Nepal Today

Friday, November 30, 2012

MOTORCYCLUST KILLED IN SIRAHA Kathmandu, 1 Dec.: A motorcyclist was killed Friday in Dhangadi, Siraha. Kapil Dev Mahito died when a jeep hit him Nnnn CPN-MAOIST TELLS PESIDENT HIS AGREEMENT WITH BIG THREE, MADESH MORCHA UNACCEPTABLE Kathmandu, 1 Dec.: Expressing serious objection over President Ram Baran Yadav not including the CPN-Maoist in the meetings of major political parties, the breakaway Maoist party on Friday warned that it would not accept any decision that the UCPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN (UML) and United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) take without the involvement of the CPN-Maoist, Republica reports. The party also asked the president the reason for such omission and alleged that he was harboring suspicions against it. At a meeting with the president at Shital Niwas, the CPN-Maoist said they would protest if the president continued to overlook that party. President Yadav had not called the CPN-Maoist to the meeting at Shital Niwas on Thursday. He called the UCPN (Maoist), NC, UML and UDMF and extended by a week the deadline for picking a consensus prime minister. "We asked the president where was our space? Our party claims the post of prime minister. We had 91 lawmakers in the dissolved Constituent Assembly (CA). We clearly informed him that we would not accept any decision of the so-called major parties," Pampha Bhusal, party spokesperson, told Republica. "We expressed serious objection to the neglect of our party which is playing a decisive role with a clear political agenda," Vice-chairman CP Gajurel told media, emerging from the Shital Niwas meeting. "We said that at least the parties which were in the dissolved CA should have participated in the meeting," said Bhusal. The CPN-Maoist submitted to the president on Friday the list of its 91 lawmakers in the dissolved CA. There is no criteria except strength in the dissolved CA, and the president called in Madhesi parties with fewer than 30 CA seats, it was pointed out. CPN-Maoist leaders informed the president that they would go for protest in the streets if the president endorsed the decisions of just the three major parties in the name of political consensus. "We do not accept any agreement of the so-called three major parties. We will go for street protests," added Bhusal. According to her, the constitutional and political crisis is the result of failure on the part of the UCPN(Maoist), NC, UML and UDMF and there was no point extending the deadline for consensus. "The parties would not find a solution even if they had weeks more. If they object to the title of the all party round tabletable that we proposed, we can use some other name," said Bhusal. "A solution can materialize only through another agreement like the 12-point one," she said. The UCPN(Maoist) has flouted the proposal for a roundtable of all parties, stakeholders and regional and social forces. nnnn DONORS NOT TRANSPARENT Kathmandu, 1 Dec.: A newly published report has busted the myth that leading aid agencies working in the country are transparent about their activities and financial resource allocations, Republica reports.. The report titled ´A Pilot Study on Situation of Aid Transparency in Nepal´ published by Freedom Forum states that transparency level as claimed by donor agencies was not found in practice, although senior management team at those agencies had good knowledge of aid transparency and accountability. The survey conducted among seven donor agencies - the World Bank (WB), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Department for International Development (DfID), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Norwegian Embassy, USAID and the UNDP - found that none of the agencies provided complete budgetary information, many kept beneficiaries in dark about project budget, many were reluctant about providing information on projects and at least one agency did not even have a designated officer to share information. “Yet all seven agencies consulted at the central level mentioned they did not have restriction on sharing project and program information with stakeholders and they do have organizational policy on the same,” says the report, which was prepared in coordination with Aid Info, a UK based NGO working on donor transparency. During the survey all agency responded saying they share documents on project agreement and policies with stakeholders. But none of them shared complete information on budget, the report says. USAID, for instance, provided information on total commitment amount for 2009, 2010 and 2011. But it failed to provide information on actual disbursement during those years, the report says. The DfID, another leading aid agency for Nepal, on the other hand, could not clarify whether the aid was grant or loan, budgetary or non-budgetary and monetary or non-monetary. The agency also could not provide yearly breakdown of commitment and disbursement of amount, the report states. The World Bank, which was the only donor agency that provided information on internal budget, also could not provide information on whether the aid was budgetary or non-budgetary and monetary or non-monetary. Surprisingly, the ADB did not provide any information on its budget, which the report says was “very unusual”. Others like JICA, UNDP and Norwegian Embassy also could not furnish complete information on budgetary allocations. The situation was even worse at the district level in terms of information dissemination on budget allocated for projects. During survey in Chitwan and Dolakha, only 30 percent of them were aware about the project budget, while 64 percent of project offices claimed they share information on project budget with beneficiaries. Similar discrepancy was also detected on sharing monitoring and evaluation reports. While 85 percent of project offices claimed they shared such reports with beneficiaries, only 20 percent of the beneficiaries said they had actually received such documents. The survey also found that not all donor agencies shared all the information. For instance, the UNDP said it does not share information with the people of the donor country, USAID said it does not share information with project implementers and Norwegian Embassy said it does share information with beneficiaries, civil society organizations and media, the report says. Concluding that there are lots of discrepancies on what the donor agencies say and practice, the report suggests that the agencies strictly follow the provisions on Right to Information Act and disclose information every three months, especially on the number of ongoing projects being implemented with the support of the government, different non-government organizations, the private sector and others. “Budget tracking could also be an area for further exploration,” the report suggests. Nnnn U.S. HOUSE VOTES END OF A POPULAR PROGRAMME IN NEPAL TO END VISA LOTTERY Kathmandu, 1 Dec : The U.S. House of Representatives voted Friday to make green cards accessible to foreign students graduating with advanced science and math degrees from U.S. universities, setting up what is expected to be a turbulent battle over immigration policy next year, AP reports from Washington. Even this limited step, strongly backed by the high-tech industry, is unlikely to go anywhere this session of Congress, indicating how difficult it will be to find lasting solutions to the nation´s much-criticized immigration system. For Republicans largely shunned by Hispanic voters in the November elections, the vote for the STEM Jobs Act was a way of showing they have softened their hardline immigration policies and are ready to work for more comprehensive legislation. A more sweeping bill presumably would deal not only with legal residents but also with the estimated 11 million people in the U.S. illegally. In another gesture to Hispanics and other minority communities, lawmakers added a provision that will make it easier for those with green cards to be reunited with spouses and children now living overseas. But for many Democrats and the Obama administration, Friday´s first step was more of a misstep. Democrats, including members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, assailed the legislation for offsetting the 55,000 new permanent residency visas by eliminating a program that provided green cards to people with traditionally lower rates of immigration, particularly those from Africa. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. A White House statement said it was encouraged that Congress "appears to be ready to begin serious debate on the need to fix our broken immigration system." But it said the administration does not support "narrowly tailored proposals" that do not meet long-term objectives of achieving comprehensive reform. That comprehensive approach includes dealing with the young people brought into the country illegally, establishing a solution for agriculture workers, creating an effective border enforcement system and worker verification program and deciding by what means those living in the country illegally can attain legal status. The Democratic-controlled Senate is seen as likely to ignore the House STEM bill in the waning days of the current congressional session. The idea of retaining foreign students with advanced degrees in the STEM fields enjoys wide bipartisan support and has long been sought by high-tech industries that have seen some of their brightest employee prospects forced to leave the U.S. and work for competitors abroad. "We should staple a green card to their diplomas," said Republican Rep. Jeff Flake, a proponent of overhauling immigration law. He cited a National Science Foundation study showing that foreign students receive nearly 60 per cent of U.S. engineering doctorates and more than 50 per cent of doctorates in mathematics and computer science. The STEM Act visas would be in addition to about 140,000 employment-based visas for those ranging from lower-skilled workers to college graduates and people in the arts, education and athletics. But the elimination of the Diversity Visa Lottery Program is a "slap in the face to the core value and the position of immigrants to the United States," said Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a leader on immigration policy with the Hispanic Caucus. "If you support this bill, then you are saying that one type of immigrant is better than the other." The Diversity Visa Lottery Program, created partly to increase visas for Ireland, has shifted over the years to focus on former Soviet states and now Africa. In 2010, almost 25,000 visas went to Africa; 9,000 to Asia and 16,000 to Europe. Applicants must have at least a high school education. Critics say the visa lottery program has outlived its purpose because Africans and East Europeans are already benefiting from family unification and skilled employment visas, and the lottery program is subject to fraud and infiltration by terrorists. The provision on reuniting families allows the spouses and children of permanent residents to come to the United States to wait for their own green card applications to be processed one year after applying. Currently, family members must wait more than two years before being reunited. Read more: Nnnn ________________________________________


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