Nepal Today

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Kathmandu, 26 Jan.: Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal is attending a meeting of the Big Three in Gokarna Wednesday morning.
A summit of the Maoists, NC and UML began talks at resort there ahead of a second presidential deadline to assemble a national consensus government by late Wednesday afternoon.
A five day inter-party effort to form such a government has been unsuccessful.
Amid rigid stances of the Big Three, an outlet is unlikely to be found in Gokarna resort.
PM Nepal opposes a Maoist–led government.
NC and UML continue to oppose such a Maoist-led government even after Saturday’s transfer of the chain of command and control of 19,000 plus former Maoist combatants to a special committee headed by the prime minister.
Maoists are represented in that committee.
NC and UML say details of the command transfer haven’t been worked out as yet to ensure effective transfer.


Kathmandu, 26 Jan. US State Department Spokesman Philip J. Crowley Tuesday called for the delayed drafting a constitution and government formation.
“We did welcome over the weekend a clear progress where there’s an agreement in Nepal to transfer command and control of Maoist forces to a special commission. This is an important step in the peace process, but now Nepal needs to move ahead with the rest of the process which involves a new constitution and formation of a government, Crowley told a regular press briefing in Washington.


Kathmandu, 26 Jan.: The country’s only stock exchange was closed down for the third time in one year by agitating staff of Nepal Stock Exchange (Nepse) Tuesday by closing down the server.
Employees are demanding implementation of past assurances.
The exchange was closed down for several weeks last year pressing demands which haven’t been met, Nepse staff said.

Kathmandu, 26 Jan.: The UCPN (Maoist) on Tuesday said the party is flexible on the integration and rehabilitation of combatants of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The Maoist position comes after two major ruling parties—the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML—said they can consider a government led by the Maoists once the party comes with a clear roadmap on the modality of integration and rehabilitation, The Kathmandu Post reports.

In two-party talks held in Singha Durbar on Tuesday, NC and UML leaders agreed that they cannot accept a Maoist-led government until the integration and rehabilitation process commences. “They should come forward to implement outstanding issues related to the peace process—mainly integration and rehabilitation—in order to claim the leadership,” said NC leader Ram Sharan Mahat.

The two parties welcomed the Maoist decision to hand over the combatants to the Special Committee, but said that it is not sufficient to create an atmosphere where the Maoists could lead a government. “They (Maoists) have not yet reached a stage in the peace process that will make us all comfortable to accept their government. They can lead the government after the combatants are regrouped and after the integration and rehabilitation process starts,” said UML leader Pradip Gyawali.

“We are ready to demonstrate more flexibility to forge consensus on the modality of integration and rehabilitation,” said Maoist Standing Committee member Barsha Man Pun. “The combatants will be regrouped based on their choices once the parties agree on the modality and package.”

“We can’t impose the number of combatants to be integrated into the security forces from the top level,” Pun added. Maoist leaders argue that the number of combatants to be integrated into security agencies will come down if the Special Committee offers an attractive package on rehabilitation and voluntary retirement.

Coordinator of the Special Committee Secretariat Balananda Sharma said agreement on the modality and packages would create the basis for regrouping the combatants and hence there needs to be larger engagement among the parties to forge consensus.


Kathmandu, 26 Jan.: Even a month after a ministerial-level decision to form a high-level taskforce to regulate and manage the Nepal Army Welfare Fund, such a mechanism has not taken full shape owing to the “reluctance” of the national army to send its representatives, Bikash KC reports in Republica.

Defense Minister Bidhya Bhandari, on December 22 last year, decided to form the taskforce, which has been mandated to submit a draft “Working Procedures and Directives” for the army fund, review and revisit the present status of the fund and recommend depositing the money in safer financial institutions, all within two months of the taskforce being formed.

The eight-member taskforce comprises five members from the government and three from the NA. While those representing the government are the defense accounts controller -- who is also coordinator to the mechanism, a joint-secretary at the National Security Council, an under-secretary, and the legal and accounts officers at the Ministry of Defense, NA has to send one representative each from the Directorate of Welfare Schemes, the Planning Directorate and the Legal Department.

A knowledgeable government source conceded that NA has not sent its three representatives so far and added, the taskforce will not be able to fulfill its mandate within a given timeframe due to the army´s lack of cooperation.

“The inclination of the NA not to send its three representatives indicates that it is not ready to cooperate, fearing that a real picture of the fund might emerge,” the source told Republica.

A highly-placed source at the MoD said Minister Bhandari has recently returned from her India visit and discussions will be held with her regarding the issue.

Amid claims of irregularities at the fund, the Office of the Auditor General (AG) has also specifically pointed to non-transparency in its annual report on the fund. The fund (as per the AG office) has currently swelled to Rs 18 billion.

Although Welfare Fund Regulations have a provision that NA can incur expenditures only from the interest received against the fund deposit, the AG report found that NA had flouted this by overspending about Rs 300 million.

Likewise, the AG office has also pointed out lack of transparency in the reimbursement process from the UN, deposit transactions, collection of interest and selection of financial institutions to deposit the fund amount.

NA Spokesperson Brigadier General Ramindra Chhetri, upon our making an initial telephone contact, said he would find out about the matter and give his comment. However, later on, he was not available on the phone despite repeated attempts by Republica.

Meanwhile, a sub-committee of the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee on Tuesday issued directives to NA to accomplish the task of drafting the working procedures and directives for the welfare fund within three months.

NA, on the occasion, assured PAC members that such a taskforce has been formed and it would prepare the draft within the given timeframe.

The fund is accumulated by deducting a maximum of 22 percent per person per month from the allowances received from UN peacekeeping missions. Each person deputed on such missions generally draws a monthly allowance of US$ 1,025. Likewise, NA deducts 5 percent per person per month from military observers.


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