Nepal Today

Thursday, April 11, 2013

DAHAL VISITING INDIA AFTER CHINA RETURN Kathmandu, 12 April: Upon the invitation of the Indian government, UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal will visit the southern neighbour, most probably from April 24. This will be his third visit to the country after his party joined mainstream politics in 2006, Anil Giri writes in The Kathmandu Post.. Although, both the UCPN (Maoist) and the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu are tight-lipped about the visit, a close aide to the Maoist chairman told the Post that Dahal will leave for New Delhi “immediately after his return from China on April 21.” Dahal is leaving for Beijing on April 14. After his return, Dahal will attend a training programme in Bardiya for two days before leaving for Delhi, the Maoist boss’ aide said. In November 2006, Dahal and party Vice-chairman Baburam Bhattarai had visited India to attend the Hindustan Leadership Summit, their first India visit after they joined open politics. “Dahal wants to go to India, but the date has not been fixed. He will go there after his return from China,” a diplomatic source said. As prime minister, Dahal visited New Delhi in September 2008. Relations between Dahal and Delhi hit a low when his government sacked the then Army Chief Rookmangud Katawal in April 2009. During the subsequent Madhav Kumar Nepal government, when the Maoist party launched an agitation for ‘sovereignty and nationality’, the relations further soured as Dahal went on an offensive against India’s policy on his party. Sources close to Dahal said the Maoist boss was; however, keen to visit New Delhi before heading for Beijing so as to avoid the kind of criticism that followed his first visit to China after becoming PM in 2008. In recent times, it has become a tradition for a new Nepali PM to make the first official visit to India. (Note: Maoist Chairman Prachanda will meet top new Chinese leadership during his China visit. He probably will be the second South Asian leader to meet new Chinese leaders installed this year. President Xi held discussions with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in South Africa after the top Chinese leader visited Russia for discussionswith President Putin during a first foreign tour. China’s new leaders have said they want closeties with neighbouring countries) Nnnn UNIFIED LICENCE FOR TWO COMPANIES FOR MOBILE OPERATIONS Kathmandu, 12 April: The country’s GSM mobile segment is set to see two more players—United Telecom Limited ( UTL ) and Smart Telecom . The government on Thursday decided to issue a unified licence to these companies, paving way for them to roll out nationwide GSM services, The Kathmandu Post writes.. Currently, Nepal Telecom and Ncell are dominating the GSM mobile service arena, the fastest growing and major revenue earner segment in the domestic telecom market, while these two players are set to face good competition from the new entrants. “We will soon correspond with the UTL and Smart Telecom on clearing their dues if they have any, payment of the licence fee and the first installment of the licence renewal fee,” said member secretary of the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) board, Kailash Prasad Neupane. According to the NTA, a board meeting of which decided to issue the unified licence, the decision was based on a study of the two companies’ capacity to roll out the services and field monitoring of their current services. Both the companies can now provide multiple telecom services—local telephone, domestic trunk, international long distance and cellular mobile—under the single licence. Three telecom companies— UTL , Smart Telecom and STM Telecom Sanchar—had applied for the unified licence. However, the NTA board said it will issue the licence to STM Telecom Sanchar only after the later fulfills conditions set in its existing licence by the government. With the entry of the UTL and Smart Telecom in the mobile segment, the telecom sector is set to witness more competition in tariff and quality, according to telecom experts. It will also opens doors for the government to go for auctioning of 3G and 4G spectrums that will bring in new technology and also generate more revenue for the government. “There will also be more investment in the telecom sector in the next five years,” said NTA director Ananda Raj Khanal. UTL has already showed interest in investing over Rs 10 billion, while Smart Telecom plans to invest around Rs 4.37 billion in the initial phase. Sources at both the companies say they will be targeting the GSM mobile segment for their service expansion. However, they did not say when they will roll out the GSM mobile services. Smart Telecom CEO Subash Bajracharya said their board will decide on the rollout plan soon. The UTL and Smart Telecom have to pay a hefy sum of money as licence fee and licence renewal fee. The NTA has set the licence fee at Rs 357.50 million and the licence renewal fee at Rs 20.13 billion. UTL and Smart Telecom will have to pay Rs 50 million as the first installment of the licence renewal fee before obtaining the licence. To ensure renewal fee from the telecom companies, the NTA said that as per its board decision, the government could also seek “corporate guarantee or collateral” after seven years of service operation for collecting the remaining licence renewal fee. Five months ago, the government had introduced the new spectrum policy with a focus on unified licence. It has set a provision to allocate a minimum of 6 MHz frequency for the licencee for service operation. However, due to a lack of spectrum on the 900 MHz band, in the initial phase, the NTA will provide only 5 MHz each to the two companies, according to the NTA. For the past five years, the NTA had been planning to issue the unified licence by introducing rules to create competition in the market and help small operators expand their mobile segment services. The government’s plan to issue the unified licences to small companies is being taken negatively by the NT, its trade union, Ncell and Nepal Satellite Telecom. NT trade unions have been saying that the unified licence regime will create an unhealthy competition and was introduced without following the set norms. Two separate cases have also been filed against the licence provision in the Supreme Court. However, the court is yet to give its final verdict. nnnn


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