Nepal Today

Monday, June 3, 2013

RAJESHWOR DEBKOTA MAY JOIN RPP-NEPAL ALSO Kathmandu, 4 June: RPP-Nepal is holding talks with Rajeshwor Debkota to bring the former speaker of Rashtriya Panchayat into the Party from RPP. This was disclosed when senior politician Bishwabandhu Thapa quit RPP to join RPP-Nepal Monday giving the party now led by Surya Bahadur Thapaa a major blow. Bishwababdhu Thapa played a major role in uniting Rashtriya Janashakti Party and RPP then led by Pashupati SJB Rana. nnnn SUPPORT SOUGHT FOR SOCIAL SECURITY SCHEMES Kathmandu,, 4 June: The Social Security Fund (SSF), an undertaking of the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MoLE), has called on employers to extend cooperation in creation of database of employees for early launch of social security Schemes, Republica reports.. "Of around 115,000 registered firms in Nepal, only 67 have so far submitted information about their employees," SSF Executive Director Kebal Prasad Bhandari said. "If employers cooperate in this regard, we can start creating database for early launch of social security schemes." Bhandari made the comments at a program organized in Kathmandu on Monday to handover schemes designed by Peace and Development Studies, which was appointed in January to design social security schemes. The consulting agency on Monday handed over designs of four social security schemes on sickness, maternity, workplace accident and medicare benefits. Once these schemes are approved by the MoLE, around 1.25 million workers employed in the formal sector will be entitled to compensation worth thousands of rupees per year for not being able to attend workplace due to sickness, pregnancy, job-related accidents and hospitalization. Currently, employees are making contribution of one percent of their basic salary -- that does not attract income tax -- to the SSF. Through this, the SSF has so far raised a fund of around Rs 3 billion. Later, the SSF plans to make it mandatory for employees and employers to contribute 10 percent of the basic salary of workers each to run social security programs. The SSF is currently planning to launch the schemes to cover wage loss of employees working in the formal sector. Under sick benefit, for instance, workers who remain sick for more than three days and cannot attend workplace will get compensation equivalent to 70 percent of basic salary for a period of up to two months. The coverage period is extendable by up to one month based on approval extended by a committee under the SSF. The maximum amount that employees can claim under sickness benefit ranges between Rs 15,000 and Rs 35,000 based on income level. Under the maternity benefit scheme designed by the SSF, working mothers will get compensation equivalent to 50 percent of their basic salary for a period of up to two months. The maximum compensation amount that pregnant working mothers can claim ranges between Rs 10,000 and Rs 25,000 based on income level. But in case of maternal death, one-time compensation of Rs 100,000 will be extended to the family of the deceased. And in case of still birth Rs 1,500 will be provided in compensation. Another scheme designed by the SSF is to cover workplace injury or accidents, under which employees can claim a maximum amount ranging between Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000. However, in case of death of an employee at the workplace, a minimum of Rs 250,000 and a maximum of Rs 400,000 will be offered to the family of the deceased. Similarly, in case of permanent total disability, like paralysis of the entire body, 24 months of salary will be provided. But in case of permanent partial disability, like amputation of arms or legs, compensation equivalent to 50 percent of the salary of 36 months will be extended to employees. On top of all these schemes, the SSF has also designed a scheme called medicare, under which employees will be provided up to Rs 20,000 a year to cover for hospital and medical diagnosis costs. In this scheme, 80 percent of the cost will have to be borne by the SSF and the remaining by workers themselves. Calling the design of social security schemes a "milestone" in Nepal´s history, Labor Secretary Suresh Man Shrestha said: "We are ready to working together with employers and employees to launch the schemes as early as possible." Nnnn BANDARMUDE VICTIMS OF MAOIST BUS BLAST REJECT GOVT. DOLE DEMAND JUSTICE Kathmandu, 4 June: The victims of the 2005 Bandarmude blast have turned down the government aid meant for development and livelihood programmes in the area saying that they want justice before any monetary aid, The Kathmandu Post reports.. “We want justice first, not money,” said Krishna Adhikari, vice-chairman of the Bandarmude Blast Victims’ Struggle Committee. He claimed that the UCPN (Maoist) was using money as a bait to divide the victims. Four months ago, UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal had pledged Rs 6 million as relief aid for the Bandarmude victims. The Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction provided the sum to the Chitwan District Administration Office (DAO) a month ago. The ministry, however, has instructed the DAO to spend the money in development and livelihood programmes in Bandarmude. “The money is supposed to be spent in development projects. It is not a relief aid for the blast victims,” said Ramchandra Dangal, an engineer at the DAO. He said the money cannot be used for activities other than the ones directed by the ministry. Prakash Poudel, planning officer at the DAO, said the amount could be used in irrigation programme, setting up dairy farms and fish ponds. Since the victims have refused the government help, the DAO has not decided how to utilise the money and as the fiscal year is nearing to an end, the amount is likely to freeze. Thirty-nine people from the Madi region of Chitwan were killed when a passenger bus was caught in a booby trap explosion in Bandarmude on June 6 of 2005. The victims have not received any relief so far. nnnn GOVT. BEGINS PREPARATIONS FOR SAARC SUMMIT Kathmandu, 4 June: The government has now seriously started preparing for the 18th Saarc Summit likely to be held in the first quarter of 2014. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) plans to purchase 21 Mercedes Benz cars, including eight super luxury bullet proof ones, for VVIPs and VIPs of eight member states that form the regional grouping, Anil Giri writes in The Kathmandu Post.. The ministry has sought Rs 750 million with the Ministry of Finance (MoF) for the overall preparations for the summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. Of the total amount, Rs 250.60 million will be spent on purchase the luxury cars, according to an internal report prepared by the Saarc Division of the ministry. According to the report, at least 14 super luxurious cars for VVIPs (heads of state and foreign ministers), seven for VIPs, eight medium luxurious cars, 10 small cars and seven vans will be needed for the summit. The government already has two high-class luxurious Benz cars which the MoFA is planning to use during the summit. “As it takes six to eight months to import the cars, we have sought early release of the money from the Finance Ministry,” an official privy to the developments told the Post. The ministry has also proposed setting up eight preparatory committees to be headed by various high-level government officials and ministers. The main committee will be led by the Chairman of the Interim Election Government, Khil Raj Regmi, where all government ministers, the Chief Secretary, Chief of Army Staff and Foreign Secretary will be members. The other committees will look into matters related to security, management, publication and others. A preparatory meeting held on Sunday and chaired by Foreign Minister Madhav Ghimire decided to hold consultations with other stakeholders to make the summit a success. It also reviewed preparations back in 2002 when Nepal hosted such a summit, while it discussed the things to be done if the country is to host the meeting in 2014. An internal assessment report of the ministry has advised holding the summit in February, considering the pleasant weather in Kathmandu. The International Convention Centre at New Baneshwor has been proposed as the venue. A retreat for VVIPs and VIPs outside the Kathmandu valley has also been proposed. Other programmes planned during the summit include a trade fair, a junket for spouses of VVIPs and VIPs, and Saarc-related exhibitions and promotion of the grouping. “We have proposed hosting the Home Minister-level talks in September so that we can move ahead on a war footing for making the summit a grand success,” the official said. Nepal has convened two Saarc Summits in the past—third one in 1987 and the 11th in 2002. nnnn


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