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R&D Economic Research & Business Development

Date: July 8, 2010

Highlights 

Ace Development Bank and PrimeLife Insurance have signed an agreement to provide life insurance policies to Ace‘s Ace Freedom Plan Savings Account holders. Ace CEO Siddhant Raj Pandey and PrimeLife CEO Restha Jha signed an accord to this effect on July 5, 2010. International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) has agreed to provide assistance worth Rs 1.05 billion to Nepal for the implementation of High Value Agriculture Project in Hill and Mountain Areas (HVAP). IFAD is providing 50 percent of the total assistance as grant. The Indian Embassy on Wednesday signed a memoranda of understanding (MoU) with the Government of Nepal as well as with beneficiary organisations for providing a grant assistance of Rs. 80.02 million. According to a press statement issued by the embassy, Rs. 35.7 million will be provided to Nepal Netra Jyoti Sangh to cover the cost of conducting 15,000 cataract eye and 1,000 trachomatous trichiasis surgeries during 2010-2011 through various hospitals and eye care centres across the country as part of the ‗national eyesight programme‘. Though there has been a hike in the price of petroleum products, the price of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) — popularly known as cooking gas — has remained untouched. ―The demand for LPG has come down this month compared to the last month. As there is no gas shortage as yet, there will no price hike,‖ said Suresh Prajapati, general secretary, LP Gas Industries Association. Asking the government not to be biased against Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC), its Executive Chairman Sugat Ratna Kansakar has requested the government to provide bank guarantee for the purchase of aircraft urgently needed for the airline. ―Addition of new aircraft is a must. If it takes another year for us to get those aircraft, it may have an effect on the Nepal Tourism Year 2011. Foreign airlines are charging 40-50 per cent higher airfare,‖ Kansakar said. Birgunj Customs Office overshot its revenue collection target by 18 percent in the first 11 months of this fiscal due to rise in the import of automobiles and fuel. It took in Rs. 39.4 billion against a target of Rs. 33.5 billion. Birgunj Customs collected Rs. 14.6 billion in customs duty against the target of Rs. 13.1 billion and Rs. 16.9 billion in value added tax (VAT) against the projected Rs. 15.5 billion. Excise duty amounted to Rs. 7.3 billion against the target of Rs. 4.8 billion and other headings brought in Rs. 500 million.

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The Nepal Stock Exchange (NEPSE) shed 1.37 points on Wednesday to settle at 461.87 points following a slight gain of 2.54 points on Tuesday. The stock market had soared 15.16 points following Prime Minister Nepal‘s resignation on June 30, but the buoyant mood didn‘t last long. The number of Nepali tourists visiting India has been steadily increasing to earn the country a slot in the southern neighbour‘s list of top arrivals. Nepal ranked No. 14 in foreign visitor arrivals with 87,487 Nepali tourists travelling to India by air in 2009, according to the Indian Tourism Ministry. The Unified CPN (Maoist) is preparing to propose a plan for integration of its combatants into the security agencies if Nepali Congress and CPN (UML) assure them of leadership of the unity government. President Dr Ram Baran Yadav has extended the deadline he had given to the political parties to form a national unity government by five days. A senior UCPN (Maoist) leader has claimed that both NC and CPN (UML) are actually not in favor of a ―consensus government‖, but are engaged in efforts to form majority government under their leadership. It‘s yet another round in the topsy-turvy relations between CPN-UML Chief Jhala Nath Khanal and his bete noire KP Sharma Oli. On Tuesday, Khanal assumed the helm of the talks committee formed four months ago to negotiate with other parties, especially the Maoists, who had launched a series of antigovernment protests. Experts have pointed out challenges for the government‘s plan to build 50-100 megawatt micro-hydro projects over the next three years. According to the three-year Interim Plan beginning 2010, the projects are aimed at making electricity available in every village in the country with the potential to generate electricity but without power connectivity. A day after her ministry said it was all set to award the Machine Readable Passport (MRP) supply contract to French company Oberthur Technologies, Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala has sought the ―confidential‖ document of the deal to ascertain that no foul play has occurred. Koirala said she was observing the matter and that she would make public her assessment after some days. The minister, who expressed dissatisfaction over being ―kept in the dark‖ about the evaluation of the bids, has expressed concern over security aspects of the deal. If all goes as planned, poorly-equipped Tribuvan International Airport will be connected to Interpol‘s database link so that security personnel and officials of Immigration Department at the airport can easily figure out international wanted criminals travelling in Nepali airspace. The advent of mobile phone technology has revolutionised the way of communication, but it has also changed the face of crime. Many criminal groups taking shelter in the Indian bordering towns are using mobile phone 2


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service of both India and Nepal to extort people and threaten the families of their victims. All Nepal National Independent Students‘ Union (Revolutionary) (ANNISUR), the student wing the UCPN (Maoist), has given ultimatum to the Nepal branch of US-based Green Four University to shut down within four days. According to the union, the university is operating in Nepal without the government‘s permission. Despite a forecast of good monsoon this year, most of the country never got rain even after three weeks. Summer crops crops across the country are affected. The guys in weathercoats had forecast a normal monsoon in South Asia this year. They failed. Rice, maize and oil crops are burning.

POLICY: Ace, PrimeLife ink deal Ace Development Bank and PrimeLife Insurance have signed an agreement to provide life insurance policies to Ace‘s Ace Freedom Plan Savings Account holders. Ace CEO Siddhant Raj Pandey and PrimeLife CEO Restha Jha signed an accord to this effect on July 5, 2010. http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandupost/2010/07/07/business/newsline/210243/

IFAD to provide Rs 1.05b for HVAP uly 6: International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) has agreed to provide assistance worth Rs 1.05 billion to Nepal for the implementation of High Value Agriculture Project in Hill and Mountain Areas (HVAP). IFAD is providing 50 percent of the total assistance as grant. Lal Shankar Ghimire, joint secretary at the Ministry of Finance, and Ronald Thomas Hartman, country manager of IFAD´s Asia and Pacific Division, signed the agreement to this effect, MoF said in a statement. The statement further added the project will contribute to improve the livelihoods of the targeted group, improved market linkages and better access to finance in order to help reduction of poverty in hilly and mountain areas of mid-western development region. The project area consists of 10 districts in the hill and mountain areas, namely

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Surkhet, Salyan, Jajarkot, Dailekh, Jumla, Kalikot, Dolpa, Humla, Mugu and Achham. About 114 VDCs are expected to benefit from the project. http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=20737

Rs 8 crore Indian aid 2010-07-07: The Indian Embassy signed here on Tuesday seven separate Memorandums of Understandings (MoUs) with concerned executing agencies of the Government of Nepal and the beneficiary organisations for providing grant of Rs 8.02 crores. The embassy said in a press release it would provide Rs 3.57 crores to Nepal Netra Jyoti Sangh for organising eye camps in Nepal. ―The Government of India will provide assistance of Rs. 3.57 crores to NNJS to cover the cost of conducting 15,000 cataract eye surgeries and 1,000 Trachomatous Trichiasis in 2010-2011 through eye hospitals and eye-care centres of NNJS in various districts. India will also provide Rs 4.45 crores for the construction of six schools‘ buildings in Dhanusha district. Six separate MoUs were signed with Department of Urban Development and Building Construction, Division Office, Dhanusha and concerned beneficiary organisations for the construction of infrastructure of six primary schools, situated at Nagarain-Jatahi, Nagarain-Raghopur, Ghorghas-Ganguli Pachhawari, Ghorghas-Ganguli Daxinbari, Fulgama-Khadka and Lagama-Pachhawari. ―These schools are important centres of education in the district and they have been enrolling about 2,100 students, almost half of which are girls. The schools are presently functioning in old buildings and need construction of new buildings,‖ said the statement. http://www.thehimalayantimes.com/fullNews.php?headline=Rs+8+crore+Indian+aid &NewsID=249118

BUSINESS & ECONOMY: Now, all eyes set on LPG price 2010-07-07: Though there has been a hike in the price of petroleum products, the price of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) — popularly known as cooking gas — has remained untouched. ―The demand for LPG has come down this month compared to the last month. As there is no gas shortage as yet, there will no price hike,‖ said Suresh Prajapati, general secretary, LP Gas Industries Association.

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Prajapati said that the import quota for July is not being taken seriously in view of the surplus. ―If the situation continues, it can create a shortage of LPG in the market during August,‖ he said. ―The LPG quota for July is about 14,000 -15,000 tonnes,‖ he said. During June, about 17,000 tonnes cooking gas was imported but only about 11,000 tonnes was consumed, Prajapati said. NOC is incurring a loss of Rs 180 per cylinder. NOC is earning a profit of Rs 5 on per litre petrol and Rs 7 on per litre kerosene. After the price hike, NOC will make a profit of Rs 10 million per month, said NOC spokesperson Mukunda Dhungel. On every 1st and 15th of the English calendar month, NOC receives the new rate of diesel, kerosene and petrol from its supplier Indian Oil Corporation. The rate of cooking gas is revised on the first of every English month based on the international market price. Consumer groups however blame the deep-rooted corruption in NOC for the loss of the state-oil monopoly. ―NOC always creates an artificial scarcity of petroleum products before raising the price to pressurise the government and consumers,‖ general secretary of the Consumers Rights Protection Forum(CRPF) Jyoti Baniya said. The total cooking gas consumption has been observed to be around 11,000 tonnes. ―The consumption of cooking gas has been seen a downward trend due to fewer load sheddings now.‖ Demand for cooking gas is increasing at 12 per cent annually. There are 20,00,000 household cylinders circulated in the market from 27 LP gas companies in the country. Total requirement of LPG is in the range of 15,000 tonnes per month during summer and during winter the consumption is 17,000 tonnes per month while the supply is only 10,000 – 12,000 tonnes per month. Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) citing the price hike in India has increased the prices of petrol, diesel by Rs 3 per litre and Rs 2.50 per litre respectively. The cooking gas costs Rs 1,250 per cylinder in Nepal and it is the costliest in the South Asia region. However, the consumer rights groups blame the deep-rooted corruption in NOC for the short-supply and the so-called loss. ―How come a corporation that is earning Rs 5 in per litre petrol and Rs 7 in per litre kerosene is incurring losses,‖ asked, general secretary of the Consumers Rights Protection Forum Jyoti Baniya. The petroleum dealers have another say. They think the monopoly of NOC in petroleum products‘ supply is the root cause of all. http://www.thehimalayantimes.com/fullNews.php?headline=Now,+all+eyes+set+on+ LPG+price&NewsID=249108

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'We urgently need more aircraft' 2010-07-06: Asking the government not to be biased against Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC), its Executive Chairman Sugat Ratna Kansakar has requested the government to provide bank guarantee for the purchase of aircraft urgently needed for the airline. ―Addition of new aircraft is a must. If it takes another year for us to get those aircraft, it may have an effect on the Nepal Tourism Year 2011. Foreign airlines are charging 40-50 per cent higher airfare,‖ Kansakar said. Most of the airlines in the world are expanding their fleet with modern aircraft. They are also fast capturing market share while NAC is struggling with two old Boeings, he said. NAC commands a meager six per cent share of the international air traffic to and from Kathmandu. Total air transport business of NAC is at Rs 4 billion. That is only about six per cent of the total air transport business at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), said Kansakar. According to a rough estimate, TIA witnesses air transport business to the tune of Rs 60 billion. ―According to international norms, a national carrier should have 25-30 per cent market share,‖ he said. NAC is currently flying to Hong Kong, Kuala Lampur and Dubai. ―NAC needs to add more destinations,‖ Kansakar said. ―If we get more aircraft, we have plans to start flights to Western Europe, North America, South Korea, Japan and Australia,‖ Kansakar said. NAC used to operate to 12 international destinations, which has now come down to six. On domestic sector, NAC has seven twin otters in the inventory, out of which a maximum of three are in operation. http://www.thehimalayantimes.com/fullNews.php?headline='We+urgently+need+mor e+aircraft'&NewsID=248980

More imports raise revenue JUL 08 - Birgunj Customs Office overshot its revenue collection target by 18 percent in the first 11 months of this fiscal due to rise in the import of automobiles and fuel. It took in Rs. 39.4 billion against a target of Rs. 33.5 billion. Birgunj Customs collected Rs. 14.6 billion in customs duty against the target of Rs. 13.1 billion and Rs. 16.9 billion in value added tax (VAT) against the projected Rs. 15.5 billion. Excise duty amounted to Rs. 7.3 billion against the target of Rs. 4.8 billion and other headings brought in Rs. 500 million.

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The office collected revenue amounting to Rs. 28.8 billion which was 12 percent greater than the target of Rs. 25.8 billion during the same period last year. The collection included Rs. 10.3 billion in customs duty, Rs. 13.3 billion in VAT, Rs. 3.4 billion in excise duty and Rs. 1.7 billion from other headings. Birgunj Customs is the largest earner in the country and has been contributing up to 60 percent of the total government revenue. Traders import mostly fuel and light vehicles besides a large quantity of industrial raw materials through Birgunj. The customs office here collects revenue to the tune of Rs. 100 million to Rs. 150 million daily. http://www.ekantipur.com/2010/07/08/business/more-imports-raise-revenue/318056/

MARKET:

NEPSE slides down again JUL 08 - The Nepal Stock Exchange (NEPSE) shed 1.37 points on Wednesday to settle at 461.87 points following a slight gain of 2.54 points on Tuesday. The stock market had soared 15.16 points following Prime Minister Nepal‘s resignation on June 30, but the buoyant mood didn‘t last long. The index fell on Wednesday with the sub-indices of hydropower companies, commercial banks, development banks and finance companies all taking a drubbing. The hydropower group lost the most dropping 4.49 points followed by commercial banks, finance companies and development banks with losses of 3.62 points, 0.90 point and 0.87 point respectively. The others and insurance groups were the only two winners, registering gains of 3.52 points and 2.1 points respectively. Laxmi Bank was up by Rs. 19 per share, the highest. Standard Chartered Bank suffered the most, shedding Rs. 216 per share. Among the 71 companies on the trading floor, shares of 40 companies registered gains, 20 companies suffered losses while 11 companies saw no change in their share prices. The secondary market witnessed a turnover of Rs. 33.20 million through the trading of 66,985 shares from 900 transactions. http://www.ekantipur.com/2010/07/08/business/nepse-slides-down-again/318054/

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R&D Economic Research & Business Development Nepal 14th in tourists’ beeline JUL 08 - The number of Nepali tourists visiting India has been steadily increasing to earn the country a slot in the southern neighbour‘s list of top arrivals. Nepal ranked No. 14 in foreign visitor arrivals with 87,487 Nepali tourists travelling to India by air in 2009, according to the Indian Tourism Ministry. Nepali outbound to India was greater than Indian inbound to Nepal last year in terms of air travellers. According to the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), 86,696 Indian holidaymakers arrived in Nepal by air in 2009. CEO of NTB Prachanda Man Shrestha, however, said that Nepal was not in a deficit position as around 300,000 Indian tourists visit the country overland annually. Tour operators cited three reasons for the substantial rise in the number of Nepali visitors to India — popularity of pilgrimage destinations, growing trend of using India as a transit point for onward flights to Europe and the US due to cheap tickets, and rising frequency of guardians visiting their children enrolled in Indian schools Sudhir Upadhyay, managing director of Ama Travels whose main business is operating tours to India, said that more medium-class Nepalis were travelling to India as tourists. Earlier, only high-income people used to visit India. C.N. Pandey, managing director of Samrat Travels & Tours, said political instability had forced large numbers of Nepali students to pursue their studies in India. http://www.ekantipur.com/2010/07/08/business/nepal-14th-in-touristsbeeline/318057/

POLITICS: Maoists to present options for army integration 08 July 2010: The Unified CPN (Maoist) is preparing to propose a plan for integration of its combatants into the security agencies if Nepali Congress and CPN (UML) assure them of leadership of the unity government. Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal told leaders of other political parties at the meeting of 25 political parties represented in the Constituent Assembly Tuesday that his party would present a plan for integration at a meeting of the task-force of the three parties formed earlier to work out the points of consensus. Sources say, the Maoists have decided to become flexible on their stance on army integration and have agreed to expedite the process after NC and UML refused to support a government in Maoist leadership unless the Maoists came up with a clear strategy for army integration and expressed commitment to implement it.

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The Maoists are planning to propose three or four options for army integration. The first option is to form a separate force with only Maoist combatants and give them a separate responsibility such as border security or industrial security. The second option is to form a separate, but a joint force including Maoist combatants and personnel from Nepal Army, Nepal Police, Armed Police Force (APF) and National Investigation Department. The third option is to integrate fixed numbers of Maoist combatants in all four security agencies. And the fourth option is to integrate the combatants in bloc. However, the Maoists have not become clear on the number of combatants to be integrated. While the other parties have been stressing on the need to fix the number of combatants to be integrated before beginning the process, the Maoists have been saying all the combatants except those who wish to voluntarily go for rehabilitation programmes or join politics should be integrated. nepalnews.com

President extends govt formation deadline by five days 07 July 2010: President Dr Ram Baran Yadav has extended the deadline he had given to the political parties to form a national unity government by five days. The President extended the deadline after the leaders of parties represented in the Constituent Assembly (CA) met him at Shital Niwas Wednesday evening, making a formal request to extend it by five more days. Earlier today, leaders of the 25 political parties had decided to request the President to extend the 7-day deadline, which expires today. The all-party meeting held at the CA hall, New Baneshwor in afternoon reached a decision to this effect. Earlier in the morning, top leaders of the three major parties - Unified CPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress and CPN (UML) - had decided to formally request President Dr Ram Baran Yadav to extend the July 7 deadline after consulting with the 25 political parties. Talking to media-persons after the meeting, Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal said that the political parties are engaged in serious homework for the formation of a national consensus government and need few more days to finalize that. As per the Interim Constitution (IC), the President can call upon the parliamentary parties to form a majority government if all efforts to form a consensus government as prescribed by the IC fails. nepalnews.com

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NC, UML are not in favour of 'consensus govt', Maoist leader claims 07 July 2010 : A senior UCPN (Maoist) leader has claimed that both NC and CPN (UML) are actually not in favor of a ―consensus government‖, but are engaged in efforts to form majority government under their leadership. Speaking at an interaction program held in the capital on Wednesday, Maoist party secretary C.P Gajurel said though the two parties appear to be in favor of a consensus government on the outside, they are secretly engaged in effort to form majority government. Saying that the major political parties have created all sorts of hurdles in efforts aimed at consensus building, he claimed there is no way that the country will see a consensus government in the next five days. The three major parties had today morning agreed to request President Dr Ram Baran Yadav to extend his July 7 deadline for formation of a consensus government by five more days. Gajurel also lambasted NC and UML for, as what he claimed, wanting to continue with their previous power set up as per the wishes of the ―foreign power center‖. Meanwhile, speaking at the same programme, NC leader Dr Naryan Khadka said that the main focus of the country at present should be in how to guarantee peace and constitution instead of formation of a national consensus government. Khadka made it clear that his party will leave all options open for the formation of a government as there is little possibility that a national consensus government will be formed until the Maoists implement past agreements to ensure peace and constitution. nepalnews.com

Khanal, Oli at daggers drawn JUL 08 - It‘s yet another round in the topsy-turvy relations between CPN-UML Chief Jhala Nath Khanal and his bete noire KP Sharma Oli. On Tuesday, Khanal assumed the helm of the talks committee formed four months ago to negotiate with other parties, especially the Maoists, who had launched a series of anti-government protests. UML leaders close to Khanal said on Tuesday that the head honcho was forced to take command after Oli‘s ―non-cooperation‖ in forming a national consensus government, which Khanal is hoping to head. After the fall of the Madhav Nepal-led government Oli has been advocating a Nepali Congress (NC)-led majority government and is ―dead against‖ either a Maoist-led or a Khanal-led government.‖ ―Khanal‘s first priority is a national consensus government led by him but Oli is not biting the bait. He wants an NC-led majority government,‖ a UML Politburo member told the Post. 10


R&D Economic Research & Business Development In Tuesday‘s meeting, Khanal again urged Oli to garner other parties‘ support in forming a national consensus government with him as the leader, a request that Oli nixed outright. ―After toppling our own party-led majority government, I no longer hold the moral authority to hold talks with other parties or claim the government leadership for you [Khanal],‖ a central committee member quoted Oli as equivocating. An Oli aide said he was in ―no mood‖ to seek support for Khanal. Oli is miffed with Khanal after the latter accused the former in Tuesday‘s Central Committee meeting of ―setting hurdles‖ in the party‘s leadership way. Right after Khanal proposed leading the talks committee to replace Oli at the meeting, the latter walked out of the meeting wishing Khanal the ―best of luck.‖ Khanal has lost out on Oli‘s support after Tuesday‘s episode. ―Since I have given up, he (Khanal) may form a national consensus government led by him, ― a bitter Oli told the Post. UML leaders trace the genesis of soured relations to Khanal‘s reluctance to appoint Oli as a Constituent Assembly member. http://www.ekantipur.com/2010/07/08/headlines/Khanal-Oli-at-daggersdrawn/318045/

GENERAL: Experts doubt micro hydel plan JUL 07 – Experts have pointed out challenges for the government‘s plan to build 50-100 megawatt micro-hydro projects over the next three years. According to the three-year Interim Plan beginning 2010, the projects are aimed at making electricity available in every village in the country with the potential to generate electricity but without power connectivity. At an interaction programme on Wednesday titled ―issues and challenges in micro hydropower development in Nepal‖, they pointed out economic challenges that could hamper the success of the targeted projects. ―There are numerous examples of projects being discontinued due to the lack of maintenance cost and skilled manpower,‖ said Govinda Nepal, who coordinated the drafting of the Three-Year Plan for the National Planning Commission (NPC). The event also discussed sectors that require investment particularly for the projects in remote areas.

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R&D Economic Research & Business Development ―Transport constraints hinder the development of the projects in hilly areas. They require additional expenses which can be difficult to meet,‖ said Sanjeeb Baral, Senior Divisional Engineer at the Department of Electricity Development. The success of micro-hydro projects can be a lasting solution to power cuts, deforestation and industry closures. While it takes years to construct a mega hydroelectricity project, plants requiring short installation time are crucial to meeting the demand for power. http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2010/07/07/nation/experts-doubtmicro-hydel-plan/210220/

Sujata sees red over MRP deal JUL 07 – A day after her ministry said it was all set to award the Machine Readable Passport (MRP) supply contract to French company Oberthur Technologies, Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala has sought the ―confidential‖ document of the deal to ascertain that no foul play has occurred. Koirala said she was observing the matter and that she would make public her assessment after some days. The minister, who expressed dissatisfaction over being ―kept in the dark‖ about the evaluation of the bids, has expressed concern over security aspects of the deal. At the recommendation of the evaluation committee headed by Chief of the Protocol (COP), Mukti Nath Bhatta, the ministry on Tuesday had announced its decision to award the contract to the lowest bidder—Oberthur—among four firms. The French company, according to the panel, has met all the requirements of the Public Procumbent Act and global bidding norms. Oberthur has offered to supply the MRP at a rate of US$ 3.59 per copy. Before the announcement, a meeting was held in the Foreign Ministry in the presence of Minister Koirala. Foreign Secretary Madan Kumar Bhattarai and COP Bhatta had briefed her on the outcome of the evaluation of the bidding documents. ―The contract was discussed and finalised in front of the minister and the meeting decided to invite Oberthur to seal the deal within seven days,‖ said an official. During the meeting with Secretary Bhattarai and other officials, Sujata asked for the bid documents submitted by Oberthur to examine whether it fulfilled security requirements. ―We refused to hand over the tender document and the copy of agreement papers likely to be signed with Oberthur,‖ the official said. ―I‘m looking into the matter. I will speak about the issue once I look into the documents,‖ Sujata told the Post. http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2010/07/07/nation/sujata-sees-redover-mrp-deal/210218/

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Mobiles spur mobile crime JUL 07 – The advent of mobile phone technology has revolutionised the way of communication, but it has also changed the face of crime. Many criminal groups taking shelter in the Indian bordering towns are using mobile phone service of both India and Nepal to extort people and threaten the families of their victims. Overlapping network coverage of Nepali as well as Indian mobile phones along the border areas has given a great latitude to criminals of both countries as far as crossborder crimes are concerned. A criminal hiding in a border Indian town can extort a person in Nepal just with one phone call. Similarly, he or she can use a Nepal based number to commit crimes in India. As mobile phone technology is pervasive and easily accessible, many people are misusing it. The police can track the number and calls but do not have the technology to track the caller‘s location. ―This has come as a big challenge,‖ Chief of Banke Police Mohan Bikram Shah said. ―We need to either introduce mobile tracking technology or block the numbers used by criminals,‖ Shah said. Only on Sunday, Banke police gunned down three kidnappers, two of them Indian nationals, from Fatehpur. They were found using Indian mobile phone numbers to communicate with other gang members back in India. ―Crimes like abduction and extortion, where mobile phones come handy, have shot up significantly in the past few years,‖ Deputy Superintendent of Police Binod Ghimire said. ―Identifying and blocking the numbers used in criminal activities is the only way to check such crime. In this, the cooperation of our government and the Indian authority is very vital.‖ http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2010/07/07/nation/mobiles-spurmobile-crime/210223/

Monsoon, but not so soon JUL 08 - Despite a forecast of good monsoon this year, most of the country never got rain even after three weeks. Summer crops crops across the country are affected. The guys in weathercoats had forecast a normal monsoon in South Asia this year. They failed. Rice, maize and oil crops are burning.

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Apart from thundershowers and scanty rainfall in a few places in the eastern region, the rest of the country is berefet of rain. Rainfall was around 20 percent below normal in June when a weak surge of monsoon entered the eastern part of the country in the second week of June but it did not advance westward even after three weeks, according to Meteorological Forecasting Division (MFD). MFD chief Mani Ratna Shakya said due to weak onset the country saw rainfall below normal. ―The monsoon is now slowly advancing. Once the monsoon shapes up in a week, we are hopeful this year it will be normal,‖ he said. On Wednesday, nearly all 17 meterological stations of MFD recorded rainfall. Paddy seedlings are drying up for want of rain. A farmer from Bardiya district, Bijaya Laxmi Sigdel said no rainfall has forced farmers to leave their land fallow. ―The seedlings are drying up in the fields and only few farmers are able to manage water from canals or boring,‖ she said. Another report from Rolpa district said that of the total 5,000 hectares of cultivable land for paddy cultivation less than 3,000 hectares have been planted till date. Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoAC) Hari Dahal said due to insufficient rainfall in the Tarai region paddy plantation was affected while the mid-hills and high-hill districts received scanty rainfall. The Tarai region contributes 71 percent of the total paddy production while the mid-hills and high hills contribute 25 percent and 4 percent, respectively. ―We are praying for the revival of the monsoon in a week,‖ he said. According to Dahal, unlike last year‘s prolonged drought good rainfall in a week will improve paddy plantation in most parts of the country. ―In Tarai, farmers plant paddy within the first week of August and if there is good rainfall next week, it will be a shot in arm for them,‖ Dahal said. Earlier, a statement issued by MoAC stated, the country is experiencing a food shortage of 3, 16,465 metric tonnes this year. The statement further said yield of food grain such as rice, wheat, maize, millet and barley has decreased by 4.3 per cent to 7.76 million metric tonnes this year. http://www.ekantipur.com/2010/07/08/headlines/Monsoon-but-not-so-soon/318049/

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