Nepal Today

Wednesday, March 23, 2011



Kathmandu, 24 March: Government Wednesday declared a four- and-half -year energy crisis as the country suffers a daily 14-hour power outage that has adversely hit the economy and inconvenienced lives.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Bharat Mohan Adhikari declared the crisis in parliament Wednesday.
Adhikari, who also looks after the energy ministry without a complete government, had been asked to recommend a energy plan without reducing the current 14 hour daily load-shedding.
Creation of a powerful energy crisis control commission has been mooted.
An additional 2,500 MG electricity will be generated in the next four years to meet the power shortage.
Commercial banks have to compulsorily set aside two percent loans for the hydro power sector.
Power plants will be repaired while an effort will be made to reduce leakage.


Kathmandu, 24 March: NC President Sushil Koirala said he and his party are against a democratic front.
Koirala said this in Biratnagar Thursday.
He said the front will invite conflict.
The president even denied his party was developing and leading the front.
Koirala reaction came one day after such a front was mooted during discussions at the residence of Surya Bhadur Thapa.
Leaders of the NC and Madeshbadi parties attended.
Significantly, the meeting was held immediately after the former prime minister and RJP chairman and three terai leaders held high-level discussions with top Indian leaders and senior government officials.
Thapa consulted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress (I) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
Madeshbadi leaders held discussions with top leaders of the ruling Congress (I) and main opposition party BJP leaders.
The Madeshbadi leaders opposed another extension of the constituent assembly if a constitution isn’t promulgated by the second 28 May deadline.
They suggested new assembly elections like RPP-Nepal.
An idea of a democratic front has been floated after the emergence of a communist government with majority in parliament.


Kathmandu, 24 March: Twenty-two cheats were arrested in Morang on the first day of SLC examinations Thursday.
Questions papers were leaked at a center in Biratnagar.


Kathmandu, 24 March: Purusottam Paudel has been appointed political advisor of the prime minister.
Nirmal Bhattarai has been appointed public relations advisor.
The appointments were made Wednesday by the cabinet.


Kathmandu, 24 March: Government has formed a nine-member task force headed by UML lawmaker Bhim Acharya to recommend measures to improve the management of the state monopoly Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) that’s incurring heavy losses.
The body consists mostly of political parties representatives.
The force will present recommendations in 10 days,


Kathmandu, 24 March: Former Chairman of NSP parliamentary committee Sohan Lal Tated died Wednesday of a heart attack.
He was 72.


Kathmandu, 24 March: Nepal Rashtra Bank (NRB) has approved a merger proposal between Birgunj Finance Limited and Himchuli Bikash Bank.
The central bank has issued a letter of intent.
The two financial institutions will be merged after their annual general meetings in mid-April.


Kathmandu, 24 March: A number of grand corruption cases pending at the Supreme Court has come under direct surveillance of Chief Justice Ram Prasad Shrestha from today, The Himalayan Times reports.

Chief Justice Shrestha took them under his direct observation after forming a special team of Justice Prakash Osti and Deputy Registrar Hemanta Rawal immediately after the lawyers started postponing the hearings on corruption cases.

The cases pending against former ministers and former high officials for more than three years fall under the jurisdiction of the special team’s supervision, which will plan on their proceedings. CJ formed the team to observe their proceedings and to look into the other corruption cases as a total of 435 cases are pending. “Following the controversies on such cases, Chief Justice sought details of the cases, which were immediately prepared and submitted,” Shreekanta Paudel, SC spokesperson, told this daily.

According to him, the staff of different sections prepared the details and submitted it to the CJ, under which all cases are scheduled for hearing within April 11.

“The list includes 140 cases and now they will be under special consideration as postponement of such cases is rare,” Paudel added.

CJ Shrestha told this daily that he will see what he can do. He said he cannot control the lawyers’ act of postponing the cases as they have the legal right to seek the postponement. It has come to light that corruption cases were postponed after former minister Chiranjiwi Wagle’s conviction upon the request of former attorney general and former NBA President at the last minute. Among others, the apex court today scheduled the hearing on former minister Khum Bahadur Khadka’s case on March 27, ex-IGPs Achyut Krishna Kharel and Motilal Bohara on March 29. Since former Minister Govinda Raj Joshi did not attend the court for case proceedings, his case is not scheduled for hearing.

Meanwhile, the apex court today postponed verdict on the graft case against former Chief of Tribhuvan Custom Office, Janardan Sharma.


Kathmandu, 24 March: India has imposed 10 percent countervailing duty (CVD) on readymade garment (RMG), landing a fresh blow to Nepali export that had just started to get over the pain inflicted by the same duty imposed till recently, Prabhakar Ghimere writes in Republica.
Unlike in the past, when the duty was imposed at the bilateral level, India this time has imposed it on all countries trading garment with India.

“The duty has been reintroduced through the Indian budget unveiled on Feb 28. This will weaken our competitive edge in the southern neighbor,” said Uday Raj Pandey, president of Garment Association of Nepal (GAN).

Talking to Republica, Pandey termed the reintroduction of duty as a major setback to Nepali RMG industry, which has been enjoying sound expansion in the Indian market only recently.

Nepal had exported RMG worth around Rs 1 billion to India in the last fiscal year. The Indian market has been serving as a new lifeline to the Nepali RMG exporters, particularly after sharp displacement from the US market.

Pandey said exporters were preparing to devise a strategy to bring down the cost of RMG to face adverse situation and retain position in the Indian market.

Nepal mostly exports shirts, T-shirts, suits and trousers to India.

Some Nepali exporters have been supplying RMG to Indian retail chains like Big Bazaar and Liverpool.

“We are discussing on the ways to tackle the newly surfaced challenges to retain our position in the Indian market," said Pandey.

Indian had removed CVD imposed on Nepali RMG a year ago. India was levying 4 percent on maximum retail price (MRP).

Purushottam Ojha, secretary at the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies, said the imposition of CVD would weaken the competitive power of Nepali RMG producers in the Indian market. "We haven´t received any information about the re-imposition of CVD though,” Ojha added. He, however, said CVD imposed on invoice value would make lesser impact than compared to the CVD on MRP.

Nepali RMG exporters have been facing tough time following the phase out of duty-free quota system in US market - Nepal´s largest RMG market then -- since Dec 2004. Owing to favorable market, Nepal had exported RMG worth Rs 12 billion to US in 2001/02.

Nepal had exported RMG worth Rs 3 billion to different European countries and Rs 1 billion in US in fiscal year 2009/10.


Kathmandu, 24 March: Employers and trade unions on Wednesday agreed to a Rs 1500 raise in the basic salary of workers. Though neither side has announced it formally, sources say they have agreed in principle for the salary hike. With this latest hike, the minimum wage of the workers now would be Rs 6,100 per month. Should everything go according to plan, both sides are likely to have their cake and eat it too, Ramesh Shrestha reports in The Kathmandu Post.

The marathon meeting between the employers and prominent trade unions on Wednesday also agreed to increase the daily wage to Rs 246 from

the existing Rs 190. The increment in salary will be effective from March 15.

According to Ramesh Badal of the pro-UML General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions (GEFONT), both sides have agreed to include the daily wage workers in the social security net. “We discussed extensively on activating the Integrated Social Security Fund,” he added. “The employers have agreed in principle to contribute 20 percent to the social security fund.”

The Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) representative said that Wednesday’s meeting mainly focused on the modality of employers’ contribution to the social security fund. With no legal arrangements in place, employers say they are unclear as to how to contribute toward the fund. “We are still working on the modality on how to contribute 20 percent,” said an FNCCI negotiator.

The employers have said that 20 percent would be deducted from the salary of the workers while the trade unions are demanding that employers should contribute from outside the workers’ salary.

Three major trade unions—GEFONT, All Nepal Trade Unions Federation and Nepal Trade Union Congress—were engaged in the salary hike negotiations since last month. As per labour laws, trade unions can ask for a salary hike every two years. The government on Sept. 18, 2008 had increased the minimum salary from Rs 3,300 to Rs 4,600 (Rs 3,050 basic salary and Rs 1,550 dearness allowance) and daily wage to Rs 190 from Rs 125.

Generally, salary increments are decided by a tripartite committee of the employers, representatives of the government and trade unions. The Government’s Minimum Wages Fixation Committee bears the responsibility of reviewing wages. However, with the Supreme Court’s interim order barring the committee from setting the wage rate, trade unions had to engage with the employers only.

One of the unions, Inclusive Trade Union Federation, had filed a case at the Supreme Court in January after the government included the Joint Trade Union Coordination Committee (JTUCC) in the committee. The federation had claimed that government had no locus standi to include the JTUCC as it was not a legally recognised body.

The JTUCC, established two years ago, is a platform of major trade union federations having different political inclinations. It consists of eight trade unions, including GEFONT, ANTUF and NTUC.

According to trade unions, the recent bipartite negotiation was initiated to resolve the issue of salary hike amicably between the employers and workers. “Should both sides agree, the hike can be implemented with government approval,” said a trade union leader.


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