Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Medical insurance must for Malaysia migrants

Himalayan News Service

KATHMANDU: The Malaysian government will make medical insurance mandatory for migrant workers beginning January 1, Malaysian Deputy Human Resource Minister Maznah Mazlan told Star, a Malaysian daily.

The medical insurance scheme will affect over four lakh Nepali workers in Malaysia. “It will definitely affect Nepalis, but we are not sure how. We are analyzing the policy,” said Minister for Labour and Transport Management Mohamed Aftab Alam. “I will comment on it after consulting experts,” he told this daily over phone.

Malaysian government’s move comes in the wake of many foreigners leaving government hospitals with unpaid bills amounting to $ 6.7 million. As per the policy, even the old workers are required to get medical insurance done before renewing their work permits.

As per the insurance policy, each worker will have to pay annual insurance premium of $ 38 i.e. more than $ 3 per month. Average monthly earning of a Nepali worker in Malaysia is $ 175.

Authorities dealing with foreign employment term Malaysian government’s move a step in the right direction. “I welcome the policy which protects workers from health hazards,” said Mohan Krishna Sapkota, Director General at Department of Foreign Employment.

Nepal government sends workers for overseas jobs only after ensuring Rs 5 lakh medical insurance for them but illegal migrant workers obviously go without any insurance. “Malaysian government’s policy will include even them,” he said. However, he did not elaborate on the financial burden on the workers. “I cannot say more without analyzing risks and benefits,” he added.

Malaysia is among the top destination countries hiring Nepali workers. Of the 294,094 Nepali workers going abroad last year, 113,982 went to Malaysia. As many as 42,454 Nepalis have already found jobs in Malaysia in the first four months of the current fiscal year.


NTA tells govt to open VoB service


KATHMANDU Nov 30: Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA) has recommended the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) to open Voice over Broadband Service (VoBS) - a technology that allows the use of telephone service via internet - for private companies.

VoBS is a part of a project on information technology supported by Asian Development Bank that requires the government to gradual open Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIPs).

NTA, however, has suggested the government to select companies that can operate the service in at least 25 districts, including 1,300 VDCs, to run VoBS, according to Kailash Prasad Neupane, spokesperson of NTA.

According to existing regulation, operators can use internet to make calls abroad but cannot receive calls made from other countries via internet.

The companies operating VoBS can make and receive calls to and from other countries via internet.

The telecom regulator has not fixed the number of service providers to operate VoBS.

Neupane informed Republica that NTA has already developed the infrastructure to distribute internet with the speed of 256 kbps. He also said the VoBS provider will have the access to VoIP gateway, data and voice.

Narayan Regmi, joint-secretary at MoIC, informed Republica that the ministry was currently studying the recommendation of the telecom regulator.
VOBS is based on WiMax technology with frequency band of 2.3 Mhz.

Neupane said the telephone service run under VoBS will have separate numbering range which is yet to be finalized.

SC Justice Bam denied cases

KATHMANDU, Nov 30: Chief Justice Ram Prasad Shrestha has mounted pressure on Supreme Court (SC) Justice Rana Bahadur Bam, who has been accused of releasing culprits, arrested many times on serious charges, on low fine, to resign.

On Monday, though Bam was present at the SC, the CJ didn´t assign him any bench.
Bam, talking to Republica, said that he himself was not interested in taking up any cases following the probe committee´s report, on his and other judges involvement, submitted to the Judicial Council last week.

"I didn´t feel inclined to handle any cases after the report of probe committee," Bam said, adding, "I may not even come to the court from Tuesday. I won´t handle cases until the disputes involving me are settled even if I continue to come to the court." Bam further claimed that he was put into injustice.

"Chief Justice Shrestha didn´t assign him any responsibility following a pressure from various quarters," said a high ranking source at the SC, adding: "Perhaps, the CJ was apprehensive about being dragged into the controversy on the charge of protecting a guilty judge."

In the mean time CJ Shrestha has called a meeting of Judicial Council on Friday. According to sources, JC meeting could recommend the parliament to impeach Justice Bam, if he doesn´t resign by Friday.

Talking to Republica last Friday, Chief Justice Shrestha had said that he would implement the probe committee report at the earliest. As per the provisions of interim constitution, even the JC, the only body authorized to take action against judges, cannot take any action against a permanent SC justice.

A probe committee headed by SC justice Bal Ram KC had found Bam and two other judges ´incompetent´ and ´dishonest´ for passing out verdicts releasing notorious culprits on very low fine.

* CJ mounts pressure on Bam to resign
* I am not keen to take up cases: Bam
* I won´t take up cases until the dispute is settled: Bam

Sanjay Shrestha, Rohit Paliwan Agrawal and Bhimsen Pandit, who were arrested on charges of possessing arms and ammunition, were released following a controversial orders issued by Bam and another judge Hari Bahadur Basnet. Shrestha, Agrawal and Pandit have also been accused of kidnapping Dr Bhaktaman Shrestha a few months ago.

KC-led probe committee has concluded that the division bench of Justices Bam and Basnet, the former in his capacity as chief judge at Patan Appellate Court, had released the three on Rs 100,000 fine, overruling the Kathmandu District Administration Office which had sent them to three years jail and slapped Rs 22,000 fine on each for possessing arms and ammunition.

Bam, however, defended that an order to release offenders on fine was not a serious mistake. "Even if it was a mistake, it was a minor one. And you will find many such mistakes committed by several judges," Bam told Republica.

The KC-led committee has also found Biratnagar Appellate Court Judge Hari Bahadur Basnet and Hetauda Appellate Court Judge Tej Bahadur Karki guilty for their controversial decisions to release notorious offenders on many occasions.

The three were once arrested on kidnap charges, but a single bench of Kathmandu District Court Judge Karki released them on bail even when they had confessed to the police that they were involved in kidnapping and possession of arms and ammunition.

The JC had initiated investigations against Justices Bam, Basnet and Karki following the arrest of Shrestha, Agrawal and Pandit on the charge of kidnapping Dr Shrestha. The three have claimed that they had bribed the judges many times in the past.


Plenum weakens Dahal

KATHMANDU, Nov 30: "This is the first time in the party´s history that your political document has failed. What do you have to say, comrade?"

When a journalist shot this question at Maoist Chairman Pushap Kamal Dahal during the news conference held at the end of the weeklong party plenum in Gorkha last Saturday, the latter looked disappointed while the face of Vice-chairman Dr Baburam Bhattarai, who was sitting cross-legged nearby, lit up.

Challenged by Senior Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya and Bhattarai simultaneously, Chairman Dahal was pushed into a defensive position. Both the vice-chairmen, who represent two extreme and opposite ideological lines, not only attacked his "centrist line", but also accused him of misusing "power, authority and finances" to increase his hold on the party.

The sixth plenum turned out to be different from those in the past as both Bhattarai and Baidya abandoned their support for Dahal simultaneously, and the two-way intra-party conflict of the past turned triangular.

Without the support of Baidya or Bhattarai, the Maoist chairman appeared weak as never before. Result: the sixth plenum rejected Dahal´s synthesized political document.

Bhattarai had sharp differences with Dahal on the issue of naming the party´s principal enemy, though both leaders shared the ideological view that the party should work to institutionalize the political achievements made so far. While Dahal stated that India should be declared the party´s principal enemy, Bhattarai had argued that the party should first defeat “domestic feudalism” instead of launching struggles against India.

“We could not agree with the chairman as he prepared his synthesized document, mixing dissimilar ideas. It is an act of eclecticism,” says Maoist leader Ram Karki, who is close to Bhattarai.

The Maoist chairman had hoped that he would get the support of Baidya as he had accommodated most of the latter´s views in his synthesized document.
The meeting showed that Dahal is also losing his grip on the Maoist People´s Liberation Army (PLA), which is still indirectly headed by Dahal himself.

But Baidya appeared more aggressive than Bhattarai against Dahal. Baidya, who leads the hard-line camp in the party, attacked Dahal for not launching a "people´s revolt" to establish a "People´s Federal Democratic Republic" in Nepal, the line passed by the Kharipati national conclave. He even threatened to take over the party leadership.

“We could not agree with the chairman as we not only had sharp ideological differences, but we also saw a gap between the chairman´s words and what he has been doing in practice,” says Maoist leader Khadga Viswakarma, who is close to Baidya.

During the plenum, Baidya had the strongest hold among the cadres, while Dahal´s position weakened significantly. There was no one to speak in favor of Dahal in the party´s foreign affairs department.

The meeting further showed that Dahal is also losing his grip on the Maoist People´s Liberation Army (PLA), which is still indirectly headed by Dahal himself. Despite the chain of command, PLA commanders came out speaking openly in favor of Baidya and Bhattarai and criticize Dahal´s leadership. "It was unthinkable in the past to come forward to side with Baidya and Bhattarai and criticize Dahal," says a leader close to Baidya.

Bhattarai, who was organizationally weak, also made significant gains during the plenum and even commanded a majority in some state committees, including the Kirat and Abadh committees.

Leaders close to Baidya and Bhattarai claim that the plenum heralded an end to Dahal´s monopoly in the party. Dahal has reigned unchallenged over the party for the last 24 years.

However, those close to Dahal claim that there is still no immediate threat to his leadership, though the party is facing sharp ideological differences. “The ideological differences don´t pose a threat to his leadership. It was just a rumor,” says politburo member Shakti Basnet, who is close to Dahal.

As the plenum failed to pass Dahal´s document, the Maoists have stated that the party will hold a Central Committee (CC) meeting on December 2 to chart out the party´s common action-plan for implementation in the current peace process, while leaving the broad ideological issues to a national conclave or a general convention.


Monday, November 29, 2010

FNJ to insure journos

Himalayan News Service

KATHMANDU: Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) is going to insure working journalists soon.

FNJ central committee meeting held a few days back passed the Journalist Welfare Scheme which contained Working journalists’ insurance.

Dharmandra Jha, president of FNJ said, “The scheme has a provision for working journalists’ health and accident insurance.” Under the scheme, FNJ will insure every journalist who is a member of the organisation and FNJ will pay the annual premium. The insurance amount and other details will be finalised in the next meeting, Jha stated.

The scheme also talks about providing certain amount as relief support if a journalist is sacked from the organisation against the Working Journalists’ Act. Jha said, “In such cases, FNJ will seek legal remedies for journalists and certain amount will also be given until they get a new job.”

He further said the meeting also passed Procedure Directives for New Membership and Renewal. As per the directive, any district, regional and central level member of political parties or their sister organisations will not be given FNJ membership. Likewise, the meeting also decided that all FNJ branches should renew their membership before December 24.

The meeting decided to hold the FNJ’s Twenty-third Convention on World Press Freedom Day, which is celebrated on May 3.

A three-member taskforce has been formed under the coordination of Govinda Acharya, vice president, FNJ, to study complains regarding membership. The other two members are Posan KC, general secretary and Pramod Dahal, central member, FNJ.

FNJ is also going to call International Media Mission to do a thorough study on frequent threats, intimidation, assault, abuse and murder of journalists for writing news.

FNJ moots insurance for journalists

KATHMANDU, Nov 29: At a time when most of the working journalists are deprived of insurance facilities, Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) is all set to introduce health and accident insurance policies to its members.

A central committee meeting of the FNJ made a decision to this effect on Sunday as per its Journalists´ Welfare Scheme, according to a statement issued by the federation.

FNJ general secretary Poshan KC told Republica the committee has agreed in “principle” to introduce health and accident insurance policies worth Rs 100,000 to each of the federation´s member journalists. He, however, said they were yet to chalk out a detailed insurance plan.

“We are holding talks with the insurance companies. We will soon have a detailed plan,” he said.

The premium for the policies will be paid from interest received from FNJ´s Journalists´ Welfare Fund. The fund currently has Rs 2.4 million in deposits.

FNJ plans to increase two million rupees to the fund every year by deducting Rs 250 from the total of Rs 500 received for each membership. Earlier, FNJ membership fee was Rs 100.

KC said, “FNJ approximately has 8,000 members. We expect to collect Rs two million every year.”

Due to insufficient returns on deposits, the first phase of the insurance policy will be awarded to female journalists. After the fund swells, the policy will be awarded to the remaining journalists.

Currently, only a handful of media organizations are providing health and accident insurance facilities to their employees.

Likewise, FNJ has also decided to provide relief packages to journalists sacked by their employers in violation of the Working Journalists Act.

“We will launch a legal battle against such employers and press them to reinstate such journalists,” KC said. “In the meantime, FNJ will provide 25 percent of their basic salary during his/her unemployment period.”

FNJ will replenish the fund later by asking such journalists to contribute certain amount from their salaries. “The contribution amount from the journalists is yet to be ascertained,” KC said.

FNJ has also decided to draw the attention of the government and all concerned for effective implementation of the Act in a bid to protect professional rights of the working journalists.

On November 24, Minimum Wage Fixation Committee made its annual report public revealing that media owners have been blatantly flouting the Act.

Published on 2010-11-29 03:00:01


Buddha Air to fly Lucknow from Jan 7

Himalayan News Service

KATHMANDU: Buddha Air is starting its flight to the Indian city of Lucknow from January 7.

It will be the second international flight of Buddha Air after Paro, Bhutan.

“Buddha Air will fly to Lucknow every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday,” the airline said, adding that the three scheduled flights every week on the Kathmandu-Lucknow-Kathmandu route will help ease the pressure of the air travellers as Lucknow has a very good connectivity to other Indian cities. “Currently, the airline plans to fly 47-seater ATR-42 aircraft,” marketing chief of the airline Rupesh Joshi said, adding that depending on passenger flow, it can start 70-seater ATR-72-500 aircraft. “One can fly to Lucknow for Rs 5,600, excluding tax,” he said.

One of the biggest private airlines in the country, Buddha is also planning to introduce flights to other Indian cities like Guwahati, Kolkata, Patna, Banaras, Gorakhpur and Deharadun soon, said the airline.

After the revised Air Service Agreement (ASA) with India, both Nepali private airlines and Indian airlines can start cross-border flights to make air travel cheaper between the two neighbours.

Earlier, Necon Air, Cosmic Air and Air Nepal used to fly to Indian cities and abroad. Currently, after the national flag carrier Nepal Airlines that flies to New Delhi, Buddha Air is the only airline that is flying an international destination.

After 13 years in domestic business, Buddha Air started its first international flight from Kathmandu to Paro, Bhutan, on August 23. The airline has been operating four scheduled flights every week with its Beech 1900D aircraft that has a capacity of carrying 16 passengers.

During tourist season, Buddha Air is planning to operate one flight daily and can also add charter flights as per requirement, said the airline. Buddha Air currently has 4 Beech 1900D aircraft and can operate up to 12 flights to Paro daily. “It means Buddha Air has a capacity to carry up to 192 passengers daily,” said the airline, which added a new 70-seater aircraft ATR -72-500 recently. Buddha Air has a fleet of eight aircraft at present.

Deuba camp opposes Koirala's move

KATHMANDU: Sher Bahadur Deuba camp today objected to the proposal of Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala tabled at the Central Working Committee meeting, in which he nominated two office-bearers.

After Koirala proposed Ram Chandra Paudel as vice-president and Krishna Prasad Sitaula as general secretary, Deuba camp’s CWC members put two conditions before approving the nominations. They said consensus should be reached on the process of endorsing the proposal, as the party’s statute was not clear about it, and there should be a package deal with the Deuba camp on nominations and formation of departments, committees and parliamentary board.

The Deuba-led group that holds sway on 45 per cent seats in the CWC has been demanding ‘respectable’ share in nominations and other appointments in the party.

The party president will propose the names of the three office-bearers — vice-president, general secretary and joint general secretary — for nomination and the CWC has to elect them according to the party’s statute.

The two rival camps of the party described the statutory provision in their own ways, as the party is yet to define the process of nomination in its regulation. Koirala and a few of his supporters said once the party president tabled the proposal, the CWC should endorse it. On the other hand, Deuba’s supporters said the proposal should be put to vote.

Sushil Koirala told the meeting that there was no need to discuss the proposal, as it was the duty of the CWC to endorse the proposal brought by the party president.

What has made matters worse for Koirala is that his supporters Arjun Narsingh KC, Dr Ram

Sharan Mahat and Sujata Koirala don’t seem to back Koirala’s

proposal. KC and Mahat, aspirants for general secretary’s

post, and Sujata Koirala, who was eyeing vice president’s post, are miffed at Koirala.

Sujata Koirala openly challenged the party president for not proposing her as vice president. “You, including other leaders, had promised to nominate me for the post of vice president while asking me to withdraw from general secretary’s post during the national general convention. How can I trust you now? I will not support your proposal,” said Sujata Koirala at today’s meeting, according to sources. She said the proposal should be put to vote.

Only 10 CWC members spoke at today’s meeting. Dip Kumar Upadhaya, Dilendra Prasad Badhu and Ananda Prasad Dhungana supported Koirala, while Purna Bahadur Khadka, Dr Prakash Sharan Mahat, Dr Minendra Rijal, Gyanendra Bahadur Karki objected to Koirala’s proposal. Arjun Prasad Joshi neither supported nor opposed Koirala’s proposal.


WikiLeaks releases secret US diplomat memos


WASHINGTON, Nov 29: The WikiLeaks release of more than 250,000 diplomatic cables on Sunday has infuriated Washington, where officials said it could put lives in danger and threaten national security.

At least one US lawmaker called for the prosecution of the founder of the whistle-blower website, which had previously released nearly a half million classified military reports on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The White House called Sunday´s release a "reckless and dangerous action" in a statement released after the first batch of cables was published by The New York Times and European newspapers.

"To be clear -- such disclosures put at risk our diplomats, intelligence professionals, and people around the world who come to the United States for assistance in promoting democracy and open government," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.

Democratic Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, called the release a "reckless action which jeopardizes lives" and rejected Assange´s claims to be acting in the public interest.

"This is not an academic exercise about freedom of information and it is not akin to the release of the Pentagon Papers, which involved an analysis aimed at saving American lives and exposing government deception," he added, referring to a secret history of the Vietnam War leaked in 1971.

US Republican congressman Peter King, the ranking member of the House of Representatives´ Homeland Security Committee, urged the attorney general to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for espionage.

The latest release "manifests Mr Assange´s purposeful intent to damage not only our national interests in fighting the war on terror, but also undermines the very safety of coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan."

He went on to urge the State Department to designate WikiLeaks a "Foreign Terrorist Organization," saying it "posed a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States," in a statement from his office.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on whether the United States was mulling criminal charges against Assange, saying only that it was assisting the Pentagon in its "ongoing investigation" into the disclosure.

The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee said the release was "an embarrassment to the (Barack) Obama administration and represents a critical failure by the Pentagon and intelligence community."

Representative Pete Hoekstra called on the intelligence community to "move quickly to assess the failures in this case" and said Congress should also take up the matter.

The Pentagon, which also strongly condemned the release, said it had taken new steps to "prevent further compromise of sensitive data."

The steps were taken after Pentagon reviews launched in August that followed the disclosure of tens of thousands of US military intelligence files on the war in Afghanistan.

The measures included disabling all write-capability for flash drives or removable media on classified computers, restricting transfers of information from classified to unclassified systems and better monitoring of suspicious computer activity using similar tactics employed by credit card companies.

"Bottom line: It is now much more difficult for a determined actor to get access to and move information outside of authorized channels," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.

WikiLeaks cables offer inside peek at global crises

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that the leaks offer candid views of foreign leaders and blunt assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats.

Some of the cables made available to a handful of newspapers around the world provide an inside peek at U.S. diplomatic views and actions in North Korea, Iran, Pakistan and elsewhere.

The U.S. government condemned the release, saying it could compromise private discussions with foreign leaders and endanger the lives of named individuals living "under oppressive regimes."

Here is a look at some of the main substantive revelations in the cables, published by the New York Times:

* China´s Politburo directed the intrusion into Google´s computer systems in that country, a Chinese contact told the U.S. Embassy in January, as part of a computer sabotage campaign carried out by government operatives, private experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government. They have broken into U.S. government computers and those of Western allies, the Dalai Lama and American businesses since 2002, cables said.

* King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has repeatedly urged the United States to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear program and is reported to have advised Washington to "cut off the head of the snake" while there was still time.

* U.S. and South Korean officials discussed the prospects for a unified Korea should the North´s economic troubles and political transition lead the state to implode. The South Koreans considered commercial inducements to China to "help salve" Chinese concerns about living with a reunified Korea that is in a "benign alliance" with Washington, according to the American ambassador to Seoul.

* Since 2007, the United States has mounted a secret and so far unsuccessful effort to remove highly enriched uranium from a Pakistani research reactor out of fear it could be diverted for use in an illicit nuclear device.

* Iran has obtained sophisticated missiles from North Korea capable of hitting western Europe, and the United States is concerned Iran is using those rockets as "building blocks" to build longer-range missiles. The advanced missiles are much more powerful than anything U.S. officials have publicly acknowledged Iran has in its arsenal.

* When Afghanistan´s vice president, Ahmed Zia Massoud, visited the United Arab Emirates last year, local authorities working with the Drug Enforcement Administration discovered he was carrying $52 million in cash that a cable from the American Embassy in Kabul said he "was ultimately allowed to keep without revealing the money´s origin or destination." He denied taking the money out of Afghanistan.

* American diplomats have bargained with other countries to help empty the Guantanamo Bay prison by resettling detainees. Slovenia was told to take a prisoner if it wanted to meet with President Barack Obama, and Kiribati was offered incentives worth millions of dollars to take in Chinese Muslim detainees. In another case, accepting more prisoners was described as "a low-cost way for Belgium to attain prominence in Europe," a cable said.

* Saudi donors remain the chief financiers of Sunni militant groups like Al Qaeda, and the tiny Persian Gulf state of Qatar was the "worst in the region" in counterterrorism efforts, according to a State Department cable last December. Qatar´s security service was "hesitant to act against known terrorists out of concern for appearing to be aligned with the U.S. and provoking reprisals," the cable said.

* The United States has failed to prevent Syria from supplying arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon, which has amassed a huge stockpile since its 2006 war with Israel, the cables said. One week after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad promised a top State Department official he would not send "new" arms to Hezbollah, the United States complained it had information that Syria was giving the group increasingly sophisticated weapons.

* Yemen has helped cover up the American role in missile strikes against the local branch of Al Qaeda. According to a cable, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in January told General David H. Petraeus, then the American commander in the Middle East: "We´ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours." This prompted Yemen´s deputy prime minister to joke that he had just "lied" by telling Parliament that Yemeni forces had carried out the strikes.

2,600 US memos on Nepal to be leaked


KATHMANDU, Nov 29: Among more than 250,000 confidential US diplomatic cables, a portion of which was released by the Wikileaks on Sunday, 2,600 documents are related to Nepal.

Although none of the memos on Nepal was released on Sunday, the whistle-blower website will be releasing the embassy cables "in stages over the next few months.”

According to the website, the dossier has 2,278 memos sent by the US Embassy in Kathmandu to the US State Department. Eighty-four of those memos were labeled secret and 1,399 confidential while remaining 795 are unclassified.

Among all the cables obtained by the Wikileaks, there are 8,320 memos on China, 7,095 on Afghanistan, 5,087 on India, 4,775 on Pakistan, 3,166 on Sri Lanka and 2,182 on Bangladesh.

Wikileaks began on Sunday publishing 251,287 leaked US embassy cables, the largest set of confidential documents ever to be released into the public domain.

“The documents will give people around the world an unprecedented insight into US Government foreign activities,” the website said on the release of documents despite strong words from Washington.

“The cables, which date from 1966 to February 2010, contain confidential communications between 274 embassies in countries throughout the world and the State Department in Washington,” it added.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Peace Minister hints at UNMIN term extension


NUWAKOT: Minister for Peace and Reconstruction, Rakam Chemjong said on Saturday that the United Nations political mission in Nepal (UNMIN), cannot return until the Maoist combatants are managed, which means that UNMIN's term would be extended.

Talking to journalists in Syafrubesi, Rasuwa district, today, Minister Chemjong said it would be risky to tell UNMIN to return until peace is established in the country by taking the peace process to logical conclusion.

He also said the peace process would not reach conclusion without the rehabilitation of the Maoist combatants.

Stating the Maoists should be flexible and serious for reestablishing peace in the country, the Minister for Peace said the problem has arisen as the Maoist still harbours militaristic thinking.

Minister Chemjong said the government is committed to reconstructing the infrastructures damaged during the conflict period, providing relief to the conflict victims and building peace.

'House will be called after consultations'

Himalayan News Service

KATHMANDU: Caretaker Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal today said the government would call the winter session of parliament after consulting political parties.

The government prorogued the ongoing budget session on November 19 when the main opposition, Unified CPN-Maoist, prevented the Finance Minister from presenting the budget estimates although the party leadership had agreed at a three-party meeting to let the government table it.

Talking to reporters at a function held to mark Nepal Sambat 1131 at Basantapur, Nepal said he would start discussions on convening the parliament session soon after the Maoists returned from the Palungtar plenum. “Let them (Maoist) come from the plenum,” said the PM, adding: “We will hold discussions with all the parties and fix the date of the parliament session.”

It may be recalled that Nepali Congress and CPN-UML bosses, Sushil Koirala and Jhala Nath Khanal had urged President Dr Ram Baran Yadav to immediately convene the House to elect a new government. Asked about the legitimacy of NC’s prime ministerial candidate Ramchandra Paudel, Nepal said the issue would be settled after discussing it with the parties. The NC and other parties say Paudel’s candidacy is still intact. UML chairman Khanal stressed the need to forge consensus on forming a unity government as the issue was related with the peace and constitution-drafting processes.

Five garbage bins stolen

Himalayan News Service

KATHMANDU: Five garbage bins stationed at Maitighar and Minbh-awan by Kathmandu Metropolitan City have been stolen this week.

According to KMC, a total of 150 bins had been placed at Hanumandhoka Durbar Square, Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, City Hall, Airport-Koteshwor and Maitighar-Tinkune road section in a bid to keep the city clean. “Three garbage bins from Maitighar area and two from Minbhawan area have been stolen,” said Rabin Man Shrestha, deputy chief at the Environment Management Department, KMC. “The bins have been instrumental in lessening garbage on the streets and keeping the city clean.” Shrestha informed that China had donated 4,000 garbage bins to place at different spots of the metropolis. “We will gradually install them in those places,” said Shrestha.

Reliance chief throws a party to show Antilia

Agence France Presse

MUMBAI: Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani has hosted a lavish housewarming party to show off his just-completed new skyscraper residence, believed to be the world’s most expensive private home.

Some 80 of India’s rich and famous attended the party on Friday night at the 27-storey building, which dominates the skyline above the sprawling slums and traffic-choked roads of Mumbai.

Indian novelist Shobhaa De, who attended the party, called the building — reported to be the world’s priciest private residence costing over one billion dollars — “the Taj Mahal of the 21st century”.

De described visiting what has got to be the biggest, glitziest ballroom in India — the Palace of Versailles is a poor cousin with groaning buffet tables lining one of the unending walls.

Ambani, who heads India’s largest private company, petrochemical giant Reliance Industries, will need 600 employees to maintain the palatial residence, reports said. Ambani, his wife and three children are to live in the 174-metre (570-feet) tall home, which according to reports has six floors of parking, swimming pools and a cinema. It is named after the mythical Atlantic island Antilia.

One newspaper said the residence epitomised the swagger and confidence of India’s economically buoyant upper echelons.

Ambani, 53, is India’s wealthiest man with a 27-billion-dollar fortune, according to Forbes.

Anti-poverty campaigners have highlighted the contrast between the home and the plight of many in Mumbai, where half of the estimated 18 million population live in slums, with sketchy or non-existent power and water supplies.

The gulf between rich and poor is visible just a short walk from Ambani’s residence on Altamount Road, where entire families can be found living under a flyover and on pavements near foreign consulates and exclusive boutiques.

Guests at the residence, which has a temple on the ground floor and a personal library on the top, included Bollywood stars Preity Zinta and Aamir Khan as well as Indian billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla.

“It’s great to breathe fresh air at this height and leave Mumbai’s pollution down below,” one unnamed guest was quoted as saying about the vertical mansion with its panoramic views of Mumbai and the Arabian Sea beyond.

Mukesh Ambani’s elderly mother also has quarters at the new home.

She will commute between Antilia and the 14-storey residence of her younger son Anil where all family members previously lived under one roof — albeit on separate floors, novelist De reported.

Ambani’s younger brother Anil held a parallel party at the family’s original Seawind residence the same night, De said.

World elephant polo championship to begin today


CHITWAN: The 29th World Elephant Polo Championship is going to kick off from Sunday at Meghauli of Chitwan district.

A total of eight teams from Iceland, the UK, Scotland, UAE, Switzerland, and Afghanistan including Nepal are taking part in the competition.

According to Yadav Bantawa, the General Manager of Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge, National Park Team of Nepal, Tiger Tops Tusker Iceland, Pokka Chukka and British Gurkha of the UK and others are participating in the competition.

Nepal, Koirala get set for junkets

Himalayan News Service

KATHMANDU: Both Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and Deputy Prime Minister Sujata Koirala will be separately attending various conferences next month.

PM Nepal, who returned home from St Petersburg of Russia after attending an international conference on tiger conservation on Thursday, is heading for Cambodia on Tuesday to participate in the sixth International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) scheduled for December 1 to 4 in Phnom Penh. He is a member of the Standing Committee of ICAPP.

The prime minister is attending at the invitation of his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen, according Rajan Bhattarai, the PM’s Foreign Affairs Adviser. Bhattarai, Chief of Protocol Mukti Nath Bhatta and South East Asia Division Chief at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) Rudra Nepal are accompanying the PM’s six-member delegation.

PM Nepal will be addressing the conference. More than 100 Asian political parties, including some from Nepal, are expected to participate.

The prime minister will then head for Brussels in Belgium to attend the European Development Day at the invitation of European Commission President, José Manuel Barroso. The two-day ceremony will kick off in December 6. The PM will return home on December 9.

A source informed that his wife Gayatri’s name was deleted from the list of delegates at the last minute due to their only daughter’s wedding ceremony tomorrow. He returned from Russia on Thursday cutting short his six-day-visit for the same reason.

Likewise, DPM Koirala is heading for three South East Asian nations —Thailand, Myanmar and Indonesia to attend three different conferences. She will be away for three weeks.

According to a MoFA official, Koirala will leave for Indonesia to attend the third Bali Democracy Forum (December 9 to 10), which she will address. She will then leave for Bangkok to participate in the Asia-Middle Dialogue. Then, she will take part in the annual meeting of foreign ministers of BIMSTEC countries in Myanmar in the fourth week of December. Koirala is expected to return on December 29.

Very less resolved on Maoist front

PALUNGTAR: The jamboree witnessed participation of more than 7,000 people. It took months of preparations and millions of rupees were spent, but the sixth extended Maoist meet could not deliver much other than reaffirm that the party had been reunited.

While differences among the top brass trio persist, the extended meeting has authorised the party’s most powerful body — the central committee — to take an appropriate decision on the conflicting issues presented by the two vice-chairmen through their separate political documents.

The facts notwithstanding, UCPN-M Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal held a press conference after the closing session this afternoon and claimed that overwhelming success for the party’s sixth plenum. “Three different political documents no longer exist. We have integrated them,” claimed Dahal. Meanwhile, speaking to journalists, both vice chairmen Dr Baburam Bhattarai and Mohan Baidhya stressed there was no question of blending with Dahal. The party is yet to finalise its principal contradiction and assessment of developments since the Chunbang meeting. They, however, agreed that all three documents had been integrated into one along with their differing views on issues, which would be sorted out through appropriate discussion either through a national conference or general convention.

Baidhya said the leaders were unanimous on the party’s work plan, but other issues could be taken to the general convention.

Dr Bhattarai said the party would fight for peace and the constitution, but if the reactionaries plotted to foil these, people would revolt to establish their rights. “Now the UCPN-M will begin its movement unitedly,” he said.

Commenting on Dahal’s document this morning, Dr Bhattarai had said undermining the republic for nationalism was a mistake and that would weaken the revolution. He warned that the documents must not invite revolt in the party.

Baidhya, on the other hand, said Dahal had intended to take all the credit of the revolution as if the others had made no contribution at all. He demanded that the party clarify whose lines the Chunbang and Kharipati meetings had adopted. Dahal had told the closing session there was no option other than surrendering or becoming martyrs.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

'मरेपछि पनि कर तिर्नुपर्ने कहीँ नभएको व्यवस्था नेपालमा'

सुदर्शन सापकोटा, काठमाडौं, मंसिर ९- जनकपुरका कारी साहले २२ वर्षे छोरा सुबोधकुमार साहको मृत्यु भएपछि जीवन बिमाको पैसा लिँदा कर तिर्नुपर्‍यो। दुई लाख रुपैयाँको जीवन बिमा गराएका सुबोधले त्यस बापतको दुई किस्ता बुझाएका थिए। उनको मृत्युपछि बाबु कारीले बिमा रकम दाबी गर्दा ५ प्रतिशत कर तिरेरमात्र भुक्तानी पाए।

बारा कलैयाकी सुधामादेवी साहले पनि स्वर्गीय पतिको बिमा रकम त्यसैगरी कर तिरेपछि मात्र पाइन्। उनका पति मधुरा साह सोनारले २ लाख बराबरको बिमा गराएका थिए।
यो कानुनी व्यवस्थाले मरेपछि समेत कर तिर्नुपर्ने व्यवस्थाले पीडित परिवारलाई व्ययभार बढाएकै छ, सहानुभूति दिनुपर्ने ठाउँमा पीडा थपेको छ।

बिमा कम्पनीहरुसमेत सरकारी यो नियमप्रति बेखुसी छन्। 'मान्छे मर्दा पनि कर तिर्नुपर्ने विचित्रको नियम छ हाम्रो देशमा,' सूर्या लाइफ इन्स्योरेन्सका महाप्रबन्धक शेखर बरालले नागरिकसँग भने।

बिमा कम्पनीहरुले मृत्यु दाबी भुक्तानीमा कर नलगाउन सरकारी अधिकारीसँग आग्रह गर्दै आएका छन्। नियामक निकाय बिमा समितिले लिखित रुपमै कर नलगाउन अर्थमन्त्रालयलाई आग्रह गरेको थियो। सरकारले भने यसलाई सुनेकोनसुन्यै गर्दै आएको छ। अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय अभ्यास हेर्ने हो भने मृत्युको दाबी भुक्तानीमा कुनै कर लाग्दैन। केही वर्षअघिसम्म कर लगाउँदै आएको छिमेकी भारतले पनि अहिले लिन छाडेको छ।

हामीले मृत्युको दाबी भुक्तानीमा कर नगलाउन अर्थ मन्त्रालयलाई लेखेरै पठाएका हौं,' समितिका अध्यक्ष फत्तबहादुर केसीले नागरिकसँग भने, 'सहानुभूति दिने बेलामा कर लगाउनु व्यवहारिक हुँदैन पनि।'

अर्थमन्त्रालयका राजस्व सचिव कृष्णहरि बाँस्कोटाले कतैबाट पनि कर घटाउन सुझाव नआएको भन्दै आयकर ऐनमा त्यस्तो व्यवस्था नभएको दाबी गरे। 'आयकर ऐनमा कहाँ छ र कर लगाउने व्यवस्था?' उनले प्रश्न गरे। आयकर ऐन-२०५८ को दफा ८८ मा मृत्यु दाबी भुक्तानीमा ५ प्रतिशत कर लाग्ने उल्लेख गरिएको छ।

बिमा कम्पनीहरुको छाता संगठन बिमक संघले सरकारलाई चार वर्षदेखि यो कर हटाउन सुझाव दिँदै आएको छ। 'मृत्यु दाबी भुक्तानीमा कर लगाउने व्यवस्था एकदमै अव्यवहारिक छ,' बरालले भने, 'दुःख खेपिरहेको परिवारसँग मरेको मान्छेको जीवन बिमामा कर लगाउँदा हामीलाई पनि नराम्रो लाग्छ। तर, सरकारलाई कर बुझाउनै पर्ने भएकाले हामी काट्छौं।'

'बिमा गरेपछि आय करमा छुट हुने तर मृत्यु दाबी भुक्तानीमा कर लगाउने व्यवस्था अव्यवहारिक र विरोधाभाषपूर्ण छ,' गुराँस लाइफ इन्स्योरेन्स कम्पनीका प्रमुख कार्यकारी अधिकृत तथा बिमक संघका कोषाध्यक्ष सुनिल देवकोटाले भने।


Lukla No 8 in world’s 10 most thrilling airports


Lukla Airport, the gateway to the Everest region, has been ranked eighth among the world’s top 10 stunning and inspirational airport approaches by PrivateFly.com.

The private jet-booking agency based in St. Albans, Hertfordshire has suggested its 10 recommended airports to adventure lovers as “A View to a Thrill”.

The surrounding terrain, thin air, highly changeable weather and the airport’s short, sloping runway make it one of the most challenging landings in the world. History Channel’s Most Extreme Airports programme has ranked Lukla as the most dangerous airport in the world.

Lukla is a 35-minute flight from Kathmandu. It is the busiest domestic airport in the country, handling more than 50 flights daily during the tourist season. Only short take off and landing (STOL) airplanes can land at Lukla.

The runway is 351 m long and rises over 30 m from the bottom to the top, giving it an angle of about 10 degrees. The airport lies at an elevation of 2,800 m.

It was built in the 1960s with the support of Sir Edmund Hillary.

In January 2008, the airport was renamed Tenzing-Hillary Airport in honour of the first Everest summitters.

PrivateFly.com has named Sion Airport in Switzerland the perfect touchdown at Europe’s most stunning airport. St. Maarten-Princess Juliana Airport in the Netherlands was placed third.

St. Barts in the Caribbean, Gibraltar, St. Gallen-Altenrhein in Switzerland, Madeira Funchal in Portugal and London City airport come after Lukla as the most thrilling and adventurous airports.

155 kg hashish confiscated in Capital


KATHMANDU: Police confiscated 155 kg of hashish from Hattiban of Chalnakhel VDC on the outskirts of Kathmandu on Wednesday.

Acting on a tip off, a team of security personnel from Metropolitan Police Range (MPR), Hanumandhoka had reached the Hattiban area at around 1:30 p.m. this afternoon. However, the suspected drug peddlers had fled the site leaving the contraband, informed SP Ramesh Kharel, the MPR in-charge.

The haul fetches about Rs one crore in international drug market.

Maharjan wins bronze medal for Nepal in Asiad

Maharhan has become the first Nepali boxer to win a medal in the Asiad after two decades.

KATHMANDU: Nepal entered its name in the medal tally of the ongoing 16th Asian Games on Wednesday with Nepali boxer Deepak Maharjan winning a bronze medal.

Maharjan won the medal in the men’s 81kg boxing event after losing the semi-final bout to India's Dinesh Kumar 7-1 this afternoon.

Maharjan secured the single point in the third round only while his opponent secured two, three and two points in the first, second and third rounds respectively.

To make it to the semi-finals, he had cruised past Thailand champion Kriangkai Sukkhum 4-0 in the quarter-final bout and secured a medal.

Maharhan has become the first Nepali boxer to win a medal in the Asiad after two decades.

Chitra Bahadur Gurung had brought home a bronze from the 11th Asian Games held in Beijing, China in 1990.

It is Nepal's sixth Asiad medal in boxing.

Dal Bahadur Rana Magar, Tul Bahadur Thapa, Sushil Pokharel and Manoj Bahadur Shrestha had claimed bronze in the 10th Asian Games held in Seoul, South Korea in 1986.

Cadres demand clarification on tape scandal

PALUNGTAR, GORKHA Nov, 25: Commenting on the three separate political documents presented in the ongoing party plenum, Maoist cadres close to each of three factions headed by party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, senior Vice Chairman Mohan Vaidya and Vice Chairman Dr Baburam Bhattarai leveled serious allegations against each other on Wednesday.

Questioning the integrity of party chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, leaders close to Baidya and Bhattarai demanded clarification from Dahal over the alleged horse-trading during the recent prime ministerial elections and the leaked audio-tape involving party leader Krirshna Bahadur Mahara.

"Today the leadership is buying parliamentarians, tomorrow it will buy the party cadres and the day after tomorrow it will certainly try to buy the people," a cadre quoted Maoist representative from Tamuwan state Devendra Parajuli as saying during the meeting. Parajuli, who is close to Bhattarai, also severely criticized Dahal for conducting the party´s financial transactions in a non-transparent manner and demanded that the chairman stopped misusing his power.

Similarly, Bandhu Chand from Abadha state demanded that Dahal furnish clarification over the audio-tape in which a voice, allegedly of Mahara, asks a man with a Chinese accent Rs 500 million to buy the votes of parliamentarians in favor of Dahal. "The chairman should furnish clarification over the tape scandal," a plenum participant quoted Chand as saying.

While leaders close to Baidya and Bhattarai accused Dahal of financial non-transparency, misuse of power and shaky ideological stand, those close to Dahal and Baidya accused Bhattarai of being a "bourgeoisie leader" who was trying to drag the party toward revisionism.

"The line floated by Bhattarai is revisionism and it will ultimately finish off the revolutionary ideology of the party," a cadre quoted leader Sarad Singh Bhandari from Seti-Mahakali as saying. He warned the leadership not to adopt the line floated by Bhattarai.
"Today the leadership is buying parliamentarians, tomorrow it will buy the party cadres and the day after tomorrow it will certainly try to buy the people," a cadre quoted Maoist representative from Tamuwan state Devendra Parajuli as saying during the meeting. Parajuli, who is close to Bhattarai, also severely criticized Dahal for conducting the party´s financial transaction in a non-transparent manner, and demanded that the chairman stopped misusing his power.

The cadres also accused Bhattarai of being submissive to "foreign imperialism" and "Indian expansionism" and fearing to declare India as the party´s principal enemy.

Similarly, cadres close to Baidya alleged Dahal of not being sincere toward implementing the party official-line, misusing power and money. "We can see the misuse of power and money by the chairman in this plenum to garner support to his document," a cadre close to Baidya said.

Likewise, supporters of Dahal and Bhattarai accused Baidya of overlooking the ground reality and pushing for a radical line. "Radical line alone cannot complete the revolution," a cadre quoted leader Ram Bahadur Bohora as saying. They also criticized Baidya for threatening to revolt against the party if it doesn´t adopt a revolutionary line.

The party cadres also came down heavily on the "bourgeoisie" lifestyles of the top leaders and expressed concern that such a trend will ultimately bring about the downfall of the party. They asked the leaders not to forget the "proletariat character" of the party. They said the leaders are using expensive cars and educating their children in expensive schools while the party whole-timers are struggling to make ends meet.

"Yes, the cadres have criticized the leaders for their lavish lifestyles. But it is positive. They must warn the leaders against deviating from the prescribed proletariat lifestyles," said Maoist spokesperson Dinanath Sharma.

Despite their sharp criticism, the party cadres warned the leaders against any attempt to split the party. "There are contradictions in any live party, if not it is dead. We will go through the process of unity, struggle and transformation. The differences will not split the party," said Sharma.

The Maoist cadres were divided into 30 groups for discussion and three senior cadres from each group, close to Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Senior Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya and Vice-chairman Dr Baburam Bhattarai respectively, presented their opinion in the full meeting.

As of Wednesday, 34 leaders of 10 state committees put forward their views. Some of the cadres had taken neutral positions. According to Sharma, the plenum is likely to extend for two more days as three are many programs yet to be completed.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fight master Bhutani no more

Himalayan News Service

His wish to get a Nepali citizenship dies with him

KATHMANDU: Fight master ‘ Gopal Bhutani lost the battle of his life to cancer and breathed his last on November 23. The 78-year-old legendary figure was pronounced dead at around 11:00 am while undergoing treatment for lung cancer at the Janamaitri Hospital, Balaju.

Bhutani is considered as the pioneer of the action genre in the Nepali cine world. He is credited with introducing action into Nepali cinema and also trained many actors and other action directors under him.

He started his career with movie Maan ko Baandh in 1975, where he had played the role of a postman. But he debuted as action director in the film Jeevan Rekha in 1978.

His last rites were performed at Swoyambhu according to Buddhist rites, where prominent figures of the Nepali film industry has turned up to pay their last respects. Bhutani’s student and popular action director Rajendra Khadgi performed the guru’s last rites. Bhutani, who did not have any relatives, was very close to Khadgi, and used to call him his “son”.

“He was an angel sent by the God to uplift and give a new dimension to the Nepali film industry. He has returned after completing his responsibility here,” stated Khadgi who likes to call Bhutani “his godfather”.

“Had Gopal Bhutani not entered the Nepali film industry, there would not be Rajendra Khadgi. Almost all the action directors of Nepali film were his students,” Khadgi added.

“Before Gopal dai, there was no concept of action direction in Nepali films. He pioneered the concept of art direction as well,” said actor-director Yubaraj Lama, who has worked with Bhutani in movies like Deuta, Dui Thopa Aanshu and Chino.

“One of the greatest art and action directors of the time, Gopal dai was hardworking and honest,” said director Ashoka Sharma.

Despite his age, he was energetic and worked in films, advertisements and tele-films. “But in his last days he must have felt death approaching nearer. He would keep telling me ‘I will die’,” revealed Khadgi, who had been constantly at Bhutani’s side even at the hospital.

But despite his priceless contribution of converting Nepali films into a film industry through innovation of the concept of art and action, his wish to get a Nepali citizenship remained unfulfilled. “We could not convince our government that he was a Nepali,” Khadgi stated.

Bhutani, born to a Tamang family in Illam was deprived of a Nepali citizenship as he did not have enough documents to prove that he was a Nepali citizen. “Despite such an attitude of the government towards him, his contribution to Nepali film industry is invaluable and will be written in the pages of history,” added Khadgi.

Speaker says can't act against House hooligans

Himalayan News Service

KATHMANDU: Lawmakers and some legal experts today urged Constituent Assembly Chairman Subas Nembang to take stern legal action against those involved in vandalism and obstruction of tabling of budget on November 3.

Nembang, however, has been saying that it is difficult to take action due to the weak provision of the parliament regulation. As all Maoist CA members present in the House meeting on that day were involved in obstructing the budget, it is difficult to take action against all of them, claimed Nembang.

Taking action is the responsibility of the Speaker and by declining to do so he will be violating parliament regulation, said Energy Minister Dr Prakash Sharan Mahat. “The Speaker should have issued a ruling when the incident took place. Even if it is delayed, he should take action. The Nepali Congress has already demanded so from the Speaker in writing,” said Dr Mahat, who is also an NC central member.

CPN-UML Chief Whip Bhim Prasad Acharya said, “The parliament is a highly respectable forum for holding discussion of thoughts. Those involved in hooliganism should be taken to task for violating parliamentary decorum.”

Acharya added, “If the Speaker does not take action, impunity will prevail even in the parliament.”

Senior advocate Sindhu Nath Pyakurel suggested that the Speaker should maintain parliamentary decorum by asking the accused lawmakers to publicly confess what they did that day.

Advocate Sher Bahadur KC claimed that the Speaker had the right to suspend lawmakers indulging in vandalism.

Speakers wondered whether prime ministerial candidacy of Ramchandra Paudel would be transferred to next session of the parliament. NC’s Dr Mahat said, “The candidacy will be transferred, as Paudel has neither been elected nor rejected.”

UML’s Acharya said, “A proposal is naturally terminated with the prorogation of a House session. So Paudel’s candidacy does not exist now.”

Co-chairman of Sadbhawana Party Laxman Lal Karna said, “Paudel had filed his candidacy under a constitutional provision, so it cannot be scrapped citing a provision in parliament regulation.”

Jitendra Sonar of Tarai Madhes Democratic Party also opined that Paudel’s candidacy would remain intact in the next session.

NRB initiates moves to pull out from NBL


KATHMANDU, Nov 24: Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) has started discussions on different options to recapitalize and pull out from the management of the Nepal bank Limited (NBL), where financial sector reform has remained sluggish.

The central bank is discussing mainly three different options: recapitalization through rights issue, induction of strategic partner, and merger with other local bank to turn around the negative net worth and hand over its management to private party.

The bank has negative net worth of Rs 4.5 billion. According to Maheshwar Lal Shrestha, chief executive of the bank, it will need Rs 7.10 billion to reverse the situation and also fulfill capital adequacy obligation of 10 percent.

Under the first option, NRB is discussing the prospect of raising the capital required to turn around its financial health through rights issue by asking the shareholders to pump in more capital.

“In this connection, we are mainly awaiting concrete decision from the government on whether it wishes to pump in additional capital in the bank. This is crucial for us to decide on how to move the process ahead,” a senior NRB official told Republica.

Although the majority stake in the NBL is owned by the private sector, the government is still the largest shareholder in the bank. And unless the government clarifies its stance on further investment, the central bank says it will not be able to go to the other options.

Under the second option, the central bank has mooted induction of strategic partner offering substantial stake in the bank. “We can raise capital through rights issue to employees and other shareholders as well,” said the source.

Under the third option, which has been pushed with slim hope so far, the central bank is also working out the possibility of recapitalizing the bank through merger.

“This appears to be a tricky option, but given the criticism the central bank is facing over its failure to hand over NBL management to the private party, we are openly discussing all different possibilities,” said the source.

NBL is one of the two banks in which financial sector reforms were introduced under the aegis of the World Bank in 2002. While the reforms have cost the country loans worth Rs 8 billion, some Rs 2.5 billion has already been spent in steering reforms in the NBL.

However, even after about eight years of reforms initiated under its direct supervision, the central bank has still failed to pull out from the bank. While donors blame the situation to weak commitment of the government and the central bank to reforms, the central bank blames unwanted resistance from the politically-backed trade unions.

If labor reforms had moved ahead as smoothly as financial sector reforms, the situation in the bank would have been different, argue NRB officials.

Records show, NBL has paid up capital of just Rs 380 million and operates with 110 branches across the country. Its employees eat up in salaries and perks more than 80 percent of the bank´s income, whereas the industry average for similar overhead stands at just about 10 percent. The bank´s deposits stand at around Rs 42 billion and loans and investment at about Rs 31 billion.

Dahal charges deputies with graft

PALUNGTAR: On the third day of the sixth extended meeting of the Unified CPN-Maoist that began here on Sunday, Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal accused both the vice-chairmen of financial irregularities.

“I have received reports that Dr Baburam Bhattarai had spent lots of money in Tarai region to woo party cadres towards his line,” a participant quoted Dahal as saying. He also accused Dr Bhattarai of hob-nobbing with several industrialists when he was finance minister. He even accused another vice-chairman Mohan Baidhya of accruing financial gains from his links to several influential people. He claimed that none of the two leaders ever reported the financial gains to the party.

On Baidhya’s threat to stage a revolt against the party if it tilted towards rightist revisionism, Dahal wondered who he was threatening. He expressed unhappiness over such comments from Baidhya. Baidhya had announced yesterday that he, along with other revolutionaries in the party, would abandon the party if it decided to toe the rightist line and adopt parliamentary system.

On Dr Bhattarai’s query why action was taken against him during Chunbang plenum, Dahal claimed Dr Bhattarai was punished not for presenting differing views but for not maintaining secrecy. During the deliberations that stretched beyond two hours, Dahal said there was no alternative to the party’s transformation, unity and revolution.

Dinanath Sharma, spokesperson for the party, said during his address Dahal accepted the party had shortcomings and stressed the need to transform it. He added that all the leaders should be held responsible, and not just him.

Dahal said the party should use democratic methods to resolve differences. Sharma quoted Dahal as saying there was a need to groom his successor. He added that intra-party wranglings could be managed easily if the youth leaders were taken into confidence during the planning stage.

Talking about the youth leaders, including Netra Bikram Chand, who has been toeing Baidhya’s line, Dahal said he had committed a mistake by not taking along the youth leaders in the government and other parliamentary processes.

Vice-chairman of Unified CPN-Maoist Mohan Baidhya said he was not hopeful that chairman Dahal would incorporate his political line and implement it. “I have not seen any indication that Dahal would implement his political line.”

Another vice-chairman Dr Baburam Bhattarai claimed that Chairman Dahal could not clarify what he wanted to say. “He contradicts himself," Dr Bhattarai claimed.

He added that Dahal didn’t address all the queries put to him by the leaders and cadres. “Dahal must have come up with solutions after objectively analyzing the issues raised by the leaders,” he argued.

He claimed that the plenum would pass his political line.

“If anyone tries to plot against the peace and constitution they would be swept away by the people’s revolution,” he added.


DiCaprio commits USD 1m for tiger conservation


KATHMANDU: Noted Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio committed USD 1 million to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for urgent tiger conservation efforts on the day the Global Tiger Summit kicked off in a bid to save the endangered big cats from extinction on Tuesday.

According to the WWF, the money would come through DiCaprio’s Fund at the California Community Foundation.

The tiger population has dropped drastically across Asia—from 100,000 at the beginning of the last century to as few as 3,200 today. The heads of government from the 13 tiger range countries including Nepal are gathered in the Russian city of St. Petersberg for a first-ever summit to save tigers. DiCaprio is also taking part in the Summit hosted by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The participants are expected to announce a Global Tiger Recovery Program with a goal of doubling the number of wild tigers by 2022.

Also WWF board member, DiCaprio recently visited Nepal and Bhutan with the WWF experts, touring tiger habitat on elephant back alongside anti-poaching staff, meeting with community members, and learning how the WWF scientists monitor the park's tigers. “The donation will add to DiCaprio’s existing commitment to tiger conservation during this Year of the Tiger,” said a WWF statement released from Washington D.C. The Hollywood actor joined forces with the WWF earlier this year in an effort to raise USD 20 million for tiger conservation through the Save Tigers Now campaign.

Meanwhile, the Nepal government has lauded DiCaprio’s active engagement and support in conserving the big cats in Nepal. Minister for Forest and Soil Conservation Deepak Bohara said, “This underscores the importance of collective efforts and the commitment of international communities to join hands in saving wild tigers globally. Mr. DiCaprio’s support will go a long way in contributing towards Nepal’s efforts to double the number of tigers by 2022”.

"Illegal poaching of tigers for their parts and massive habitat loss due to palm oil, timber and paper production are driving this species to extinction,” said DiCaprio. “If we don’t take action now, one of the most iconic animals on our planet could be gone in just a few decades. By saving tigers, we can also protect some of our last remaining ancient forests and improve the lives of indigenous communities."

The 13 countries where tigers still exist are Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.

According to the WWF, the money raised by DiCaprio and it through Save Tigers Now will go to fund anti-poaching efforts and habitat protection in the 12 priority landscapes across Asia that it believes represent the best locations to maintain viable, thriving populations of tigers.

Mid-Marshyangdi shut for maintenance


LAMJUNG: Mid-Marshyangdi Hydropower Project has been completely shut down for regular cleaning and repair works.

The 70 MW project that had partially remained closed has been completely shut after repair of its Unit B turbine of 35 MW capacity started from today. Unit A turbine of the same capacity has been closed for the past one week.

According to Mid-Marshyangdi Hydropower Centre, Unit A turbine will come into operation after a week and the B will be back in service two weeks later.

But after December 6 both the turbines will resume operation, said project chief Mahendra Adhikari. Due to the closure of Marshyangdi, the country has been facing nearly 29 hours of load shedding a week.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Complaint lodged against Minister Alam


KATHMANDU: The Consumers Welfare Protection Forum has filed a complaint against Minister for Labour and Transport Management Mohammad Aftab Alam stating the fare hike of public transport was not carried out scientifically and subsequently it will have adverse affect on consumers.

The Forum has filed complaint demanding action against Minister Alam, Director General of the Department of Transport Management Anil Gurung, Chairperson of National Federation of Nepal Transport Entrepreneurs Dinesh Bhandari, General Secretary Dolanath Khanal and Treasurer Saroj Sitaula.

The complaint was lodged in the anti-graft body calling for interference citing that Minister Alam, director general Gurung and Federation unilaterally decided to hike vehicle fare by ignoring the Supreme Court's decision that the government should fix the fare of the vehicles of public transportation as per the Vehicle and Transport Management Act-2049 and it should be undertaken in a scientific manner, the Forum made it clear.

The press release issued by the Forum reads, 'The Supreme Court (SC), in its verdict on November 7, issued order to determine scientific fare rate and not to bring about any changes in the existing rate of fare until scientific determination is taken into account'.

Excise duty hike makes bikes expensive

KATHMANDU, Nov 23: With the increase in excise duty, the price of two-wheeler has gone up by as much as 10 percent. Though revised excise duty will be applicable only for new imports, auto dealers have raised prices of their existing stock as well.

The government through the budget for fiscal year 2010/11 had raised excise duty in two-wheelers by 10 percentage points to 40 percent.

Dinesh Ratna Bajracharya, manager of Syakar Company said the rise in duty will affect the customers. “Our public transport system is very worse. When duty is raised this heavily, it will surely become troublesome for customers,” Bajracharya, said, adding that the rise in duty will not affect sales much. He also expressed dissatisfaction over hike in duty as bike is one of the most convenient means of transportation for middle class people.

Syakar Company - the authorized distributor of Honda and Hero Honda motorcycles -- is the market leader in two-wheelers segment.

Ashish Sharma, showroom manager of Hansraj Hulaschand and Company - the authorized distributor of Bajaj bikes, said the rise in duty will make temporary impact in the sales.

“As the price of two-wheelers sold by every other company will increase, I don´t think it´ll make a big difference in sales. The sales will slowdown a bit for a week or two, as people will have to arrange more cash to buy the same bike," he said, expressing hope that the duty rise will not affect the sales.

Suraj Manandhar, deputy general manager of motorcycle division of Morang Auto Works (MAW) - the authorized dealer of Yamaha bikes, also said duty rise will not affect the sales much. “It´s not that we are charging extra for our benefit, the increased amount goes into the state coffer,” Manandhar said. “I don´t think this will affect our sales," he explained.
MAW, however, has yet to adjust the prices in tune with rise in excise duty.

The government has also raised excise duty on two-wheelers (cars, jeeps and vans) by 10 percentage points to 60 percent. Though the increase in price will not make big impact on the sales of two-wheelers, it will surely affect the sales of four-wheelers.


Paudel insists candidacy still valid


KATHMANDU: Nepali Congress parliamentary party leader and lone candidate of prime ministerial elections Ram Chandra Paudel today said that his candidacy would exist even in the next session of the parliament.

At a time, when the Unified CPN-Maoist and CPN-UML leaders are saying that his candidacy had naturally been terminated with the prorogation of the House, Paudel rejected the logic and said that the candidacy would exist in the next session as the earlier one failed to elect him the Prime Minister. The UCPN-M and UML have justified the logic saying that the parliament regulation is silent about whether a proposal is transferred to another session.

“A proposal, which is under proceedings in a session, is transferred naturally to another session. So, once the next session begins, the same PM’s runoff begins again. And, I will not back out from the race,” he told journalists after an interaction organised by Universal Peace Federation.

Paudel said that the peace process was in peril due to the Maoists’ tendency of not implementing the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) and other past promises. Even after four years of CPA, the peace process could not make significant progress because of the Maoists’ reluctance in managing their combatants, Paudel said.

Congress leader Ramesh Lekhak said that the country was suffering from longstanding deadlock due to the Maoists’ non-implementation of the past agreements.

Ms Koirala, congratulations

We wholeheartedly congratulate Founder and Chairperson of Maiti Nepal Anuradha Koirala for being named CNN Hero 2010 for her relentless and tireless fight against trafficking and sexual exploitation of Nepali women. That a Nepali national was voted ahead of many other deserving candidates from across the world indeed gives us a very good reason to be happy in these otherwise trying times. Ms Koirala’s non-governmental organization (NGO) has indeed done a commendable job since nearly two decades and the award is a fitting recognition of that.

But, unfortunately, awards do not always give a complete picture of the recipients, be it an individual or an organization, and that is sadly true when it comes to Maiti Nepal and Ms Koirala as well. If awards reflected the reality as it is, the world would never have been divided into two camps when the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Liu Xiaobo this year and Barack Obama last year. That said we are not taking anything away from Ms Koirala. She has done a fantastic job so far. Our only feeling is that she surely could have traveled this distance a bit differently.

One issue that is synonymous with Ms Koirala and her NGO is the lack of financial transparency. Maiti Nepal is a mammoth NGO and the fund that it receives is evidently quite huge. But there are allegations that the organization’s fund is not managed transparently. In fact, this issue is not isolated to Maiti Nepal. This is a problem with almost all the NGOs of Nepal. Besides, much like the hundreds and thousands of NGOs in the country, Maiti Nepal is also not considered free from nepotism, favoritism and cronyism.

After receiving the award Ms Koirala was quoted as saying: “I feel this award has added more responsibility on my shoulders.” It certainly has! Now that the global recognition will ensure further flow of funds to her NGO, it has become even more pressing for her to make her NGO financially transparent so that accusing fingers are not pointed toward her. In fact, we believe, that this award has given her the leverage to lead a movement in the country to make the NGO’s transparent and accountable. If she can do that besides continuing her commendable fight against trafficking and sexual exploitation, she will have done enough to justify this international recognition.

Congratulations once again for highlighting a burning problem of the country in the midst of the international community and for making Nepal proud


Monday, November 22, 2010

Inadequate training, improper management behind failure: Olympians

KATHMANDU, Nov 22: Taekwondo has the glory of fetching highest number of medals for Nepal in the Asian Games. Taekwondo is the only game to fetch the one and only Asian Games silver medal till date. Nepali sports fraternity had high hopes from taekwondo at the ongoing 16th Asian Games too.

However, the game failed to deliver this time and all of the 12 Nepali taekwondo players are returning home empty handed from Guangzhou.

The Guangzhou saga upset the olympians and taekwondo aces Deepak Bista and Sangina Baidya, but it is the sports authorities of the country that they are really frustrated at.

"The country´s longing for medals ends abruptly after the end of every tournament. Authorities do not attempt to sort out the reasons behind the failures and solve them. Without proper response from the authorities, you cannot hope players to give better results than this," said Bista.

According to Bista, quarrel between National Sports Council (NSC) and Nepal Olympic Committee (NOC), uncertainty of participation because of disputes, budget crunch during the training period, lack of overseas training and training without proper gears are some of the reasons behind taekwondo´s flop show in Gaungzhou.

"The governing body of taekwodo has introduced electronic chest guard and electronic socks for athletes for the first time in the Asian Games. We neither made those gears available to the players here nor did we send them overseas for training, where those gears were available. If we can´t provide even a set of proper gears, how can we expect medals from them?" questioned Bista, who pulled out of the Guangzhou Asiad because of injury.

Bista said that the sports authorities ignore their jobs as they get busy quarreling.

"There should be a probe into every failure to find out reasons and to hold the responsible authorities accountable," argued the taekwondo ace, who won two consecutive bronze medals in the Asiad.

Meanwhile, Baidya also holds Bista´s views on the Guangzhou disaster. "There were players from new generation who did not get proper training," said Baidya. "They didn´t go overseas for training and could not get skilled sparring partners."

"We should not overlook failures. We must reflect at the reasons, if we don´t want to fail in future," said Baidya.

Both taekwondo aces hinted at inexperience and lack of concentration of the players at deciding moments as other reasons behind the failure. "The inexperience and lack of concentration of players, however, is the result of inadequate training," Bista and Baidya said in the same tone.

Asiad qualified Nepali taekwondo players were compelled to return from Korea after NSC failed to assure them of the budget necessary for overseas training.

Nepal had won four bronze medals in Asiad Taekwondo in 1986. After the 1986 Seoul Asiad, Nepal had never returned home without a medal in taekwondo except from the Beijing Asiad in 1990. In the last two editions, taekwondo has been the only game that fetched medals for Nepal.

The only silver medal Nepal has won in the Asian sports extravaganza till date has been by Sabita Rajbhandari, in the Bangkok Asiad of 1998.


Two-year-old kidnapped


Two-year-old Dipendra GC, son of Madhav GC, was kidnapped from his residence at Chanai VDC-5 in Kapilvastu district on Saturday night. Locals said two masked motorcyclists abducted the boy while he was playing in front of his house at about 9 p.m. The victim’s family said the abductors telephoned the family and demanded Rs 2 million for his release.

NEA projects 14-hr power cut per day

KATHMANDU, Nov 22: Even as Nepalis are being forced to remain without electricity for 29 hours a week from November 17, Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has said load-shedding woes are likely to take a turn for the worse this year.

Director of system operation department at NEA Sher Singh Bhat said, “Load shedding hours may extend up to 14 hours a day this year.” NEA attributes the likely increase in load-shedding hours to rising demand for power.

“Annual energy demand has increased by 13.1 percent. However, no significant quantity to meet this demand has been generated,” said Chiranjeevi Sharma, chief of Load Dispatch Unit. “Load shedding problem is likely worsen this year.”

In 2008/09, energy demand was 3,859 GWh while in 2009/10 the demand has soared up to 4367.13 GWh.

Although Nepal is one of the richest countries in terms of water resources, it continues to be plagued by a huge power deficit of about 280 MW. According to Sharma, the current demand for power is about 886 MW. He, however, said electricity generation from all existing power plants in the country is only about 605 MW.
Experts claim that Nepal can potentially generate about 70, 000 MW of electricity.

Power deficit notwithstanding, regular maintenance work of two turbines of Middle Marshyangi hydro project is also likely to bring down power supply in the national grid by 70 MW.

According to an official at the NEA, maintenance of the turbines, each with a capacity to generate 35 MW, will be carried out simultaneously. On top of that, NEA does not have specific deadlines to complete the task.

Asked if NEA had any plans to cope with the power woes, Sharma painted a grim scenario. He said only about 18 MW of electricity will be added to the national grid this year.

“Mai Khola (4.5 MW), Ankhu Khola (8.4 MW) and Barun hydro (4 MW) will be completed by the end of this year,” Sharma said.

Moreover, NEA has begun maintenance work of the thermal plant at Bansbari, Morang. The plant has a capacity to generate 39 MW of electricity. However, it has only been generating only about 10 MW due to lack of maintenance. Sharma said, “Maintenance work of the plant is going on. Its generation capacity will be increased.”

However, he could not give the exact date when the maintenance work would be completed. As the spare parts of the machines need to be imported, nothing can be said for sure, he added.

NEA officials said they intend to import more power from the southern neighbor to ease the problem. Currently, Nepal imports about 100 MW of electricity from India at the cost of four billion rupees.

Sharma said NEA is holding talks with India to import additional 25 MW of electricity.

As per the Nepal-India Power Exchange Treaty, Nepal can import up to 50 MW of electricity at a subsided rate -- Rs 6.40 per unit. For additional power import, NEA has to pay a higher price -- Rs 11 per unit.

However, NEA sells per unit of power at an average rate of Rs 6.54, which means power import would add more burdens on the NEA which has already been incurring a loss of five billion rupees every year.


No passport to defaulters and money launderers


KATHMANDU, Nov 22: Bank loan defaulters, money launderers and individuals facing criminal charges such as human trafficking, kidnapping and drug dealing will lose their passports once the new passport regulations that got the final nod from the cabinet on Sunday comes into effect.

"The regulations give power to revoke passports issued to such individuals if concerned authorities ask so," said an official about the new provision in the regulations.

The regulations state that the ministry will also deny passports to those who have been accused of criminal offence but their cases are sub judice in courts.

This is the first time the government has introduced such regulation on passports.

“Such individuals will enjoy their rights to possess passport once they are acquitted of the charges by a competent authority," the official said.

The government amended the old passport regulations to update it in light of its efforts to introduce machine readable passport (MRP).

Meanwhile, another small consignment of MRP has arrived in Kathmandu on Sunday. This is the second consignment the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has received from French security printer Oberthur Technologies.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What will happen to Poudel's candidacy?

KATHMANDU, Nov 21: Confusion reign over the fate of prime ministerial candidacy of Ram Chandra Poudel in the aftermath of the government´s decision to proro—ue the ongoi—g House session Friday night as the existing parliamentary regulations are silent over the issue.

Speaker Subash Nembang himself is in a fix as political parties represented in parliament are deeply div—ded over the issue.

While the ruling parties have maintained that the candidacy would remain intact as there are precedents of taking pending businesses to a new House session, some opposition parties, including a section of CPN-UML leaders, have argued that the candidacy has automatically become void after the House session was prorogued.

Sources close to Speaker Nembang said he wants the political parties themselves to resolve the issue.

NC prime ministerial candidate and the party´s paliamentary leader Poudel on Saturday morning held an informal meeting with legal experts close to his party. The legal experts, according to a leader present at the meeting, argued that since the proposal of electing prime minister tabled in parliament was similar a bill it would remain valid even in the next session of the House.

Sources said Poudel had inquired about the fate of his candidacy with Prime Minister Nepal Friday night after the government decided to prorogue the House.

UML Chairman Jhalanath Khanal, who has been constantly pushing for the withdrawal of Poudel´s candidacy, said—the candidacy may terminate after the government´s decision to prorogue the House. “All the things registered in parliament could be the property of parliament, but the—candidacy won´t remain valid any longer,” he said, adding: “The issue of candidacy will take its course as per the [parliamentary] regulations.”

When reminded that the parliamentary regulation is silent on the issue, Khanal told Republica, “If so, the subject matter [candidacy] will also become silent. I see high chances of the termination of Poudel´s candidacy.”

It is not only the political party leaders who are at odds over the issue. Independent lawyers also seem deeply divided.

Lawyer and constitutional expert Chandra Kanta Gyawali claimed that Poudel´s candidacy has automatically terminated following the government´s decision to prorogue parliament session. "The par—iament should initiate a new process to elect prime minster," said Gyawali.

Some other lawyers beg to differ. Lawyer and former Vice President of Nepal Bar Association (NBA) Sher Bahadur KC said Poudel´s candidacy would be automatically revived in the next session. "Poudel´s candidacy will remain intact unless parliament formally replies to the president about the results of the ongoing prime ministerial election,” he said.

KC argued that parliament must answer the president whether the prim— ministerial election has ended. “Till then, Poudel´s candidacy would remain valid," he further said.

Senior advocate Ram Prasad Shrestha likewise argued that Poudel´s candidacy will remain valid till the next session of parliament. —We shouldn´t construe that Poudel´s candidacy has become void after the House was prorogued,” said Shrestha, who is close to CPN-UML.

Another lawyer Mukti Pradhan argued that Speaker Nembang should take the crucial decision and dare to declare if Poudel´s candidacy still remains valid. "Though there is no point in continuing the lone candidacy of Poudel, the speaker should take the decision as there is no clear cut legal provision to resolve the candidacy row," said Pradhan, who is close to UCPN Maoist.

With the political parties divided on the issue it is likely that the opposition parties will try to raise voices against Poudel´s candidacy in the next session of the Ho—se. On the other hand, it is also clear that the government won´t summon next session of the House any time soon as it has to pass the ordinance through parliament. “The government does not want to face Maoist wrath by summoning House without reaching an agreement with the Maoists,” said a senior NC leader.

Earlier on Friday, a meeting of parliamentary Business Advisory Committee (BAC) had decided to hold another round of prime ministerial voting on December 16.


Budget encourages Merger and Acquisition

KATHMANDU: The budget for the fiscal year 2010-11 has tried to encourage the merger of banks, financial institutions (BFIs) and insurance companies however the experts find the incentives not being lucrative enough.

As complementary to the monetary policy, the budget has made the provision of taxing assets and liabilities as disposal after merger to make it non-taxable.

Also, special arrangements have been made in the context of share holders, managers and employees, according to the budget.

Earlier, this fiscal year’s monetary policy had also supported and presented the idea of merger and acquisition as an alternative of establishing new financial institutions. The experts have been voicing the opinion that the financial sector is already over-crowded but unable to increase the outreach thus merger of two financial institutions might be more sensible in the present economic and financial circumstance.

The central bank has encouraged the merger saying it will facilitate the capital requirement of the financial institutions and reduces their operational costs as well; moreover, it will be creating space in already crowded financial sector.

The bankers had expressed time and again that the idea of merger is definitely better however the complications regarding tax emerged as the discouraging factor.

Bankers are not pleased with the incentives provided by the budget to encourage merger. “The incentive for merger is not enough,” said Sashin Joshi, president of Nepal Bankers’ Association (NBA). “If provisions such as, reduction of tax rate of the merged institutions should have been reduced by 20 per cent for three years, then the BFIs would have more interested in merger,” he pointed out.

The government has decided to restructure Department of Revenue Investigation as ‘Department of Revenue and Money Laundering Investigation’. The decision will also draw flak as it might create more problems in the liquidity starved financial sector. Since the implementation of Anti-money laundering Act, the deposits have been declining as many depositors hesitate to disclose the income source suspecting the government’s ulterior motives.

Now, the depositors might feel more insecure to deposit bigger sums as they do not want revenue department to pry into their income sources.

“The merging of revenue and money laundering investigation should have been avoided,” he added, adding that the concept of the rating agency floated by the budget is a welcome one.

The budget has assured to make the legal provisions to set up the much needed credit rating agency and to promulgate law for the effective regulation and supervision of futures and commodities’ markets.

Likewise, the budget has also extended the coverage of Small Deposit Guarantee Programme for the deposits up to Rs 200,000 to ‘B’ and ‘C’ class financial institutions – development banks and finance companies, as well. The programme was initiated last year for the ‘D’ class financial institutions – microfinance service providers.

The government has also planned to invest additional Rs 250 million in the Deposit and Credit Guarantee Corporation to increase its authorised capital to Rs 2 billion.

The absence of both credit rating agency and deposit insurance agency has been considered accountable for the lack of interest of international banks to come in Nepal.

Similarly, the decision to allow NRNs to invest in Nepali capital market that is being haunted by excessive supply can be expected to be salvaged by the involvement of NRNs. “The provisions of framing laws regarding credit rating agencies, commodities market regulations and deposit insurance is commendable,” said economist Dr Chiranjibi Nepal. “However the question is whether or not they will be implemented,” he added, citing the example of mutual fund regulation that took longer than budget had planned.

The financial statement for the current fiscal year also informed that the government has also allocated the necessary capital contribution to establish Infrastructure Development Bank with the participation of the private sector.


Koirala declared CNN Hero


KATHMANDU, Nov 20: Founder of Maiti Nepal Anuradha Koirala has been named the CNN Hero for the Year.

Koirala is fighting to prevent the trafficking and sexual exploitation of Nepal´s women and girls. Since 1993, she and her group, Maiti Nepal, have helped rescue and rehabilitate more than 12,000 victims.

The Cable News Network (CNN) declared her the winner at the end of the program ´CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute´ on Saturday night.

The program, in its fourth year, recognizes everyday people who are changing the world for the better.

"CNN Heroes has illustrated the best of humanity through the telling of stories of selfless acts of kindness, courage and perseverance," said Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide. "We are honored to bring these Heroes the recognition they so deserve. It is a program the entire CNN family is proud of and excited to share with our viewers."

CNN Heroes have been profiled weekly on the network since January. They were chosen from more than 10,000 nominations submitted by viewers in 100 countries.

A blue-ribbon panel of judges, including Muhammad Ali, Sir Richard Branson and Yo-Yo Ma, selected the top 10 Heroes, who will each receive $25,000 for their cause. An additional $100,000 will go to the CNN Hero of the Year.

Performing at the tribute show will be Grammy Award-winning artists Bon Jovi, John Legend and Sugarland.

Rock legends Bon Jovi will perform "What Do You Got?" a new song from their greatest hits album, which came out earlier this month. Legend will perform "Wake Up Everybody" along with hip-hop artist Common and R&B singer Melanie Fiona. Sugarland will perform "Stand Up," a new song from their album "The Incredible Machine," which made its debut in October.

Joining the list of stars participating in the show are presenters Halle Berry, Demi Moore, Jessica Alba, Kid Rock, LL Cool J, Renee Zellweger, Gerard Butler, Kiefer Sutherland, Marisa Tomei, Aaron Eckhart and Holly Robinson Peete.

Also attending this year´s show will be the Chilean miners who were trapped for 69 days before being freed last month. Organizers said they invited the miners and five of their rescuers because they symbolize the resilience and endurance of the human spirit.

Dahal backs MPs


UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal said on Saturday that the fracas in parliament on Friday occurred because the caretaker government went against the interim constitution. Emerging from a meeting with President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav in the Capital, Dahal claimed that the Maoist lawmakers protested because the government tried bring a full budget without consensus. He added that the government should be changed for being so irresponsible. Dahal said the president and he discussed the incident in the House.

‘No legal way for action against Maoist MPs’


The parliament has no legal provision to take action against Maoist lawmakers who manhandled Finance Minister Surendra Pandey in the budget session, a senior official at the Parliament Secretariat said on Saturday.

The statement comes in response to the government’s demand for suspension of Maoist lawmakers involved in attacking Minister Pandey and Energy Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat.

“The protest inside parliament on Friday was a political issue. Our parliamentary rules have no provision for action against a protest staged collectively by lawmakers,” said Tek Prasad Dhungana, legal advisor to the Constituent Assembly. He said no parliament in the world takes action against lawmakers staging collective protest inside the House.

“The relationship between the Speaker and the lawmakers is not like the relationship between master and servant. He only has the role of a facilitator,” said Dhungana. He added that it is the responsibility of the political parties to demonstrate discipline in the House. Officials at the parliament also maintain that there is no requirement to investigate Friday’s incident as everything was open and transparent. “The issue should be sorted out by the political parties themselves,” said another official adding that the disruption of budget was a “collective and institutional” attempt of the Maoist party.

Dhungana said the Parliamentary Rules of Procedures only authorise the Speaker to take action against an individual lawmaker if he or she tries to violate the constitution and disrupt order in the House. “The parliamentary regulation doesn’t imagine a situation where parliamentarians resort to manhandling one another inside the House,” he said adding that there was no possibility of expelling all the Maoist lawmakers involved in the protest during Friday’s session.

Meanwhile, Minister for Constituent Assembly and Parliamentary Affairs Minendra Rijal said the Speaker should take action against the Maoist lawmakers involved in manhandling the ministers. “Those who picketed the rostrum are free, but those who physically attacked the ministers and lawmakers should face punishment,” he said. “There is a visual record of the meeting and the media also published the evidence, so the parliament should consider these as proof.”

Maoist Vice-Chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha claimed none of his party lawmakers manhandled anyone in Friday’s House session. “Before talking about action against Maoist lawmakers, this government should be punished for bringing the budget in an unconstitutional manner,” he said.

Childhood in 1990

The Ringroad was like a dream, quiet and empty, without a single vehicle upon it. Policemen stood on each side at regular intervals. Some stood at-ease, others were working to direct transportation away from the street into the smaller lanes that branched off the Ringroad. There was one mounted police on a very tall horse and the horse trotted rhythmically in place. We were captivated by the promise of the Royal Procession.

“Do you think Prince Nirajan will

be in the car with His Majesty?” I

asked Ruby. “I am in love with Prince Nirajan, which is all right. He is not much older than me.”

“Well,” said Ruby, “he is only one year older than I am.”

I wasn’t convinced. “There should at least be three years difference between husband and wife,” said I. “Besides, Prince Nirajan looks too much like your brother so you cannot fall in love with him. That will be like falling in love with Rajiv. And I could not fall in love with Prince Dipendra,” I went on. “He is ten years older than me. My parents will never agree to our match. Or maybe they will, what do you think? It is no joke to be married to the Crown Prince. If I marry the Crown Prince I will be the next Queen. It already makes me nervous, even though we will not be getting married for quite a few years.”

“Yes, my Queen,” said Ruby, rolling her eyes. “I just don’t want to marry only. I think boys are just eww.”

So we stared at the road again.

Finally the Procession began and the motorcycles came, two at a time.

A man before me said, “oho!” and clapped. Other people clapped too.

One whistled. One cried, “Ayo,

aayo!” Another slapped his thighs. “Right here!” he said. “He is a god,” whispered a woman.

The policemen stamped their feet and stood in a smart salute. Even the horse went still. I held my breath.

The crowd galvanised, half clapping, half bursting into the national anthem, then half clapping and half forgetting the words to the song, and the motorcycles passed before us.

I faced the road and shouted out the national anthem, gloriously crowning His Majesty, praying for more glory, more success, more land to befall

him, shouting out the tune till Ruby called me a crow. “You sing like a crow,” she said, but I did not stop. I sang till the end then called her a frog. “You look like a frog,” I said. A boy appeared suddenly. “These motorcycles are like no other motorcycles in all of the world!” he announced. He kicked one leg and shouted “bhata-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta,” in imitation of the vehicles.

The motorcycles really were like no other in the world. They were big and very blue-black with red and blue lights blinking and dancing in circles on their heads. The riders, mysterious and unknowable under large, all enclosing helmets, were bent low to hold the handlebars. Their hands were hidden in white gloves and not even their fingers were visible. They sat upon their vehicles like men from the future. They did not speed past us and were surprisingly slow, as though they too were looking at us as we looked at them, but they were not really looking. They did not turn once towards the sidewalk. They never looked any way other than straight ahead. Their engines roared like beasts.

Then the cars came and I shouted out. “The Rolls Royce!” I cried. “There will be the Rolls Royce,” because I had heard His Majesty was the only one in Nepal to own a Rolls Royce.

A policeman turned around and shushed me. “Don’t be so noisy,” he said.

The cars were black but they looked blue under the sky. They had thin, silver antennae upon their hoods and they lulled the street with their soundless speed. The motorcycles had been so flamboyant—lights and sound and dark blue men in snow white helmets—that the cars in their polished blackness, in their monotone, were dangerous and somewhat terrifying. The steel antennae shivered in the air and sparkled like swords.

“Are you mad?” said Ruby. “Nobody can know where His Majesty really is.

He could be anywhere. He could have been in the very first car, and he can be in the last.”

The first four cars passed and more motorcycles came by. The pattern alternated. Motorcycles-cars-motorcycles-cars-motorcycles-cars-motorcycles.

The motorcycles varied, and some were green and white, but the cars sliding by were identical, black with silver antennae.

“It is quite possible that His Majesty is not in any of these cars,” Ruby said. “Daddy says it is possible that His Majesty is not in the country at all, that he has disguised himself as such and such and taken the local transport to the airport. Anything is possible, my little candy. It is possible that there really is no His Majesty and the pictures and the movies, the speeches on the radio, all of this was invented because we cannot invent anything else and because we like interesting topics of conversation. Anything is possible, flowerbud.”

“Is it possible, dear cockroach,

that you are insane and know nothing?” said I.

Ruby snorted. “I know everything, dear housefly. My daddy works in the casino and plays cards with His Majesty. I know everything.”

“Well then, dear flea on a dog, if His Majesty plays with your daddy, then he does exist.”

“That too is possible, dear earthworm,” Ruby conceded.

More cars and more motorcycles passed before us and though I refused to believe Ruby’s garbage I realised, rather quietly, that there was going to be no Rolls Royce on display, that I would not see His Majesty or the Prince. It would be foolish to single the Royalty out by sitting them in their personal cars.

I sighed. “We will never see them,” I said finally.

“But at least the Procession was fun, no?” Ruby said, feeling kind, now that she had managed to get me dejected.

The cars moved past, one after the other like a string of dreams, replicas of each other, and His Majesty did not show himself and I was a little disappointed in him.