Issuu on Google+

R&D Economic Research & Business Development

Date: May 10, 2010

Highlights 

Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal on Sunday put forth two more conditions to pave way for a national consensus government. Nepal said a new power equation or national consensus is impossible unless the Maoist cantonments are vacated and the paramilitary structure of the Young Communist Leagues (YCL) is dissolved. A group of 27 professionals including professors, doctors, journalists, lawyers, engineers, human rights activists and civil society members have denounced remarks by UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal against professionals, intellectuals and the middle class people during his Saturday´s speech. Terming the opposition leader´s expression undemocratic, irresponsible and indecent, they have demanded that former Prime Minister Dahal apologize in public for his remarks. The main opposition UCPN (Maoist) on Sunday turned down a request made by Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal to immediately come for dialogue to end the political deadlock. PM Nepal had dispatched a letter to Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Sunday afternoon urging him to sit at the talks table. Reacting sharply to the PM‟s letter, the Maoist Standing Committee (SC) meeting declared it would have no dialogue with the government unless the premier quits. The main opposition Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) has set the deadline of May 24 for Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal to step down to make way for national consensus and conclude the peace process. The cadres of the Unified CPN (Maoist) and police clashed at Maitighar Mandala, Kathmandu on Sunday afternoon during the Maoists program to picket Singha Durbar, the nation´s main administration building. A day after Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal spat venom at the media following withdrawal of the general strike, agitators on Sunday followed suit by venting their frustrations against media persons in the capital. The brief remarks made by Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Jiyang Yu on deteriorating political situation in Nepal during a press briefing in Beijing on May 4 clearly hint at the new role China wants to assume in the changed context of balance of power in Nepal. She urged the political parties in Nepal to seek common grounds and properly handle internal differences through dialogues and consultation not only

1


R&D Economic Research & Business Development

to the fundamental interests of Nepal but also to regional peace and stability. Nepal Tourism Year (NTY) 2011 National Coordination Committee has demanded Rs 220 million for the promotion of the tourism campaign in the upcoming fiscal year. Ncell is preparing to launch Blackberry, a Research In Motion (RIM) specialised mobile phone service by the third week of May in the Nepali market. The new service is being introduced targeting customers in the corporate sector. Ncell has already contracted with international cell phone manufacturing company RIM, a Canadian company, for initiating service with Blackberry and has also received a type approval certificate from the Nepal Telecommunications Authority to import and sell Blackberry in Nepal. Udaypur Cement Factory, the largest state-owned cement factory, is on the verge of closure as it lacks essential materials such as coal, limestone and bags for packing cement. Negligence on the part of management has brought the factory to such a situation. The capital market witnessed a four-year low in its turnover on Sunday as share trading began after a week's break due to the Maoist general strike. The market witnessed a turnover of just Rs. 9.6 million which is the lowest since May 27, 2007 when the share market had seen a turnover of just Rs. 3.05 million. A total of 30,536 shares were traded through 615 transactions on Sunday. Though the number of Nepalis leaving for overseas jobs has grown by double-digits, flow of remittances has continued to decrease in recent months, indicating that more people are opting for informal mode of money transfer. Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoTCA) has shortlisted ten consultants to conduct feasibility study for upgrading Bhairahawa-based Gautam Buddha Airport into a regional airport. UCPN (Maoist) has barred four truck carrying explosives meant for Chameliya Hydropower Project from entering into Nepal from India at Gauriphanta for the last six days. Minister for Labor and Transportation Mohammad Aftab Alam has misbehaved with Foreign Secretary Madan Kumar Bhattarai and Joint Secretary Durga Prasad Bhattarai over labor attaché appointment row last Monday, prompting employees at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to demand action against the minister. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is all set to invite tenders from firms worldwide for the supply of Machine Readable Passports (MRP). “We are planning to invite bids globally in a couple of days to adopt the MRP. 2


R&D Economic Research & Business Development

It could be under a week if we can sort out some technical details of the process,” a senior official at the ministry said. “We are going to relax some of the stern provisions this time.” The under-construction Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project (UTHP) brings back scores of youths who left Lamabagar, Dolakha, for employment elsewhere. With the commencement of the construction of the 456-megawatt project, activities are on the rise in the village. Locals have started returning home with the belief that they can find work or run a business of their own here. Energy Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat and Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) Board are under the scrutiny of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) on the charge of appointing an NEA employee as the managing director of the Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project (UTHP) illegally. UCPN (Maoist) cadres did not even spare their own man on Sunday. They thrashed one Bishnu Karki on the charge of being a „vigilante‟ at Bhadrakali area. A day after UCPN-Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal said that the ball is in the ruling parties' court as they now need to respond to his party's withdrawal of the indefinite general strike, Nepali Congress (NC) has said that the path for the formation of a national consensus government will be clear only when there is agreement on the issue of timely constitution drafting and peace processes.

POLICY:

PM’s fresh terms for quitting Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal on Sunday put forth two more conditions to pave way for a national consensus government. Nepal said a new power equation or national consensus is impossible unless the Maoist cantonments are vacated and the paramilitary structure of the Young Communist Leagues (YCL) is dissolved. In Sunday‟s meeting with the business community at his official residence in Baluwatar, the prime minister said, “Firstly, Maoists should vacate their cantonments and dismantle the Young Communist League (YCL) camp as per

3


R&D Economic Research & Business Development past agreements. I will then resolve the political crisis.” Nepal added he had desire to hold on to power if the Maoists go by the past agreements. Earlier, the prime minister had been repeatedly saying that he is ready to quit if the Maoists withdraw their street protests and come up with a national consensus candidate to replace him. Entrepreneurs affiliated to the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce (FNCCI) and Industries and Nepal Chamber of Commerce (NCC) met Nepal to request him to resign if that was imperative for national consensus. “We are in the midst of a problem as both sides are not ready to go for a win win situation,” NCC President Surendra Bir Malakar said. Indicating at the government‟s inability to feed the UN-verified Maoist combatants forever, Nepal said, “I have no idea if you have agreed to feed and provide employment opportunities to them. If not, we must manage them on time.” http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2010/05/09/nation/pms-freshterms-for-quitting/208086/

Professionals demand public apology from Dahal A group of 27 professionals including professors, doctors, journalists, lawyers, engineers, human rights activists and civil society members have denounced remarks by UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal against professionals, intellectuals and the middle class people during his Saturday´s speech. Terming the opposition leader´s expression undemocratic, irresponsible and indecent, they have demanded that former Prime Minister Dahal apologize in public for his remarks. "We believe his expressions are condemnable. We urge him that as a responsible leader he should apologize publicly," the statement jointly issued on Sunday by them said. "Also, we request [him] not to speak the language of threat and war denigrating Nepali voters and Nepali citizens at large in the days to come." They said professional intellectuals, business community, human rights defenders, artistes and commoners were seriously concerned over Dahal´s remarks. While addressing the party´s mass meet at Tundikhel on Saturday, Dahal had accused journalists, writers, intellectuals, business community and middle class Kathmanduites of humiliating the rural folks who came to Kathmandu Valley to participate in the Maoist agitation.

4


R&D Economic Research & Business Development

He had said Kathmandu-based neat and clean intellectuals need to be clear whether they want peace or war. Nepali people have kept record in their minds on who wrote what, he threatened. Dahal had also described those who joined peace assembly led by business community and civil society Friday as statesponsored vigilantes. "This is an indecent act of spitting venom and making baseless accusation against the people who spontaneously joined the assembly," the statement said. They have also condemned Dahal´s warning against independent writers, journalists and others that he would settle the score in the future. Those issuing the statement include Kul Chandra Gautam, Prem Bahadur Khadka, Dr Kedarnarsing KC, Professor Dr Binod Kumar Shrestha, Professor Khagendra Prasad Bhattarai, Professor Gunnidhi Neupane, Shambhu Thapa, Prateek Pradhan and Bhimarjun Acharya. Meanwhile, issuing a separate statement on Sunday, the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) has said Dahal´s statement has created terror in the media sector. The FNJ has said Dahal´s statement is a serious allegation against free press. http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id =18419

No truck with govt: Maoists The main opposition UCPN (Maoist) on Sunday turned down a request made by Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal to immediately come for dialogue to end the political deadlock. PM Nepal had dispatched a letter to Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Sunday afternoon urging him to sit at the talks table. Reacting sharply to the PM‟s letter, the Maoist Standing Committee (SC) meeting declared it would have no dialogue with the government unless the premier quits. Maoist Spokesperson Dinanath Sharma said, “The prime minister should resign to make an appropriate environment for dialogue and consensus.” However, the Maoists said they will hold talks with all parties to ensure peace and a new constitution for ending the political deadlock. According to Sharma, they will not talk with the prime minister but would continue dialogue with the parties. Earlier on Saturday, Chairman Dahal had said they would sit for dialogue only after a response from the government. The PM‟s letter is the government‟s first and official response to the Maoists. Now, however, the Maoist party is saying that the PM‟s resignation is the only step to make an environment for national consensus.

5


R&D Economic Research & Business Development “I want to urge your party — UCPN (Maoist) — to solve all disputes and misunderstandings through consensus, dialogue and through democratic and constitutional ways,” read the PM‟s letter. He also wrote that it would not be appropriate to go for confrontation at this critical juncture. Meanwhile, despite repeated attempts Prime Minister Nepal has not been able to talk to Maoist Chief Dahal. According to a highly placed source, Nepal telephoned Chairman Dahal immediately after the withdrawal of the Maoist indefinite general strike but Dahal did not receive the phone. The Maoist party also consulted 12 fringe parties represented in the Constituent Assembly. After the meeting, Madhesi Janadhikar Forum Chairman Upendra Yadav said, “All parties have one voice — Prime Minister Nepal should resign to make an appropriate environment for dialogue.” The SC meeting of the Maoists on Sunday termed the indefinite general strike “successful, peaceful and disciplined”. It also decided to hold a mass gathering on May 25 in Kathmandu and major towns of the country. Before that, the Maoists will focus on providing training to their cadres. http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2010/05/09/top-story/Notruck-with-govt-Maoists/208081/

Talks only after PM quits: Maoists The main opposition Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) has set the deadline of May 24 for Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal to step down to make way for national consensus and conclude the peace process. “We will not hold talks with the government until the prime minister steps down,” said Maoist spokesperson Dinanath Sharma after hours-long standing committee meeting at Paris Danda on Sunday. The Maoist response comes after the prime minister sent a letter to the Maoist party to come to the negotiating table to break the current political deadlock and forge national consensus. The prime minister sent the letter two days after the Maoists withdrew their indefinite general strike and a day after Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal said “the ball is in the court of the ruling parties”. Maoist leaders, however, termed the prime minister´s letter “abstract”. According to Maoist vice-chairman Narayankaji Shrestha, the party standing committee meeting scheduled for Monday morning would deliberate on the issue in detail.

6


R&D Economic Research & Business Development

The standing committee Sunday also decided to decentralize the party´s struggle for peace, constitution, civilian supremacy, national independence and Maoist-led national government. The party will hold a centralized demonstration from May 25 by holding a huge demonstration and a rally in Kathmandu. The Maoists have decided to make internal preparations until May 13, and train its cadres across the nation from May 15 to May 24. Maoists have also concluded that the six-day nationwide general strike was historic, and the leadership decided to withdraw the strike “respecting the people´s sentiments”. While thanking the people for participating in “janaandolan-3”, the party also accused the ruling parties of making it violent by mobilizing their party wings, vigilantes and Hindu extremists. Maoists hold talks with fringe parties Maoists held a meeting with fringe political parties asking their leaders to sign a statement demanding resignation of the prime minister to pave way for national consensus. President of Chure Bhawar party Keshab Prasad Mainali, however, said, “But we told them that we would discuss the issue in our respective parties and sit for talks next day,” said Mainali. He said Maoist Chairman Dr Baburam Bhattarai urged them to back the Maoists to press the prime minister to tender resignation. The fringe political parties would meet the Maoist leaders on Monday afternoon. Ten political parties, including Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Sarita Giri), Janata Dal, Nepa Rastriya Party, Janamukti Party, Nepal Parivar Dal and Chure Bhavar Rastriya Ekata Party, attended the meeting. http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id =18421

Moaists attack mediapersons A day after Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal spat venom at the media following withdrawal of the general strike, agitators on Sunday followed suit by venting their frustrations against media persons in the capital. The Maoists mercilessly attacked a photo-journalist, Prabin Maharjan, and harassed several media persons who were covering the Singha Durbar picket on Sunday. Maharjan, who works for Associated News Agency, was brutally attacked at Maitighar. He received 13 stitches for skull injuries. 7


R&D Economic Research & Business Development

Similarly, Shruti Niroula, a reporter for Sagarmatha Radio, was bullied and harassed by the Maoist cadres for an hour. Meanwhile, Rabindra Shrestha, a reporter for Avenues Television, was also attacked. His camera was completely damaged in the incident. After Maharjan was attacked, photo-journalists entered into the safety of police cordon till later in the evening, before they held a press conference raising voice for security and a senior Maoist leader, approaching them, promised to take the responsibility. Several journalists complained that Maoists misbehaved with them in areas around Singha Durbar. “They abused and threatened to knock me down,” said Kaushal Adhikari, a photo-journalist. “I did not dare cross this area. I do not know whether I would have to wait till the evening to go to office,” said Yopesh Pradhan, removing officer sticker off his video camera at 3:30 pm lest the irate agitators take it as an excuse to misbehave. Several of his friends had earlier failed in their attempts to get out of the picket. “Our identity card is now a token to invite an insult,” a reporter chimed in. ´Thrash the journo!´ Maharjan was just about to retreat after an agitator warned him not to take photographs. “All of sudden, they cried, ´thrash the journos´. My head was pounded with sticks and once with an iron rod that I think left the deep cut,” said Maharjan. “I do not know what would have happened had I not noticed him on time and dragged him out of the crowd,” said Prem KC, a constable who saved Maharjan and also sustained injury to his left hand himself. The attack on journalist triggered a clash between the cops and agitators. The agitators pelted stones while the police responded by charging batons and firing 50 rounds of tear-gas shells. Six cops, including Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Bhola Rawal, were injured in the clash. Later, the Maoists created another hullaballo taking control of two officers of National Investigation Department -- Ram Kumar Mahat and Ram Chandra Gharti -- from a nearby building allegedly for spying on them. They also took control of Indra Shrestha, a kitchen help at a nearby restaurant -- allegedly for possessing a chopper. Min Bajracharya, the president of National Forum of Photo Journalists (NFPJ), said that the attack over journalists was a blatant attempt to demoralise the media by the political force that wants to bring about autocracy. Maoist leader Janardan Sharma, who was leading the mass at Maitighar, told

8


R&D Economic Research & Business Development

Republica that the attack took place in his absence while he was attending the party´s meeting. “We will investigate into the incident and if any Maoist is found guilty we will take action against him,” he added. He insisted that it was most probable that the incident could have been perpetrated by the vigilantes. He, however, ruled out any link between Chairman Dahal´s statement and the attack on journalists. Home Ministry denounces the capture of NID officials The Home Ministry on Sunday denounced the Maoists for holding captive two NID officials at Maitighar. “It was natural for the government officials to work on their assignments at a public place,” the statement issued by the ministry said. The ministry also said that the Maoists themselves had provoked and compelled the police to take action. The NID officials were later rescued by officials of the Nepal Police and National Human Right Commission. http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id =18408

BUSINESS & ECONOMY:

Why China is raising stake in Nepal The brief remarks made by Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Jiyang Yu on deteriorating political situation in Nepal during a press briefing in Beijing on May 4 clearly hint at the new role China wants to assume in the changed context of balance of power in Nepal. She urged the political parties in Nepal to seek common grounds and properly handle internal differences through dialogues and consultation not only to the fundamental interests of Nepal but also to regional peace and stability. China, which otherwise would choose not to speak on Nepal´s affairs, turned to be the first country to officially react to Nepal´s political confusions and Maoist general strike despite the fact that envoys from the US, India and European countries were active in piling pressure or mediating political parties to resolve the differences among the political parties. Though Jiyang stated at the beginning that China continues to adopt a policy of non-interference on internal affairs of other countries, her remarks are testimony that China will no longer remain mute on Nepal´s affairs.

9


R&D Economic Research & Business Development

There are some regional and international dimensions behind China´s breaking its silence. These are directly or indirectly linked to security of Tibet. The balance of power in South Asia has witnessed changes with the changes in the global power balance. The US which looked Nepal´s affairs through the eyes of India has lately become active. The policy change of China on Nepal in particular and South Asia in general is the consequence of new power balance in the aftermath of the US and India reaching a nuclear arms deal. Citing an instance that Nepal has become a regional center of new geopolitics, Nepali Times Editor Kunda Dixit in his piece entitled ´A New Himalayan Game´ has said that India and China had made an informal understanding on Nepal´s affairs some 22 years ago and that the relationship between the two countries has grown sour after the understanding was broken. Beijing had agreed to accept the control of New Delhi over Nepal and Bhutan affairs in return of India accepting Chinese occupation in Tibet. This informal understanding was reached during a meeting between then Chinese premier Deng Xiaoping and Indian premier Rajiv Gandhi in December, 1988. According to the understanding touted as a milestone to ease the troubled relations between India and China, Beijing had reportedly agreed to allow India to put Bangladesh, the Maldives and Sri Lanka in general and Nepal and Bhutan in particular under its control. Dixit has made an analysis that the very understanding between New Delhi and Beijing has broken with the changes seen in balance of power of the world and anti-China demonstrations of Tibetan refugees that began in Kathmandu on the eve of Beijing Olympics two years ago. China had concluded that India had largely failed to control active engagement of the US on Tibetan issues after Nepal Army recovered a flag that read Free Tibet from a bag of a US mountaineer. The mountaineer had planned to hoist the flag atop Everest. Beijing then initiated change in its Nepal policy concluding that US had furthered Free Tibet campaign from Nepal and that the old understanding with India no longer remained in force. Beijing then changed the entire team of its embassy in Kathmandu and began piling pressure on Nepal on the security issues of Tibet. The remarks of newly appointed US Ambassador to Nepal Scott H DeLisi also make its clear that US has lately made its Kathmandu embassy active on Tibetan issue as well. During a parliamentary hearing three months ago, DeLisi had given interesting argument on how geopolitical importance of Nepal could be used to serve the US interest. DeLisi, who holds considerably long diplomatic experience in South Asia, had argued that US could play important role on various regional issues including Tibetan refugees and that US could engage India in crossborder issues via Kathmandu. His remarks not only indicate strategic importance of Nepal but also reflect the desire of the US to remain active in Nepal. This is perhaps the

10


R&D Economic Research & Business Development

reason why the US is extending its hands of relations with the Maoists. Though India has been denying anything such to happen since a year ago, the US recently took Maoist Foreign Relations Department Chief Krishna Bahadur Mahara for an official visit to the US and also hinted that it will remove the Maoists from its terrorist list. Robert O Blake, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, was busy discussing with Chinese diplomats on Asian affairs in Beijing on the same day China officially spoke on Nepal´s political stalemate. One of the agenda of Blake´s discussion was the ongoing peace process in Nepal. Blake could have discussed with his Chinese counterparts about the possible Maoist revolt. And this is what made China to urge the Maoists to seek consensus. Blake´s statement three days after Jiyang spoke on the Maoist strike was somewhat similar in content. In an interview with Press Trust of India on May 8, Blake said that India, China and the US had separate positions in regard to the political context of Nepal. The US is trying to make its role effective with the Maoists by identifying a meeting point between the Chinese stance of encouraging the Maoists and Indian position of restricting them. DeLisi also urged the Maoists to withdraw strike, a position similar to that of India and China. This clearly suggests that the US wants to bring both India and China into confidence. It is naïve to conclude that China will continue remaining silent on Nepal´s issues in the face of growing influence and engagement of India and the US here. The issue of Tibet is very important for China. It is the same reason why Beijing wants to see a government in Nepal on whom it can exercise its influence. This is evident from the fact that Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal was only one of the total 600 invitees from South Asia on the special interaction World Expo organized in Shanghai. But this does not mean that Dahal is inclined only to China. Dahal must have learnt a lesson after his government was forced to step largely due to his failure to maintain balanced diplomatic relations with India and China. It will be an opportunity than challenge for Nepal to be a strategic centre for superpower and regional powers. It will not be an issue of headache if the new power balance lessens Indian hegemony on Nepal. Nevertheless, we need to be cautious not to let repetition of an understanding like that of 22 years ago´s. Though we do not have the capacity to completely stop the influence of superpowers we must demonstrate our capacity to cash in from this situation to serve our national interests. http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id =18439

11


R&D Economic Research & Business Development

NTY seeks Rs 220m for promos Nepal Tourism Year (NTY) 2011 National Coordination Committee has demanded Rs 220 million for the promotion of the tourism campaign in the upcoming fiscal year. "The amount has been demanded to launch some big promotional activities in India and China and small activities in the European countries," said Yogendra Shakya, the national coordinator of the committee. According to him, the budget allocated for three years in September 2008 was Rs 25 million out of which only Rs 3 million is unspent. The committee has decided to arrange promotional activities and advertisements in Indian cities like Deharadun and regional towns which have potential visitors rather than in big cities of India. Once the budget is allocated the the annual budget that is likely to be unveiled in July, the committee will be in a comfortable position to finalize a major marketing plan till July 2011. The major promotion activities will focus on Indian and Chinese markets which stand first and second largest sources of inbound tourists to Nepal. The campaign aims to lure 1 million tourists to Nepal. To achieve the target, Nepal myust draw 33 percent more tourists to Nepal in 2010 and 2011 as compared with the tourist arrivals in 2009. Initial three months of 2010 have shown encouraging growth of around 30 percent in tourist arrivals. "We were very excited but the indefinite strike called by the Maoists is likely to dash our hope," Shakya told Republica. The daily average arrival of inbound tourists coming through air used to be around 1600 a day but it has been drastically slashed to 500 a day after the strike, he said. Although Maoists did not target the tourists and they allowed hotels to operate during the 7-day strike that was called off on Friday, tourists did not remain unaffected. Transport problems badly affected the tourists. Besides, they were also concerned about their security. "We could not tell tourists enquiring from abroad that ´everything is fine here´," he said. Off season focus The committee has decided to target international conferences to compensate the losses by the general strike through foreign tourist activities during the off season from May to September. Shakya shared his plan to mobilize professional groups like doctors, engineers, chartered accountants, business executives and sportsmen to organize international conferences in Nepal. "Events and conferences can meet the gap

12


R&D Economic Research & Business Development

during the off season and it will create future scope for a boom in tourism industry," he said. http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id =18390

Ncell to launch Blackberry phone Ncell is preparing to launch Blackberry, a Research In Motion (RIM) specialised mobile phone service by the third week of May in the Nepali market. The new service is being introduced targeting customers in the corporate sector. Ncell has already contracted with international cell phone manufacturing company RIM, a Canadian company, for initiating service with Blackberry and has also received a type approval certificate from the Nepal Telecommunications Authority to import and sell Blackberry in Nepal. All manufacturers or their authorised representatives are required to obtain a type approval certificate as per the Telecommunications Act 1997. "We have already obtained the certificate from the regulatory body to bring in Blackberry," said an official at Ncell. "We are introducing this world class service as we have pledged to our customers to bring them new technology based services." Even though Ncell has not fixed the charge for using Blackberry, it is estimated to cost in the range of Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 60,000 for the new model Blackberry Bold 9700. The cost of Blackberry-based internet service is said to be between Rs. 1,200 to Rs. 1,600 per month. "Ncell will be fixing the price for the service soon after holding talks with concerned stakeholders," said the official. "We are currently working on what features should be included in the Blackberry service as it is not limited just to a handset." Blackberry, a line of mobile e-mail and smartphone devices, has been developed by RIM. While including typical smartphone applications like address book, calendar, to-do list and so forth besides telephone capability in newer models, Blackberry is primarily known for its ability to send and receive internet e-mail wherever it can access a mobile network. Meanwhile, Surendra Prasad Thike, spokesperson of Nepal Telecom, refuted media reports about Nepal Telecom introducing iPhone service in Nepal in association with Apple. http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2010/05/09/business/ncell-tolaunch-blackberry-phone/208107/

13


R&D Economic Research & Business Development

Udaypur Cement on verge of ruin Udaypur Cement Factory, the largest state-owned cement factory, is on the verge of closure as it lacks essential materials such as coal, limestone and bags for packing cement. Negligence on the part of management has brought the factory to such a situation. "Riddhi Siddhi Traders, who had received a contract to supply coal to the factory, failed to do so," a factory official said. "That's why it has forfeited its Rs. 1.5 million deposit." General manager of Udaypur Cement Nabal Kishor Shah said, "The stock of coal we have is sufficient for just two or three days," he said. To add to its woes, the factory is unable to supply cement in the market as it has run out of sacks to pack it. Its supplier Trishakti Polypacks has so far supplied only 1.4 million sacks although it promised to supply 2 million sacks. "That's why we are facing a difficulty to pack cement and transport it to market," said Shah. Sources, however, said that the current situation emerged as the management remained completely dependent on a single supplier. The previous management of the factory used to contract at least two suppliers. The tendency of the management to seek a commission is the main reason behind the short supply of essential materials. The management also didn't care about supplying limestone, a key raw material for making cement, by ropeway instead of by road. "The tender period for the supply of limestone by land expired," said Yogesh Chandra Mishra, deputy director of Udaypur Cement." But no alternative provision has been made for the period after the expiry of the tender." Sources said that the management didn't care about using the ropeway as it was only concerned with its commission. The ropeway connects limestone mines in the Sukhaura area of Chilaune village development committee and the factory. "The management is trying to hide its failures by blaming the ongoing loadshedding," said Mishra The Udaypur Cement administration said that it was facing difficulties even to pay the salaries of its workers and its electricity bills. The employees have complained that the factory could be closed from next week. http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2010/05/09/business/udaypurcement-on-verge-of-ruin/208109/

14


R&D Economic Research & Business Development

MARKET:

NEPSE at rock-bottom The capital market witnessed a four-year low in its turnover on Sunday as share trading began after a week's break due to the Maoist general strike. The market witnessed a turnover of just Rs. 9.6 million which is the lowest since May 27, 2007 when the share market had seen a turnover of just Rs. 3.05 million. A total of 30,536 shares were traded through 615 transactions on Sunday. The volume of trading used to worth Rs. 20-25 million daily during the last few years. NEPSE general manager Shanker Man Singh said that Sunday's turnover was pessimistic as it remained as low as when NEPSE depended manual work. "It is a sign of shattering confidence of investors amid the political instability," he said. President of the Stockbrokers Association Nanda Kishore Mundada said that he hoped the turnover amount would go up within a few days. "The turnover decreased as a result of the hangover of the weeklong banda." He, however, is not hopeful about the market rebounding. "I don't see any possibility of an immediate recovery of the NEPSE index," he said. NEPSE saw a decline of 6.26 points to 413.02 points on Sunday. All the sectors that witnessed trading of shares lost points. http://www.ekantipur.com/2010/05/10/business/nepse-at-rock-bottom/313988/

Workers opting for informal mode to remit money Though the number of Nepalis leaving for overseas jobs has grown by doubledigits, flow of remittances has continued to decrease in recent months, indicating that more people are opting for informal mode of money transfer. The government had initially attributed the drop in remittances to time-lag impact of the global financial crisis, when Nepalis faced cut in working hours and earned less. But given that more people have continued to find overseas jobs, experts now assess it could be due to increased transfers through hundi, the informal channel. Latest statsitics of Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) shows that Nepal received remittances amounting Rs 143.95 billion during the first eight months of

15


R&D Economic Research & Business Development

2009/10, growing at just at 9.9 percent over that received in the same period last year. Number of Nepalis leaving for overseas job, on the other hand, has continued to grow by over 11 percent during the period. Statsitics from the Department of Foreign Employment shows that 173,297 Nepalis left for overseas jobs during the period, up from 155,734 recorded during the same period last year. “Drop in the value of US dollar, slashed working hours and drop in earning are few big factors behind the low growth rate of remittances. But what we also doubt is, more people could be using informal channels to send money back home,” said Ganesh Gurung, migration expert and member of National Planning Commission, who looks after foreign employment. He attributed such possible shift in mode of transfer to lower service charge of Hundis as compared to formal money transfers. As per the government estimation, around 40 percent of the remittance enter the country through informal channel such as hundi and hand carry. Chandra Dhakal, chairman of IME, a leading money transfer company, agrees, "Fresh reports even pinpoints that foreign agents too are paying commissions to Nepali manpower agents through informal channel,” he told Republica. Manpower agents did not agree with the report though. Instead, they claimed that workers might have refrained from remitting money because the value of US dollar has declined in recent months. Despite such new trends, foreign employment agents said that remittance inflow would grow in months to come due to easing of the impact of global financial crisis. “Earnings of Nepali workers for last couple of months have started to increase of late. This will have its impact on remittances inflow figures in coming months,” said Gyan Prasad Gaire, vice president of Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA). http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id =18423

POLITICS: Govt shortlists 10 consultants Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoTCA) has shortlisted ten consultants to conduct feasibility study for upgrading Bhairahawa-based Gautam Buddha Airport into a regional airport.

16


R&D Economic Research & Business Development

Among the selected companies, BDA, ERMC and Meh Consultant are the firms that have been providing consultancy services to different airport construction projects. Keshav Prasad Bimali, under secretary at MoTCA, told Republica that different consultants employed in project coordination unit and implementation unit will assess the technical, archeological and social aspects of the airport adjoining the birthplace of Lord Buddha. The project estimated to cost $46.5 million is expected to complete within five years. OPEC Fund is making a loan investment of $15.5 million in the project, while Asian Development Bank (ADB) is chipping in with grant assistance worth $12 million. The government is arranging the remaining $6 million from state treasury. Suman Shrestha, director of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), said the government would select local contractor for construction works. CAAN and Lumbini Development Trust are the implementing partners of the project. According to MoTCA sources, the selection process of consultants and contractors will complete within this year and the project will be completed by 2015. Donor agencies have already expressed their commitments to invest in the project. Under the upgradation works, the government will expand the existing 1800m long runway to 2,600 meters and also construct apron and air ring-road. “The loan and grant assistance would be executed from 2011,� Bimali said. CAAN officials said the land acquisition works for the project would be completed by the first quarter of fiscal year 2010/2011. The government recently allocated an additional Rs 100 million for land acquisition. Earlier, it had released Rs 160 million for the purpose. Apart from upgradation works, the project will also promote co-operatives for the overall development of local community in 7 village development committees of Kapilvastu. Scheduled flight to Rajbiraj resume Tara Air has started scheduled flights to Rajbiraj Airport from Sunday. Ratish Chandralal Suman, engineer at CAAN, said Tara Air is scheduled to fly two times a week on Sundays and Wednesdays to Rajbiraj. Last month, Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) had successfully conducted test flight at the airport which had remained closed for decades. http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id =18433

17


R&D Economic Research & Business Development

Minister misbehaved with foreign secretary Minister for Labor and Transportation Mohammad Aftab Alam has misbehaved with Foreign Secretary Madan Kumar Bhattarai and Joint Secretary Durga Prasad Bhattarai over labor attaché appointment row last Monday, prompting employees at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to demand action against the minister. On Sunday, MoFA employees met Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala and reiterated their demand for action against Minister Alam. They warned of protests if the minister is not punished. They had submitted a memorandum to the prime minister and the foreign minister last week in this regard. A copy of the memorandum was also sent to Chief Secretary Madhav Prasad Ghimire. A cabinet source told Republica that minister Alam, who represents Nepali Congress, misbehaved with Bhattarai at the prime minister´s residence last week after the latter suggested the minister about financial implications of appointing labor attachés in countries where they are not needed. On May 1, the cabinet approved a proposal from the Labor Ministry appointing six labor attachés, without even meeting reasonable minimum qualifications. The attachés come from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Home, Ministry of Local Development, Prime Minister´s Office and the National Planning Commission, violating the condition that they should be selected through internal competition among candidates who have a good command of English and knowledge of the foreign employment sector. Only one attaché was from the Labor Ministry. Minister Alam was not available for comment. The incident comes six months after State Minister Karima Begum, who represents Madheshi People´s Rights Forum (Democratic), slapped Chief District Office of Parsa Durga Prasad Bhandari for not providing a car of her choice. MoFA officials said that they are concerned over the government decision to pick labor attachés from other services as it has undermined diplomatic service that, they say, have more qualified persons to handle labor issues. This is the second time the government has appointed labor attachés from nondiplomatic services despite opposition from the MoFA officials. Earlier last year, four attachés were appointed. Salary and facilities that attachés posted in foreign countries are entitled to lures officials from other services to vie for the post. A MoFA official said Nepal does not send its people to work in Oman where the government appointed an attaché last week and people working there are

18


R&D Economic Research & Business Development

illegal ones. Nepal even does not have its diplomatic representation in the country. http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id =18438

GENERAL: Maoists stop explosives for Chameliya at border UCPN (Maoist) has barred four truck carrying explosives meant for Chameliya Hydropower Project from entering into Nepal from India at Gauriphanta for the last six days. The party has mobilized YCL members round the clock to keep vigilance and ensure that the trucks do not enter Nepal. The Maoist in-charge in Kailali Hari Gyawali said the trucks will not be allowed to move under any circumstances. “We are not aware as to why the explosives have been imported,” Gyawali said, adding, “We are not sure if the explosives are for construction purpose. That could only be an excuse.” Gyawali said some 50 YCL members have been posted at the border. He expressed doubts that the explosives could have been imported by the state for use against the ongoing Maoist agitation. He said no one can say what is inside the seal packed containers. The truck drivers have said that the explosives have been brought from Jharkhand state of India for the power project. One driver Avatar Singh said the trucks reached the border on May 3. Singh said that one Prakash Khanal who was supposed to receive the trucks at the border has not turned up so far. In the document, it is stated that the sealed explosives is ordered by China Gojuwa Water & Power Project for Chameliya project from India Explosive Limited. Project director Keshab Bhatta said the explosives are imported for tunnel construction after approval from the Defense Ministry. “Due to continuous bandas, the Nepal Army could not escort the trucks and that is why they are stuck at the border,” Bhatta said. He added, “Indian side has been giving security to the trucks.” “This is a routine process,” Bhatta said adding that explosives have been imported three or four times in the past as well.

19


R&D Economic Research & Business Development

Meanwhile, Kailali CDO Narayan Prasad Bidadi expressed no knowledge of the incident. Customs officer at Gauriphanta AK Pandel said the trucks have been stranded due to incomplete documents. http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id =18431

MRP tender invite soon The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is all set to invite tenders from firms worldwide for the supply of Machine Readable Passports (MRP). “We are planning to invite bids globally in a couple of days to adopt the MRP. It could be under a week if we can sort out some technical details of the process,” a senior official at the ministry said. “We are going to relax some of the stern provisions this time.” The ministry, earlier, annulled a pre-qualification bid for the MRP citing technical reasons. Later, the Cabinet decided to award the contract to India thatwas shelved on April 11 following pressure from different quarters. The official said the new provision will qualify a firm with experience of distributing MRP to at least two countries. Earlier, the precondition was to have dealt the matter with four countries. According to the draft proposal, the government will adopt the laminated version of MRP due to financial and other constraints. Other qualifications such as financial transaction, current capital strength and turn over of the interested firm will also be relaxed, according to the official. “We want a maximum number of firms to participate in the bidding process for the sake of transparent and early adoption of the MRP,” he said. Nepal has already missed the April 1 MRP deadline set by International Civil Aviation Authority. Hand-written passports are still in use as a result. http://www.ekantipur.com/2010/05/10/headlines/MRP-tender-invitesoon/313995/

Tamakoshi brings job hope to Dolakhalis The under-construction Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project (UTHP) brings back scores of youths who left Lamabagar, Dolakha, for employment elsewhere.

20


R&D Economic Research & Business Development

With the commencement of the construction of the 456-megawatt project, activities are on the rise in the village. Locals have started returning home with the belief that they can find work or run a business of their own here. Pemba Tshering Sherpa and his wife, who left the village to seek employment opportunities, returned home recently. They believe that they can live a decent life in the village now. Pemba works for the project contractor while his wife runs a shop. “Dozens of others who left the village in search of job are returning. The hydropower project has brought happiness to the locals,” said Pemba, adding that he had left the village for livelihood with a heavy heart. According to Pashang Sherpa, a local teacher, three-fourths of the villagers had deserted the village for towns seeking employment. The decade-long armed insurgency aggravated the situation. Business has increased in the area with the establishment of UTHP site office in the village. The large hydel project has its reservoir in Lamabagar. New houses are being built and shops as well as eateries have opened up in the area. Buying and selling of land has also increased of late. Some of the locals, who received a huge amount of money as compensation for their land used by the project, are planning to buy land pieces in the district headquarters or in the Capital. CDO Shrikrishna Shrestha said the hydropower project had changed the face of Lamabagar. “Some government offices displaced during the insurgency have also been restored by now. Preparations are on to set up border administration unit and customs office there,” Shrestha said. Lamabagar borders Kuti and Phalek of the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China. The village is expected to be linked by road in a few months. http://www.ekantipur.com/2010/05/10/National-Highlight-News/Tamakoshibrings-job-hope-to-Dolakhalis/313991/

NC says ball still in Maoists' court A day after UCPN-Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal said that the ball is in the ruling parties' court as they now need to respond to his party's withdrawal of the indefinite general strike, Nepali Congress (NC) has said that the path for the formation of a national consensus government will be clear only when there is agreement on the issue of timely constitution drafting and peace processes. A meeting of central office bearers of NC, one of the major constituent of the ruling coalition and second biggest party in the Constituent Assembly, on Sunday had reached a conclusion to this effect. The NC leaders were also unanimous in their view that the ball is still in the Maoists' court.

21


R&D Economic Research & Business Development

During the meeting, the NC leaders reviewed the situation of the country after the withdrawal of the strike by the Maoists. There was also discussion on the remarks made by Maoist chief Dahal while addressing a mass gathering of the party at Khula Manch on Saturday. "We found the stress on dialogue and understanding by the Maoists leaders during yesterdays mass assembly very positive", NC leader Krishna Sitaula, who played a major role in bringing the Maoists into mainstream politics when he was the home minister in an interim government right after the reinstatement of democracy through people's movement II. He also said that work on the integration and rehabilitation of Maoist combatants should be move forward without delay. Sitaula was of the opinion that the number of combatants to be integrated into the security sector should be determined and the cantonments should come under the government's jurisdiction. He said that NC was for resolving the army integration issue at the earliest possible, especially when May 28 deadline for promulgation of the constitution is fast approaching. nepalnews.com

Own comrade not spared UCPN (Maoist) cadres did not even spare their own man on Sunday. They thrashed one Bishnu Karki on the charge of being a „vigilanteâ€&#x; at Bhadrakali area. However, it was later revealed that Karki was one of their own cadres and that he had been regularly participating in the Maoist demonstrations. Karki, who hails from Sindhupalchwok, sustained serious injuries in the attack. http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2010/05/09/top-story/Owncomrade-not-spared/208080/

22


R&D_NewsBrief_10May