Nepal Today

Sunday, April 14, 2013

BISKET JATRA ENDS Kathmandu, 15 April: This year’;sBisket jatra ended in Bhaktapur by lulling down the lingo. Two participants were killed and several others were injured this year while pulling the chariot of Bhairab through the town. The Seto Machindranath jatra will bow be held in he capital next. Nnnn DISCORD DELAYS POLL GUIDELINES, REGULATIONS Kathmandu, 15 April: : With the political parties failing to agree on the proposed provisions related to eligibility threshold for seats under the proportional representation electoral system and candidates´ criminal background, the Election Commission (EC) has not been able to formulate election related regulations and guidelines. Gani Amsari writes in Republica.. EC, in the ordinance on amending the Election to Members of the Constituent Assembly Act, 2013, has proposed that a political party must secure one percent of the total valid votes cast in the election to be eligible for seats under the proportional electoral system. Similarly, the constitutional body has also proposed that persons convicted of criminal offenses or moral turpitude be barred from filing candidacy and be allowed to contest election only six years after completing their sentences handed down by courts or other judicial authority. According to EC proposal, a person who is convicted of murder, theft, robbery, misappropriation of foreign currency, kidnap, rape, corruption, human trafficking, money laundering, banking irregularities, passport misuse, drug smuggling, jailbreak or abetting jail break, smuggling of protected wildlife or vegetation or objects of archeological importance, illegal trade and spying, among other illegal activities, or has shown moral turpitude, cannot be a member of any political party if he or she has not completed the sentence handed down by a court or any other judicial authority. Though the government has already approved the ordinance on amending election related acts and ordinance on amending Election Commission Act, 2013, it has failed to approve the ordinance on amending the Election to Members of the Constituent Assembly Act, 2013 as the political parties are sharply divided over the provisions related to eligibility threshold for proportional seats and candidates´ criminal background. “The ordinance on amending the Election to Members of the Constituent Assembly Act, 2013 is a fundamental document,” said Election Commissioner Ayodhi Prasad Yadav, adding, “The EC cannot formulate regulations related to security, candidates and political parties until the ordinance is approved.” He maintained that EC can start full-fledged preparations for new polls only after the ordinance on amending the Election to Members of the Constituent Assembly Act, 2013 gets approved. Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML have stood with the EC´s proposal while UCPN (Maoist) and other fringe political parties have rejected the proposed threshold, saying it would end the existence of fringe parties. The UCPN (Maoist) has also rejected the EC proposal related to candidates´ criminal background arguing that it is irrelevant as the country has just emerged from conflict. President Ram Baran Yadav on Thursday had approved the election related ordinances after the government forwarded the ordinances to him on Tuesday. According to EC officials, integrated mobile service teams of EC and the home ministry will be deployed within this week. The teams will distribute citizenship certificates and update electoral rolls, simultaneously. EC had forwarded three ordinances, ordinance on amending Election to the Members of Constituent Assembly Act, 2013, ordinance on amending Electoral Rolls Act, 2013 and ordinance on amending Election Commission Act, 2013 to the government. Nnnn PEACE PROCESS INCOMPLETE WITHOUT JUSTICE TO VICTIMS Kathmandu, 15 April: Civilian victims of the decade-long Maoist conflict have taken strong exception to media reports that peace process had come to an end with the dissolution on Saturday of the Special Committee on Supervision, Integration and Rehabilitation of the former Maoist Combatants, Republica reports.. Issuing a press statement on Sunday, Conflict Victims Orphan Society (CVOS) has said that the peace process in Nepal cannot be said to have been completed unless the civilian victims are provided with justice. CVOS has said that restoring sustainable peace in the country could just be a far-fetched dream if the conflict victims do not get justice. While hundreds of unarmed civilians were killed either by the Maoists or by the security personnel, more than 1,400 persons had been disappeared during the conflict. Likewise, nearly 5,000 were physically tortured, properties of 6,000 others were seized unjustly and nearly 80,000 people were displaced from their hometowns in the course of the armed insurgency. Stating that the management of former Maoist combatants is an important achievement of the ongoing peace process, CVOS has alleged that the state had always put the issue of providing justice to civilian victims, who were not part of conflict, on the backburner. “The state, which only understands the language of violence, strikes and pressure tactics prioritized the management of former combatants fearing dangers from them. But it is regrettable to find the state and political parties showing insensitivity toward the conflict victims, who have not employed pressure tactics and are not deemed as “threats”,” said the statement undersigned by CVOS President Suman Adhikari. While criticizing the controversial provisions of the proposed Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which aims at granting general amnesty to even those involved in serious cases of human rights violations during the conflict, CVOS has also demanded formation of a victims-centric TRC. “Peace process can never be completed without justice to the conflict victims. An entire part of the peace process still remains to be completed,” read the statement. CVOS has asked the government to provide justice to millions of civilian conflict victims and make the guilty accountable to their deeds to ensure sustainable peace in the country. It has also asked the government and political parties to revise the proposed ordinance on TRC and Disappearance Commission so as to provision adequate reparation and end the culture of Impunity Nnnn UN CITIZENSHIP REPORT MISGUIDED Kathmandu, 15 April: A new analytical report on people without citizenship in the country released recently by Forum for Women, Law and Development reveals that 23.65 per cent of the population, or 4,346,046 individuals above the age of 16, do not have citizenship certificates, The Himalayan Times reports.. It states that the percentage of people lacking citizenship certificates was the lowest in the Tarai region and the highest in the mountainous region. The report backed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees claims that Kanchanpur district of the Tarai has the lowest percentage of individuals without citizenship cards and 10-19 per cent of population in the Tarai districts don’t have citizenship. The number of people without citizenship in hill districts is 20-29 per cent, high hill districts 30-39 per cent and mountain districts 40-49 per cent. The new findings give an impression that citizenship problem is not as serious in the Tarai as in the hill and mountain districts. Chairman of the Tarai Human Rights Defenders Alliance Dipendra Jha said over generalisation of the facts in the report wrongly projected the severity of the citizenship problem in the hills. “The percentage of people without citizenship may be high in the hills and mountain regions but the number of people without citizenship is extremely high in the Tarai. The report fails to mention this,” he adds. Human rights lawyer Sapana Malla agreed with Jha. Malla said the projection of the severity of the problem in the mountain and hill districts on the basis of percentage could do injustice to the marginalised and excluded groups of Madhes who lack citizenship. “One constituency in Tarai has up to one lakh people above 16 years of age, whereas in the hills, some districts have population less than 15,000. Population ratio in the Tarai and mountain regions should also have been analysed,” Malla added. The report states that Kanchanpur (1.74 pc) and Saptari (11.8 pc) districts of the Tarai have the lowest percentage of population without citizenship. It adds that Manang has the highest percentage of individuals without citizenship certificates (43.39 pc) followed by Humla (42.50 pc) and Mugu (41.11 pc). But Manang district’s population is only 6,538. According to the new census, the combined population of six hill/mountain districts – Darchula, Humla, Mugu, Mustang, Manang and Rolpa, where the percentage of people without citizenship is the highest, is only 5,79,383, whereas the population of Saptari district alone is 6,39,284. Kanchanpur district’s population is 4,51,248. Jha says it’s discrimination by omission, not by commission. Advocate Meera Dhungana, who is associated with the FWLD, said the researchers discussed the high concentration of population in the Tarai and high number of people without citizenship there but if that fact had not been duly reflected in the report then it could simply be an omission. “The most important finding of the report is that citizenship problem equally affects the hills and the mountains and is not only the Tarai’s problem,” she said. Nnnn IN NEPAL. GOVT.. NOT ACCOUNTBLE FOR PUBLICMONEY EXPENDITURE Kathmandu, 15 April: At a time, when the Auditor General has questioned public spending of government that is almost equal of revenue mobilisation, another global institution has reported that the government is not accountable for the management of public money. “With a score of 44 out of 100, the country is only marginally higher than the average score of 43 among the 100 countries surveyed but is well below the scores of its neighbours in South Asia,” said Open Budget Survey 2012 that has attributed the low score indicating to less information sharing on budget and financial activities by the government with public during the course of the budgetary preparations. “It makes challenging for citizens to hold the government accountable for its management of the public’s money,” it said, adding that Nepal’s Open Budget Index, however, has remained largely constant since 2008. The Open Budget Index is composed of sub-scores for each of the eight key budget documents — pre-budget statement, executive’s budget proposal, enacted budget, citizens budget, in-year reports, mid-year review, year-end report and audit report — assessed in the survey. “Of the key components, Nepal must start citizens budget to engage public in the process,” according to the chairman of Freedom Forum — that has helped survey in Nepal — Taranath Dahal. Nepal has the potential to greatly expand budget transparency by introducing a number of short-term and medium-term measures, some of which can be achieved at almost no cost to the government, the International Budget Partnership that publishes the report has recommended, adding that the country can increase comprehensiveness of the executive’s budget proposal, specifically by focusing on providing information on expenditures classified by programmes for the budget and previous year, multi-year estimates of aggregate revenue for at least two years beyond the budget year, impact of different macroeconomic forecasts and assumptions used in developing the budget and extra-budgetary funds, transfers to public corporations, quasi-fiscal activities, expenditure arrears, contingent and future liabilities, financial and non-financial assets, earmarked revenues, tax expenditures and percentage of the budget devoted to secret items. It has also suggested to link the budget to government’s stated policy goals and quality of non financial and performance data for expenditure programmes, apart from increase in comprehensiveness of the in-year reports by comparing actual year-to-date expenditures and revenues with either original estimates for that period or same period in the previous year and by providing information on actual borrowing for the budget year related to the composition of government debt. The recommendations also include increase in the comprehensiveness of year-end report by including explanations for the differences between estimates and actual outcomes for both expenditures and revenues, for macroeconomic variables, for nonfinancial data and performance indicators, for funds intended to directly benefit the country’s most impoverished populations and for extra-budgetary funds and increase in comprehensiveness of audit report by publishing reports on the audits of extra-budgetary funds and reports listing actions taken by the executive to address audit recommendations. “Moreover, the supreme audit institution should provide the legislature with detailed audit reports on security sector and secret programmes,” it said, asking to strengthen Legislatures and Auditor General in budget oversight as they play a critical role in planning and overseeing the implementation of national budget. Similarly, the Open Budget Survey assesses whether legislatures provide effective budget oversight by measuring performance on 11 indicators, like consultations with executive prior to tabling in the legislature of draft budget, research capacity, formal debate on overall budget, time available to discuss and approve budget, legal authority to amend budget proposal, approval of shifts in expenditure budget and excess revenues collected. Nnnn LOBBYING ON FOR AMBASSADORIAL APPOINTMENTS Kathmandu, 15 April: - The failure of successive governments to make key ambassadorial appointments has not only angered senior Foreign Ministry officials eligible for the assignments but also eroded Nepal's image internationally, The Kathmandu Post writes.. Two key ambassadorial appointments , known as important bilateral and multilateral forums—New Delhi and New York—have been vacant since January 2011 and August 2012 respectively. In January 2011, the then government, acting upon the directions of the Committee on International Relation and Human Rights of the then Legislature Parliament, recalled Nepal's Ambassador to India Rukma Samsher Rana for holding an important position in Dabur Nepal, a subsidiary of an Indian multinational company. Likewise, another plum position in New York has been vacant since Gyan Chandra Acharya, former Permanent Representative and Ambassador to the United Nations, was appointed as Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States. Besides these two high-profile postings, Nepal has not had residential ambassadors in Egypt, Malaysia, and Thailand for long. Likewise, two other positions--Germany and Sri Lanka--are going to be vacant in six months. Nepal will also need to appoint a Saarc Secretary General during the upcoming Saarc inter-session, also considered a mini-summit. After almost a month in government, the incumbent Cabinet has failed to initiate the appointments of ambassadors to these stations, irking senior Foreign Ministry officials. All nine joint secretaries at the Foreign Ministry are planning to press Foreign Minister Madhav Ghimire on Monday to appoint ambassadors as soon as possible. If the minister fails to address our grievances, we will knock on the door of Chairman of the Interim Election Government Khil Raj Regmi, they warned. Among these positions, the Foreign Ministry officials have claimed at least four seats, including Secretary General of Saarc and Nepal's Permanent Representative to the UN. "We are claiming Saarc, New York and two other missions. The political parties can keep the other positions, including India," said another foreign ministry official. Tradition dictates a minimum fifty percent reservation for career diplomats in the total vacant positions. In the past, either the serving foreign secretary or senior foreign ministry officials would receive the postings in New York and Saarc. "If the government plans to appoint anyone other than career diplomats in New York and Saarc, we will oppose that decision," said an official. Foreign Secretary Durga Bhattarai is said to be a natural candidate for New York and among the nine joint secretaries, Niranjan Man Singh Basnyet, Arjun Bhadur Thapa, Dipak Dhital, Khaganath Adhikari and Ambika Luitel are in the fray. It is not good to hold up these postings for long as the country's image will degenerate day-by-day, said another joint secretary. As the government cleared the deck to appoint ambassadors through the removal of constitutional difficulties, it is high time they did so, he said. Foreign Minister Ghimire was unavailable for comment despite repeated attempts. No one seems worried here about the ambassadorial appointments , said Prof Lok Raj Baral, the former Nepali Ambassador to India. "Every party takes it as a personal agenda which is wrong. Parties need yes menn rather than qualified ones," he added, expressing discontent over government's failure to appoint ambassador to India which is one of the prominent and crucially important for Nepal's diplomacy. nnnn MEDUA GOOGLE "The upcoming CA election is a matter of life and death for the Congress. We must secure a majority at any cost, If only the Congress wins a majority, will the country get its new constitution on time." (Sher Bahadur Deuba, The Kathmandu Post, 15 April) “The election planning to be carried out by the current election government would further increase complications. We will not take part in such election and also hinder if they try to enforce it.” (CPB Maoist Chairman Mohan Baidhayam The Kathmandu Post, 15 April) nnnn.


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