Nepal Today

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

BIRD FLU DETECTED IN LEKHNATH Kathmandu, 15 May: Bird flu at Lekhnath, Kaski. The official outbreak was confirmation Monday. Nnnn NEPALI TEACHER RETURNS FROM QATAR Kathmandu, 15 May: A Nepali teacher in Qatar charged and jailed for blasphemy return home Tuesday. Dorjie Gurung was a chemistry teacher at Qatar Academy. Nnnn TU STUDENT ELECTIONS 6 JUNE Kathmandu, 15 May: Election in campuses affiliated Tribhuvan University (TU) will be held 6 June after four years. The vote is normally held every two years. A voters’ list will be published 24 May. The vote will determine the strength of parties amongst students. nnnn. CA ELECTIONS FOR FORMING A NEW SIKKIM SAYS RAM BAHADUR THAPA OF CPN MAOIST Kathmandu, 15 May:: Rejecting the talks proposal of the government, CPN-Maoist General Secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa said on Tuesday that the Constituent Assembly (CA) election is going to be held just to provide a forum for completing the grand design of forming a new Sikkim. Thapa clearly said that his party would not participate in such an election, Republica reports.. "Our party has rejected such a move [CA election]. We are for the formation of a new Nepal. We are against the formation of a new Sikkim," said Thapa, welcoming into his party 52 UCPN (Maoist), CPN-UML and Rastriya Prajatantra Party leaders and cadres of Sindhupalchowk district at CPN-Maoist head office at Buddhanagar. Among the 52, a total of 43 are from UCPN (Maoist), including Netra Prasad Dangal, Sindhupalchowk deputy in-charge. General Secretary Thapa said that his party was not against talks as such, but it would not sit for talks without its pre-conditions being addressed. The CPN-Maoist forwarded three preconditions for talks. These are: scrapping the 25-point ordinance, resignation of newly appointed CIAA chief Lokman Singh Karki, and stopping the distribution of citizenship in Madhes. It argues that this last is a plan to distribute citizenship to non-Nepalese. "The CA election is going to be held just to create a forum to endorse the proposal to form a new Sikkim," said Thapa. "We want to form a new Nepal. We are nationalists. We love Nepal," added Thapa, saying his party is serious about promoting national sovereignty. He also claimed that the whole country is divided clearly into two camps --nationalists and those who are for national surrender. According him, the main debate is focused on the issue of forming either a new Sikkim or a new Nepal. Terming the UCPN (Maoist) a new CPN-UML, Thapa said UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Vice-chairman Baburam Bhattarai are playing the role of leadership of the anti-national forces. "We came into the peace process to form a new Nepal but some Maoists [UCPN-(Maoist)] came to form a new Sikkim," claimed Thapa, adding that the political document presented by Dahal at the Hetauda general convention proved he wants to form a new Sikkim. "The current government has been formed to complete the master plan for a new Sikkim, and its formation was made public at the Hetauda general convention," said Thapa. UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Dahal had proposed to take a decision on the borders of the country through a referendum. The proposal was rejected totally by the general convention through the serious objection of party representatives. Interestingly, Dahal had made public from Hetauda the idea of nominating the sitting chief justice as head of the election government. Before the Hetauda general convention, Dahal and Bhattarai both had announced that following the general convention the political deadlock would be resolved. "The Regmi government is a puppet government formed as per the designs for a new Sikkim. The CA election is part of the design," added Thapa. Meanwhile, the CPN-Maoist led 33-party alliance encircled the CIAA office in Kathmandu, demanding the resignation of CIAA chief Karki. Security forces tightened security around the CIAA office area. Nnnn ENERGY MINISTRY ASKS NEA TO INVESTGATE IRREGULARITIES Kathmandu, 15 May: The Ministry of Energy (MoE) has forwarded the report of the high-level probe committee formed to study irregularities in five load distribution centers to Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) for further investigation into the issue and identification of the perpetrators, Republica reports.. “The ministry forwarded the report to NEA on Monday as per a secretary-level decision,” an official at MoE told Republica. The government had formed the probe team after it was revealed that NEA´s load distribution centers in Itahari, Duhabi, Biratnagar, Dhankuta and Siraha illegally supplied electricity to 14 firms in Itahari-Biratnagar industrial corridor even during load-shedding. The team had found massive irregularities in the distribution centers and had recommended to the government to conduct detailed investigation into the issue and identify officials and industrialists involved in the wrongdoing, the official added. The probe concluded that officials at the five distribution centers unlawfully supplied round the clock electricity to 14 firms along Itahari-Biratnagar industrial corridor. There are around more than 300 factories in the corridor. The committee had submitted its report to the ministry last week after conducting a field study. According to a member of the committee, it had looked into electricity supply schedule of the five distribution centers. "We found that those distribution centers supplied electricity to the 14 firms going against the nationwide load-shedding schedule," the member said. The government had formed the probe committee after the industrialists and locals complained about the wrongdoings of the five distribution centers at a meeting of the Nepal Business Forum (NBF) on March 25. They had also criticized Chief Secretary Lila Mani Poudel, who was also the chairman of NEA before the new government was formed, for overlooking the issue. Poudel directed MoE to form the probe committee right after the meeting, the official added. The firms that enjoyed round the clock power supply by influencing NEA officials at the distribution centers are Raghupati Jute Mill, Maruti Cements and Asian Thai Food, among others. “Promoters of the 14 firms were found to have bribed officials at the distribution centers to ensure round the clock power supply at their factories,” the member of the probe team told Republica. The probe committee led by Sundar Shyam Shrestha, deputy director general of the Department of Electricity development (DoED), had three officials from the ministry and a representative from the NEA as members. Nnnn NO RECORD OF FOREIGN MONEY SPENT IN ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS Kathmandu, 15 May:: Crores of rupees were spent during the 2008 Constituent Assembly election but the government has no idea how much money came as foreign assistance and how it was spent, The Himalayan Times reports.. Two key agencies, Finance Ministry and Social Welfare Council, are supposed to keep track of election funds — Finance Ministry of all foreign aid and SWC of INGOs’ funds. The top officials in these agencies, however, don’t have the data. Nor does Nepal Peace Trust Fund have any data on foreign assistance for last CA election. Finance Ministry sources said they only had data on actual commitment for elections but had no specific data on who provided how much for what programmes. The only agency that has some data is the Election Commission. According to EC’s annual report of 2007-08, the government had got approved a budget of Rs 2.161 billion for voters’ education, training programmes and employees’ mobilisation. Of this, Rs 1.49 billion were released and only Rs 1.266 billion were spent by the government. The government also got approved Rs 3.416 billion under foreign aid but the donors released Rs 3.036 billion and the government could spend only Rs 2. 809 billion. This assistance was provided through Nepal Peace Trust Fund but there is no mention of how much assistance was provided by which government. The only breakdown of the assistance that the EC has is about the material support it received from USAID, DFID, JICA, India, China, Australia, UNPTF and the US Embassy. The EC received election materials worth Rs 38.38 crore from these donors. Executive Director of NPTF Sadhu Ram Sapkota said the donors had committed Rs 2.92 billion for the upcoming elections and were ready to provide more. SWC Member Secretary Rabindra Kumar said the laws required all INGOs to take approval from his office before running any programme in Nepal but they were not strictly adhering to the provision. “If the government wants to regulate foreign assistance, it can do so through a Cabinet decision but that is not happening,” Kumar told THT. “We need to have one-door policy if we want to regulate foreign assistance,” he added. Analysts say involvement of politicians and bureaucrats in NGOs was making it difficult for the SWC to regulate foreign assistance. National Election Observation Committee, Nepal Election Monitoring Alliance, General Election Observation Committee, Democracy and Election Alliance Nepal and National Democratic Institute ran several election related programmes in 2008. SWC only has data of NDI’s expenditure in 2008. It spent Rs 2.63 crore on election programmes. Failure to regulate foreign assistance could cause duplication of programmes, overlapping of duties and over-concentration of resources in certain areas. Former chief election commissioner Bhojraj Pokhrel said 42 NGO ran voter education programmes in Morang district alone in 2008 but no organisation went to hill district of Taplejung. He also has some misgiving against the kind of messages NGOs and INGOs disseminate. He wants them approved by the EC. “Last time we found out that an NGO was disseminating wrong message about constitutional court. The message said the constitutional court will be like that of South Africa, which was not the case. I made it mandatory for the NGOs to get their messages approved by the EC,” Pokhrel said. nnnn


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