Nepal Today

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NO SENIOR PARTY LEADERS AT PRACHANDA-LED TASK FORCE

Kathmandu, 1 Dec,: Senior-most leaders of the Big Three weren’t present Wednesday at a meeting of the Prachanda-led task force to hammer out differences on 230 contentious points tobe included in a constitution to institutionalize a republic.
Chairman Prachanda was busy with the Maoist central committee that eets later Wednesday and UML Chairman Jhalanath Khanal flies for South Africa to attend a meeting of communist parties.
The task force will meet again Thursday morning.
The task force Wednesday discussed compulsory military training pushed by Maoists.
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SIX VEHICLES VANDALIZED IN KAILALI

Kathmandu, 1 Dec.: Six vehicles were vandalized in Kailali Wednesday morning as a one-day transport strike spilled into the second day Wednesday.
The one-day transport strike was called Tuesday to demand route permits to operate vehicles.
Vehicles are being escorted along highways by police Wednesday.
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NEW AIDS CASES DOWN IN NEPAL 25 PERCENT


Kathmandu, 1 Dec.: An estimated 64,000 persons have been infected with the AIDS virus in the country, according to National Center for AIDS and STD Control (NCASC).
“Out of this, only 16, 252 cases have been reported. Among them about 29 percent are women aged 15 to 49,” a statement said.
HIV infection is high in 30 districts in the mid-West, far-West and districts along national highways.
Of the infected, 29.4 percent are labour migrants and infection is their spouses in as high as 21 percent.
Migrant workers are most vulnerable to HIV transmission.
Only 4,509 persons are under anti-retroviral therapy provided free by government since 2004.
UNAIDS, coinciding with World AIDS day Wednesday, said Nepal
is one of at least 33 countries that achieved significant decline in
new HIV infections.
“But significant challenges remain in tackling the epidemic,” a statement said.
New HIV cases have dropped by more than 25 percent.
The theme of World AIDS Day 2010 is: Universal Access and Human Rights.
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RECOMMENDATION FOR ENLISTMENT ON BLACK LIST

Kathmandu, 1 Dec.: A board of Rashtriya Banijya Bank (RBB) has decided to put businessman Chandi Raj Dhakal on a black list after failing recover one billion rules in loan and interest, Nagarik reports.
Bank CEO Janardhan Acharya said a letter has been forwarded to the Credit Information Center.
A request has been made also to put Zakir Hussein of Universal Leather, along with Dhakal, on the list.
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FATE OF THREE ABDUCTED NEPALIS IN ASSAM STILL UNKNOWN

Kathmandu, 1 Dec.: The fate of three Jhapalis abducted in Assam by a group calling itself ULFA rebels is still unknown, RajuAdhikari reports in Bagarik from Jhapa.
They have gone missing for two months; one family has even paid
abductors ransom.
The police station in Jalukbar, Assam, said the three have been
killed.
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MAOIST COMPANY COMMANDR IN DOCK

Kathmandu, 1 Dec.: Company commander of UCPN (Maoist) in Chitwan-based Shaktikhor cantonment Tej Bahadur Lungeli has been arrested on charge of cheating, RSS reports from Shindhulimadi.
He is under police control for arbitrarily taking cash Rs 250,000 and
gold from a woman of Lampatar VDC-6 of Sindhuli, informed Police Inspector Gyan Kumar Mahoto.
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25 INJURED, TWO SERIOUSLY, IN MADRASSA SCUFFLE

Kathmandu, 1 Dec.: More than 25persons injured in a clash that took place in Jaleshwor municipality Monday night while two of them are in a critical condition, RSS reports from Mohottari.
The clash ensued in connection with dispute on madrassa.
The brawl occurred at Dhabauli of Jaleshwor municipality-13 taking
up the issue of madrassa that has been in operation for the past
one-and-a-half years.
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10 MILLION SUBSCRIBERS
Kathmandu, 1 Dec,: It is 300,000 every month and counting. Although officially not declared, Nepal now has 10 million telecom subscribers, Ramesh Shrestha reports in The Katahmandu Post. .

Latest figures with all telecom companies in the country show that the number of subscribers crossed the magical figure of 10 million by mid-November.

With the subscriber base crossing the 10 million mark, over 35 percent of the population now has access to telecom service. This also speaks of the giant stride made by the telecom sector in Nepal amid the political turmoil. All the 3,915 Village Development Committees in the country now have been connected via telephone. It took the country nearly a century to achieve this milestone. However, the actual expansion of the country’s telecom service took place once the GSM mobile service was introduced in 1999 by the state-owned Nepal Telecom (NT). The rapid expansion of the mobile service was instrumental in bringing about the overall growth of the telecom sector. Of the total subscription base, GSM mobile has the largest market share. Both government and private players have contributed to Nepal’s success in the telecom sector. NT, the largest player in the domestic market, led the way and private players followed suit.

NT succeeded in expanding the telecom service and infrastructure to all parts of the country, while the private players played a key role in making telecom service affordable to common people.

The entry of private players like Ncell, United Telecom and others not only accelerated the expansion but reduced tariff and introduced new value added services. Such is the expansion: the country is adding 300,000 subscribers each month. “The number of subscribers has been growing by 300,000 every month,” said Sandeep Adhikari, assistant director at the Nepal Telecommunications Authority. “It clearly reveals that the total number has crossed 10 million by mid-November. As of mid-October, there were 9.92 million telephone subscribers in the country.” According to the Nepal Telecommunications Authority, the penetration rate is 35.37 percent of the total population as of mid-October. The penetration of mobile service alone is 30.61 percent. Of the six telecom service operators in the country, Nepal Telecom is the largest with a subscriber base of 5.65 million including 4.89 million mobile users as of mid-October. Ncell, the first private sector GSM mobile operator, has nearly 4 million subscribers. Ncell that appeared on the scene in 2005 is aggressively reducing the gap between it and the NT. It said it was adding around 200,000 new customers each month.

United Telecom that offers CDMA based telecom service has 542,676 subscribers. According to Adhikari, Nepal Satellite and Smart Telecom have 64,957 and 9,199 subscribers respectively. There are 4,968 users of STM’s telecom service and 1,742 users of other services like GMPCS in the country.

According to a report, if a country provides telecom service to 10 out of every 100 people, it contributes 0.8 percent to the GDP. “Increased purchasing power of the people, competition among telecom operators and cheaper technology are some of the major contributors to the growth,” said Ananda Raj Khanal, director of the Nepal Telecommunications Authority. “The competition is expected to increase until telephones reach 50 to 60 percent of the total population, which will be achieved within the next two years.”

The surge in the subscription is all set to continue as two major players NT and Ncell have already announced their investment plans. NT is planning to add 5 million GSM subscribers in near future. Its closest competitor Ncell has already declared to invest US$ 100 million next year for the infrastructure expansion.

The expansion of telecom service has also opened new avenues for banking sector.

Some of the commercial banks are already in to mobile commerce while some are about to launch. Bankers say expansion of telecom service has opened new a medium for them to reach out to those areas that weren’t covered earlier
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BANK CEOs EXPLORE OPTIONS

Kathmandu 1 Dec.: Chief executives of banks and financial institutions that were irked over Nepal Rastra Bank´s (NRB´s) move to cap their perks and benefits have decided to explore all options, including legal action, to annul the central bank´s latest instruction. Milan Mani Sharma reports in Rrepublica..

During a meeting Tuesday, when the top honchos of the banking sector discussed ways to respond to a set of NRB guidelines issued on Friday, many of the bankers argued that the imposition of cap on their salary and incentives by the central bank has infringed the authority of the board of BFIs.

“Going by the existing laws, the board of directors of the banks and financial institutions is the authority to take a decision on such issues. By imposing the cap, NRB has made a mockery of the law,” said a participant of the meeting.

But bankers also assessed that they will need the board´s support to challenge the central bank and have decided to hold discussions with their respective boards in this connection.

Before they explore other options, bankers have decided to first request the central bank to review its decision.

“The central bank´s move clearly goes against its previous understandings in this connection. It will not help address concerns seen in the sector,” said a member of Nepal Bankers´ Association (NBA).

He told Republica that NBA would soon handover a grievance letter to the NRB as well. The bankers have argued that CEO salary was never a matter of concern in Nepal.

“No banks in Nepal have ever faced problems due to the salary of CEO. All its problems so far has to do with weaknesses in corporate governance,” said the NBA member. NBA has also noted that the central bank´s cap goes against the principle of risk management.

The central bank had imposed cap on CEOs perks and benefits on Friday, under which it asked BFIs to limit the annual salary and allowances of chief executives to less than 5 percent of the average employee bill of last three fiscal years or less than 0.015 percent of the company´s total assets, whichever is less.

The guideline was issued after some of the promoters, experts and lawmakers raised concerns over BFIs spending heavy amount on salary and benefits to the CEOs. Currently, the perks and salary of a CEO of a national level commercial bank ranges from Rs 500,000 to Rs 2 million a month.

Although the new rule does not affect existing perks and benefits, some of the CEOs said it could just be a starting point, and if not challenged now, the central bank could enforce it effective from any given date it might prefer.

Others, on the other hand, opined it would block innovation and entry of competent personalities in the industry. “How will a new bank attract competent chief executive with such a cap in place?” said another banker, adding that the move has checked expansion and growth of the industry.

Moreover, bankers said that the provision will hit the chief executives of development banks and finance companies the hardest.


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