Nepal Today

Friday, August 31, 2012

GERMAN DRONIER JOINS TARA AIR FLEET Kathmandu, 1 Sept.: A German-19-seater turboprop Dronier 228-212 Friday joined a fleet of Tara Air. A fleet of one Dronier and five Twin ,Otters services 20 internal destinations. nnnn CIAA DEVELOPS WATCHLIST OF 20 FORMER MINISTERS, POLICE OFFICERS Kathmandu, 1 Sept.: The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority has launched an investigation into the asset details of high-ranking police officials and kept around 20 former ministers on its watch list, Ananta Raj Luitel writes in The Himalayan Times. The move follows complaints against the police officials and former ministers that they have amassed and hidden wealth disproportionate to their legitimate income sources. The two top police officials who are under the CIAA scanner are Deputy Inspector General of Police Rajendra Singh Bhandari and Senior Superintendent of Police Rana Bahadur Chand. “In the complaints filed against them, DIG Singh and SSP Chand have allegedly accumulated assets disproportionate to their legitimate incomes sources,” sources at the CIAA told THT, adding that about two dozen low-ranking police officials too are under scanner. DIG Bhandari and SSP Chand have allegedly collected money from the racketeers of Voice Over Internet Protocol, an illegal business in Nepal. DIG Bhandari, who is chief of Western Regional Police Office in Pokhara, was director of the Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police when a massive crackdown was launched against illegal call centres in Kathmandu and major cities in the country. SSP Chand was in-charge of the Metropolitan Police Crime Division, which first swung into action to unearth the underground call centres in Kathmandu. SSP Chand is currently posted at the Department of Operation, Nepal Police Headquarters. The complainants have argued that DIG Singh and SSP Chand own big houses and expensive vehicles — assets impossible to acquire through their income from their police service and allowances they received while serving in peacekeeping missions. Peacekeeping missions are said to be one legitimate major source of income for police officials. CIB then had busted as many as 49 VoIP call centres, leading to the arrest of 79 racketeers across the country. The racketeers were pressed with charges under Telecommunications Act-1997 and were asked to pay Rs 9.88 billion for the loss they had caused to telecommunication structure. 18 ex-ministers on watch list As many as 18 former ministers are said to be under the scanner of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority for accumulating wealth and property through ‘illegal means’. A source at the anti-graft body The Himalayan Times that most of them are second-rung leaders but refused to give details. Spokesperson for the CIAA, Ishwori Prasad Paudel, though confirmed that some former ministers were being investigated for corruption, he declined to give names of the politicians and the parties they belong to. “I cannot tell the names,” said Paudel. “As many as 500 complaints have been filed against these former ministers, and some of them are senior leaders in their parties.” The source at CIAA said the investigation into the assets of politicians has reached a decisive stage. “Since there was enough room to doubt about their wealth and property, we have directed them to fill a 13-page form detailing their assets and income sources through which they acquired them,” added the source. nnnn TEAM TO EVALUATE SOCIAL SECURITY DESIGNS Kathmandu, 1 Sept.: The Social Security Fund is forming a three-member team to evaluate proposed designs of social security schemes submitted by various firms, as a measure to expedite the process of rolling out schemes that ensures unemployment and maternity benefits, among others, Republica reports.. Till the deadline set by the Fund, three domestic firms have submitted proposals, Kebal Prasad Bhandari, executive director of the Fund told Republica. “These proposals will be evaluated by a team comprising an official of the Insurance Board and one representative each from a trade union and employers´ organization,” Bhandari said, informing, “We have already asked different trade unions and employers´ organizations to reach a consensus on sending one representative each.” The government had first issued a public notice on June 26, requesting interested firms and consultants to submit bids on developing social security scheme from scratch. After no one responded to the first call, the government issued another public notice requesting the same on August 1 based on which three proposals were received. The three-member team formed under the Fund will now select a preferred bidder that will be responsible for developing the concept on formation of the social security system, suggesting how one-percent tax to be collected for the scheme would be utilized, deriving formulas to compute premium rates for different schemes and coming up with implementation plans. “However, we have not given any deadline to the team to select the preferred bidder. But we will conclude the screening process at the earliest,” Bhandari said. The Social Security Bill, which has been approved by Ministry of Labor and Employment, has identified nine core social security schemes to be rolled out over the years, which includes, unemployment, workplace accident, health, disability, maternity, family insurance, medical, dependent and old-age benefits. Currently, the fund has been collecting one percent tax from basic salaries of workers of the formal sector to launch the schemes. From this, the government has collected an estimated 2.53 billion so far. In future, it is planning to channel 10 percent of workers´ basic salary, which is currently being deducted to contribute to the provident fund, into the fund. Likewise, employers have also pledged to contribute 20 percent of employees" basic salary to the fund, which includes money contributed to provident fund and extended as benefits. In this manner, the fund is planning to collect 31 percent of salary of every employee to roll out social security schemes. Nnnn ________________________________________ 16-POINT CODE OF CONDUCT FOR CPN-MAOIST LEADERS Kathmandu, 1 Sept.: The Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) has started discussions on a new code of conduct that, among other things, bars its Central Committee (CC) members from involvement in independent business activities and requires them to maintain transparency over their private Property, Republica reports.. Leaders of the CPN-M said they expect that the proposed 16-point code of conduct will make the party leaders proletarian in political, cultural and economic respects. The new Maoist party has begun discussions on the code of conduct for its leaders at a time when the UCPN(Maoist) is investigating the properties of its own leaders, according to Maoist leaders. If the proposed code of conduct is passed, CC members of the CPN-M will be required to submit details of their family property to the party every year and the party will make such details public. In addition, the code proposes to bar the CC members from involvement in national and international non-governmental organizations. Their argument is that such organizations are run by "imperialists" to paralyze the communist movement. "The Central Committee has started discussions on the code of conduct and other agenda," said Purna Gharti Magar, a CC member. According to him, the code of conduct aims at promoting a proletarian lifestyle for party leaders. The code further says that all the vehicles of the party will be kept at party headquarters and leaders can use such vehicles only if the party permits. "Almost all leaders say that they should be transformed not only politically and economically but also culturally and should shun the lifestyle of Pushpa Kamal Dahal," said CC member Santosh Budha Magar, adding that if they cannot correct themselves, they will become the next edition of Dahal. Another point is that all the leaders should be ´whole timers´ and they should not run any independent economic activity, as all things will be managed by the party. "The leaders should not keep personal property and all property will be institutionalized," said Bharat Bam, a CC member. Nnnn : NO REPORT ON FUTURE OF RESORT, HOTELS IN CHITWAN NATIONAL PARK EVEN AS AUTUMN TOURIST SEASON APPROACHES Kathmandu, 1 Sept.: Though the cabinet has given a decision to form a committee and prepare a factual report based on the study of the Chitwan National Park (CNP), hoteliers are still worried about the image of the national park that is being tarnished in the international market, The Himalayan Times reports. The Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, under its coordination, has formed a committee along with representatives from the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, and Ministry of Finance, which will study about the impact that the hotels and resorts at CNP have had on the environment and wildlife. “The committee was supposed to submit its report within 15 days and there is only a week remaining now,” said vice president of Hotel Association Nepal Amar Man Shrestha. He also expressed concern about the lack of sufficient time for the hotels and resorts to take new bookings and reservations for the coming season this year. It has been a month since the hotels and resorts within CNP have been closed. “Hotels inside CNP have already stopped taking any bookings, and are in a dilemma as to whether it can take bookings or wait till the committee submits its report,” said Shrestha. The cabinet had formed a committee on August 23 to study the condition of the environment and wildlife in CNP. However, officials at the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation have said that it has not received any kind of written document regarding the formation of a committee and the tasks that it has to carry out. “We have no idea about the committee,” said an official at the ministry. Meanwhile, hotel entrepreneurs are confused on whether they should prepare for bookings or wait for a further decision. “It will be too late for the hoteliers if the government gives a decision after a month. We are hopeful that the committee will submit its report within a week,” said Shrestha. Hotel entrepreneurs also expressed their pleasure about the cabinet decision to review the issue of CNP. Though the government had directed the hotels and resorts inside the national park to vacate the space, they are still hopeful of getting their licences renewed. Entrepreneurs are still lobbying for a minimum five-year agreement. Despite the continuous lobbying by hotel entrepreneurs, the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation about a month back had decided that no more tourists would be allowed to stay at Chitwan National Park. It had also given an exit plan to the hotels and resorts. The lease agreement of the hotels expired in mid-July and the area should be vacated by mid-October. CNP alone attracts 30 per cent of the total tourist arrivals in the country. Hotels and resorts within the national park pay an annual revenue of around Rs 200 million. They have directly created employment for around 3,000 people and indirectly for more than 100,000 people. nnnn "MEDIA GOOGLE “Bista [Keshar Bahadur] had been boycotting the party meeting for the past six months. “He did not turn up for any of the district conventions.Rather we have been informed that he is engaged in provoking the cadres against the party.” According to sources, Bista was accused of having links with former King Gyanendra Shah. “Bista was active in taking the party towards regression which is not the demand of the time.” said an officer bearer of the RJP. (The Kathmandu Post, 1 Sept.) nnnn ‘I wish could be a prisoner like Khadka [Khum Bahadur].but…. Prison is in fact, a fight or survival but this is not the case with high-profile prisoners,.” (Anonymous prisonerin Dillibazzar Khor, Republica, 1Sept.) nnnn


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