Nepal Today

Monday, February 27, 2012



Kathmandu, 28 Feb.: Lars H Thunell, executive vice-president and CEO
of International Finance Corporation (IFC) said Monday the soft-lending wig of World Bank (WB) international private sector was interested to invest in some
sectors in Nepal.
"Hydropower is the first priority area for IFC. International private sector is interested to invest more in the areas ranging from agriculture to banking sector in
Nepal.” He said in a meeting with Finance Minister Barsha Man Singh Pun.
"In order to achieve anticipated double-digit growth, there should be
an appropriate economic system," Thunell said.

Kathmandu, 27 Feb.: Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) on Monday issued a new set of directives to banks and financial institutions, asking them to know and track their clients more effectively in order to control money laundering and fight terror
Financing, Republica reports.

The directive, which replaced the central bank´s previous circular on know-your-client (KYC), is similar to the directive that Financial Information Unit (FIU) -- the focal anti-money laundering unit -- issued in the past.

The difference is; its issuance by the Banking Regulation Department has made it mandatory for the BFIs to follow it.

“We enforced it as mandatory norms for the BFIs mainly after Financial Action Task Force (FATF) pushed us to do so,” said a senior NRB official.

Going by the new directive, the BFIs would now need to adopt and implement customer due diligence (CDD), which means they will need to keep track of all their clients and report suspicious transactions to the FIU.

It seeks the BFIs to adopt necessary policy and mechanism to identify suspicious transactions and strictly adopt existing law and regulations related with anti-money laundering and terrorism financing in their operations.

“The BFIs must make sure such compliance is maintained in branches as well as subsidiaries,” read the directive.

The directives asks BFIs to closely monitor customers undertaking multiple transactions, even if the volume of such transactions is small, and also watch electronic transfers, both receipts and paid. It seeks BFIs to list out their customers, categorizing them as highly risk, medium risk and low risk depending on the risks they are exposed to.

“BFIs will now need to implement Enhanced CDD to monitor people who are identified as high risk clients, that is: one whose chances of involving into money laundering and terrorism financing are high,” says the directive.

Interestingly, people who would be subjected to Enhanced CDD also include senior government officials and other office bearers, politically influential people and people who transact through other persons.


Kathmandu, 28 Feb.: Himal Power Limited is giving away $2 million (about Rs 160 million) to protesting workers to settle one and half months long labor dispute at the power company, Republicawrites.

A total of 89 employees working for the company that operates 60MW Khimti I hydropower project launched a hunger strike on Dec 16 after they found their jobs taken away by recruits of G4S -- an outsourcing company.

The hunger strike was called off a month later after the Himal Power management agreed to temporarily put labor outsourcing agreement with G4S on hold.

Since that time the workers have been staging sit-in protest in front of the power plant´s office in Dolakha, while holding talks with the company mediated by the Ministry of Labor and Transport Management.

During these talks, the workers initially demanded that the company enroll them into its payroll. But the company refused to accept the demand, saying that they were not a liability of the company as they were recruited by an outsourcing firm called Khimti Services, contract with which was terminated by Himal Power on Dec 15 due to “lack of transparency in structure, policies, procedures and audited financials".

Despite this, Himal Power agreed to pay the protesting workers off as they were transferred to Khimti Services by the company itself around 11 years ago.

As per the ´golden handshake´ agreement, the power company will provide $2 million, at an exchange rate of Rs 80, to Khimti Services, minutes of the meeting held between the management and protesting workers and mediated by the labor department show. Himal Power has agreed to pay value added tax on the amount but the tax before deduction liability will have to be borne by Khimti Services.

Although how and when the amount will be distributed among workers has yet to be decided, Ram Krishna Bhandari, one of the staff of Khimti Services, told Republica that each employee, who lost job, stands to get at least Rs 100,000 and up to Rs 175,000 for each year of service at the company.

Simply put, an employee, who has worked for 10 years, will get at least Rs 1 million and up to Rs 1.75 million in compensation. Workers at Himal Power were getting around Rs 10,000 to Rs 36,000 per month, according to Bhandari.

However, those who want to continue working for Himal Power through another outsourcing company will only get 50 percent of the compensation amount, the agreement states.

The agreement also says the signing of the ´golden handshake´ agreement automatically annuls other pacts signed between workers and the management of Himal Power. This clause was included to overwrite the ruling of the Labor Tribunal, which had asked the power company to equally distribute bonus amount among employees of Khimti Services and those hired by Himal Power itself.



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