Nepal Today

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

BARA MAOIST LEADER KILLED Kathmandu, 9 May: UCPN Maoist leader Rajendra Mandal was stabbed to death overnight at Kalaija-2, Bara. Five persons have been arrested for questioning. Main suspect Pramod Mahoto is absconding. Mandal—Bhojpura state council member-- died on injuries susta9ined during a feast. Nnnn SILVER VALUED AT RS..400 MILLION RECOVERED FROM HANUMAN DHOKA Kathmandu, 8 May: Silver valued at Rs.400 million was recovered Wednesday from a treasure trove at Hanuman Dhoka kept by former rulers. Treasures in boxes at several rooms in the palace are being taabulatedd under strict security. The value of treasures hasn’t been fully tabulated. nnnn CASINOS OWE GOVT. RS. 525 MILLION Royalties and dues owed by casino s to the government have piled up to Rs 525 million as of April. According to the Inland Revenue Department (IRD), only Casino Shangri-La housed at the Shangri-La Hotel has settled all its dues, while a few casino s have made partial payment in the current fiscal year. Casinos are required to pay Rs 20 million as annual royalty to get their operating permits renewed, and government officials said that outstanding charges would swell further with the end of the fiscal year approaching. There are 10 casino s in the country, among which eight are in Kathmandu and two in Pokhara. IRD officials said that almost all the gaming houses have been defaulting payment, but the government has found many reasons to be lenient with them. Among those who have fallen behind in paying their dues, Casino Nepal housed at the Hotel Soaltee owes the most with Rs 180 million in outstanding dues, according to the IRD. Casino Fulbari owes Rs 100 million. Casino Fulbari in Pokhara is currently closed while Casino Nepal has reopened under new management. Similarly, the outstanding dues of Casino Royale housed at the Yak and Yeti Hotel stand at Rs 35 million. Meanwhile, the Tourism Ministry has started the process of renewing the licences of Grand and Shangri-La casino s. Grand has the lowest dues of Rs 3 million and it has pledged to clear them soon. On Dec 29, 2010, the now-defunct Public Accounts Committee (PAC) had directed the government to scrap the licences of casino s failing to clear their royalty dues. However, it was unable to take any action against the tax and royalty defaulters. Last Jan 1, the erstwhile Economic Infrastructure Committee of the Cabinet had directed the ministry to renew the operating permits of casino s clearing their dues for the current fiscal year by April 13. The ministry said that as per the committee’s directives, the government will not renew the operating licences of casino s that do not clear their dues and also of those who have a licence ownership problem. The Tourism Ministry’s notice issued on Feb 7 said that the government would shut down gaming houses and annul their licences if they defy government directives as per the Financial Bill. However, the government has failed to act accordingly, and Tourism Ministry officials said that it might extend the deadline as some casino s had expressed their interest to settle their outstanding dues. The officials said that Mahjong Entertainment, the new management of Casino Nepal, had also partially paid its royalty. They said that Mahjong had paid Rs 13.7 million so far, and would be paying the rest. Meanwhile, IRD officials said that the Hotel Annapurna has complained that Casino Anna has not paid its rentals and that it has been operating under a different company’s licence. “The issue has been sent to the Home and Tourism ministries.” The government issues licences to operate casino s to five star hotels only. Nnnn UCPN MAOIST, NC SHARPLY DIVIDED ON INCREASING SEATS UNDER PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION IN CA The UCPN (Maoist) and the Nepali Congress (NC) are sharply divided over the issue of increasing the number of seats under the proportional electoral system in the upcoming Constituent Assembly (CA) polls, Kamal Dev Bhattarai writes in The Kathmand Post.. During a meeting of the two parties held at NC President Sushil Koirala’s residence on Wednesday, the Maoist party proposed to increase the number of seats as demanded by fringe parties and marginalised communities. The major parties had agreed on March 13 to allocate 240 seats each under the direct and proportional systems and 11 for nomination from the Cabinet. In the 2008 CA elections, parties had allocated 240 seats under first-past-the-post system, 335 under the proportional system and 26 for nomination from the Cabinet. The parties agreed to limit the number of seats to 491 after public criticism that the former CA with 601 members was unnecessarily large. “The four major parties agreed to elect 491 and a poll government was formed according to that agreement. Now, the Maoist party is proposing to increase the number of seats. This is not acceptable for us,” said NC leader Ram Saran Mahat. The UCPN (Maoist) is insisting that the number of seats be increased to ensure inclusiveness and representation of various marginalised groups to the CA. NC leaders, however, said the Maoists backtracked from the earlier agreement simply to appease fringe and Madhes-based parties. The two parties also agreed to hold talks with other parties, primarily the CPN-Maoist—the breakaway faction of the UCPN (Maoist) , which have refused to take part in polls under the incumbent technocratic government. NC President Sushil Koirala, in his capacity as chairman of the High-Level Political Committee, an alliance of the four major parties formed to guide the election government, will hold talks with CPN-Maoist Chairman Mohan Baidya on Thursday. Thirty-three parties, led by the CPN-Maoist, have warned of boycotting the CA polls if their demands are not addressed. Their demands include dissolution of the incumbent government and the 11-point agreement signed among the four parties which led to the formation of the current election government. Meanwhile, the Maoists and the NC also agreed to entrust the government to take any decision on disputed issues if an agreement to resolve such issues is not forged among major parties within a couple of days. “We will try to settle all disputed issues within the next two days. If not, the government will take final call on these issues,” Mahat said. The two parties are also divided over the provision of one percent threshold for proportional representation as proposed by the Election Commission. The Maoist party has stood against the provision, which stipulates that any party securing less than one percent votes under the proportional category will be disqualified to elect candidates. The NC, meanwhile, is in favour of the threshold. The government has called an all-party meeting for Friday to settle disputed issues and finalise the content of electoral laws. nnnn


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