Nepal Today

Monday, March 11, 2013

APF, SHANKATA PLAY IN FNAL OF BIRAT GOLD CUP Kathmandu, 12 March: Armed Police Force (APF) plays Shantkat Tuesdayin the final of the Birat Gold Cup. The match is being hosted by the first industrial city. Both clubs are A division teams. Nnnn THREE STAR MEETS FRIENDS CLUB IN MARTYRS MEMORIAL A DIVISION FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP Kathmandu, 12 March: Three Star plays Friends Clun in the martyrs memorial A division super league championship at Dashrath Rangashala Tuesday. POLice meets NRT in the second match of the day. Eight teams have qualified for the second league. nnnn UML TALKS TEAM CHIEF NEPAL ALOOF FROM INTRA-PARTY TALKS Kathmandu , 12 March : Although CPN-UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal is the official head of the talks team formed by the party for holding negotiations with other parties on formation of new government, he has remained completely aloof from the ongoing dialogues for the past few weeks, Thira L. Bhusal writes in Republica.. Nepal, who remained very active in such talks in the past, has detached himself from inter-party negotiations on formation of new government ever since top leaders from the major political parties decided to form election government under the leadership of sitting chief justice. As the CPN-UML held discussions over the ruling UCPN (Maoist)´s proposal to form CJ-led election government in the first week of February, the party´s top leaders faced strong criticism from the majority of the central committee for entertaining the Maoist proposal. Although the central committee strongly objected to the proposal and the party leadership remains divided, majority members in the standing committee have supported the idea of CJ-led government. Nepal, who was touring France when the party took the decision, expressed his strong opposition to the decision immediately upon landing in Kathmandu. He not only criticized the leaders in public but also demanded that a standing committee meeting be held immediately to discuss the issue. Though the standing committee meeting was convened a few days after Nepal´s arrival, the dissidents couldn´t change the decision as majority members insisted on taking the ongoing process to a logical conclusion. While Chairman Khanal along with other leaders including KP Sharma Oli, Bamdev Gautam, Bidya Bhandari and Bishnu Paudel stood for CJ-led government, other members in the standing committee -- Nepal, General Secretary Ishwar Pokharel, Secretaries Shankar Pokharel and Yubaraj Gyawali -- opposed the decision. Not only Nepal, but also party general secretary Pokharel and other dissident leaders have stayed away from the inter-party talks for the past few weeks. Central Committee member Jagannath Khatiwada said that Nepal felt betrayed by party colleagues because a few weeks before he left for France, his proposal to seek an alternative to Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala´s candidacy was strongly objected at party meeting. "He had proposed forming an election government under the leadership of a small political party or other neutral political leader," Khatiwada told Republica. "But later in his absence the same leaders decided to form CJ-led government even though his [Nepal´s] proposal was much better." Another leader argued that Nepal hasn´t joined inter-party talks because he went too far while criticizing the party leaders´ for taking the decision. Intra-party equations took surprising turn The proposal to form CJ-led government has created unexpected scenario in the intra-party equations within the UML. The issue brought rival Khanal and Oli together to one camp while Nepal and General Secretary Pokharel have been pushed to another camp. Nepal´s trusted loyal Bhim Rawal and Raghuji Pant now support CJ-led government while KP Sharma Oli´s faithful Shankar Pokharel and Khanal´s confidant Yubaraj Gyawali has join the Nepal-Ishwar camp on the issue. Will Khanal-Oli alliance last long? Last year, Nepal and Ishwar Pokharel smelt a rat when Khanal and Oli agreed to forget their years-long rivalry and reached a deal to elevate Oli to the third position in the party hierarchy after Khanal and Nepal. Before this, Nepal and Oli were one against the Khanal camp. Nepal-Ishwar camp then termed the Khanal-Oli alliance as unholy. With the party´s general convention slated for next year, these UML camps, which number around half-a-dozen, are fearful of any two or more camps forming alliances as such a move could make a difference in electing a new leadership in the party.But interestingly, no faction trusts each other at present. While Khanal and Oli were shaking hands in Kathmandu last month after agreeing on the proposal to form a CJ-led government, their cadres at the general convention of the Youth Association Nepal in Butwal were engaged in a bitter quarrel. While there was a fierce competition between Khanal-backed candidate Neeraj Acharya and Oli-supported Mahesh Basnet, Oli and Nepal reached a deal and Nepal´s candidate Jhapat Rawal withdrew his candidacy and supported Basnet. Finally, defeating Khanal´s candidate, Oli´s confidant Basnet was re-elected as chief of the party´s youth wing. But, just the opposite was witnessed at the general convention of Press Chautari, organization of UML-affiliated journalists, in Biratnagar Saturday. Here, Oli camp reportedly received support from Khanal camp and defeated Nepal´s candidate Bishnu Rijal with a huge margin to elect Oli´s man Rajendra Aryal as the president of the organization. "Leaders are already making their moves keeping in mind party general convention next year, but it is too early to predict future scenario," said a second-rung leader preferring anonymity. Nnnn CHINA RAIL FROM BEIJING TO REACH SHIGATSE NEAR NEPAL-TIBET BORDER THIS YEAR 1 Kathmandu, 12 March: The Tibet railway is expected to connect Kathmandu with Shigatse later this year. Losang Samten, chief of the Tibet Autonomous Region government, informed in Beijing that the Lhasa-Shigatse railway will be completed ahead of schedule and the railway will become operational at the beginning of 2014, purna BAsnet reports in Republica from Beijing.. Speaking at the ongoing Chinese National Congress on Tuesday, Losang Samten informed that the project, considered a very ambitious and strategic one for China, is going to see completion soon. “I hope the Lhasa-Shigatse railway will be completed by the end of this year [2013] and will come into operation at the start of 2014,” said Losang, speaking in course of the Natonal Congress meeting. The 253 kilometer Lhasa-Shigatse railway is a very ambitious project under China´s 12th five-year plan, which commenced in 2011. The project, started in September 2010, aims to see completion by 2015, at a cost of 2.1 billion US dollars. The railway will reach Shigate, the second largest city of Tibet, passing through the 90-kilometer gorge of the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra) river and it is expected to boost tourism and business in those areas. Tibet attracted 11 million tourists last year, generating revenue worth 2.1 billion dollars. The Lhasa-Shigatse railway is the first-leg expansion of the Qinghai-Tibet railway, which is to connect Tibet with the Chinese capital. Beijing plans to link Kerung, a business hub near Rasuwagadhi in Nepal, with Shigatse, which is connected with Nepal, India and Bhutan. Another branch of the railway to Nyanchi, south-east of Lhasa, will reach the Indian border. The main purpose of the railway is to develop relations with South Asia. China is already connected to South-East Asia by rail. According to Hu Siseng, South and South-East Asia director of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, China plans a rail and road network from south-eastern Yunan province to the border areas of the western province of Xinjiang by 2020. “We plan to connect neighboring countries including Nepal after constructing railways to the border areas,” said Hu, indicating some amendments to a previous plan. He said the railway will connected with Nepal after expanding the road network. Hu claimed that India will also be attracted by the strategic aspects of these developments in physical contact between Nepal and China within the next few years. He commented that this will impact hugely on relations between China and South Asia. “Feld studies show that there is not so much difficulty technically and physically in connecting Kathmandu by rail,” added Hu, indicting that China would not be deterred by the difficulties of Himalayan geography. Nnnn ADB TIES AID WITH PRFORMANCE Kathmandu, 12 March:: Assistance to Nepal depends on the performance indicators based on the projects’ evaluation, according to a development partner, The Himalayan Times reports.. “The government and project implementing agencies must be aware that the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) assistance to Nepal will be based on the ADB-funded projects evaluation and performance indicators,” said ADB country director for Nepal Kenichi Yokoyama during the trimester evaluation meeting with the Finance Ministry here today. Though, ADB has invested $1.32 billion in seven sectors that has 33 investment projects — according to the current ADB portfolio in Nepal — the meeting today discussed on 18 projects in detail. Secretaries and officials of various ministries, including finance secretary Shanta Raj Subedi, held discussion on the ADB-funded projects and their current status. “Such meetings will help identify practical problems during the implementation of projects and also help find solutions,” the finance secretary said chairing the meeting on the occasion. “Despite government’s failure in bringing the full-fledged budget for the current fiscal year, there will no dearth of matching fund for the development partner-funded projects,” Subedi said, asking the development partners to continue their assistance. The ADB has also been preparing new Country Partnership Strategy (2013-2017) with reduced strategic pillars to three from the current strategy’s four pillars, apart from reducing sectors to five from the current seven and 15 sub-sectors from the current 24 to concentrate more on focused areas to get maximum output than the current one. Despite development partners repeated request to increase capital spending, the government has not been able to increase absorptive capacity that has made foreign aid plunge. Nepal has received Rs 2.59 billion foreign cash and Rs 21.21 billion foreign grant commitment making it a total of Rs 23.80 billion foreign aid commitment in the first seven months of the current fiscal year, according to the Finance Ministry. However, by the six months of the current fiscal year, the country had received Rs 1.31 billion foreign cash loans and Rs 10.25 billion foreign cash grants compared to Rs 2.59 billion and Rs 21.21 billion, respectively in the same period of the last fiscal year, according to central bank. Nnnn PABSON REJECTS GOVT. DIRECTIVE TO SCHOOLS Kathmandu, 12 March: Private And Boarding Schools’ Organisation Nepal (PABSON), an umbrella organisation of institutional schools, today refused to implement the ‘Institutional School Criteria and Operation Directives-2069’ stating that its 39-point suggestion does not figure in the document, Kokila KC writes in the Himalayan Times.. PABSON accused the government of cheating it while issuing the directives. PABSON said their meeting with the government discussed ensuring quality education, representation of PABSON and other stakeholders in the district education committee, minimum number of student in a class, size of desk benches and other things. Later, it said, the Ministry of Education (MoE) officials issued the directives without incorporating its inputs. The government had formed a committee with participation of PABSON, NPABSAN, guardians, journalists and other stakeholders to draft the directives meant to regulate institutional schools. After a yearlong discussion and homework, the committee had prepared the directives and handed it over to Education Minister Dina Nath Sharma, who had approved it on February 17. Babu Ram Pokharel, PABSON president, said, “We had asked for our identity demanding a separate Act for the private sector. But the government has tried to tag us as criminals by issuing directives with every point talking of action to be taken against us.” He said, “The government has brought the directives to discourage the private sector that has been providing quality education in the country.” Pokharel pointed that out of total students, 24 per cent students are from the private sector. Private schools have been providing jobs to 100,000 teachers and employees investing around Rs 10 billion in the education sector to provide quality education, he noted, accusing the government of not recognising the role they have played. “Eighty per cent of small and medium schools will shut down if the directives is implemented because the directives has certain criteria for physical infrastructure such as desk bench, number of doors and windows in school classrooms. It is next to impossible to adhere to such criteria in already-constructed buildings.” What does the rulebook have? According to the directives, schools should have a big playground to accommodate students during play time and assemblies. The rule book envisages quality food in hostel and food quality testing at least once a month. It opposes sale of books and stationery items on school premises, envisages one library for 500 students and no more than two school uniforms. It stipulates having representatives from Private and Boarding Schools Organisation Nepal and National Private and Boarding Schools Association Nepal as invitee members in District Education Committee. It suggests merging two or more schools, if need be. — HNS Govt refuses to budge Despite school organisations’ objection, the government is bent on implementing the directives. Tek Narayan Panday, director, Department of Education and coordinator of the committee that drafted the directives, refuted the school bodies’ allegations. He said, “We held rounds of meeting before issuing the directives and addressed all of their concerns.” He stated leadership of the PABSON and NPABSON might have come under pressure from subordinates, so they are opposing the directives. Panday said they have sent circulars to the districts to implement the directives from the new academic session. — HNS Guardians’ body takes exception The Guardians’ Association of Nepal (GAN) on Monday hoisted a black flag on the premises of the PABSON central office protesting the latter’s objection to the ‘Institutional School Criteria and Operation Directives 2069’. Suprabhat Bhandari, GAN president, said it is inappropriate on the part of the main stakeholder to publicly speak against the directives. “Defying the directives, which stakeholders, including PABSON, prepared, means defying the government, guardians and students,” Bhandari said. GAN gave PABSON a seven days to retract its objection in the interest of students and the country, warming of fresh protests otherwise. — nnnn


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