Nepal Today

Sunday, May 12, 2013

UML’S KHANAL TO TAKE CHARGE OF HIGH LEVEL POLITICAL BODY Kathmandu, 13 March: UML Chairman Jhalanath Khanal will takeover leadership of the high-level political committee from Tuesday. Incumbent Chief and NC President Sushil KOirala has convened the second and last meeting under his leadership Monday to create an environment for a vote. Chairman Prachanda was first chairman of the body of three parties and a Madeshi coalition. nnnn RATO MACHINDRANATH CHARIOT BEING PULLED MONDAY Kathmandu, 13 May: Rato Machindranath is being pulled Monday for its long journey from Pulchowk to Jawalakhel. The idol of the Rain God has already been installed in the chariot. Thirty-three political parties, including CPN Maoist, withdraw a Nepal Bandh Monday not to disturb the jatra or festival. Nnnn CAPITAL’S MONDAY MORNING TEMPETATURE 15 DEGREES CELSIUS Kathmandu, 12 May; Capital’s temperature on a rainy Monday is 15 degrees Celsius. Mercury s expected to rise to 25 degrees Ce;sois in the afternoon. nnnn THREE CPN MAOIST CONDITIONS FOR TALKS WITH GOVT. Kathmandu, 13 May:: Further hardening its stance, the CPN-Maoist has ruled out the possibility of Constituent Assembly (CA) election in mid-November without broader political consensus and has set a three-point condition to hold talks with the government. “, Kiran Pun writes in Republica. "The three-point conditions are only for holding talks with the government. Discussion on our participation in election at this point is meaningless because even the constituent parties of the High-Level Political Committee aren´t prepared for electi”n," CPN-Maoist Secretary Netra Bikram Chand told Republic“. "The four parties only want to deepen the crisis. Their commitment to election is just an eyewa”h." Arguing that election is not possible without broader political consensus, he also accused the four major parties “f "narrow-mindedn”ss" and reluctance to address the concerns of the dissident political partie“. "So, it is pointless to repeatedly ask whether or not we would participate in the electi”n," he added. He reiterated that his party would be ready for election only after the 11-point political agreement and the 25-point ordinance that paved the way for the formation of the current government are scrapped and a national government is formed on the basis of broader political understanding. Meanwhile, the party is holding discussions at the party´s office bearers´ meeting on determining its future course“ "Since the government has formally approached us, our party is holding discussions on the stance we should adopt during talks with other political parti”s," said Chan“. "Though we will not talk to the government unless our three-point demands are met, we are ready to hold talks with parti”s." Politburo member Kul Prasad KC, however, indicated that the party is more likely to boycott the coming election since the party leaders believe that participation in such polls would only bring disrepute to the party.“ "The election is being conducted as part of the conspiracy to Sikkimize Nepal. This is part of the plan that began with formation of the Regmi-governme”t," said KC. He said the party would shortly come up with programs to safeguard national sovereignty and independence. Nnnn TRADE INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT AGENDA FOR TALKS WITH CHINA Kathmandu, 13 May:: Amid Nepal´s soaring trade deficit with China, the government is putting forward a host of demands with high-level Chinese officials to boost Nepal´s trade with the northern neighbor, Prabhakar Ghimere writes in Republica. Nepali official team to be led by Foreign Minister Madhav Prasad Ghimire is scheduled to request to the top Chinese delegation next week for Chinese support in Nepal´s trade infrastructure development including establishment of Special Economic Zone (SEZ) near the northern border and upgrading of Bhaktapur-Tatopani section of the Araniko Highway. Yang Jiechi, councilor of State Council China, who is also the former foreign minister, is visiting Nepal on May 18-19. Though China has already granted duty-free access to 7,787 products from the Least Developed Countries including Nepal to its market, Nepal´s trade deficit with China has continued to soar for the last few years. Weak supply capacity on the back of slow agricultural growth and industrial production and poor infrastructures such as ill-equipped customs, poor road access and lack of well-managed dry ports are the principal hurdles in Nepal´s trade with the Asia´s largest economy. Similarly, insufficient number of functional customs points along the northern borders and existing non-tariff barriers such as stringent quarantine rules and non-cooperation by Chinese customs officials with Nepali traders are also among the major roadblocks in Nepal´s trade with China. “Although Nepal has the potential to benefit immensely from trade with China, we are lacking in modern trading infrastructures. So, we are requesting the Chinese officials for their support in enhancing such facilities. We will also request for minimizing existing non-tariff barriers,” an official privy to the development told Republica on Sunday. Agenda items Upgrading Bhaktapur-Tatopani road Customs simplification Upgrading custom points Establishment of cross border economic zone in Jielong and Rasuwagadhi Establishment of SEZ near northern border Discussion on Nepal´s ballooning trade deficit with China The source said Nepali officials are scheduled to request for establishment of an SEZ in any place near the northern border and upgrading of the Bhakatpur-Tatopani section of the Araniko Highway. Similarly, Nepal will also ask for forming a cross-border economic zone between Chinese town of Jielong in Tibet and Rashuwagadhi of Nepal in a bid to give a boost to economic activities in those areas. Although there are around a dozen customs points along the Nepal-China border, the one at Tatopani is the most used, so Nepali officials are also requesting for upgrading of other customs points with necessary infrastructures and facilities. Chinese officials have already shown interest to develop a dry port at Rasuwagadhi customs, the second largest customs bordering China. Construction of Larcha dry port in Sindhupalchowk has already begun from December 20 last year under Chinese assistance. The source also said Chinese imposition of stringent quarantine rules for Nepali goods mainly agro produces and meat products will also be discussed. “As Nepali traders have been complaining of hassles at customs points we are also requesting for simplification of customs procedures,” added the source. Officials from both the countries are also scheduled to discuss other measures to boost bi-lateral trade and also focus on reducing the ballooning trade deficit with China. Data compiled by Trade and Exports Promotion Center shows that Nepal´s trade deficit with China increased to Rs 51.94 billion during 2011/12, up from Rs 44.89 billion recorded a year before. During the first nine months of the current fiscal year, Nepal´s exports to China was recorded at Rs 1.76 billion against imports worth Rs 51.04 billion. Nnnn NEW POLICY TO ENCOURAGE SMALL BANKS Kathmandu, 13 May: Governor of the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) Dr. Yubaraj Khatiwada Sunday stated that the government's decision to write off the loan of the sick industries would sicken the banks themselves, The Rising Nepal reports.. Speaking at the meeting of the National Development Problems Resolving Committee, Singhadurbar, he said that the banks would be in problem if the government took any decision in this regard. "The Ministry of Industry has written letters to the NRB requesting it to write the loan off the sick industries," he said. "Now the industries are sick. If this trend continues, the banks will become sick in the near future." He suggested that the government should allow the banks and financial institutions to work independently and commercially. Likewise, talking about the reinstatement of the branches of Nepal Bank Limited and Rastriya Banijya Bank Limited, he said that not all branches would be reinstated. "The banks had opened branches under political influence. Such branches could not be reinstated without carrying out a proper study on financial and commercial viability of the concerned banks," he said. He added that the NRB was adopting a new policy to promote small banks in the rural areas and the old branches of commercial banks might not be reinstated in all the areas. Nnnn ELECTION ORDINANCES IN FOUR DAYS DESPITE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PARTIES Kathmandu, 13 May: The government is preparing to forward the three poll related ordinances to the President within four days even if the parties fail to iron out their differences, The Himalayan Times reports. . The government will wait for the High Level Political Committee’s response on the ordinances — CA (Member) Election Act Amendment Ordinance, Election Commission Act Amendment Ordinance and Electoral Rolls Amendment Ordinance — and will give the parties four days to forge a consensus, said a government minister. The HLPC is scheduled to meet tomorrow evening to discuss the ordinances. A meeting of government consultation coordination committee headed by Home Minister Madhav Prasad Ghimire and Chairman of interim election council Khil Raj Regmi today assessed the parties’ views on the disputed issues. “We will recommend the ordinances to the President within three-four days even if parties fail to forge a consensus,” coordination committee member and Federal Affairs and Local Development Minister Bidhyadhar Mallik told THT after the meeting at Regmi’s residence this evening. Minister for Physical Infrastructure, Transportation and Urban Development Chhabiraj Panta said during a programme here today that the government was planning to recommend the ordinance to the President with the provision of threshold. “If parties fail to forge consensus, the government will recommend the ordinance with threshold provision within a few days,” the minister said at a programme. “The election related ordinances are at the final stage of preparation and the government will announce the poll date after the ordinances are approved by the President,” Panta said. Stating that the threshold provision was agreed upon at the HLPC, NC leader Minendra Rijal said the UCPN-M wanted to appease other parties while the Madhes-based parties have a tendency to split and had a vested interest in removing the provision. “All countries having proportional representation system barring Israel have threshold provision up to 10 per cent. It is a democratic norm,” said Rijal. Nepal’s 1990 constitution had a provision of threshold requiring three per cent votes for a seat in the Parliament, but there was no such provision in the 2008’s CA polls. UML leader Agni Kharel alleged that the UCPN-M and UDMF were conspiring to derail the poll process by magnifying the threshold provision. The major political parties are also at odds on the new constituent assembly’s strength and eligibility criteria for the CA candidates. The UCPN-M and UDMF are for retaining the 601-member CA. However, the Congress and UML are stressing to go for 491-member CA as agreed upon in the HLPC. UCPN-M and UDMF also want to remove the provision that requires a convict to wait for six years after completing his/her sentence before contesting CA polls. NC and UML want to retain that provision. Some parties are also opposing the provision that a candidate should announce his/her property details before the polls. Nnnn GOVT. ALERT ON WATER BORNE DISEASES Kathmandu, 13 May: The Ministry of Health and Population has asked stakeholders to adopt special measures to control summer waterborne diseasesm The Himalayan Times reports.. The ministry’s Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD) has asked Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited (KUKL), Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC), Kathmandu District Public Health Office, Meat Entrepreneurs’ Association, central hospitals and other organisations working in the water and sanitation sector to up guard against the diseases. Director of the division, Dr GD Thakur, said the division has asked the stakeholders to shoulder their responsibilities with extra efforts. It has asked the KUKL to check the amount of chlorine in water before distributing chlorinated water to the public. It has urged the KMC to manage waste and monitor food at hotels and restaurants. The division has asked health institutions to report to EDCD if they come across patients of waterborne diseases. Thakur said the division has kept health institutions under strong surveillance to combat potential outbreaks during the monsoon. Although we are on alert to deal with all kinds of diarrhoeal and other waterborne diseases, we want people to check the quality of food and water, said Thakur. He added that behavioural changes are essential in tackling summer health problems. Dr Indra Prasad Prajapati, director of the Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital, said hospital records show a decrease in the number of patients suffering from waterborne ailments. Nnnn NEFIN ELECTIONS MONDAY Kathmandu, 13 May: The Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (Nefin) General Convention , which got underway in Chitwan on Saturday, has seen five parties—UCPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress (NC), CPN-UML, Federal Socialist Party Nepal (FSP-N) and Social Democratic Party-Nepal (SDP-N)—scrambling to get their candidates in key positions, The Kathmandu Post reports from Chotwan.. The three-day assembly will elect a 13-member federal secretariat constituting a chairperson, five vice-chairpersons, a general secretary, five secretaries and a treasurer. Each member organisation will have a single vote. Nefin holds significance for political parties due to its well-laid grassroots network across the country and the deepening row over the federalism issue. Nefin leaders say senior leaders of various political parties are emphasizing on nominating the leadership instead of election. The umbrella organisation of 56 Janajati groups is predominantly occupied by members of the four parties. Of the 56 total votes, the UML, the UCPN (Maoist), the NC, the SDP-N and the FSP-N weild 11, 8, 8, 11 and 5 votes respectively. A total of five representatives from various Janajati organisations have submitted candidacy for the post of chairman and seven for the post of general secretary. Chandra Bikram Rai, Nagendra Kumal, Nityananda Tajpuriya, Naresh Tamrakar and Pema Tshering Sherpa are in the race for the post of chairman. Kumal and Tamrakar are backed by the NC, Rai and Tajpuriya by the FSPN and Sherpa by UCPN (Maoist). Nefin leaders said the group of Janajati leaders of various political parties, including Barsha Man Pun, Prithvi Subba Gurung, Rakam Chemjong, Indra Bahadur Rai, have been given the responsibility to nominate the leadership through consensus. A highly-placed source said Pema Tshering Sherpa is likely to be picked as the chairman as other candidates lack support of other parties. "Kumal was considered a possible nomination but leaders declined to support him on the grounds that he lacks enough credential in Janajati movement. Rai will not be supported by the UML and the NC," said the source. Barsha Man Pun is said to be trying to convince other senior leaders to pick Sherpa as the Nefin chair. "These leaders have worked together in the Janajati caucus before. They know each other well. There is a strong possibility that the leadership will be nominated through consensus. Sherpa has a strong chance for chairmanship," said a former Nefin official. Member organisations are also deeply divided on whether to give the leadership to an indigenous community with the largest population known within Nefin as the Group-8 (G-8) or someone from an indigenous minority. The G-8 consists of ethnic communities, most of them with more than 1 million population, including Tharu, Tamang, Sherpa, Rai, Gurung, Magar, Newar and Limbu. Marginalised and minority communities such as Kumal, Baram, Satar, Helmu, Rampuri, Chepang and Kusunda have accused the G-8 of dominating the Nefin leadership ever since it was nnnnn SHARAF POISED TO LEAD PAKISTAN GOVT.WITH COMEBACK Jathmandu, 13 May: Toppled in a 1999 military coup, jailed and exiled, Pakistan 's Nawaz Sharif has made a triumphant election comeback and looks set to form a stable government capable of implementing reforms needed to rescue the fragile economym Reuters reports from Islamabad.. Sharif may not win enough seats to rule on his own but has built up enough momentum to avoid having to form a coalition with his main rivals, former cricketer Imran Khan's Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan People's Party (PPP). The steel magnate held off a challenge from Khan, who had hoped to break decades of dominance by Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and the PPP, led by the Bhutto family. The two parties have formed governments whenever the military, the most powerful force in the nuclear-armed nation, has allowed civilian rule. Khan put up a strong fight and he is likely to remain a force in politics, possibly becoming the main opposition figure. The PPP, which led the government for the last five years, has done badly and could come in third place. Television channels said of the results declared by midday on Sunday, Sharif's PML-N had captured 94 of the 272 contested National Assembly seats. Based on trends, it was likely to get around 130, and should easily be able to make up the required majority of 137 with support from independents and small parties. The PTI has secured 21 seats while the PPP won 19. The elections, held on Saturday, were marred by a campaign by Islamic fundamentalists to block the voting. Despite pre-poll violence and attacks that killed at least 40 people, voter turnout was a robust 60 percent. Once it establishes a majority, Sharif's party would be allocated a majority of 70 other parliamentary seats that are reserved for women and non-Muslim minorities. Sharif has waited patiently to rule Pakistan again. As the main opposition leader, he avoided undermining the PPP when it was in trouble, and analysts describe him as more cautious than when he was prime minister twice in the 1990s. "Seemingly a genuinely changed man from his troubling stints as prime minister in the 90s, Sharif now appears to have both a genuine mandate as well as a grasp of the direction Pakistan needs to be steered in," said political analyst Cyril Almeida. In one sense, the polls were a democratic landmark, marking the first time one elected government was to replace another in a country vulnerable to military takeovers. But Saturday's vote failed to realize the hopes of many that the hold of patronage-based parties would end after years of misrule and corruption. Sharif, 63, from the prosperous and most populous province of Punjab, declared victory in a jubilant speech to supporters late on Saturday even as votes were still being counted. He is almost certain to become prime minister for a third time. The religious conservative has said the army, which has ruled the country for more than half of its turbulent 66-year history, should stay out of politics. But he will have to work with Pakistan 's generals, who set foreign and security policy and will manage the country's thorny relationship with the United States as NATO troops withdraw from neighboring Afghanistan in 2014. Sharif also believes Pakistan should reconsider its support for the U.S. war on Islamist militancy, which has earned the country billions of dollars in aid. Sharif, who advocates free-market economics, is likely to pursue privatization and deregulation to revive flagging growth. He has said Pakistan should stand on its own two feet but may need to seek a another bailout from the International Monetary Fund to avoid a balance of payments crisis. The PML-N leader has said he could do business with the IMF, meaning he may be open to reforms like an easing of subsidies and a widening of Pakistan 's tiny tax base to secure billions of dollars from the global lender. But his main job will be to ease widespread discontent over endemic corruption, chronic power cuts and crumbling infrastructure. He has described Pakistan as a "mess" and said the key to moving forward is speedy growth. "A better-than-expected result for Nawaz could prove to be an albatross around his neck," said Muhammad Malick, a popular current affairs broadcaster. "With an overwhelming majority of seats and without needing the crutch of coalition partners to form government, he will have fewer excuses for failure on key policy issues such as the economy and terrorism." Sharif will likely press for negotiation with the Pakistan wing of the Taliban, whose bombing attacks failed to derail the election, but he could run into resistance from the military which has lost thousands of soldiers fighting the insurgency. Despite Pakistan 's history of coups, the army stayed out of politics during the five years of the last government and threw its support behind the election. However, some fear the military could step back in were there a repeat of the incompetence and corruption that frustrated many Pakistan is during the last government's rule. In the end, cricketing hero Khan did not have the momentum needed to trip up Sharif despite his popularity among urban youths, many of whom were voting for the first time. They had rallied behind Khan's calls for an end to graft and a halt to U.S. drone strikes against suspected militants on Pakistan i soil, widely seen as a violation of sovereignty. In a video message, Khan said the election would boost Pakistan 's young democracy, but added his party was collecting evidence of what he said was vote-rigging. "We are now moving towards democracy. I congratulate the nation on the numbers in which they turned out to vote. The youth was with me. That is my victory," he said. Sharif, who was toppled in a 1999 bloodless coup by former army chief Pervez Musharraf, may take steps to improve ties with Pakistan 's arch-enemy, India. Efforts to boost trade between the neighbors have stalled due to suspicion on both sides. nnnn


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