Nepal Today

Sunday, May 26, 2013

JAWALAKHEL PLAYS FRIENDS IN GURKHA CUP MONDAU Kathmandu, 27 May: Himalayan Sherpa play Boys Union in the Gurkha Cup at Dashrath Ranghashala Monday. Jawalakhel takes on Friends Club in another match. Nnnn PROBE INTO VAT EVASION CASES BEING ONVESTIGATED WIH RENEWED VIGOUR Kathmandu, 27 May:: The government is soon implementing four major programs under revenue mobilization, including formulation of work plan to intensify probe into pending cases of VAT evasion and identifying the sectors that are still out of tax net. The programs are mainly targeted at controlling VAT evasion, widening the tax nets and accelerating the pace of revenue mobilization from sectors that are still out of tax net. The government has been looking into 495 cases of VAT evasion. So far it has recovered Rs 1.2 billion in revenue from 200 cases settled so far. The government has already completed probe into the 518 cases of VAT frauds and recovered around Rs 7 billion from the concerned firms that also include some big business houses. VAT is the largest contributor to the state coffer. Out of total revenue collection worth Rs 234.45 billion during the first ten months of the current fiscal year, Rs 68.29 billion was raised through VAT. “We have already directed the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) to devise a strategic plan for expediting probe into VAT evasion. Similarly, a study also be conducted to identify the sectors that are out of the tax net,” a high level source at the MoF told Republica. The source further added that revenue administration will also focus on recovering outstanding revenue dues from the tax payers by launching awareness campaigns. “As widening of tax net along is not sufficient to ensure more revenue collection, we are launching campaigns to recover outstanding revenue dues,” the source added. Tanka Mani Sharma, director general of IRD, said launching of campaign to raise awareness among the tax payers about their responsibility to pay revenue to the state is also among the programs under revenue mobilization strategies. “Mainly the revenue education will focus in the capital where major chunk of tax is collected,” he added. Recently, Lok Man Singh Karki, the newly appointed chief of the Center for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), had directed the senior finance ministry officials to speed up investigation into the pending cases of revenue frauds and come up with a concrete plan to increase revenue. “We will soon submit our plan on revenue investigation and mobilization to the MoF,” said Sharma. Nnnn NEA FAVOURS UPGRADING TRISHULI III A Kathmandu, 27 May: The management of Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has recommended to the board of directors of NEA to upgrade capacity of Trishuli III ´A´ hydropower project to 90 MW from existing 60 MW, BhojPar Paudel Reports in Republica... “The NEA management is convinced that capacity upgradation of the project is beneficial to it. Hence, we have forwarded a recommendation for the same to the board,” Rameshwore Yadav, managing director of the NEA, told Republica. Earlier, the government had asked the NEA management to come up with an opinion on capacity upgradation. “We took the decision after conducting necessary discussions,” added Yadav. Yadav submitted the recommendation to the board meeting on Sunday itself. "The board, however, has not taken any decision on capacity upgradation,” Yadav added. The previous government led like Dr Babu Ram Bhattarai had decided to upgrade capacity of the project. However, the move soon drew criticisms. Responding to a writ petition, the Supreme Court had later issued show cause notice to the government. The cabinet had formally decided to upgrade the capacity of the project in the beginning of 2013. The NEA board, however, hadn´t endorsed the decision. Following this, the government formed a committee under Moti Bahadur Kunwar, joint secretary at the Ministry of Energy (MoE), to study whether it would be appropriate to upgrade the project capacity. The committee, however, did not give any clear recommendation. The run-of-the-river type project, which is being developed by China Gezhouba Group Co with US$ 89 million soft loan from the Exim Bank of China, will have to get nod of the NEA board for capacity upgradation. The Bhattarai-led government stood in favor of upgrading the project after the Chinese contractor informed NEA that it can upgrade the project to 90 MW at the total cost of US$ 132 million. "We will have to wait and see how the NEA board reacts to our recommendation," Yadav said. According to a source at the MoE, Energy Ministry Umakant Jha, who is also the chairman of the NEA board, is in the favor of upgrading the capacity of the project. "Shanta Raj Subedi, secretary at the finance ministry, is also in the favor of capacity upgradation," the source revealed. Earlier, the then opposition party leaders, including Dr Ramsharan Mahat of Nepali Congress and Gokarna Bista of CPN-UML, had vehemently opposed the decision to increase capacity of the project. nnnn PUBLIC ENTERPRIAESA MONEY WASTING MACHINES Kathmandu, 27 May: The government’s inefficiency and indecisiveness have been burning a hole in the common man’s pocket as public enterprises (PEs) have turned into cash-guzzling machines sans productivity,kIvera Chalise writes in The Himalayan Yimes.. The government has been regularly paying millions as salary to the staff, though the public enterprises have been literally closed, which is a gross waste of the tax paid by the public from their hard earned money. “Janakpur Cigarette Factory that has been completely closed for the last two years has asked for Rs 56.6 million to pay salaries to 407 staff members,” said a high ranking official at the Finance Ministry that has been under pressure to pay regular salaries and operating expenses of various closed and semi-closed public enterprises as the government does not dare pay off staff and is adding liability every year. “They are like black holes, where the ministry has to feed cash ever year as it fears paying off staff also due to lack of resources,” he told The Himalayan Times. The problem for the ministry to pay off staff is also due to the strong trade unions — apart from resource constraints — that are dominant and have policy influence due to their affiliation to political parties, he said, adding that PEs, including those which have been turned into companies with limited liability to the government, have been financially bankrupt due to regular political bickering and government’s policy confusion. The government has already lent a total of Rs 141.90 million to PEs in the current fiscal year. The government has lent Rs 1.5 million to Nepal Metal; Nepal Oriend Magnesite and National Productivity and Economic Development Centre have both Rs three million each; the semi-operational Nepal Drugs — which has only been manufacturing glycerin and saline water — has been lent Rs 25.3 million; the completely closed Janakpur Cigarette Factory Rs 56.6 million; and Gorakhkali Rubber Industry has been already lent Rs 52.5 million for salary and operating cash, according to the ministry. But the budget for the current fiscal year had allotted only Rs 5.3 million under the PEs reform programme. “They have been lent from other heads, transferring the budget as there is no alternative to pay them,” the official added. The Finance Ministry recently formed a committee to take stock of all the PEs and to advise on their future course. “The government should not run industries and let the private sector operate them,” he said, adding that the government should only play the role of a regulator and facilitator. Earlier, the Baburam Bhattarai-led government, on October 4, 2012, had decided to reopen at least three PEs — Birgunj Sugar Mill, Agriculture Tools Factory and Butwal Dhago Udhyog — which has again increased policy confusion and added a financial burden to the government coffer. According to the ministry, though the number of employees in PEs has gone down, average expenditure on them has gone up despite poor performance and no productivity. Nnnn JOBS RECEIVED WITHOUT ORIENTATION Kathmandu, 26 May: Nearly one-fifth of migrant workers have received foreign job permits without job orientation — a prerequisite to join foreign jobs as per the Foreign Employment Act 2007, Yadav Raj Joshi writes in The Himalayan Times. . The Department of Foreign Employment has issued foreign job permits to 65,214 Nepali migrant workers without orientation in the last 10 months. Its data reveals that about 347,759 Nepalis received foreign job approvals for the first time and only 282,545 got orientation. The gap is about 18.75 per cent. Clause 19 (a) of the Foreign Employment Act 2007 has made orientation mandatory for a foreign job permit for individual and outsourcing agency mediated job contracts. But, the department has been violating the law by issuing foreign job permits to workers who have not been through the orientation process. We have been trying our best to enforce the provision but have not succeeded in making it mandatory for all, said director general at the department Binod KC. “However, instances of people buying orientation certificates have reduced in the last one year,” he said, adding that ‘orientation for all’ was a major suggestion of the committee led by Dr Ganesh Gurung. The committee, which was commissioned by the government, has submitted a 30-point reform plan to the government to strengthen the orientation system. “Strict monitoring of orientation institutes is a must to reduce risks at the job place, so we have asked for it to be enforced,” said Dr Gurung. Workers are not supposed to get permission without orientation according to law, he added. Similarly, a study of Migration Policy Institute and International Organisation for Migration has also identified ‘insufficient and improper orientation’ as a major problem in Nepal. The study has recommended the government to build a strong monitoring mechanism for it. Migrant rights activists believe that ineffective orientation is the main source of problems for migrant workers. “We have been urging the department to make orientation mandatory according to the law. It is strange how the department issued job permits to workers who have not attended any orientation classes,” said coordinator of Pravasi Nepali Coordination Committee Prabata Adhikari. Orientation was envisioned in the law to educate migrant workers about the language, culture, legal boundaries and workplace safety of the destination. “If they do not know about these issues then there are high chances of risks. The increasing number of runaway workers and accidents in destination countries is due to weak orientation or no orientation at all,” she said, adding that the government must be serious about it. The department’s data shows that it issued foreign job permits to 15,639 migrant workers who had not received any orientation in Magh (mid-February to mid-March). The lowest number of foreign job permits — 439 — issued to migrant workers who had not received orientation was reported in Bhadra (mid-August to mid-September). nnnn


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