Nepal Today

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

LOBBYING ON BEHALF OF OHCHR-NEPAL TO EXTEND TENURE AFTER 8 DECEMBER

LOBBYING ON BEHALF OF OHCHR-NEPAL TO EXTEND TENURE AFTER 8 DECEMBER

Kathmandu, 30 Nov.: A tenure of the Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR-Nepal) ends 8 December.
The UN agency and the then government signed an agreement 10 April 2005 to monitor and investigate rights violations during the 10-year Maoist insurgency.
Operations have been scaled down after a constituent assembly election following a 12-pointNew Delhi peace accord, but the Geneva-based agency continues its presence in Nepal.
Western states particularly are lobbying for its continued presence even as some of its activities have been questioned.
Rights activists, including former Speaker Daman Nath Dhungana and Padma Ratna Tuladhar, in a joint appeal, have asked Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai , the council of ministers and major parties, to extend the tenure again.
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NARAHARI DHAKAL INSTALLED LRBB CHAIRMANS

Kathmandu, 30 Nov. Narhari Dhakal was formally installed chairman of
Rastriya Banijya Bank (RBB) Tuesday.
Other board members are: Shanta Raj Subedi, Bishnu Das Dangol, Bal Chandra Shrestha and Pitri Bhakta Pokharel.
RBB is the country’s largest commercial bank and wholly government owned.
Dhakal, a development economist, was appointed by Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai.
Government has intervened to revamp the state bank on recommendation of World Bank.
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ABORTION OF FEMALE FETUS RAMPANT

Kathmandu, 30 Nov.:: Even pre-natal sex determination is punishable under the Muluki Ain (Civil Code) but, in lack of effective monitoring, sex selective abortions are rampant in hospitals, nursing homes and clinics across the country, Anjali Subedi writes in Republica..
As per the data provided by the Department of Health Services, 51,415 abortions were carried out in 2007/08, 83,978 in 2008/09 and 88,938 fetus were aborted in 2009/10.
Under existing laws, going for ultrasound and other tests for sex determination draws three months of imprisonment for the parents and doctors involved in the process. Similarly, in case the fetus is aborted after sex determination, there is provision of up to 5 years of imprisonment depending on the age of the fetus.
Already aware that sex selective abortion is not uncommon in the capital, Republica visited three clinics located in Kalimati Chowk and one in Bhotebahal to find out how rampant the practice actually is.
Case no 1 - The ´signboard´ hung outside the Sukhi Pariwar Clinic in Kalimati offered orthopedic, neurological and family planning services. However, on entering the well furnished clinic it doesn´t take long to notice that the place was a safe haven for those needing abortion, both legal and illegal. The more complicated the case, the more the clinic could earn!
This scribe posed as a close relative of a woman who wanted to abort 7 month old fetus. Marketing officer Uttam Prasad Aryal straightaway asked whether it was a girl. He assured that clinic would provide best service as it was 25 years old (the government legalized abortion only in 2002).
“The doctor is very much experienced. He has already handled many such cases, you need not worry about the health of the mother,” he said. Aryal revealed that a majority of the married couple visit the clinic to abort female fetus.
“If they come at an early stage, we charge them only around Rs 4000. But in complicated cases, it costs up to Rs 35000,” said Aryal. Dr Tumla Lacoul Shah carries out abortion in this clinic.
Case no 2 - Care and Cure Polyclinic situated in a plush building in Kalimati boasts numbers of health services. The clinic´s main source of income, however, is from illegal abortion.
When we approached Dr Reeta for the abortion, she stressed that the case of abortion of 7 month old fetus was very complicated one and that could not be performed for below Rs 30,000.
When we broached the issue of people´s obsession for boys, the doctor gave a surprising answer! “Outsiders cannot understand pain the couples who have daughters alone go through. They want sons basically for continuing their lineage.”
Case no 3 - In Y and U medical, marketing officer Kapaleshwor Yadav said that the cost for abortion would be around Rs 20000 to 25000. When asked whether people also come for abortion of male fetus, he informed that in his 9 years of service in the clinic, he came across just two such cases. “Rarely, some couple expect the fetus to be a girl in the ultrasound report, but they would not go to the extent of aborting the fetus even if it is male,” he said.
Lastly, at Buddha Minimal Access Intervention Center in Bhotebahal, though sex selective abortion was practiced, the center did not take up cases of fetus above 3-month-old.
Commenting on the issue, Sapana Malla Pradhan, an advocate, social activist and a Constituent Assembly Member, said that the scenario reflects Nepali society´s obsession for a male child.
“Both identifying sex of fetus and going for abortion are serious crimes under the law,” said Malla. “However there is no effective body to control it. If the trend grows like this, no wonder, soon we would be confronted with the situation of gender disparity as prevalent in India,” she added.
She further informed that it is legal to go for abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy if a certified medial doctor finds it necessary to safeguard the child or the mother. Similarly, in cases of rape or incest, abortions are allowed till 18th week of pregnancy.
Similarly, Gyanu Chhetri, a PhD holder in gender studies and professor of sociology in Patan Campus, added that the lack of control mechanism is the reason behind the rampant illegal abortions.
“People simply do not know when an abortion is legal or illegal,” she said. “During my PhD research, I found that if it is a first baby, they want son, if second, they are okay with a daughter,” she said. She stated that woman who begets only daughters have to put up with social and psychological pressure, which makes her wish for a son.
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300 MORE CASES OF IC MISUSE BY BIRGUNJ FIRMS FOUND

Kathmandu, Nov.: The Department of Revenue Investigation (DRI) has unearthed more than 300 new cases of misuse of Indian Currency (IC) by eight Birgunj-based firms, Republica reports.
A team of the DRI and Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) is looking into suspicious withdrawal of IC from three leading commercial banks by those eight firms over the past four months.
The department had dispatched a team to Birgunj last week to further investigate into IC misappropriation racket. It suspects the involvement of customs officials and staff of the banks in IC misappropriation.
“We have found more than 300 new cases of IC misappropriation by the eight firms. They were found to have withdrawn a large amount of IC from Birgunj-based bank branch of NIC Bank, Siddhartha Bank and Laxmi Bank,” Mohan Bahadur Chand, director of the DRI, said
However, the exact amount misused by those firms is still to be ascertained as investigation officials are busy verifying documents.
“Most of the cases are related to Shyam Galla Bhandar that managed to withdraw IC by producing fake documents of dry fruits and groceries imports from India,” added Chand.
About a couple of weeks ago, DRI had said it was near to completing investigation into the IC misappropriation scam that has inflicted loss worth Rs 2 billion to the national exchequer.
Preliminary investigation has showed that IC worth Rs 900 million has been misappropriated by the Birgunj-based firms alone. A joint team from DRI and NRB has found the involvement of Laxmi Traders, Maha Laxmi Enterprises, Rehan Traders, Shyam Galla Store, GS Traders, Mata Di International, Maxwell Computers and Digital World in IC misuse.
The team has suspected involvement of customs staff, employees of around a dozen banks and the traders in IC misappropriation.
Before this latest revelation, DRI had found that Laxmi Trader, Mahalaxmi Enterprises and Rehan Traders withdrew Rs 20 million from Birgunj branch of Laxmi Bank by showing fake documents of potato imports through Chhatyauli small customs under Krishnanagar Customs Office.
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MAOIST INTENSION, UNMIN RELIABLITY UNDER SCANNER WITH MISSING MAOISTS
Kathmandu, 30 Nov.: Now that the regrouping of Maoist fighters has almost come to an end, a question — who is who — is baffling all and sundry, and with around 3,000 combatants ‘lost’ during last five years, then United Nations Mission in Nepal has once again run into controversy, Lekhnath Pandey writes in The Himalayan Times..

In the last 11 days, Maoist PLA combatants lined up to register their names for regrouping, but interestingly, the names and age they provided to survey teams deployed by the Special Committee (for supervision, integration and rehabilitation of Maoist fighters) were different from those they told UNMIN in 2007. Ram Sharan Mahat, a Nepali Congress leader and an SC member, said during the survey about one fourth of combatants were found to have lied to UNMIN about names and age. Why so? Maoist fighters outright played down the issue.

PLA Brigadier Commander Saral Sahayatri Paudel attributed the mismatch in names and age to fighters’ tendency to use their nome de guerre when UNMIN verified them. “Some opted to go by their nome de guerre, without realising future implications.” UNMIN had verified the fighters without tallying the forms with their citizenship cards. Paudel failed to explain why they lied about age.

Mahat, however, linked this with Maoists’ intention to exaggerate the strength of their combatants. “It has raised a question once again whether the number of combatants is genuine,” he added, hinting that the ‘revelation’ is an extension of Maoist Chairman Puspa Kamal Dahal’s leaked ‘Shaktikhor tape’, in which Dahal had boasted how he had ‘hoodwinked UNMIN’ and succeeded in showing the PLA strength to be 19,602 instead of actual 7,000. In addition, 3,000 ‘missing’ combatants have also left many questions. The Maoist party proved it was a step ahead; it religiously lapped up the allowances meant for the ‘deserters’ till two weeks ago. With Rs 8,000 per head, the Maoist party enriched itself by around Rs 25 million at the expense of state coffers. Former peace minister Janardan Sharma, a Maoist member in the Special Committee, however, ruled out foul play. Former peace minister Rakam Chemjong had even stopped allowances for three months, arguing that stipend should be provided to individual fighters.

Mahat added had UNMIN strictly monitored the camps and shared data, the Maoists would not have been able to misuse the government till.
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NEPAL TO ASK DONORS TO CHANNEL AID THROUGH NATIONAL BUDGET
Kathmandu, 30 Nov.: Nepal is asking the donors to channel aid through budget as government has increased accountability and transparency in expenditure, Kuvera Chilese writes in The Himalayan Times..

“We will request the donors to channelise their aid through government budget,” said finance secretary Krishnahari Baskota before flying to Busan, South Korea to take part in the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness that started today. “The government has increased its accountability and transparency in expenditure,” he said, adding that the donors, who seek accountability of their aid, can now believe on the government machinery.

Nepal has also upgraded its budget format according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) standard to make the donors more comfortable and increase country ownership of the aid instead of off the budgetary aid, the finance secretary, who is taking part in the evaluation meeting — of earlier commitments and implementation of 2005 Paris Declaration — with finance minister Barsha Man Pun, added. “The people of the donor countries have right to know that their tax has been used effectively.”

Meanwhile, the key actors meeting in Busan today, the first day of the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, laid emphasis on inclusive ownership, mutual accountability and the platform of the groundbreaking Paris Declaration.

Speakers representing donor and recipient governments and civil society experts stressed the importance of going beyond technical targets to meet challenges in achieving inclusive indicators that are commonly based on concrete figures in poverty reduction.

Developing mechanisms to create diverse stakeholders, including citizen participation in decision-making and implementation of balanced partnerships to achieve transparency and poverty reduction have been defined as some of the landmarks of ownership and accountability.

The concepts are aimed at encouraging domestic accountability that will foster development efficiency through the participation of grassroots-level citizens. The test in Busan is to implement political commitments to strengthen the process and move away from shaping aid narrowly through donor disbursements.

Still, surveys post-Paris indicate that more than 60 per cent of donor and developing countries have not met their targets apart from mutual accountability that remains a sticking point for donor countries.

The donors also pointed to pressure from tax payers in their countries who expect concrete improvement in poverty eradication in shorter spaces of time.

Experts also pointed to the need to move ahead in achieving effectiveness in Busan to combat widening development issues – the emergence of new aid players against a backdrop of global disillusionment with the results of trillions of dollars already spent in overseas development.

Counter methods included the urgent need to monitor and disseminate success stories of mutual accountability like gaining the trust of grassroots communities that often feel ignored in the aid debate.

Some 2,000 delegates will, until December 1, review progress in improving the effectiveness of aid, before making commitments towards a new development paradigm.

Government to seek loan from S Korea

Nepal will also seek loan from ExIm Bank of South Korea during the meeting at Busan, according to finance secretary Krishnahari Baskota. “The government will also ask the South Korean government to increase number of Nepali employees under Employment Permit System (EPS) and strengthen relationships between Financial Information Units of both the countries to fight against the flow of dirty money,” he added.
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