Nepal Today

Sunday, December 30, 2012

COLD WAVE DEATH IN RAUTAHAT INCREASES TO 13 Kathmandu, 31 Dec.: Cold wave deaths in Rautahat increased to 13 with deaths of a 50-year-old woman and a 80-year-old man. The man died in Gaur. Dead are mostly old poor. Nnnn MMC, APF MEET IN FOOTBALL LEAGUE Kathmandu, 31 Dec.: Jawalakhel Youth Club plays Baudha in the Martyrs Memorial A Division Football League Championship at Dashtath Rangashala Monday. MMC and APF meet in another match. nnnn TAXMEN MAY CONFRONT POLITICAL PERSONS FOR MONEY LAUNDERING Kathmandu 31 Dec.: Financial transaction s of politically exposed persons (PEPs)—who may represent a higher risk of corruption by virtue of the positions they hold—may face greater scrutiny, with the government doing homework to amend the Anti-Money Laundering Act to include such a provision, Prithvi Man SHrestha writes in The Kathmandu Post.. The proposed second amendment to the Act is in line with the revised recommendations put forth by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global anti-money laundering body. The FATF has sought an enhanced due diligence of both foreign and domestic PEPs, PEPs from international organisations and their family and associates. The previous recommendation had only talked about foreign PEPs. “We will incorporate the provisions that are compatible with the FATF recommendations in the amendment,” said Law Ministry Secretary Bhes Raj Sharma. However, endorsing a bill that scrutinises the political class will be a herculean task, as the final decision makers are the politicians. “We have to make the law compatible with international standards. But politicians are the ultimate decision makers,” said Sharma, who is also a member of the Anti-Money Laundering National Coordination Committee. A technical team within the law ministry is currently drafting the amendment. Initial recommendations put forth by the team on the amendment were discussed in the meeting of the coordination committee on Sunday. As per the new FATF recommendation, tax crimes such as smuggling should also be brought under the anti-money laundering regime. The FATF has given Nepal until June 2013 to amend the Act. The FATF has said in its report despite having the Act in place, Nepal has failed to criminalise money laundering and terrorist financing. Finance Secretary Shanta Raj Subedi said although preparations are under way, the components to be inclu-ded in the Act are yet to be determined. Another official participating in the meeting said discussions were held on incorporating enhanced measures in high-risk areas and measures to be taken to maintain more transparency on the ownership and control of legal persons and legal arrangement or about the parties to wire transfer in the amendment. Dharma Raj Sapokota, chief at the Financial Information Unit (FIU) of the central bank and secretary of coordination committee, said based on FIU’s records, real estate, shares and foreign exchange transaction s are riskier areas where vigilance should be upped. During Sunday’s meeting, officials also discussed how to get the ordinance on Organised Crime endorsed, preparation of a separate Act to freeze and confiscate property of those involved in money laundering and terrorist financing and upgrading automation of FIU. Sapkota said the law secretary has been asked to arrange an appointment with the Prime Minister to discuss the ordinance on Organised Crime. Nnnn SOUTH KOREAN CO.. CONSTRUCTING INFORMATION HIGHWAY IN SOUTH ASIA Kathmandu, 31 Dec.: The government gearing up to sign a contract with South Korea’s ICRAFT Company for the execution of the South Asian Sub-Regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Information Highway Project, The Kathmandu, Post writes. . The Asian Development Bank (ADB)-supported project will link Nepal with India, Bangladesh and Bhutan through an optical fibre network. The Ministry of Information and Communications issued a letter of acceptance (LoA) to the Korean firm on December 25. In a tender invited by the ministry, ICRAFT had quoted the lowest bid of $ 1.94 million for the project. Two Chinese firms—Anhui Communications Services and ZTE Communication—had quoted $3 million and $3.51 million, respectively. Another Chinese firm Sichuan Qingfeng Communications had also proposed to undertake the project, but its proposal was rejected during preliminary evaluation as its bid security validity period was not sufficient. Ministry officials said the work on the project will begin within the next month. “We have given a 28-day time to ICRAFT to submit performance bond and sign a contract,” said Sushil Ojha, spokesperson for the ministry. The SASEC project has focused on three components—setting up cross-border regional connectivity with a backbone bandwidth capacity of 10 Gbps; making ICT accessibility in rural communities; and operating a resource and training centre. The project will open 30 community e-centres in rural areas, besides a research and training centre for development of ICT in the country. The planned cross-country fibre link will help reduce the cost of using data and voice services. It is also seen as the best way to avoid dependency on satellite connections for communicating with countries around the world. As per the government target, the project is scheduled to be completed within the 8-10 months after the signing of the contract. Under the project, the government will install an optical fibre link of more than 500km (skipping sections where fibre links have been laid by Nepal Telecom). It will provide an alternate backbone route in Nepal for establishing cross-border connectivity through Cable Landing Station (CLS) in Rani, Biratnagar, by connecting to the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) network in Jogbani, India, and another CLS in Birgunj connected to Raxaul, India. About seven months ago, Nepal Telecom, on behalf of the government, had signed a contract with BSNL, Bangladesh Telecom Company and Bhutan Telecom to establish bilateral interconnections by building a fibre link. As per the government’s decision, the ministry will implement the project and hand it over to Nepal Telecom for operation and maintenance. nnnn


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