Nepal Today

Monday, May 30, 2011



Kathmandu, 30 May: Main constitution drafting committee chaired by Nilambar Acharya started informal work Monday to re-start work on completing a constitution in the next five months after parliament Sunday extended the tenure of a constituent assembly (CA) by three more months.
The main committee is one of a dozen subject committees under the assembly.
The main committee will discuss extending the tenure that ended Friday of a high-powered five-member sub-committee headed by Chairman Prachanda to sort out differences on remaining 22 articles to be incorporated in a proposed constitution to institutionalize a declared republic in the next three months.
The assembly now has to complete a first draft in that deadline.
CA couldn’t complete its responsibilities in three years; there are fundamental differences between major parties on a democratic constitution and a federal state structure.
Without addressing fundamental differences, resolution in the sub-committee of 22 points to be incprporated in a constitution is meaningless.
The tenure of the Prachanda committee one day before the deadline to announce a basic law Saturday.
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Kathmanndu, 30 May: Once again, timely presentation of the budget seems unlikely. The call for the prime minister’s resignation in the five-point agreement signed among the three major political parties on Sunday morning to save the Constituent Assembly (CA) has created doubt over the timely presentation of the budget for the next fiscal year also, The Kathmandu Postreports.

With just one-and-a-half months remaining for the next fiscal year’s budget announcement, the Ministry of Finance (MoF) is working day-and-night to prepare the budget draft. Ministry officials say they are technically ready to present the budget within a few days if the political leadership takes a call.

However, in the event of Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal’s resignation, budget presentation may be pushed back. What has made the situation more complicated for ministry officials is the three main parties’ varying interpretation of the prime minister’s resignation point in the pact. Uncertainty persists whether the current or the new government will bring the budget.

“If the prime minister seeks to lengthen his stay in office until a consensus is forged for the formation of the new government, it may invite wrath of the opposition parties,” said former finance secretary Rameshwor Khanal. “And, a delay in forming the new government may create a similar situation the country witnessed last year.”

Last year, then Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal’s resignation just ahead of the budget session saw the budget being delayed by four months. Ministry officials say the political leadership should any how prevent a delayed budget presentation this year for the revival of the economy. “The situation looks similar to that of last year, but we’ve to avoid that situation,” said Keshav Acharya, chief economic advisor at the ministry.

The ministry is working to bring a budget sized at Rs 381 billion for the next fiscal year. However, the present demand is for more than Rs 400 billion, according to Bodh Raj Niraula, chief of the budget division at the ministry. According to Niraula, all the ministries have forwarded programmes to be included in the next budget to MoF.

The government had decided to bring the next year’s budget on May 3, but the plan was aborted due to strong opposition from the Nepali Congress (NC). It again announced to bring the budget before May 28, but could not muster the courage to move ahead unilaterally amid growing opposition.

Timely presentation of the annual budget has become the need of the hour amid slow capital expenditure. Delay in the budget presentation for the last three consecutive years has taken a toll on development and economic growth of the country.

This year, capital expenditure has been slow and revenue growth stands at just 14 percent against the requirement of 20 percent to meet the target of Rs 216 billion. As of mid-April, only Rs 33 billion (25 percent) out of Rs 129 billion budget allocated for capital expenditure has been spent.

Development projects have become major victims of budget delay. Even first priority (P1) projects struggled to get adequate resources this year. Until last month, several projects were in the process of getting approval from the National Planning Commission as the approval process began late. “This has affected the country’s economic growth,” said Khanal. The country’s economic growth is expected to stand at 3.47 percent this fiscal year even after the government reduced the target to 4.5 percent from earlier 5.5 percent.

Khanal said the parties should agree on continuing existing projects instead of adding new ones to bring the budget on time. “They can also discuss the revenue policy at the Parliament’s Finance and Labour Committee for forging a consensus on the policy,” he said.

Whenever the budget has been presented late, the country’s capital expenditure has been low. In 2008-09, when the then Maoist-led government brought the budget two months late, the capital expenditure remained at Rs 73 billion, against the target of Rs 91 billion. In 2009-10, the expenditure remained at Rs 89 billion against the target of Rs 106 billion.

The government has revised the capital expenditure target at 110 billion this year through the mid-term review of the budget. The earlier target was Rs 129 billion.


Kathmandu, 30 May: In the foreign category, ,Sylvia Zakkowiee became the first woman to win the win the title and create a new record in the Everest Marathon, Republica reports.
The cross-country skier from Poland finished the marathon in 5 hours, 34 minutes 6 seconds.
“It’s the best day in my life. It’s incredible because I didn’t expect it. It’s a bi surprise,” she said after winning the title.
A participant of the Vancouver Winter Olympics 2010, Zaskowiee switched to marathon after she broke her left arm last summer.
“I decided to join marathon during my one-year break after the skiing accident. It was a big disappointment, for me,” she said.


Kathmandu, 30 May : Police have yet to make any arrests despite identifying the persons involved in setting three buildings of Indian power developer GMR--which is currently carrying out construction of Upper Karnali Hydropower Project--in Paltada area of Dailekh district on fire last Sunday, Khalendra Sejuwal reports in Republica from Surkhet.

The locals have accused Maoist cadres Binny Shahi of Chamunda and Dirgha Bahadur Shahi of Layanta of arson in their statements to the police.
But police claimed lack of formal complaint by the company has delayed arrests. “They have not lodged any formal complaint and this has made it difficult for us to arrest the culprits,” a police officer with Daiekh Police said. The fact that the persons are Maoists, the officer claimed, has also further delayed procedures.

Maoist politburo member and Seti-Mahakali state committee in-charge Dharmendra Bastola hailed the attack on GMR though he didn´t officially own up the incident.

“A few days ago, action was taken against Upper Karnali, which was a very good thing,” Bastola had said at a program in Birendranagar on Friday. “Action against GMR should be taken as an act in the national interest, whoever may have taken it.”

A group of around 25-30 persons allegedly led by the duo had barged into Paltada premises at about 4 pm chanting slogans that Upper Karnali was not in national interest and set ablaze all three office buildings of the company.

The preliminary report by the police had put the material loss of GMR at Rs 11 million.


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