Nepal Today

Wednesday, August 7, 2013



Kathmandu, 7 Aug.  NC {resident Sushil Koirala holds talks in Patna
Thursday with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar before returniog home after a six-day India visit.
The leader of the country’s oldest party not in government but supporting it discussed cross-border issues with Utter Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow Wednesday.
Utter Pradesh and Bihar border Nepal.

Kathmanu, 8 Aug.: Thursday morning’s temperature in the capital
was 20 degrees Celsius.
Temperature is expected to rise to 27 degrees Celsius in the afternoon.
Wednesday’s rainfall was 11.2mm.


KAthmandu, 8 Aug.:: The government is to finalize within a week an integrated security plan for the upcoming Constituent Assembly (CA) election, Gani Ansari writes in Republica..

At a meeting with top officials of the Election Commission (EC), the secretaries of the Home and Defense Ministries and the chiefs of the Nepal Police, Armed Police Force (APF), Nepal Army (NA) and the National Investigation Department (NID) briefed the EC officials on the status of the integrated security plan for the November poll.

“The chiefs of all four security agencies told us that the integrated security plan for the CA poll is yet to be given final shape and it will take another seven to 10 days,” Chief Election Commissioner Neel Kantha Uprety told Republica.

According to Uprety, the security agency chiefs assured him that they will be able to provide necessary security for holding the November poll. “We are fully committed to providing necessary security for the election,” Uprety quoted the security chiefs as saying at the meeting.

According to sources present at the meeting, the EC officials urged the security agency chiefs to come up with the security plan for the polls as soon as possible.
The security agencies have divided the election constituencies into three categories--highly sensitive, sensitive and normal -- from the security point of view.
“We are yet to finalize which election constituencies will fall under which category,” a police source said on condition of anonymity, adding, “We will do so only after the EC finalizes the number of polling booths.”

He stated that some districts of the Tarai and some of eastern districts are highly sensitive from the security viewpoint.
Election Commissioner Ila Sharma said the election commission is very happy with the preparations being made by the security agencies for the forthcoming election.

Asked if the government would come up with an election security plan that would include the use of temporary security personnel, Sharma said, “The EC will take a decision on whether or not to use temporary security personnel.”
Chief Election Commissioner Uprety, for his part, said they have been stating repeatedly that temporary security should not be used for election security. “We are sticking to that,” Uprety added.

The EC had invited the top security officials and the Home and Defense Ministry secretaries in order to enquire about the status of the integrated security plan for the November poll. The four security agencies and Ministries of Home and Defense are responsible for security during the election.
The election commission has already made public its election program for both the proportional representation and first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral systems.


Kathmandu, 8 Aug.:  The government has taken fresh initiatives to resume long-stalled trade negotiation with the United States of America.
Nepal and the US had signed Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) on April 15, 2011, setting up a bi-lateral forum for trade talks to pave the way for promoting trade and investment in both countries.

The then Deputy Prime Minister Bharat Mohan Adhikari and US trade representative Ron Kirk had signed the TIFA that has established Nepal-US Council on Trade and Investment (NUCTI) - a secretary level forum to hold bi-lateral trade negotiations.With the inception of the bi-lateral forum, Nepali business people had hoped that Nepali products will get preferential treatment in the world´s largest economy. They had also hoped that US investment to Nepal will increase.

The TIFA was also expected to facilitate effective dialogue on areas like trade, capacity building of Nepali private sector, protection of intellectual property rights of Nepali goods and promotion of US investment in Nepal.
Though TIFA has a provision to hold the NUCTI meeting each year, the bi-lateral dialogue couldn´t move ahead as per the plan due to weak diplomatic efforts from the Nepal.

“We have begun preparation to hold the long-stalled TIFA meeting in Nepal. However, we have yet to initiate diplomatic process for the talks,” Jib Raj Koirala, joint secretary at the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies (MoCS), said. “We will hold discussion with stakeholders in this regard soon.”
Entrepreneurs have long been putting pressure on the government to resume the NUCTI meeting that give forum for Nepal to raise the issues of General System of Preference (GSP) -- preferential treatment for US market -- for 11 Nepali products, including Readymade Garments (RMGs). Nepal´s export to US has been slowing for the last few years in the absence of preferential treatment for Nepali products in the US market.

Uday Raj Pandey, president of Garment Association Nepal (GAN) last week urged the government to immediately initiate the process for TIFA meeting where long pending issues of Nepal-US trade will be discussed.

Data compiled by Trade and Export Promotion Center (TEPC) shows that Nepal´s exports to the US dropped by 7.9 percent to Rs 4.97 billion in the first eleven months of the fiscal year 2012/13 compared to the figures of the same period of 2011/12. Similarly, Nepal´s import from the US declined by 0.5 percent to Rs 4.56 billion during the review period.

Purushottam Ojha, former commerce secretary who had led Nepali trade team at NUCTI meeting, said US-Nepal trade talk was delayed because of low interest on it by the US officials amid political instability and uncertainty over constitution writing process.
“In the last meeting, we had convinced US officials for TIFA agreement assuring that there will be stable government and democratic constitution will be formulated in time. But now both of them have become elusive,” added Ojha.

He said consecutive governments also failed to put strong diplomatic efforts to persuade the US officials for the talks.


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