.
"We hope that it will help to reform the national system on anti-money laundering," Subedi said, adding that the cell will also finalise the agenda for the annual meeting of Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering that is going to be held next year in Nepal.
Nepal will host the annual meeting of the Asia Pacific Group (APG) on Money Laundering, an autonomous regional inter-governmental anti-money laundering body in 2018. This is the first time Nepal is hosting the meeting. The APG’s annual meeting generally discusses ways to tackle new threats that can foster financial crime. The meeting also evaluates measures being taken by various countries in the Asia and the Pacific to combat financial crime, and recommends measures to strengthen capacity of various institutions and give more teeth to legal framework to control money laundering and terror financing. The APG, which comprises 41 member countries and a number of international and regional observers, is the de facto Asia-Pacific chapter of the Financial Action Task Force, an international body that creates standards to fight global financial crime.

Government decides to accept Rs 52 billion grant assistance from US

The government has decided to accept the grant assistance of Rs 51.38 billion ($500 million) to be received from the US Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) for road maintenance and transmission line projects.
A cabinet meeting held at Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers in Singha Durbar today has decided to accept the biggest foreign grant amount in its history, under the 'compact programme' pledged by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) of the US government.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is an independent US government agency working to reduce global poverty through economic development. This is the first grant that the country is receiving through MCC.
Under the compact programme, the MCC will invest up to Rs 51.38 billion ($500 million) via grant while the government will contribute an additional Rs 12.88 billion ($130 million) to raise the total fund to Rs 64.26 billion (US$ 630 million).
The cabinet approval will pave way for its voting by MCC’s board of directors and the US Congress for approval. "The final grant agreement is likely to be signed by September," according to MCC’s regional deputy vice president for Europe, Asia, the Pacific and Latin America Fatema Z Sumar, who visited Kathmandu last week to finalise the deal. Once the final deal is sealed, the government and the MCC will fix a date to roll out the projects as the MCC compact is a funding scheme that requires the recipient country to complete the projects ‘on time and on budget’.
"Once the deal is signed, the government will have to finalise all issues related to land acquisition, introduce regulatory reforms, including passage of the Electricity Regulatory Commission, and take other key steps that will be required to complete the projects in five-year period,” she said, adding that the project related to the energy sector is expected to have an impact on at least 72 per cent of the households currently connected to the grid, while maintenance works on around 300 km of road segments will benefit 205,000 households across the country. "The assistance is for a five-year compact fund that has no time overrun in the project execution once the project kicks off."
The compact proposal seeks to address these constraints by investing in an Electricity Transmission Project (ETP) and a Road Maintenance Project (RMP). ETP would transform power sector by expanding and strengthening the high voltage electricity transmission network to support new investments in generation and allow greater cross-border electricity trade. The RMP is expected to improve the road maintenance regime in Nepal and complement existing efforts to build new roads by other parties.
Around 300-km transmission line under ETP at a total cost of $400 million and 305-km road under RMP will be developed at a total cost of $52 million, according to the MCC. The grant will be utilised for maintenance of roads of a cumulative length of 305-km, which includes the Charali to Phidim, Dharan to Basantapur, Kadmaha (Lahan) to Gaighat, Hetauda to Bhimphedi, and Amiliya to Salyan Bazar sections.
Likewise, the transmission line projects include construction of total 300-km of line, from Hetauda to Butwal via Naubise and Damauli, and construction of three substations, one each at Naubise, Damauli and Butwal. The transmission line component also includes cross-border transmission line of Butwal-Gorakhpur, which aims at facilitating energy exchange with India.
The signing of the MCC compact funding coincides with the celebration of 70 years of US-Nepal friendship. Nepal is the only recipient of the MCC compact assistance in South Asia.
Following Nepal’s strong performance on the MCC policy indicators like economic freedom, rule of law, and control of corruption, Nepal was selected as the eligible country to develop the compact in December 2014.
The Office of the Millennium Challenge Nepal (OMCN) – a government office which coordinates development of the MCC programme – has finalised the projects in coordination with MCC that are going to be implemented under the MCC grant.
The MCC had selected Nepal for a smaller threshold programme in December of 2011. The MCC and the government of Nepal had analysed constraints to economic growth and jointly prepared a policy improvement programme based on the results. Given Nepal’s strong performance in its MCC policy indicator scorecard through 2014, MCC’s board of directors selected Nepal as being eligible to develop a compact, a larger grant-based investment.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Construction of international airport in Pokhara starts, finally

Construction work of Pokhara Regional International Airport formally started from today, some 15 months after the foundation stone for the regional airport was laid.
The then Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had laid the foundation stone for the national pride project on April 13, 2016. Similarly, CPN (Maoist Centre) supremo Pushpa Kamal Dahal, CPN-UML senior leader Jhalanath Khanal, then deputy prime minister duo Kamal Thapa and Bijay Kumar Gachhadhar, former foreign minister Ananda Prasad Pokharel and Nepali Congress General Secretary Shashanka Koirala had also laid stones at the construction site.
Albeit the construction was started on July 11, 2017, tourism minister Jitendra Dev today formally inaugurated the construction of the airport.
Dev, on the occasion, said that the project could be a milestone for the development and prosperity of the country once it comes into operation. It is one of the three new international airports planned in the Himalayan country.
Initially the Rs 22 billion-national pride project was planned to be completed by July, 2020. But Dev said that the project will be completed by July, 2021, also due to 15-month delay in starting construction work after laying foundation stone.
Of the 21 projects categorised as national pride projects by the government, five falls under the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation. Dev also said that he would spare no effort to make sure that the national pride project is completed within the deadline.
Director general of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) Sanjiv Gautam, on the occasion, said that Pokhara has waiting for this moment for almost 42 years. "The progress in expansion of Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) and construction of Bhairahawa International Airport is not so satisfactory," he said, adding, "But Pokhara Regional International Airport project should be completed on time."
Completion of construction on time is important, as our plan is to repay the loan secured to build the project by using revenue of the airport," he added.
According to the CAAN, the loan will be repaid in 26 installment, two installments per year.
Project manager of China CAMC Engineering Yang Jerry, on the occasion, said that they have begun building dormitories for worker. "We will start major construction works after the monsoon ends," he said, committing to complete the project in time, if they get support from the locals.
The government had signed a $215.96 million concessional loan agreement with China's Export and Import (EXIM) Bank – in March 2016 – to construct the Pokhara Regional International Airport. The loan has to be cleared within 13 years of the completion of the seven-year grace period.
China CAMC Engineering – the main contractor of the Pokhara Regional International Airport Project that bagged the contract in May 2014 – is constructing the project in Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) modality under 4D model according to the criteria set by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
The government had acquired more than 3,100 ropani of land spread in Ward No 14, 15, and 18 of Pokhara Municipality four decades ago. It acquired another 521 ropani later on.
Rabindra Adhikari, president of the parliamentary Development Committee, said adding that the locals of Pokhara have worked very hard to see this day. "We have now authorised the construction company to fulfill our decades-long dream," he added.
Lawmakers Sarada Poudel and Sita Giri, Airport Construction Project director Pradip Adhikari, former president of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) Ananda Raj Mulmi, president of Pokhara Chamber of Commerce and Industry Bishwa Shankar Palikhe, among others stressed on the need for the State to prioritise the construction of supporting infrastructures along with the construction of the airport.
Once the airport is ready for operation, it will have 2,500 meters long and 45 meters wide runway, which can handle medium category jets like Boeing 757 and Airbus 320, according to the project office.

Three more firms get Insurance licence

Three more life insurance companies have obtained operating licence from the Insurance Board today.
The insurance sector regulator granted Sun Nepal Life Insurance, Reliance Life Insurance and Reliable Life Insurance, according to Insurance Board (IB).
Altogether six new life insurance companies have obtained the operating licence since the the board resumed granting licence to the companies, whose applications were pending since long.
Earlier the board had granted operating licence to three life insurance companies including IME Life Insurance, Union Life and Jyoti Insurance, making a total of six new players. The entry of new life insurance companies in the market has made a total number of life insurance companies in the country to 15.
After increasing the paid-up capital requirement through the ‘Directives on Insurer Registration and Insurance Business Operation’ to Rs 2 billion and Rs 1 billion for life and non-life insurance companies, respectively, the insurance sector regulator has started granting licence. The companies that had submitted applications in the fiscal year 2007-08 were given three weeks’ time to resubmit applications with new capital requirement.
Earlier, Life Insurance companies need to have Rs 500 million paid-up capital and Rs 250 million for non-life firms.
Meanwhile, the board is also planning process for non-life insurance companies. The board has received four applications – from General Insurance, Sanima Insurance, Ajod Insurance and Manakamana Insurance – for the operating licence of non-life insurance companies.
There are currently 17 non-life insurance companies in operation in Nepal.

Experts stress policy regime to reward farmers

Experts emphasised on the need for a policy regime that can ensure that the communities which spend generations preserving and innovating plant genetic resources are rewarded. Such a regime should be able to provide due recognition to the farmers and breeders through intellectual property rights, and offer them a share in benefits derived from the use of their traditional knowledge which they have honed for generations.
Stating that research and development in agriculture is not limited to scientists and laboratories but takes place in the field by farmers, executive director of Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) at World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ratnakar Adhikari said, Addressing a two-day workshop ‘Reimagining the Governance of Genetic Resources and Intellectual Property for Agriculture and Food Security in Asia’ that started here today he said that it is critically important that communities that have spent generations preserving and innovating the genetic resources are rewarded. "Balancing breeders’ right with rights of farmers is a challenge."
Organised by South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE), together with ARC Laureate Project on Intellectual Property and Food Security at the University of Queensland and Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI) the workshop aims at critically assessing the arrangements related to plant genetic resources in national laws and international agreements like the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) of the WTO, the Convention on Biodiversity, and the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV).
This issue is highly relevant to Nepal as the country is currently exploring options to create policy and legal space for the rights of farmers and breeders, for example, in its draft law on plant variety protection and the existing Seed Act and Seed Regulations, according to the experts.
Among the developing countries, India is the only country that has adopted sui generis system to govern plant genetic resources.
Sharing India’s experience, registrar general at India’s Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority, Rakesh Chandra Agrawal said that registration of plant genetic varieties had a slow start but now two-thirds of the total registrations are coming from the farmers. Discussing the Indian plant variety protection law, he pointed out that India even protects farmers from prosecution in cases of innocent infringement. India has legislated the Plant Variety Protection and Farmers’ Rights Act (PPVFR Act) in 2001, implementing a plant variety protection regime that protects the rights of both breeders and farmers.
Another research fellow at TC Beirne School of Law, University of Queensland Australia, Kamalesh Adhikari, on the occasion, pointed out that protecting the interests of plant breeders and farmers offers opportunities in areas of agriculture, food security and the use of plant genetic resources.
Papers on the experience of different countries, including Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Thailand and Ecuador regarding the governance of genetic resources and intellectual property will be present during the workshop.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Cooking gas price down by Rs 25 per cylinder

Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) has reduced the price of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) – popularly known as cooking gas – by Rs 25 per cylinder.
A cooking gas cylinder will now cost Rs 1,325 per cylinder, according to the state-owned petroleum monopoly. "The new price will come into effect from Wednesday."
With the new price, NOC still earns a profit of Rs 74.90 on sales of every cylinder of LPG. According to the NOC, the Indian supplier has reduced the price of cooking gas by Rs 54 per cylinder.
The decision is expected to give some respite to consumers, NOC spokesperson Sitaram Pokhrel said, adding that the decision to adjust the price downwards was based on price in the international market that has been continuously coming down in recent month.
Pokharel said that the NOC revised the LPG price after Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) – the sole supplier of petroleum products to Nepal – reduced the price. "However, prices of other petroleum products have remained unchanged, as according to Pokharel, IOC has raised prices of rest of the petroleum products this time. "It will cause the NOC's projected profit to drop to Rs 620 million per month from Rs 800 million."
The Indian supplier has raised the price of petrol by 1.08 per litre and that of diesel by 48 paisa per litre. Also, kerosene price has gone up by Rs1.10 per litre and air fuel has become costlier by Rs1.14 per litre.
According to the revised prices, NOC will earn a profit of Rs 4.84 on sales of every litre of petrol and Rs 17.13 on sales of every litre of kerosene. It will, however, suffer a loss of Rs1.18 on sales of every litre of diesel. Likewise, the NOC will earn a profit of Rs 9.16 on every litre of fuel sold to domestic airlines and Rs 20.29 on every litre of fuel sold to the international airline companies.
Last month too NOC had reduced petroleum prices.

Himalayan Travel Mart to be organised every year

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Nepal Chapter and Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) today announced that Himalayan Travel Mart would be organised every year in the country to boost domestic tourism.
Addressing a debriefing of the Himalayan Travel Mart that Nepal hosted between June 1 and 4, NTB chief executive officer (CEO) Deepak Raj Joshi said that Nepal had not been able to host big tourism events in the country for many years even though tourism events are crucial to promote Nepal as a tourist destination in the global market.
"The Himalayan Travel Mart this year was a grand success with hundreds of international tourism experts, bloggers and media representatives attending the event and promoting Nepal’s tourism globally," he said, adding that the PATA Nepal Chapter and NTB will jointly organise such marts every year from now onward in between the last week of May and first week of June.
Joshi also said that the Himalayan Tourism Mart this year has already started showing its impact on domestic tourism, with relatively more number of tourists visiting the country in the first half of the year.
According to the Department of Immigration, Nepal received a total of 460,237 tourists in the first half of this year via air route, against 313,512 in the corresponding period of the previous year.
President of Nepal PATA Chapter Suman Pandey, on the occasion, informed that the Himalayan Travel Mart was able to promote Nepal’s tourism among more than 250 foreign tourism stakeholders and it was a great achievement for the domestic tourism industry. "The government and the private sector should collaborate to organise more of such events in the country to promote Nepal’s tourism potential and attract more foreign visitors," he added.

Monday, July 31, 2017

NPC calls on local bodies to own SDGs

Calling on the government to make adequate funds available to local bodies so that various programmes could be rolled out to meet the UN-backed goals, National Planning Commission (NPC) has referred to newly-formed bodies as key players in implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The new constitution has given significant power to the local bodies, enabling them to not only frame and implement development programmes on their own but also to work as judiciary to make the people get justice at gtheir doorstep. As the local bodies can also frame guidelines and procedures on their own to govern themselves, they must align their plans, policies and programmes with the SDGs to meet the target, according to National Report on the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The report prepared by the planning commission, also suggests that the resources need to be allocated properly, otherwise 'implementation of SDGs at local level will be difficult'.
Recommeding a strong partnership between three tiers of government – federal, provincial and local – is extremely necessary to integrate the SDGs into local level structures, the report states that consultation, workshops and trainings will be required to ensure that SDGs are incorporated in provincial and local plans. "It is also equally important to ensure effective participation of women, youth and other marginalised groups in planning and implementation of SDGs at local level.”
A follow-up on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that expired at the end of 2015, SDGs is a set of 17 goals and 169 targets covering a broad range of sustainable development issues to be met by 2030.
SDGs aim at promoting well-being of all the people, sustainable industrialisation, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, and employment and decent work for all, apart from the key goals to end poverty and hunger from the world, reducing inequality; making cities inclusive, safe and resilient; ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns; and taking urgent actions to combat climate change and its impacts.
However, meeting the SDG targets require at least $1.5 trillion a year at the global level.
Likewise, Nepal is, according to the report, trying to manage financial resources from a triangular partnership including public and private sector as well as development partners.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Lawmakers concerned over last minute capital expenditure

The lawmakers suggested the government to implement a carrot and stick approach to effectively implement the budget and boost capital expenditure.
Speaking at a meeting of the Finance Committee under the Legislature Parliament today, they also said that the quality of development projects should not be compromised while expediting the spending.
Likewise, the inability of large infrastructure projects to utilise the funds allocated for their development has been cited as one of the major reasons behind the low level of capital expenditure in the last fiscal year.
"The capital expenditure used to outpace the recurrent expenditure until 1994 but that trend has reversed in recent years with capital expenditure remaining at the lower end," former finance minister and leader of CPN-UML Bharat Mohan Adhikari, on the occasion, said, suggesting to pursue reward and punishment approach.
He also proposed to hold regular review meetings with the big ministries that have the highest budgets. "The ministries, secretaries and project chiefs should take responsibility, if there is no progress in project implementation,” he said, adding that the quality of the development projects is also equally important as is the implementation of the budget.
"The practice of spending at the last month or at the last minute of the fiscal year continued in the last fiscal year also,” said a lawmaker Shakti Basnet. "The continuity of this practice raises concern whether the budget has been utilised in a proper way and has delivered results,” he said, adding that lack of proper management of workforce has also resulted into delay in project implementation.
Another lawmaker Dil Bahadur Sah, on the occasion, said that the government should take action against those responsible for the delay in the implementation of development projects. "The government should increase monitoring and oversight of development projects," he said, suggesting to take action on project chiefs, contractors or whoever is responsible in delaying projects till the last moment.
Likewise, lawmakers also said that the payment to the contractors should be made on time. "There are reports that huge amount of checks for payment have been made in the last week of the fiscal year," they said, adding that the payment of the previous quarter should be made by next quarter.
Saying that ‘a sense of accountability’ must be inculcated among the stakeholders responsible for project implementation, they also asked the government to build capacity to implement the budget. "The capacity of the bureaucracy must be developed to ramp up capital spending," they suggested.
Responding the lawmakers at the meeting,  joint secretary at the Finance Ministry Kewal Prasad Bhandari, said that the low capital expenditure is the result of lack of spending capacity. According to him, payment of checks worth Rs 43 billion was issued on the last day of the last fiscal year.
The government has earmarked large amounts of money for the implementation of large infrastructure projects without adequate preparations, according to the Financial Comptroller General’s Office, the government agency which oversees the government’s expenditure against the budget. As a result, these projects were unable to use the funds leading to poor capital spending in the fiscal year 2016-17.
The Finance Ministry had allocated substantial funds to projects like Kathmandu-Tarai Expressway, Budhi Gandaki Hydroelectric Project, Nijgadh International Airport, Babai Irrigation Project, Rani Jamara Kulariya Irrigation Project and different transmission line projects without planning how to execute them, Financial Comptroller General Rajendra Prasad Nepal informed the lawmakers.
In the last fiscal year, the government had allocated Rs 10 billion for the Kathmandu-Tarai Expressway. "But it has not yet moved an inch ahead,” said Nepal.
"Likewise, Rs 2 billion had been allocated for Nijgadh International Airport, but without a modality to implement the project, the budget went unspent," he said, adding that the Budhi Gandaki, Bheri-Babai Irrigation, Rani Jamara Kulariya Irrigation and different transmission line projects did not move ahead as land acquisition could not be completed To improve capital expenditure, the government must allocate a budget to projects only after proper homework," he added.
Capital expenditure during the last fiscal year which ended on July 15 stood at only 65 per cent of the total allocation. Out of the Rs312 billion allocated for capital spending, only Rs 202.7 billion was spent.
The manner of capital expenditure was also questioned as almost 36 per cent of the spending took place in the last three weeks of the fiscal year.

Foreign Minister pledges to promote economic diplomacy

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara pledged to make the economic diplomacy more effective through the 'bilateral consultation mechanism' based in those countries that Nepal has established the diplomatic relations.
During the meeting with a delegation from Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FNCCI) at his office today, Mahara said that Nepal would establish 'bilateral consultation mechanism' in those countries, where it had not yet setup such mechanism to promote economic diplomacy.
The government would deal with the economic issues with special priority, he told the private sector.
On the occasion, FNCCI president Bhawani Rana suggested the government to send a diplomatic mission head with certain terms of reference and pay a special heed to the export promotion. The delegation also demanded the inclusion of FNCCI representatives during the state's high-level foreign visits to encourage the private sector.

NEA proposes 20 per cent hike in electricity tariff

Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has proposed to hike the electricity tariff by 20 per cent for the industries. The government power utility has proposed to hike the tariff without affecting the tariff for household use, said a source at the NEA that has forwarded the proposal to increase the electricity tariff to the Electricity Tariff Fixation Commission (ETFC), which had increased the tariff by 20 per cent effective from mid-July last year.
The commission chair Jagat Bhushal admitted that the NEA has forwarded the proposal to hike the tariff. "We have received the NEA proposal," he said, adding that the commission has distributed the proposal to the members. "Now we hold discussions on the proposal and take a decision accordingly."
"We have proposed to hike the electricity tariff as it has been deemed necessary to keep the NEA in good financial health and ensure smooth supply of electricity, said the NEA spokesperson Prabal Adhikari.
According to NEA, if the commission approves the proposal, the tariff for industries will increase by 20 per cent, but tariff for household users won’t go up much.
The authority has also asked the commission to implement the provision to automatically hike the electricity tariff by 5 per cent every year.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Lords opening two new hotels in Nepal

The Lords Hotels and Resorts from India is opening two new hotels in Nepal.
Currently, the company is operating the four-star Mirage Lords Inn at Battisputali in Kathmandu. The company has recently said that it is opening four new hotels and two of them will be located in Nepal. However, the exact locations have not been revealed yet.
Meanwhile, the Lords said that it has targeted to increase the occupancy of its hotels by 68 per cent this year. "The hotels had recorded the 64 per cent increase in occupancy in 2016."
Currently, there are 26 hotels operating under the company and wants to increase the number to 49 by 2020.
Most of the hotels of Lords Hotels and Resorts have been opened for pilgrims visiting Hindu shrines in India.

Nepal Army might buy DPR of expressway from Indian consortium

The Nepal Army – which has been authorised to construct the Kathmandu-Tarai expressway by the government – might buy the Detailed Project Report (DPR) from an Indian consortium to expedite the construction of the strategic road.
As the Indian consortium including Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) Transportation Networks, IL&FS Engineering and Construction and Suryavir Infrastructure Construction has already prepared the DPR of the 76-km roadway, the Army has thought of using it to save the time and money to redo the DPR.
The Technical Department of the Nepal Army has started the process of hiring consultants to determine, if the DPR prepared by the Indian consortium is suitable for adaptation. The team will go through the report and advise the division whether it could be used.
Though the Army has said that a formal decision is yet to be made, it has no option than to buy the DPR of the expressway with the Indian company to start the construction immediately after the monsoon.
But the Indian consortium has asked the government to pay Rs 600 million for the DPR as it could not get the contract to construct the expressway.
According to the contract between the Indian consortium and the government, the government should compensate the Indian consortium for the DPR, if government scraps the agreement. "If the Army adopts the DPR, it will pay the compensation," according to the Army source.
If the Army decides not to purchase the DPR, it will have to prepare a new one, which will take quite some time delaying construction of the express way that is expected to reduce travel time – between Kathmanu and Nijgad in the south to less than an hour – and petroleum consumption also.
 The DPR had proposed building a four-lane expressway of Asian Class-1 Standard. The expressway should be 23-metre wide in the hills and 25-metre wide in the plains, it explains, adding that the expressway will also have around 100 bridges, including 35 smaller ones, and two tunnels that are 11.3-metre wide and 5.5-metre tall.
Initially – in February 2015 – the government had assigned IL&FS-led consortium to build the expressway as it was shortlisted as the potential builder of the expressway.
The consortium had agreed not to charge the cost of the DPR, if it was allowed to construct the project. It had submitted the report to the Sushil Koirala-led government in June 2015.
But the Koirala-led government did not award the contract to the Indian consortium due to congroversy on annual minimum revenue guarantee of up to Rs 15 billion a year, if the  road traffic failed to generate adequate profit.
After increased controversy, the government scrapped all the agreements with the Indian firm.
Later a high level committee formed under National Planning Commission (NPC) vice chair Dr Min Bahadur Shrestha in February suggested the government construct the expressway using its own resources but could adopt the DPR prepared by the Indian company to save time and money.
However, the government, in May, decided to hand over the project to the Nepal Army despite wide criticisism also for not involving the private sector, and involving the Army in to the business. Earlier when the Army had opened the track of the expressway, it was accused of embezzling funds.

Nepal stands atop in South Asia in terms of women coming for health care delivery

Nepal has topped in the entire South Asia region in terms of the number of expectant mothers choosing delivery in health facilities.
According to health secretary Prof Kiran Regmi, around 60 per cent pregnant women have been recorded to have availed safe delivery and maternity services from birthing centres. "The percentage is the highest benchmark among other countries in the South Asian Region."
The maternal mortality rate in Nepal has fallen to 134 per 100,000 pregnant women and new mothers, while the child mortality rate stands at 21 per 1,000 live births.
The ministry is currently implementing an ambitious programme to reduce maternity mortality to 90 and infant mortality rate to nil.
Nepal took significant strides in the mother and child care campaign after the government accorded high priority to these programmes, making sure that many pregnant women benefited from modern delivery facilities and available maternity services.
Nepal – that has been a member of the Global White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood since 2009 – has been providing free services in reproductive health care, including uterine prolapse.
During a four-day global meeting on Safe Motherhood organised by Safe Motherhood Network Federation of Nepal that began here today, participants discussed on the initiatives taken by Nepal to reduce child and maternal mortality rates.
Representatives – from 16 countries including from South Asia – with Global White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood, an international organisation established for safe motherhood, will review the programmes related to safe motherhood run in their respective countries in the meeting.
Inaugurating the meeting, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba said that the constitution has guaranteed quality health services as a fundamental right. He expressed the belief that it would bring remarkable improvement in access of general people to healthcare services.
Programmes launched by the government have focused on achieving sustainable development goals related to health, he said adding that the health ministry had primarily paid attention to achieve the goals related to safe motherhood. "Rural women in Nepal still have less access to safe motherhood and this problem must be addressed collectively to control maternal deaths and child mortality in the country."
Secretary Regmi, on the occasion, said the ministry was focused on achieving sustainable development goals relating to safe motherhood.
Likewise, Safe Motherhood Network Federation president Arzu Rana Deuba said that Nepal of late witnessed a remarkable progress in the area of safe motherhood, the status of rural women however had not changed much. She also demanded that the government pass a bill relating to safe motherhood.
Safe Motherhood Network Federation vice-president Bishnu Raj Nepal said participating countries and WHO representatives in the meeting would share work experiences related to safe motherhood while preparing a future work strategy.
The SMNF was established in 1996. It has worked on planning and implementing awareness and advocacy programmes related to safe motherhood and proper care of newborn babies.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Nepal-India investment summit in October

Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) is planning to hold Nepal-India investment summit in October this year to attract Indian investment in Nepal.
Publishing the achievements of the first 100 days of the newly elected FNCCI executive committee today, FNCCI president Bhawani Rana said the summit will be held towards mid-October. The summit, which will be organised in Kathmandu, aims to attract Indian investment in Nepal.
She said that the the newly elected executive committee has started its tenure with four major agenda including administrative reform and institutional development of FNCCI, policy lobbying and intervention, economic diplomacy and international trade and capacity building of private sector and FNCCI members through innovative programmes.
"For the administrative reform, FNCCI has formed an expert committee," she said, adding that the committee has already submitted its report, now it will be implemented soon. The private sector umbrella organisation is also planning to adopt more technology-friendly measures. "We also have started the process to construct a separate building for commodity council," she added.
Rana also informed that FNCCI is focusing on consolidating trade exchanges and economic diplomacy with other countries. Informing that the elections of provincial chambers of commerce and industry have already been completed in six provinces, she said that the remaining one will also be completed soon.
She also informed that during the first 100 days, the new executive committee worked on issues related to employment, reconstruction, and women entrepreneurship; and signed an agreement with Industry Ministry for a five-year project on rural enterprises and remittance.
Addressing the press meet, senior vice-president of FNCCI, Shekhar Golchha said that FNCCI is preparing for the management of provincial chambers of commerce and industry.
Talking about the Goods and Services Tax (GST) recently introduced in India, he said that there is a lot of confusion about it not only in Nepal but even in India. He, however, claimed that the GST will promote fair trade and discourage illegal imports. GST was implemented in India on July 1 this year.
Likewise, FNCCI announced that it would be organising a cross border trade and tourism expo jointly with the government of West Bengal on August 28. It also said that it will establish Nepal-India investment promotion cell in order to strengthen trade and tourism of the country. FNCCI is also planning to launch ‘women in business’ programme, FNCCI president cup T20 cricket, among other initiatives. 

Department of Passport receives ISO certification

The Department of Passport under the Foreign Ministry has become the first government agency to be accredited with the ISO standards.
The International Organisation for Standarisation has accredited the department with the ISO 9001: 2015 certificate for being able to maintain international standards in the preparation, certification and distribution of passports.
Unveiling the ‘ISO 9001:2015’ certificate at a programme held at the department today, deputy prime minister and foreign minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara said that it was a matter of pride that the department was the first government agency to be honoured with the ISO certification.
Stating that the certification was a result of the dedication, efficiency and awareness of quality service of the department employees, Mahara directed the employees to work with a goal to maintain the achievement, and attain higher goals. "The government must work hard as it has to be prepared to issue e-passports,” he said.
Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi, on the occasion, said the accreditation was a result of increased transparency, professionalism and effectiveness, and expressed the hope that the feat would inspire other government agencies.
National Bureau of Standards and Metrology director general Biswababu Pudasaini lauded the department for the achievement, while calling for continued action to maintain it.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Nepal expects FDI equal to 20 per cent of GDP every year till 2030

Nepal expects Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) equal to 20 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) every year till 2030 to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Saying that it is not possible to achieve the SDGs through domestic investment alone, the government has pinned its hopes on FDI.
Presenting a report at the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN-ECOSOC), National Planning Commission (NPC) vice chair Dr Min Bahadur Shrestha said that Nepal hopes to attract FDI equal to around 20 per cent of its GDP every year till 2030.
He said that the government expects huge FDI mainly in infrastructure development projects as the government alone cannot finance mega projects.
According to the data, Nepal was able to attract FDI equal to only 0.3 per cent of its GDP in 2016. Though the figure was only 0.24 per cent in 2015, the government has been claiming to have attracted FDI equal to three per cent of the GDP. Over the past few years, less than 50 per cent of the FDI pledges made by foreign investors has been entering the country, also due to bureaucratic dilemma.
Experts claim that the importance of FDI has increased further as the country has adopted the federal system of governance.
Nepal needs to spend about 11 per cent of its GDP on infrastructure development to achieve the SDGs related to the infrastructure development sector by 2030. Nepal has attached top priority to infrastructure development, followed by the development of the social sector.
At present, Nepal has been investing only about five per cent of its GDP or about $1 billion in infrastructure development which is far from being sufficient.
According to a projection, the size of Nepal’s GDP will reach Rs 3,445 billion by 2030.  Based on the data, Nepal will have to attract FDI worth R 689 billion in 2030 in its journey to achieve the SDGs.
However, going by the current FDI trend, the government needs to really work very hard to achieve the SDGs. Nepal began to attract FDI after implementing the sixth Five-year Plan (1980-1985) with the aim to establish big and mineral-based industries in the country.

Yeti airlines introduces two ATR aircrafts

Yeti Airlines has introduced two ATR 72-500 turboprops.
The 72-seater aircraft – the most fuel efficient carrier – was brought at the cost of Rs 1 billion, according to the private airline operator. "Manufactured in France by ATR aircraft manufacturer and purchased from Nordic Aviation Capital based in Singapore, the airplanes landed at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) today through the routes of Singapore, Thailand and Chiang Mai, said the airlines manager Bhimraj Rai.
The newly purchased aircrafts is planning to fly on Kathmandu-Biratnagar, Kathmansu-Bhairahawa, Kathmandu-Nepalgunj and Kathmandu-Bhadrapur, he said, adding that the airlines now has seven aircrafts in total. "Now the airlines is operating 30-seater six aircrafts Jetstream 41, apart from plan to introduce additional two ATR aircrafts within this year.
The ATR 72-500 aircraft with call sign MSN 876 and Nepali registration number 9N-AMN is the youngest FAA/EASA approved pressurised aircraft in operation in the Nepali domestic sector, the airliner said, adding that the ATR 72-500 is powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW127 engines and equipped with Hamilton Sundstrand composite blade propellers. These high-tech engines and propellers ensure exceptional performance, fuel efficiency, remarkably low noise and low greenhouse gas emissions, according to the airline.
This ATR 72-500 aircraft has been lease financed from Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC), the industry’s leading regional aircraft lessor, serving over 70 airline customers in 47 countries. Its clients include leading airlines such as Aeromexico, Air Canada, British Airways, Air Berlin, Azul, Garuda, Flybe, HOP!, as well as major regional carriers like Air Nostrum, Jet Time, Etihad Regional, Binter and Air KBZ, among others.