Nepal Today

Monday, January 30, 2012

PM GREETED WITH BLACK FLAGS IN BHAKTAPUR

BLACK FLAGS GREET PM
Kathmandu, 31 Jan.: Students greeted Prime Minister with black
flags in Bhaktapur protesting hike in prices of POL products Tuesday morning.
He was en route to Nagarkot to inaugurate festival.
Protesting students were affiliated with opposition UML.
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MILK PRICE HIKED
Kathmandu, 31 Jan.: The price of milk was hiked Tuesday by Dairy Development
Corporation (DDC) with immediate effect from Rs 4 to Rs.6..
Half-litre blue and green packet pasteurized milk will now cost Rs 24 and Rs 28 respectively in the Kathmandu Valley.
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FUEL CRISIS ROUNDTABLE 3 FEB
Kathmandu, 31 Jan.: Ministry of Commerce and Supplies is organising a roundtable with all the stakeholders on February 3 to find a way out of the current petroleum crisis, Shiromani Dhungana writes in The Himalayan Times.

“The roundtable is aimed at finding options to cope up with the current fuel crisis,” according to minister for Commerce and Supplies Lekh Raj Bhatta.

Despite the price hike, the consumers are suffering as the state oil monopoly has failed to maintain smooth supply of petroleum products.

The government is also planning to roll back the price hike completely, though, the minister didnot confirm.

The government has last week reduced prices of petroleum products due to pressure from the students’ unions but they are asking for a complete roll back of the prices.

The roundtable will see petroleum business people, consumer rights forums, government agencies and others.

However, the petroleum business people claim that the government is thinking of creating more shortage by not importing fuel to compel consumers tolerate price hike next time soon.

“Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) and Ministry of Commerce and Supplies have been asking financial support to establish Price Stablisation Fund but Finance Ministry is not providing the fund,” the dealers said, adding that the Price Stablisation Fund could help in cushioning the price rise.

“The Finance Ministry has already informed the treasury situation to the government,” joint secretary at the Finance Ministry Lok Darshan Regmi said, adding that it cannot provide Rs 5 billion for the Price Stablisation Fund.

The government has not earmarked any budget for NOC in the fiscal policy for the current fiscal year, he added. “However, the ministry will reduce development expenditure, if government decides to do so.”

But Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai has already hinted at giving emphasis to the development expenditures. He is also convinced on price adjustment rather than providing any subsidy to the NOC.

Neither the Finance Ministry is providing fund to establish Price Stablisation Fund nor the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies can adjust price, creating a panic situation among the consumers.

The tug of war between the two ministries and mismanagement of the state oil monopoly is going to create more scarcity of petroleum products, president of Nepal Petroleum Dealers’ National Association Saroj Prasad Pande said, adding that most of the petrol pumps today also witnessed long queues.

“The association has a report that the fuel shortage has started to hit the country again,” he added.

The domestic market consumes 17,000 kl petrol; 65,000 kl diesel; 6,000 kl kerosene; 3,000 kl Aviation Turbine Fuel (domestic); 7,000 kl ATF (international) and 12,00,000 cylinder cooking gas, according to the state oil monopoly.

NOC defies NIC directive

NOC defied the directives of National Information Commission (NIC) by not revealing the names of freebies. The commission on January 19 has directed the state oil monopoly to reveal the list of persons receiving free fuel to the chairperson of Freedom Forum Taranath Dahal within seven days. “Freedom Forum will now appeal at the commission for the information,” Dahal said.
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APF DIG MURDERED WIFE IN COLD BLOOD
Kathmandu, 31 Jan.: Police today made a formal announcement that Armed Police Force DIG Ranjan Koirala had premeditatedly killed his wife Gita Dhakal and burnt her body in the jungle of Palung, Makwanpur, The Himalayan Times reports.

Organising a press conference, Kathmandu Police Chief SP Rajendra Shrestha told mediapersons that police had solid and circumstantial evidences supporting that DIG Koirala had committed the murder in cold blood. “We have recovered a wristwatch and an earring from the jungle in Palung of Makwanpur where charred remains of body parts of Gita were found, and they have been identified by Koirala and the victim’s mother Haripriya Dhakal as Gita’s belongings,” said SP Shrestha, dispelling speculations that were rife with reports filtering in that the accused was changing his statements in a bid to make his crime appear like an incident by accident. Reports had it that if Koirala succeeded in giving an accidental colour to his crime, his jail sentence could be reduced by half. With current charges pressed against him, he has to serve 20 years in prison.

“There is no room for confusion. Whatever an accused says to evade justice does not count, what counts is solid and circumstantial evidences that we have and they prove that the murder was premeditated,” said SP Shrestha. Six match boxes, a bottle of petrol and some other materials, in which police believe the body was wrapped, were also recovered from the vehicle Koirala had used to ferry the body to Palung.

Police have also interrogated a shopkeeper in Kalimati where Koirala had bought two jerry cans to fill them with petrol, which he later used to burn the body.

Though evidences show that the charred remains of the body are of slain Gita, a clinical and scientific test is yet to be conducted. Police have referred the sample to Lalitpur-based Forensic Science Lab for a DNA test after TU Teaching Hospital said autopsy was not possible. “We will hand over the remains to Gita’s father and mother for final rites once we receive DNA test results,” said SP Shrestha.

Police have also recorded statements of locals in Palung — Mangal Bahadur Moktan, Kiranman Bal, Surya Bahadur Dong and Sunita Dong — who had on January 21 seen Koirala roaming around suspiciously in the vicinity of where Gita’s body was burnt.

Meanwhile, police said a country-made pistol and five rounds of bullets recovered from Koirala’s house in Ichangunarayan were illegal. Besides these, a Magnum pistol and 127 rounds of bullets were also seized from the house. Investigators said they were trying to establish whether Koirala had licence for the firearm.
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DUBAI SHEIKH DUPED
Kathmandu, 31 Jan.: After duping the Tourism Ministry to obtain operating licence, Dynamic Airlines Pvt Ltd has been found involved in another forgery case in the United Arab Emirates, Sangam Parsai writes.in The Kathmandu Post.
The airlines, whose licence has already been cancelled by the government, cheated Shk Hamad Ali Jabor M AL-Thani of the UAE by selling 80 percent of the company’s shares under the ‘foreign party’ share sales and purchase agreement, a highly placed source at the ministry said. According to him, the ministry received the information 15 days ago.
The forgery case came to light after AL-Thani informally wrote to the ministry requesting an inquiry about the airline, the source added. AL-Thani is associated with the aviation industry in the UAE.
The Civil Aviation Regulation requires Nepali carriers, who seek to go international, to have a paid-up capital of Rs 500 million.
And, the airline might have cheated the UAE national by showing its licence condition in which the paid-up capital figure is mentioned, ministry officials suspected. According to the agreement documents obtained by the Post, the company sold 4 million shares to
AL-Thani.
Anil Bishwokarma Gajmer of Sunsari and Om Prakash Bishwokarma and Thakur Prakash Bishwok-arma of Kaski were the promoters of Dynamic.
The airlines had cheated the Tourism Ministry to obtain licence for international flights in March 2010. As per the rule, an airline aspiring to go international has to deposit a security bond of Rs 5 million, but the airline deposited a bad cheque at the Lazimpat branch of Everest Bank on February 12, 2010, and submitted the deposit slip to the ministry. The ministry then issued it the licence.
However, after knowing about the fraud, the ministry asked the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) not to issue an air operator certificate (AOC) to the airline. After getting the licence from the ministry, an airline is required to apply for the AOC at CAAN before starting operation.
As per the rule, an airline has to get the AOC within six months after acquiring operating licence from the ministry. And if it fails, its operating licence will be scrapped automatically, which applied in Dynamic’s case.
Ranjan Krishna Aryal, joint-secretary at the Tourism Ministry, said the operating licence granted to Dynamic was scrapped automatically under the terms of reference set by the government.
“As the licence and the company turned invalid automatically, the issue is none of the ministry’s concerns,” Aryal said, adding that the foreign party should have inquired about the company before signing the agreement.
Sources said it was a forgery case and the police could deal with the issue upon the foreign company’s request. However, the ministry official said the airline was not prosecuted on fraud charges even after it was found wilfully duping the government earlier.
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MAOIST COMBATANT DISCHARGE FROM FRIDAY
Kathmandu, 31 Jan.: The Maoist leadership has assured the opposition parties that the discharge of former Maoist combatants opting for voluntary retirement will begin on Friday, said senior leaders involved in the negotiation, Phanindra Dahal reports The Kathmandu Post reports.
UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai have told the Nepali Congress leaders that they would not backtrack from the Special Committee's decision to bid farewell to 7,365 combatants. The opposition parties had grown warier after some commanders of the Maoist army on Sunday pressed the party leadership to ensure tax exemption in cash package and a certificate from the government to the retiring combatants. Both NC and UML have bluntly rejected the possibility of meeting these demands.
"We are cautious and awaiting implementation of the understanding. The Maoist leadership has told us that the process of retirement would start on Friday," said a Nepali Congress leader.
Maoist Politburo member Janardan Sharma also confirmed that the process would start on Tuesday. However, it was not clear whether the tax exemption and certificate issues could delay the process.
"We are ready to start the process from Tuesday. It is the responsibility of the Special Committee Secretariat to make technical preparations required to start the work," Sharma said.
The Secretariat is busy opening bank accounts and readying cheques to be distributed to the retiring combatants.
The work will be completed by Tuesday and teams to execute the farewell process will be ready to leave for cantonments by Wednesday or Thursday, said a Secretariat member. The Secretariat had last month formulated an action plan that outlines handover of account payee cheques to combatants, opening bank accounts and completing work in all seven main and 21 satellite cantonments within 15 days.
However, the army integration process is likely to be stalled until there is a fresh agreement among parties on ranks and some other issues. Though November 1 peace deal stipulates that maximum 6,500 combatants will be integrated into the Nepal Army, 9,705 combatants expressed their willingness towards integration during the regrouping process.
Maoist leader Sharma said the integration process would commence only after the voluntary retirement process was completed. "To start the integration immediately means obstructing the process. There are issues like ranks and bridging course that should be settled at the political level," he said.
Nepali Congress leader Ram Sharan Mahat demanded that Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai instruct the NA to start the integration process. "Both integration and voluntary retirement process should move hand in hand. The Maoists cannot do what is beneficial to them," he said. "They are creating hurdles in each and every step and inclined to bid farewell to combatants because there is cash component," he said.
Bhattarai has reportedly told NC leaders that combatants opting for integration will be handed over to the Army once the issue of rank is settled at the political level. NC leaders have been arguing that the NA should be allowed to decide on the ranks on completion of the bridging course.
'No tax exemption to combatants'
Meanwhile, Nepali Congress leader and Special Committee member Ram Sharan Mahat on Monday said the combatants choosing voluntary retirement should not be exempted from tax.
Mahat's remark comes a day after Maoist commanders demanded that the party leadership ensure that the cash package worth Rs 500,000 to Rs 800,000 be tax-free. "They are not the creatures from another planet. They should follow the law of land and pay tax like common citizens," he said.
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