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Date: April 29, 2010

Highlights 

John Tucknott MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) has been appointed the new British Ambassador to Nepal, t he British Foreign Ministry on Wednesday announced. He will succeed the current British Ambassador to Nepal Dr Andrew Hall, who is retiring shortly. Janata Bank Nepal Limited started operations at Baneshwor on Wednesday as Nepal's 27th commercial bank. Its authorized capital amounts to Rs. 2 billion while its issued capital is Rs. 2 billion. Dr. Yuvaraj Khatiwada, governor Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), has on Tuesday said that top priority is being given to rural areas to improve financial activities. NRB has already forwarded a draft of Micro-Finance Act to promote establishment of micro-finance institutions and development banks in rural areas, he said while speaking at the 55th anniversary of NRB in the capital. UCPN (Maoist) chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Wednesday told his cadres involved in the donation collection drive for their upcoming agitation not to intimidate people into donating. He reminded them that the party's policy was to collect voluntary donations. Finance Minister Surendra Pandey has come up with the proposed national budget amounting to some Rs 300 billion for the fiscal year (FY) 2067/68 B.S. Minister Pandey forwarded the budget of this size to Finance Committee of the legislature parliament Tuesday. A study team has suggested the Ministry of Finance to set eight conditions to Nepal Airlines Corporation before standing as a guarantor to sanction loan from Employees´ Provident Fund to acquire new aircraft for the ailing national flag carrier. The government has established two revenue check posts and is adding five new posts in the different parts of the country with the aim of tightening revenue leakage. United Arab Emirates (UAE) has shown keen interest to work with Nepali private sector. “UAE government is ready to work with Nepali private sector,”said Lubna Bint Khalid Ai Qasmi, minister for Foreign Trade to the delegation of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI). The downward trend of the Nepal Stock Exchange (NEPSE) continued on Wednesday with the index losing 2.15 points to settle at 405.45 points when trading closed. All the sub-indices on NEPSE recorded losses on Wednesday.

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The others sector lost the most shedding 5.87 points followed by the insurance, hydropower and development bank sectors. Nepal Gold and Silver Dealers Association (Negosida) has resumed issuing recommendations to its members to purchase gold after importing banks Wednesday agreed to fix reasonable wholesale prices. Wholesale trading of the yellow metal had come to a standstill from Sunday due to dispute between Negosida and importing banks over fixation of prices of gold. In what was probably the most followed live event in the nation‟s history, the three major parties came together for a public dialogue on Wednesday but fell short of striking a deal to resolve the current political stalemate. CPN-UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal said his party was ready to quit the government to make way for a national unity government if that led to a solution. In a blow to Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, CPN-UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal has said his party will not back him even if the coalition partner, Nepali Congress, continues to support the incumbent government. Ajay Chhibber, UN Assistant secretary general and UNDP assistant administrator, and director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific has arrived today. The United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) has urged the UCPN (Maoist) to fully cooperate in the investigation and take appropriate action against People‟s Liberation Army (PLA) platoon commander Santosh Rai who was arrested in possession of a hand grenade in Chitwan on Tuesday. Non Resident Nepalese (NRN) are being reached out to in hopes that they will contribute to the economic growth and development of the country. “The knowledge that NRN‟s have is immense, they have information and skills that have been acquired in a different country and this can be applied for the benefit of their own country,” said Dr Hemant Dawadi, director general at the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI). Private schools across the country that had downed shutters on Sunday at the call of the Maoist-aligned All Nepal National Independent Students‟ UnionRevolutionary (ANNISU-R) may resume classes from Friday if talks between the school mananagements and the union slated for Thursday go well. Private schools across the country remained closed for the fourth consecutive day on Wednesday. The United States has expressed interest in supporting the Nepal Army (NA) in promoting human rights. Visiting Admiral Robert F. Willard made this commitment during his meeting with Defence Minister Bidhya Devi Bhandari on Wednesday afternoon. Taking advantage of fluid political situation, nine different truck entrepreneurs committees have reintroduced dial system, allowing odd and even numbered trucks to ply on the road on alternate days only. 2


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The general strike will have negative impact on economy, said the Maoist affiliated trade wing chief. Speaking at a press meet, Krishna Acharya of Nepal National Industries Federation said that the strike wil have negative impact on industries. “However, the general strike is called due to the present political scenario,” he said adding that “if political parties fail to move with mutual coordination and agreement on the primary issues, we will support the strike,” he said adding that the strike is „Third Janaandolan‟ The UCPNMaoist has called nationwide general strike from May 2. Expressing commitment to solve the Bhutanese refugee problem permanently, the Bhutanese government today said that the ministerial level meeting will be held at the earliest to discuss the issue. The Bhutanese government expressed the commitment to better the relations that have soured in the recent years between the two countries. Bhutanese Prime Minister Jigme Y Thinle expressed the commitment with Prime Minster Madhav Kumar Nepal, who arrived here today to take part in the 16th SAARC summit that will start from tomorrow. A much-anticipated public debate on Wednesday involving the top leaders of the three major parties - Unified CPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress and CPN (UML) -underscored their differences even as they reiterated their 'commitment' to find early consensus for constitution-drafting and peace process. The final exams of twelfth grade conducted by Higher Secondary Education Board (HSEB) on Thursday has been disrupted in various centres by the Unified CPN (Maoist) affiliated All Nepal National Independent Students Union Revolutionary (ANNISU-R). With the main opposition UCPN (Maoist) heading for “decisive and indefinite” protests from May 1, the government has put Nepal Army on high alert, directing it to safeguard “vital government installations at any cost”.

POLICY: UK names new envoy John Tucknott MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) has been appointed the new British Ambassador to Nepal, the British Foreign Ministry on Wednesday announced. He will succeed the current British Ambassador to Nepal Dr Andrew Hall, who is retiring shortly. “Tucknott will take up his appointment during August 2010,” the announcement said. Currently, Tucknott is director of the United Kingdom Trade and

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Investment (UKTI) Global Investment Conference-London 2010, the British governmentâ€&#x;s international business development organisation. According to the British Foreign Ministry, he has served in different UK missions including in Baghdad, Stockholm, New York, Beirut, Cairo, and Rome. Tucknott joined the diplomatic service in 1977. http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2010/04/28/Nation/UK-names-newenvoy/207714/

Janata Bank comes into operations Janata Bank Nepal Limited started operations at Baneshwor on Wednesday as Nepal's 27th commercial bank. Its authorized capital amounts to Rs. 2 billion while its issued capital is Rs. 2 billion. The bank has a paid-up capital of Rs 1.4 billion. With 836 promoters, Janata Bank has the largest number of promoters among commercial banks. "We aim to provide easy banking facilities and door-to-door service, focus on rural areas and help various economic sectors like agriculture, tourism, fishery, mining and infrastructure related projects," said chairman Guru Prasad Neupane. Inaugurating the bank, Finance Minister Surendra Pandey said that the investment being made by banks and financial institutions in the farm and power sectors was not at a satisfactory level. He added that investment by banks in the power sector was only 40 percent. "We are ready to provide incentives and other facilities to banks willing to invest in the power sector," he said. Pointing to the small investment in the farm sector, he said that the coming budget would focus on the agro sector instead of being revenue oriented. "We are moving forward to acquire soft loans to boost the country's overall development. Loans can be utilised in different development sectors instead of depending on grants," he added. Nepal Rastra Bank governor Yuva Raj Khatiwada said the balance of payments situation was worsening due to a decline in exports. "Giving priority to agriculture can be the only hedge against the huge trade deficit and worsening balance of payments in the country," he said. He also pointed to the wide gap in the interest rates on deposits and loans which he said the central bank was looking into. http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2010/04/28/Business/Janata-Bankcomes-into-operations/207732/

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Priority in financial sector to rural areas: NRB gov Dr. Yuvaraj Khatiwada, governor Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), has on Tuesday said that top priority is being given to rural areas to improve financial activities. NRB has already forwarded a draft of Micro-Finance Act to promote establishment of micro-finance institutions and development banks in rural areas, he said while speaking at the 55th anniversary of NRB in the capital. Khatiwada pointed out that high inflation, high trade deficit, BoP, current account deficit and liquidity crisis are the major challenges for the economy. Khatiwada also estimated that the country would see a 4.6 percent gross domestic product growth this year. He said that the export of products has decreased by 8 percent whereas the import has increased by 43.9 percent during the first eight months of the fiscal year. He informed that the trade deficit has increased to 61.2 percent to stand at Rs. 213.33 billion during the same period. The remittance has showed slow growth by 9.9 percent in the eight months and the balance of payment deficit (BoP) has increased to Rs. 23.53 billion during the first eight months of current fiscal year from Rs. 21.83 billion in previous seven months. During the same period, total expenditure of the government has increased by 30.9 percent to stand at Rs.140.9 billion. Speaking at the function, former governor Dr. Vesh Bahadur Thapa said that NRBâ€&#x;s role has increased compared to past years so, it should have ability to analyse and investigate and win the publicâ€&#x;s heart. On the occasion, 79 employees who served the NRB over 20 years were also felicitated. nepalnews.com

No forced donation, Dahal tells cadre UCPN (Maoist) chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Wednesday told his cadres involved in the donation collection drive for their upcoming agitation not to intimidate people into donating. He reminded them that the party's policy was to collect voluntary donations. Amid complaints about extortion by Maoist cadres in different districts, the Maoist supremo sought to explain the occurrence as a few isolated incidents. "We heard complaints about forced donation drive by our cadres in a few areas including Chitwan," said Dahal at the 'decisive dialogue' session of the three major political parties organised by Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI). "The party brass has already directed them to stop such activities."

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The business community had protested the Maoists' 'extortion' drive in Chitwan and registered complaints at the District Administration Office (DAO). The Maoists have intensified their donation drive across the country for the May 1 mass rally and the indefinite general strike called by them from May 2. Thousands of Maoist cadres have already reached Kathmandu to participate in the agitation. Dahal, however, said it was his party's compulsion to seek donation as it does not have the money to mobilise the masses. "That's why, we are asking donation from the people." He berated the tendency of some people to call the Maoists' donation drive a terror and downplaying the prevailing corruption that has gobbled up millions of rupees. He termed the current government the most corrupt in the history of the country. CPN (UML) chairman Jhala Nath Khanal responded to Dahal saying that his party, being a ruling one, was ready to probe any case of corruption committed by any government official. "I urge anybody who has such complaints to go to the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority." Nepali Congress (NC) leader Ram Sharan Mahat proposed keeping the economic sector out of politics saying the politicisation of major hydropower projects was the main impediment to the development of the hydropower sector. Pointing a finger at the Maoists, he asked, "Who is hampering work in the Upper Karnali and Arun III projects even when investors are interested in pouring in money?" He also stressed on the need for prohibiting bandas for at least three years to create a conducive investment climate. "The economy can flourish only in a peaceful environment which was evident for some years after the political change of 1990." During the interaction, FNCCI office-bearers pasted the commitment papers of the 17 political parties including the three largest ones on the wall. The composite dialogue mainly focused on political issues. However, Constituent Assembly (CA) member and industrialist Rajendra Kheran raised the issue of the current trade deficit that may seriously hamper the economy in a few years if the gap is not bridged. http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2010/04/28/Business/No-forceddonation-Dahal-tells-cadre/207735/

FM Pandey forwards Rs 300 billion budget Finance Minister Surendra Pandey has come up with the proposed national budget amounting to some Rs 300 billion for the fiscal year (FY) 2067/68 B.S. Minister Pandey forwarded the budget of this size to Finance Committee of the legislature parliament Tuesday. National Planning Commission (NPC) and other ministries have proposed the size of the budget to the tune of Rs. 425.70 billion.

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However, the finance ministry, dogged by resource constraint, chalked out the budget worth Rs 300 billion. The government will arrange Rs 220.40 billion through the revenue mobilization and some 35 billion via the domestic loans to contribute to create budget of the FY 2067/68. And the remaining portion of the amount will be derived by way of foreign assistance. According to Minister Pandey, the upcoming budget has accorded topmost priority to agriculture sector, the traditional mainstay of Nepalese economy. The size of the current FY is Rs 200.96 billion. nepalnews.com

BUSINESS & ECONOMY:

Panel tells govt to set conditions for EPF loan A study team has suggested the Ministry of Finance to set eight conditions to Nepal Airlines Corporation before standing as a guarantor to sanction loan from Employees´ Provident Fund to acquire new aircraft for the ailing national flag carrier. The committee led by former joint secretary Bimal Wagle suggested the government to treat the process of purchasing new aircraft as a different project and deposit income generated by the new aircraft in a separate account, as conditions to stand as guarantor. The amount can be spent only as per the recommendation of a panel comprising experts, the report stated. The report also suggested seeking commitments from NAC management to repay loan with interest strictly as per the timetable and forming a monitoring committee, comprising a member each from Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, to monitor the accounts of the national flag carrier. The study committee formed on December 24 last year had submitted its preliminary report to the Ministry of Finance on February 15, 2010. The committee submitted its comprehensive report with additional recommendations to the parliamentary Economic and Labor Committee on Wednesday. Addressing the members of the committee, Finance Secretary Rameshwor Khanal argued that NAC was capable enough of acquiring new aircraft on its own capability and credibility. “The national flag carrier is in immediate need of new aircraft to give leverage to the tourism industry,� he added. He also said dependency on international airlines will not be beneficial for the tourism industry in the long run. 7


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Khanal, however, informed that the NAC management was still undecided on the number of narrow body and wide body aircraft that it wants to add in its fleet. The Finance secretary also hinted that the advance amount of $75,000 paid by NAC to Airbus won´t be refunded. Coordinator of the study committee Wagle said NAC can acquire new aircraft in its fleet only if the government is ready to stand as a guarantor. “Airlines can´t be expected to perform well if they don´t have aircraft in their fleet. If it can´t acquire aircraft, it would be better to liquidate it,” he added. Wagle also said there was no ground to believe NAC´s business plan. He also suggested bringing about managerial and institutional reforms to strengthen NAC´s competitiveness. Prachandajung Shah, member of NAC board, said there was no point acquiring new aircraft in NAC fleet unless the management is totally revamped. http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=18045

Govt opens two new revenue check posts The government has established two revenue check posts and is adding five new posts in the different parts of the country with the aim of tightening revenue leakage. It is also mulling over enhancing the capacity of Department of Revenue Investigation (DoRI) in a bid to intensify control of revenue leakage and anti-money laundering supervision of the state. “As a part of this plan, we have already set up two new check posts in Bardibas and Attariya,” Mahesh Dahal, director general of DoRI, told myrepublica.com. DoRI is adding another check post in Bardaghat of Nawalparasi in the near future. It has also set a plan of establishing check posts in Birtamod, Pokhara, Narayanghat and Syafrubesi of Rasuwa in the next fiscal year. These check posts will function as auxiliary hands of regional offices of DoRI. DRI has regional offices in Kohalpur, Butwal, Itahari and Pathlaiya. It also has check post in Thankot. Meanwhile, Ministry of Finance is mulling over empowering the department with additional manpower and adding more teeth to undertake anti-money laundering works. “We are even discussing on renaming the name of the DoRI into Revenue Investigation and Money Laundering Department (RIMLD),” Dahal said. Under this upgrading, DoRI has pushed for the creation of an additional post of deputy director general and appointments of high level investigative staffers.

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Presently, DoRI is largely focused on controlling revenue evasion and investigating on the cases of money laundering on case to case basis. http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=18044

UAE interested in investing in Nepal United Arab Emirates (UAE) has shown keen interest to work with Nepali private sector. “UAE government is ready to work with Nepali private sector,”said Lubna Bint Khalid Ai Qasmi, minister for Foreign Trade to the delegation of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI). “However, the areas of cooperation should be explored,” he added FNCCI vice-president Pradip Jung Pandey during the meeting with him pointed out that commercial agriculture, hydropower, carpet, handicraft, tourism and infrastructure are the sectors that have potential for cooperation. Qasmi urged the FNCCI delegation to start cooperating with the private sector of UAE. “Private sector co-work is possible in commercial agriculture between the two countries,” he said adding that the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between FNCCI and Federation of UAE Chamber of Commerce can help boost cooperation between the two countries. The minister has shown interest in investment opportunities in Nepal. He showed keen interest on Nepal‟s policy in foreign direct investment (FDI). Nepal has $ 37.36 million trade deficit with the UAE, though Nepal exports cardamom, tea, coffee, ginger, flowers, handmade carpet and handicrafts. Qasmi also praised Nepali migrant workers for their hard labour and honesty. “Because of honesty large numbers of Nepalis are working in the security sector,” he said. Around 1,50,000 Nepali migrant workers are working in the UAE and about 75 per cent are in the security sector. FNCCI delegation also urged UAE government to support tourism promotion during the Nepal Tourism Year 2011. http://www.thehimalayantimes.com/fullTodays.php?headline=UAE+interested+in+in vesting+in+Nepal&NewsID=241561

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MARKET: NEPSE down 2.15pts The downward trend of the Nepal Stock Exchange (NEPSE) continued on Wednesday with the index losing 2.15 points to settle at 405.45 points when trading closed. All the sub-indices on NEPSE recorded losses on Wednesday. The others sector lost the most shedding 5.87 points followed by the insurance, hydropower and development bank sectors. Of the 22 commercial banks on the trading floor at NEPSE, Himalayan Bank was the highest gainer with its stock going up by 35 points. Laxmi Bank suffered the most dropping 60 points. Shares of 13 development banks and 16 finance companies changed hands on Wednesday. http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2010/04/28/Business/NEPSE-down2.15pts/207733/

Wholesale market of gold resumes Nepal Gold and Silver Dealers Association (Negosida) has resumed issuing recommendations to its members to purchase gold after importing banks Wednesday agreed to fix reasonable wholesale prices. Wholesale trading of the yellow metal had come to a standstill from Sunday due to dispute between Negosida and importing banks over fixation of prices of gold. Stating that price of gold set by the banks is higher than the actual price, Negosida had stopped issuing recommendation to its members for wholesale purchases. Gold dealers said the price fixed by banks was Rs 300 per tola more than the actual rate. “We issued recommendation to six wholesalers to purchase 30 kg of gold from banks on Wednesday after the bankers agreed to provide us reasonable an indicative price before 10.30 a.m.,� said Tej Ratna Shakya, president of Negosida. A price determination committee of Negosida used to determine the price on the basis of international price and foreign currency rate with the addition of customs duty and profit margin before importer banks were given authority to fix gold price. Nepal Rastra Bank has allowed banks to import 10 kg of gold per day on the recommendation of Nepal Bankers Association. The association has recommended NMB Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, NIC Bank and Machhapuchhre Bank to import gold. These banks, except Machhapuchhre Bank, have already imported 50 kg each so far. http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=18031

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POLITICS: Big three public dialogue for consensus, unity govt In what was probably the most followed live event in the nation‟s history, the three major parties came together for a public dialogue on Wednesday but fell short of striking a deal to resolve the current political stalemate. CPN-UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal said his party was ready to quit the government to make way for a national unity government if that led to a solution. “If we sit together with utmost honesty, we can make a breakthrough in the next couple of days,” said Khanal. The public talks, beamed live across the country for three hours, by all major TV and radio networks were followed by millions. Organised by the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, this was meant as a last-resort pressure tactic to force the parties to express public commitment for a compromise, if not an immediate one. The parties were brought together for the dialogue at a time when the Maoists have announced an “indefinite strike” after May 1 if Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal does not quit by then. At the centre of discussion were the major three agendas: integration and rehabilitation of the Maoist combatants, formation of a national coalition government and new constitution. Though a new power equation featured as an entry point for discussion, the issue of integration and rehabilitation of the Maoist combatants was, as usual, the bone of contention among the parties. UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal said that unless the ruling parties stop treating the Maoist combatants as “losers” and agree to total restructuring of the Nepal Army so as to create a new national army, the task of managing the combatants will not proceed. On formation of the national coalition government though, the parties had one voice that it was necessary they differed on whether the prime minister should resign before the Maoists withdraw their protest or after. “We will remain flexible and open to any possible agreement over the next couple of days,” said Dahal. “As the first condition to create the environment, the prime minister should resign.” He also assured that the scheduled protests, if not withdrawn, would be peaceful. However, NC and the UML said disbanding the government without the parties agreeing in advance on a new power equation was illogical. NC Acting President Sushil Koirala said a new consensus government was possible “if the Maoists could build trust” by withdrawing the protests. On the dissension over the new constitution, the Maoist leaders said it was possible to come to a meeting point once they come to an agreement for a national consensus government. “The constitution writing process has stalled mainly because we have

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moved from the politics of consensus to the politics of competition. Once we correct that, everything will fall in line,” said Dahal. http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2010/04/28/top-stories/Big-threepublic-dialogue-for-consensus-unity-govt/207704/

Khanal goes the whole nine yards In a blow to Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, CPN-UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal has said his party will not back him even if the coalition partner, Nepali Congress, continues to support the incumbent government. Khanal made this remark during a meeting with senior leaders of Nepali Congress on Wednesday at the UML party headquarters ahead of the Maoists' May Day mass protest in the Capital aimed at toppling the government. He urged NC, the largest coalition in the government, to be more flexible for the formation of a national consensus government. “Since the main opposition has announced a mass protest, it is not necessary to back the incumbent government. We have no alternative to consensus,” a source quoted Khanal as saying. “Be prepared. UML is planning to come up with a resignation letter of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and consensus paper for parties simultaneously.” He flayed the government and coalition partners for undermining the main opposition and people's mandate, saying such an attitude had resulted in failure to complete the constitution drafting and take the peace process forward. “He urged for the formation of a national unity government at the earliest to end the protracted political deadlock and take the Maoists into confidence,” said the source. Khanal's stance is a direct contradiction of the Congress stand that continuation of the present government is a better option than handing over power to the Maoists. A joint meeting of the 10 ruling parties is scheduled for Thursday to take a decision to this effect. Over the past few weeks, Khanal has been publicly lobbying for a new government for a timely statute. His clamour is falling on deaf ears within his own party though he has a strong majority in the UML's Parliamentary Party and Standing Committee. http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2010/04/28/Nation/Khanal-goes-thewhole-nine-yards/207711/

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Chhibber in Kathmandu Ajay Chhibber, UN Assistant secretary general and UNDP assistant administrator, and director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific has arrived today. He is on a four-day mission to gain perspective of the current development situation in Nepal and exchange views regarding the current and future UNDP projects and programmes. He will address the opening of „South Asia Conference‟ on the „Impact caused by Global Financial Crisis‟. The Conference is to be held during the week in kathmandu. He will officially inaugurate a UNDP supported Bom Khola micro-hydro. http://www.thehimalayantimes.com/fullTodays.php?headline=Chhibber+in+Kathman du&NewsID=241565

UNMIN: Book PLA errant The United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) has urged the UCPN (Maoist) to fully cooperate in the investigation and take appropriate action against People‟s Liberation Army (PLA) platoon commander Santosh Rai who was arrested in possession of a hand grenade in Chitwan on Tuesday. “UNMIN condemns this reckless risk to life and calls on the UCPN (Maoist) to cooperate fully in an investigation and take appropriate disciplinary actions,” UNMIN said in a statement on Wednesday. “Holding and carrying arms in violation of the law is legally punishable and breach of Agreement on the Monitoring of the Management of Arms and Armies (AMMAA).” Meanwhile, UNMIN Chief Karen Landgren on Wednesday morning met Maoist Vice Chairman Baburam Bhattarai at his residence and registered strong concerns over the PLA commander‟s arrest with arms. http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2010/04/28/Nation/UNMIN-BookPLA-errant/207710/

GENERAL: NRNs knowledge, skills should be utilised Non Resident Nepalese (NRN) are being reached out to in hopes that they will contribute to the economic growth and development of the country. “The knowledge that NRN‟s have is immense, they have information and skills that have been acquired in a different country and this can be applied for the benefit of their own country,” said Dr Hemant Dawadi, director general at the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI).

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It has been empirically proven that individuals can strengthen economic ties between two countries if the individual can speak the language of both the countries, “once the language barrier is overcome dialogues can be improved between two countries and it can help immensely in economic development and investment opportunities,” added Dawadi. According to Dawadi an investment of approximately Rs 6 billion has been invested in the country by NRN‟s, which does not include the remittance coming in from foreign countries worldwide. Excluding SAARC countries there are about 2.5 million NRN‟s spread all over the world. Nepal‟s reach outside is secure as long as the government is willing to bring them in and help develop the country‟s economy. The NRN community has contributed significantly to the society as well as their communities in Nepal, by opening schools, libraries, and sports organisations, many are making a strong mark and creating a niche for themselves and the country on foreign land. Non Resident Nepali Association is looking to achieve a few objectives that have been set by them which includes promotion for the rights of NRN‟s, make arrangements to encourage foreign investment into Nepal, as well as distribute and impart knowledge acquired by NRN‟s to the government as well as the society so as to share experiences, skills, knowledge and expertise. Some of the NRNs have invested in hydropower and other sectors in the country. “If they are encouraged, more will follow.” A few suggestions have been made to help NRN‟s to attain their objectives “dual citizenship should be provided, clear cut definition for rules and regulations need to be set for NRN‟s, dual tax system also needs to be scrapped,” added Dawadi. http://www.thehimalayantimes.com/fullTodays.php?headline=NRNs+knowledge,+ski lls+should+be+utilised&NewsID=241563

No respite for private schools Private schools across the country that had downed shutters on Sunday at the call of the Maoist-aligned All Nepal National Independent Students‟ Union-Revolutionary (ANNISU-R) may resume classes from Friday if talks between the school mananagements and the union slated for Thursday go well. Private schools across the country remained closed for the fourth consecutive day on Wednesday. “An informal meeting with the student union on Wednesday was positive,” said D.K. Dhungana, secretary of Private and Boarding Schools‟ Organisations Nepal (PABSON). “We hope the meeting scheduled for Thursday will help end the deadlock.”

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The student body has closed private schools to protest what it called an “illegal” hike in school fees. PABSON and National PABSON on Tuesday decided to be flexible on the issue. “We are ready to review the fee structure through talks,” Dhungana said. The closure of the schools has hit over 1.5 million students. “The strike will be called off immediately after the school managements decide to withdraw the fee hike,” said Himal Sharma, General Secretary of ANNISU-R. CPN-UML leader Ishwor Pokhrel alleged on Wednesday that the shutdown of the schools was part of the Maoist strategy to provide shelter to their cadres. Speaking at the „Decisive Debate‟ programme organised here by the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Pokhrel said, “Issues related to the fee hike can be sorted out through talks.” Refuting the allegations, Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal said the fee hike was not “scientific” and that it was against the people‟s interests. Meanwhile, Education Ministry formed a three-member talk coordination committee headed by Joint Secretary Mahashram Sharma. The panel has appealed to ANNISU-R to withdraw the protest and hold talks. Closure may mar +2 exams KATHMANDU: Grade XII examinations to be conducted by the Higher Secondary Education Board from Thursday are likely to be affected due to the agitation of the Maoist-affiliated All Nepal National Independent Students' Union-Revolutionary. “We will not obstruct the examinations but the students are not in a mood to take them,” said Himal Sharma, general secretary of ANNISU. Issuing a press statement on Wednesday, INSEC appealed to the stakeholders to work for ending the shutdown of private schools through dialogue. http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2010/04/28/Nation/No-respite-forprivate-schools/207713/

US vows help for Nepal Army The United States has expressed interest in supporting the Nepal Army (NA) in promoting human rights. Visiting Admiral Robert F. Willard made this commitment during his meeting with Defence Minister Bidhya Devi Bhandari on Wednesday afternoon. According to defence secretary Nabin Kumar Ghimire, the admiral also vowed to support the Army in areas of training, disaster management and defense ministry

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restructuring. At the end of the 45-minute meeting, Willard said the discussion centred on building NA‟s relation with the Pacific Command and the challenges before Nepal‟s defence ministry. He later met Home Minister Bhim Rawal. With Army chief General Chhatra Man Singh Gurung he discussed issues of regional and national security and disaster management. Gen. Gurung appreciated the US government‟s decision to provide logistics for the NA peacekeepers in Sudan and resume support by the US Foreign Military Financing Programme. Gurung also organised a reception in honour of the senior US navy official on Wednesday. http://www.ekantipur.com/2010/04/29/capital/us-vows-help-for-nepal-army/313297/

Truckers reintroduce syndicate system Taking advantage of fluid political situation, nine different truck entrepreneurs committees have reintroduced dial system, allowing odd and even numbered trucks to ply on the road on alternate days only. The existing law ban such dial-system and syndicate in transportation sector. Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) too has been protesting such practice, as transporters hike service charges citing curtailed businesses. Western Truck Transport Entrepreneurs Committee (WTTEC) has reintroduced the practice effective from Wednesday. “Nine different committees of truck operators based between Banganga of Kapilvastu and Sarlahi of eastern Tarai have started this practice from Wednesday,” said Gupta Bahadur KC, president of the committee. The committees entering into anti-competitive practice include Balkhu Truck Entrepreneurs Committee of Kathmandu, Western Truck Entrepreneurs Committee of Butwal, Banganga Truck Entrepreneurs Committee of Kapilvastu, Gandaki Truck Entrepreneurs Committee of Pokhara, Narayani Truck Entrepreneurs Committee of Hetauda, Tarai Truck Entrepreneurs Committee of Birgunj, Tanahun Truck Entrepreneurs Committee of Damauli, Rautahat Truck Entrepreneurs Committee and Sarlahi Truck Entrepreneurs Committee. With the introduction of the system, WTTEC has jacked up the transportation service charges as well. “Now transportation cost of ferrying goods from Bhairahawa to Kathmandu has gone up to Rs 16,000. Previously it was Rs 13,500 only,” said KC. He told myrepublica.com that the rates for ferrying goods to other parts of the country too have been increased accordingly. Interestingly, the committee has claimed that it has started the odd-even playing practice in order to cut diesel consumption, support the country to narrow down trade deficit, prevent capital flight and lower rate of accidents.

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KC further stated that free-competition and open policy has caused imports of more than 40,000 trucks, whereas operations of just 15,000 trucks were more than enough to fulfill the transportation demand in the market. “This unnecessary inflow of trucks is causing imports to soar. It has also spurred rise in imports of spare parts and fuel, among others,” said Ganesh Pant, general secretary of the committee. “If we succeed in controlling it, it will instantly bring down the trade deficit by Rs 12 billion,” he claimed. So far, 300 trucks were operating in Butwal region. The dial-system would now allow operation of only half of them in a day. This would also cut fair business opportunities for good and efficient operators. “Before the system, we were effectively operating 15 trips to and from Bhairahawa and Kathmandu. Now we will be able to operate only eight trips,” said a truck operator. KC stated that the decision to reintroduce odd-even operating system was taken by the recently concluded general meeting of Nepal Truck Tanker and Cargo Entrepreneurs Federation. “It will be gradually implemented in all the parts of the country,” he added. http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=18032

General strike to bleed economy white The general strike will have negative impact on economy, said the Maoist affiliated trade wing chief. Speaking at a press meet, Krishna Acharya of Nepal National Industries Federation said that the strike wil have negative impact on industries. “However, the general strike is called due to the present political scenario,” he said adding that “if political parties fail to move with mutual coordination and agreement on the primary issues, we will support the strike,” he said adding that the strike is „Third Janaandolan‟ The UCPN- Maoist has called nationwide general strike from May 2. “The industries and businesses will be shut down,” its supremo Puspakamal Dahal „Prachanda‟ announced here yesterday. Though the strike is going to be peacefulaccording to the UCPN-Maoists, the closure of industries will have a long-term impact on the ailing economy. “The strike is being organised with political agendas,” said Janak Raj Shah, president of Management Association Nepal (MAN). He said that the strike is for human rights though it definitely will have an impact. “To avoid adverse impact, there must be some code of conducts that could help reduce the negative impact during the proposed general strike,” he said.

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FNCCI concerned KATHMANDU: Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce (FNCCI) has shown serious concern over the general strike announced by the UCPN- Maoist. According to the umbrella organisation of the Nepali private sector, the country dogged by continuous load-shedding and security threats cannot sustain such strike programmes. The FNCCI is organising a press meet on Wednesday to appeal for solution. CNI concerned KATHMANDU: Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) has also expressed its serious concern over the pre-announced general strike of UCPN- Maoist. According to the organisation, the country is no more in a condition to bear more strike programmes. The strikes, chakka jam, load shedding, lack of liquidity, and labour problems in the country have hurt the economy badly. NCC show concern KATHMANDU: Nepal Chamber of Commerce (NCC) has shown concern over growing forced donation before UCPN-Maoist‟s indefinite strike. “NCC has saddened by the activities that giving mental torture to businessmen,” the NCC said. Forced donation and strike will definitely bleed the country white that has been suffering from decade long conflict. It has urged the political parties to solve the problem in consensus. http://www.thehimalayantimes.com/fullTodays.php?headline=General+strike+to+blee d+economy+white&NewsID=241559

Bhutan to resolve refugee row Expressing commitment to solve the Bhutanese refugee problem permanently, the Bhutanese government today said that the ministerial level meeting will be held at the earliest to discuss the issue. The Bhutanese government expressed the commitment to better the relations that have soured in the recent years between the two countries Bhutanese Prime Minister Jigme Y Thinle expressed the commitment with Prime Minster Madhav Kumar Nepal, who arrived here today to take part in the 16th SAARC summit that will start from tomorrow. Talking to The Himalayan Times, Finance Minister of Bhutan Lyampo Khandu Wanchuk, who is also the Foreign Minister, said, “‟We want to solve the problems between the two countries through talks.‟‟ He also informed that the Bhutanese issue would be solved after a formal ministerial level meeting of the two countries in near future. Though more than 27,000 refugees from Bhutan have been resettled in the third country, more than 80,000 refugees are still in Nepal. No formal meeting has been held between the two countries for the past six years regarding the issue. Earlier, 18


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speaking at a press meet, Khandu had opined that the third country resettlement was not a permanent solution. Meanwhile, the prime ministers of both the countries said that they talked about Bhutan-Nepal trade and cooperation in tourism, among others. Earlier, PM Nepal also held meetings with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakshe and Maldivian President Mohhamed Nasheed. PM Nepal discussed climate change problems and ways to minimise the effect. Meanwhile, a SAARC cabinet level meeting concluded today here expressing commitment to extend cooperation and coordination to combat climate change effect. The meeting passed a charter of the SAARC Development Fund and a proposal to open a SAARC University. http://www.thehimalayantimes.com/fullTodays.php?headline=Bhutan+to+resolve+ref ugee+row&NewsID=241523

HSEB exams disrupted in various centres The final exams of twelfth grade conducted by Higher Secondary Education Board (HSEB) on Thursday has been disrupted in various centres by the Unified CPN (Maoist) affiliated All Nepal National Independent Students Union Revolutionary (ANNISU-R). Exams have been cancelled in various centres including Sigma College, Sohrakhutte, Shanti Niketan Vidhya Kunja, Lainchaur and Grameen Adarsha College, Nepaltar. Exams in Chitwan have been cancelled after students tore apart questions papers in few centres. nepalnews.com

Govt tells Army to brace itself With the main opposition UCPN (Maoist) heading for “decisive and indefinite” protests from May 1, the government has put Nepal Army on high alert, directing it to safeguard “vital government installations at any cost”. Following the instruction from the Defence Ministry, the Army has enforced special security arrangements to protect these installations. Surveillance of the activities of the Maoist cadres has been intensified and preparations are being made to fortify the installations including Singha Durbar, the prime minister‟s residence and the president‟s residence, according to a Defence Ministry official. “The defence minister has instructed the Army leadership to adopt all measures to stop the Maoists from taking control of these installations,” said the source, adding that additional soldiers will be deployed to provide security to banks, airports, powerhouses and telephone towers, amongst others. A PLA platoon commander,

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Santosh Rai, was arrested from Chitwan with a grenade on Monday night following a tip-off from the Army intelligence. The Army has admitted that it is on high alert in view of the volatile developments. “We have received orders from the government to remain on high alert,” said Army Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ramindra Chhetri. “All leave of our personnel except on humanitarian grounds has been cancelled for now.” Amid fears continuing to deepen about the possibility of confrontation during the Maoist agitation, senior Army officials have warned of “severe consequences” if the demonstrators target state installations. “If anybody tries to attack the Army post or installations under our security, the Army will consider it as a call for provocation,” said a General. Chief of the Army Staff Gen. Chhatra Man Singh Gurung briefed Defence Minister Bidhya Bhandari on Wednesday morning on the latest security situation. Bhandari is pushing for the mobilisation of Nepal Army “should the Maoist protest turn violent.” Senior CPN-UML leader K. P. Oli was also present during the briefing. On Sunday, Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal had discussed the security issue with the heads of the Nepal Police, the Armed Police Force and the Nepal Army. http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2010/04/28/top-stories/Govt-tellsArmy-to-brace-itself/207706/

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