Nepal Today

Thursday, June 28, 2012

SEVEN WOMEN BURIED BY LANDSLIDE IN TANAHU Kathmandu, 29 June: Seven women died overnight when a landslide buried the house of Rupa BK at Jamuni in Tanahu. Four members of BK’s family were buried alive along with three guests. Nnnn GOVT. TO ALLOW RICE EXPORTS AMID PREDICTION OF FALL IN PRODUCTION Kathmandu, 29 June : Farmers complaining about low price of rice in the market will soon have a reason to rejoice. The government is preparing to lift up the ban on exports of rice imposed since 2008 owing to low production, Bhoj Raj Pokhrel writes in Republica. . The Ministry of Agriculture Development (MoAD) has said it will allow export of up to 100,000 tons of rice from the next fiscal year which begins from mid-July. The Ministry of Commerce and Supplies (MoCS) has said it will open up two customs points -- Tatopani and Rasuwa -- for rice exports. But it has yet to fix the exact quantity that would be allowed to be shipped out of the country. "Although the MoAD has okayed exports of 100,000 tons of rice, we are planning to limit it to 50,000 tons for now," Lal Mani Joshi, secretary at the MoCS, said. "The decision has to be approved by the Prime Minister´s Office." At present, the government has decided to open only two border points, Tatopani and Rasuwa, for exports as these areas were hubs for illegal exports of rice. "We hope this step will control smuggling of rice," the official said, adding, “Opening up of customs points for legal exports will also ensure that farmers will get higher returns for their products.” According to MoAD statistics, the country enjoyed food surplus of 443,000 tons in the fiscal year 2010/11. It has forecast a food surplus of about 800,000 tons for this fiscal year, of which 300,000 tons will comprise rice, the statistics show. The preliminary estimation of crops production of MoAD shows that paddy production reached 9.45 million tons this fiscal year, up 9.8 percent compared to the last fiscal and 21.8 percent compared to the fiscal year 2009/10. Despite surplus paddy production, the government is reluctant to open up exports of rice from other customs points citing unethical behavior of traders. "There is a risk in opening rice exports from other customs points," an official at the MoAD said. "Bangladesh has a huge demand of rice of almost 1 million tons that might lead us to another trouble." The official´s statement stems from the fear that Nepali traders re-export rice imported from India to Bangladesh. nnnn ________________________________________ GULF STILL ATTRACTS MIGRANT WORKERS Kathmandu, 29 June:: Despite regional political turmoil and continuing global economic slowdown, demand for foreign workers remains high in the Gulf region, according to a study, Republica reports. The study commissioned by Western Union (WU) -- the world´s leading money remitter -- says the region is still seeing moderate growth rate despite political uprisings and civil unrest. “We expect opportunities for global workers to remain strong with the remittance flows from host to home countries,” said Jean-Claude Farah, Western Union´s Senior Vice-president for the Middle East and Africa. “The Asia Pacific region has been a significant source of labour for Gulf countries led by India, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand and Nepal. This study should instill greater confidence among global workers seeking employment in these countries”, said Drina Yue, managing director and senior vice president of Western Union, Asia Pacific. The study "The Economic Impact of the Uprisings in the MENA Region" also states that economic forecasts for Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are much better than those for the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region as a whole. The GCC block includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The study´s lead author Dr Ahmed Farouk Ghoneim, who is also the professor of Economics at Cairo University said that the real GDP growth in GCC was expected to remain strong despite short-term disturbances. Ghoneim also noted that the region´s countries have limited exposure to international financial crisis. “In relative terms, the financial crisis and oil and food price increases have had only mild effects on MENA economies, owing to their limited integration into the world economy”, added Ghoneim. nnnn ________________________________________ NO PROGRESS AT COMMITTEE TO REVIVE SICK INDUSTRIES Kahmandu, 29 June: The recently formed high-level committee for revival of sick industries has not yet determined its own working procedure to start its work to deal with the issues of sick industries, The Himalayan Times writes.. The government has repeatedly formed task forces and committees to identify and revive sick industries but till date none of the committees have accomplished its task. According to officials of the Ministry of Industry (MoI), a 15-member high-level committee has been formed to identify sick industries and recommend their names to the government. “The committee has organised only one meeting so far which discussed on developing its working procedure,” said the official. A primary meeting of the high-level committee was held on June 22. “There will be another meeting to develop the working procedure but we are not sure when that will take place,” the official said. The cabinet had directed MoI to form a high-level committee comprising of representatives from the government and the private sector to further identify and recommend the names of sick industries to the government for their revival. Earlier too, there was another high-level task force for the rehabilitation of sick industries with representatives from MoI, Finance Ministry, Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), Confederation of Nepalese Industries, Ministry of Energy, and National Planning Commission. However, the sick industries are still waiting for the committee to start its work. Sick Industry Rehabilitation Forum at FNCCI states there are around 400 sick companies. “Government should work more effectively and the meetings that committee organises should be more productive,” said an official at FNCCI. According to the source, the sick industries are categorised as complete sick industries, possible sick industries, and vulnerable sick industries. Complete sick industries are those Othat cannot be revived and they can completely shut down their businesses after paying the principal amount. Similarly, possible sick industries are those which have the possibility of revival, and for those industries, the central bank will provide a facility of a soft loan for three to five years depending on the nature of the industry. Meanwhile for vulnerable sick industries, NRB will allow a short-term facility of one year which is a waiver of the interest on the loan taken. Meanwhile, president of Nepal Carpet Exporters’ Association Kabindra Nath Thakur said that there are a number of fraud industrialists who are waiting to take advantage of the government programme to revive sick industries. Nnnn TRC THROUGH ORDINANCE Kathmandu, 29 June: The 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that brought then warring Maoists to peace process categorically called for establishment of Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Commission on Inquiry of the Disappeared to deal with transitional justice, Ananta Raj Luitel writes in The Himalayan Times. But in the following years, even after the elections of the Constituent Assembly that doubled as Parliament, the parties that had come together to sign the peace deal continued warring over several issues, resulting in failure to form the two major commissions. Eventually, after years of wrangling, the signatory parties to the peace deal could neither establish the commissions nor promulgate the constitution, and the CA-cum-Parliament died at the stroke of midnight of May 27, dealing a blow to the victims of decade-long conflict. And now in the absence of an elected body, the government, which has been reduced to the caretaker status, is doing the groundwork to establish TRC and CoID through ordinances. “Discussions are under way to bring some ordinances to deal with cases of human rights violations during the decade-long conflict,” a highly placed bureaucratic source at the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers told THT on condition of anonymity. According to him, the government would take steps to invoke Article 88 of the Interim Constitution for more ordinances, but only after it succeeded in bringing the budget through ordinance. “In fact, we are discussing whether to bring a single ordinance or two separate ones for TRC and CoID,” he added. Few months before CA’s demise, major parties had almost reached a deal on establishing an integrated commission for transitional justice. But will such ordinances for TRC and CoID by the government be acceptable to all? Rights defenders are throwing a wary glance at such potential move by the government. Charan Prasai, Chairman of Joint Forum of Human Rights said civil society and human rights community will not accept transitional justice mechanisms enforced through ordinances. “We can wait for justice, but cannot tolerate injustice,” said Prasai. “Bringing ordinances (for TRC and CoID) will squarely mean that the government wants to grant blanket amnesty to human rights violators.” The Maoist party was labelled as the main obstacle to the two much-awaited commissions in the past and now a government led by it pushing for TRC and CoID through ordinance reflects its intention to impose general amnesty, say rights activists. Human rights advocate Govinda Bandi said TRC through ordinance will be tantamount to institutionalising impunity and that national and international rights bodies were sure to object to such legislation through ordinance. Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai’s political adviser Devendra Paudel confirmed that the government was doing the groundwork to promulgate some ordinances. “At present the government is working on ordinance for the budget. After that some more ordinances are likely,” said Paudel. The government is also working to bring ordinances in order to amend the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority Act, Election Commission Act, Voters’ List Act and the National Human Rights Commission Act. A source of the Office of the President, however, said the President might not approve any more ordinances. A report launched today by International Commission of Jurists also has cast doubt on formation of such mechanisms, saying Nepal has the long legacy of ad hoc and failed commissions. “There is reason to suspect that any proposed transitional justice institution will be equally vulnerable to the weakness and political influences that have plagued the numerous inquiry commissions dotting Nepal’s social and legal-political landscape,” said the report titled Denying Remedies Entrenching, Impunity. nnnn


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