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CPN (Maoist Centre) office-bearers’ meeting scheduled for today

Published Date : December 19, 2023

                Kathmandu, Dec 19: The office-bearers’ meeting of the ruling CPN (Maoist Centre) is convening at 3.00pm today.

                Party Vice-chair and Spokesperson, Agni Prasad Sapkota, said the meeting will discuss the agenda for the forthcoming central committee meeting, the statute convention, among other topics.

                Similarly, discussions will also be held on the upcoming work plan of the party as well as on the party transformation campaign it conducted, spokesperson Sapkota added.

Construction of road linking Katunje to Hetauda begins

                Kavrepalanchowk, Dec 19: Construction of a road linking Katunje of Kavrepalanchowk district and Hetauda, the capital of Bagmati Province, has been started.

                The road construction from Katunje of BP Highway to Hetauda via Kharpachowk, Lekhpani-Sungure-Budhakhani-Phoksingtar-Gokule-Taldhunga has begun. 

                Bagmati province government had guaranteed Rs 946 million in the last fiscal year for the road construction. According to Infrastructure Development Office, the construction of the road has begun with the allocation of Rs 70 million in the current fiscal year. Tender has already been announced for upgrading the 15 kilometers long road in the first phase.

                Minister for Economic Affairs and Planning of Bagmati province government, Bahadur Singh Lama, Minister for Physical Infrastructure Development, Yubraj Dulal, Minister for Water Supply, Energy and Irrigation, Tirtha Lama, and Province Assembly member Ratna Dhakal jointly laid the foundation stone for the road at Katunje of Roshi rural municipality amidst a function on Monday.

Nepal Peasants’ Federation presents five-point demand to CM

                Chitwan, Dec 19: Nepal Peasants’ Federation has protested the Bagmati province government decision to discontinue subsidy to milk farmers.

                The Federation has demanded the government to make sure a five percent interest subsidy on agricultural loans and to lift the restriction on refunding the subsidy amount to farmers from the Nepal Rastra Bank.

                Federation district president Nilkantha Rijal and his team met with Chief Minister, Shalikram Jamkattel, and presented a five-point of demand on behalf of milk farmers.

                Prompt payment to milk producers in Chitwan, amendment to the vocabulary in the tax exemption procedure to recognise livestock, dairy and meat production as conventional occupations to include them in tax exemption and sufficient fertilizer supplies are among the demands put forth by the delegation. 

                Receiving the memorandum, the Chief Minister said the government is working to address the demands of farmers and the budget for the current fiscal year aimed to sort out the problems facing farmers. “Prosperity is achievable when the development and promotion of agricultural sector is ensured,” he said, seeking cooperation from all quarters to make it happen.

Locals in difficulty as Phalgunanda Road remains in limbo for three decades

                Fikkal (Ilam), Dec 19: Three decades have gone by since the construction of the Phalgunanda Marga (road) was started. Billions have been invested for this road project linking Damak of Jhapa district with Chisopani Panchami of Panchthar district. The road passes through Mangesubung of Ilam.

                However, the huge investment in the road project has gone to waste and the locals are facing inconvenience as transport is not easy. The construction of the road has not completed even after 30 years.

The track of the road has been opened along the bank of Ratuwa river and vehicles are operating on this dirt road. Vehicles are operated from Damak to Gharti Dobhan on this track, but the vehicular movement comes to a halt even after moderate rainfall.

                Road construction has not picked up momentum due to the negligence of the construction company, it is said. Five years have elapsed since the contract was awarded to the construction company for graveling and black-topping the 33 kilometres section of the Phalgunanda Marga.

                Works on black-topping the road have not been started till date even after frequent extension of the contract term. The road widening and blacktopping works should have been carried out simultaneously, but it has not been done. The contract term was initially for three years and the road widening and blacktopping works were planned to be carried out dividing the road in three sections.

                The contract for blacktopping seven kilometres road from the starting point at Damak Under the first section was awarded to Mahalaxmi- Kirateshwar JV five years ago. As per the contract, the blacktopping works had to be carried out within 30 months. The contract was worth Rs 225 million and 964 thousand. The contract term was extended four times and the term of the latest extension was terminated in last mid-July, the Road Division Office, Damak said.

                The contract for blacktopping the 15-kilometre-long second section and the 11-kilometre-long third section of the highway was awarded to Lumbini-Ganapati JV. The contract for the second section road construction was worth Rs 544 million 487 thousand and that for the third section was worth Rs 591 million 535 thousand.

                Road Division Office Engineer Gautam Kumar Dev said that around 62 percent of work has been completed on the second section and 28 percent in the third section. According to him, only 50 percent works have been carried out on the total 33 kilometres long highway.

Health insurance programme yet to start in three local levels in Kathmandu despite its nationwide implementation

                Kathmandu, Dec 19: The nationwide health insurance programme launched by the government is yet to start in three local levels of Kathmandu District. The Kathmandu Metropolis, Budhanilkantha Municipality and the Nagarjun Municipality have not yet implemented the programme.

                In nearby Lalitpur metropolis, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ inaugurated the programme on Monday.

                Introduced in 2072 BS, the programme aims to provide accessible healthcare services to all citizens.

                Health Insurance Board’s information officer, Om Kumari Kandel, said the failure to fix the first service points in three local levels has caused problems in implementing the programme.  Major central hospitals in the Kathmandu Valley see a high influx of referral cases, making it impractical for them to serve as the first service points in terms of getting medical care under the insurance scheme. The respective governments are expected to fix the matter and once they determine the locations, the programme will be implemented. 

                The Bir Hospital, Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, Patan Academy of Health Sciences, Shukraraj Tropical Hospital and Civil Service Hospital are already overwhelmed by referral cases from other first service points and they are unwilling to act as the first service points for three local levels.

                Kathmandu metropolis health department Chief Ram Prasad Paudel said they are in touch with the Board to find a concrete progress for the programme implementation. As he said, ward office-based Urban Health Promotion Centre will serve as the first service points in case of the Metropolis.

                An agreement to this regard with the Board is likely within a week.  Though 7.4 million have been connected with the Board, only 4.7 million remain active.

                Presently, the Board facilitates the implementation of the health insurance program in 77 districts, providing free treatment services to an insured family up to 100,000. The yearly insurance premium per family is Rs 3,500. For families with more than five members, an additional amount of Rs 700 is chargeable per head.

Karnali government in preparation for green restoration in Jajarkot quake-hit areas

                Karnali, Dec 19: ‘Green restoration’ would be carried out at the areas affected by Jajarkot earthquake occurred on November 3.

                Karnali province government is to formulate and implement short-term, mid-term and long-term plan to address the problems seen in such areas.

                The Province government has started discussion with local levels, donor agencies and concerned bodies to make such plans. An interaction was organised in Surkhet today at the collaboration of Ministry for Land Management, Agriculture and Cooperative of Karnali Province and Karnali Integrated Rural Development and Research Centre.

                On the occasion, Minister for Land Management, Agriculture and Cooperative, Bhim Prakash Sharma, laid emphasis that all bodies should carry out activities being united to face the situation surfaced from the disaster. 

                He mentioned, “Special attention should be paid in development and promotion of agriculture sector for the long-term solution of the problems surfaced after the disaster and safety of human life.”

                Stressing that donor agencies should determine their areas of cooperation, Minister Sharma shared that the interaction was organised with an objective of reviving the agriculture sector for local economy and better livelihood.

                Similarly, Food and Agriculture organisation (FAO) Representative for Nepal and Bhutan, Ken Simizu, said FAO has been carrying out activities in development and promotion of agriculture of Nepal during disaster as well as normal situation.

                He lauded the activities of rescue, search, relief and rehabilitation carried out by federal, province governments and local levels at Jajarkot earthquake -affected areas, stressing on green revival of affected areas.

                Likewise, Spokesperson at the Ministry of Land Management, Agriculture and Cooperative, Dhan Bahadur Kathayat, presented a report related to losses in agriculture sector from earthquake as well as monitoring and supervision report.

                FAO Representative Thakur Prasad Chauhan opined that the monitoring of earthquake affected areas have shown a path how to move ahead in long-term livelihood of farmers.

13 hurt in jeep accident

                Achham, Dec 19: Thirteen people were injured in a jeep accident occurred today along the Mid-Hill Highway near Thulasain of Mangalsen municipality-6.

                The jeep with the registration number (Bhe 1 Cha 2576) met with the accident due to a brake-failure, Achham District Police Office’s Deputy Superintendent of Police, Santosh Pathak said. It got overturned on the road side. It was en route to Surkhet from Bajura.

                All the injured are out of life-threatening condition and are being treated in the District Hospital, Achham, according to the police. 

New York Writers Workshop to host 2024 conference in Kathmandu

                Kathmandu, Dec 19:  New York Writers Workshop (NYWW) has announced it will host its 2024 conference in Kathmandu, beginning 22 May through 2 June, 2024.

                Designed as the Himalayan Writers Retreat, the conference will feature prominent authors including world-renowned Himalayan poet Yuyutsu Sharma, distinguished American poet and editor Tony Barnstone, acclaimed Asian-American poet and Memoirist Ravi Shankar, NYU professor and distinguished writer Tim Tomlinson among others. The workshop will culminate in an international Himalayan Literary Festival hosted by White Lotus Book Shop, Kathmandu.

                NYWW is an internationally known writing programme and has held its previous conferences in Athens, Greece, Sardinia, Italy, and throughout the New York City area, with teaching faculty including prominent authors such as Forrest Gander, Kim Addonizio and Julia Prendergast.

                In the words of NYWW Director and NYU professor, Tim Tomlinson, “The Nepal chapter of the workshop is going to be a very rich, rewarding experience for its participants.”

                “It’s a dream project,” opines Tony Barnstone, Professor of English, Environmental Studies and Global and Cultural Studies, Whittier College, California. “I look forward to revisiting Nepal to join this marvelous international event.”

                The Himalayan festival will be a fusion of authors participating in the NYWW workshop and the authors from around the world with special focus on Nepalese and South Asian Writing. The festival will be dedicated to the great Nepalese poet, Gopal Prasad Rimal. A book of Rimal poems translated into English will be released to honor the legendry poet.

                “The 2024 NYWW is going to be a boon for the literary world worldwide,” says Yuyutsu Sharma, curator of the Nepal Chapter of the Conference and the Himalayan festival. “It is going to be the first of its kind in the south Asian region and usher new dimensions to multicultural literary discourse and bring forth a flood of creativity to strengthen the bond between creative writers of far-flung nations.”

                The workshop will involve panels, workshops, readings, cultural excursions and its outcome will be featured in Pratik Magazine’s Special NYWW Kathmandu Issue. 

                The workshop sessions will be held in Kathmandu and Pokhara along the Lake Fewa at the foothills of the Annapurna, with two featured sessions to be held in Changu Narayan, the most ancient Hindu Temple, in Bhaktapur, and at Pashupati shrine on the shore of Bagmati river. A special session exploring creative writing in terms of trance and initiation will be held in the presence of Himalayan shamans.

                “To teach with New York Writers Workshop is my life’s most endearing activity, I eagerly look forward to its chapter in the Himalayan nation,” Ravi Shankar pointed out.

Government forms panel to probe sale of Ncell shares, considering procedure unusual: PM Dahal 

                Kathmandu, Dec 19: Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ has said the government considers the sale of Ncell shares as unusual. Speaking at a meeting of the House of Representative’s State Affairs and Good Governance Committee today, the Prime Minister said the government formed the Committee to probe the Ncell share sale issue, viewing the sale procedure amiss.

                The government sensed something wrong in the procedures and further steps will be based on the recommendations of the Study and Investigation Committee, he said, promising to implement additional measures in the regulations of telecommunications service providers, to create more favourbale atmosphere for foreign investment, and to reform foreign currency exchange facility and tax administration.

                He informed the Committee that the government is committed to taking legal action if any violations are found in the matter. Emphasizing that the sensitivity of the issue extends beyond tax concerns, he said that any general shortcomings in attracting foreign investment could have significant costs for the nation.

                “The government is aware of potential impacts of Ncell share sale issues on revenue collection, investment and the telecommunications development.  That’s a five-member study and probe committee coordinated by former Attorney General Tankamani Sharma Dangal has been formed, “he said.

                According to him, the Committee has been directed to minutely study the matter and to submit the report within 30 days of its formation. The Committee was formed by the Cabinet meeting on December 7 to investigate the matter about the sale of share of Ncell, the telecommunications service provider, based in Nepal.

                The government head shared with the meeting about concerns expressed from various quarters after media reports that the 805 shares of Ncell Axiata were undervalued to evade tax during the sale.

                Prime Minister Dahal clarified that he directed the Ministry of Communications and Informational technology and Nepal Telecommunication Authority to study about the Ncell share scam soon after returning home from COP28.

                He briefed the meeting that the probe committee has been collecting documents and details as well as analyzing them coordinating with Nepal Telecommunication Authority, Office of the Company Registrar, Department of Industry, Nepal Rastra Bank, Department of Inland Revenue and taxpayer service office and Securities Board of Nepal.

                 PM Dahal shared that these regulatory bodies are collecting evidence and documents regarding the issues– foreign investment of Ncell, sale and purchase of share, tax, revenue, and foreign exchange remaining in their respective jurisdiction.

                Similarly, Minister for Communications and Information technology, Rekha Sharma, mentioned that the Prime Minister and Communications Ministry enquired with the regulator bodies immediately soon after the news related to sale and purchase of Ncell share. 

                She added, “Discussion was held with bodies concerned on the issue whether or not permission was taken with regulatory body to sale and purchase shares of Ncell, whether or not the sale of the share is as per international norms and values, laws related to this and the cabinet formed the probe committee after that.”

                Sharing that the government has been seriously making efforts to reach to the conclusion by carrying out study and holding discussion on the Ncell shares sale issue, Minister Sharma viewed that activities have been forwarded as per the direction to resolve the weaknesses and problems seen in this regard.

‘It is not merely enough mentioning equal rights in laws, they should be implemented’

                Kathmandu, Dec 19: National Assembly (NA) Chair Ganesh Timilsina has said it is not enough only writing about equal participation in laws, but they should be translated into action.

                The Chairperson of the upper house of the Federal Parliament said so while addressing a programme entitled ‘A Complete Citizen with Full Rights: Equal Rights in Citizenship’, organized here today by the Forum for Women, Law and Development (FWLD) on the occasion of the 44th anniversary of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

                “Equal rights and participation are mentioned in the laws, but they are not translated into action in daily life,” he said and stressed on the need of bringing these provisions into practice to establish their relevance.

                Giving examples from several developed countries where although these provisions are not written down in the laws but have been implemented in practice, the NA Chair said reservation and special rights are to be implemented for a certain period of time only and competitiveness should be prioritized after that.

                He said the Act having provisions of issuing Nepali citizenship to a foreign woman married to a Nepali citizen immediately after the marriage was enacted amidst controversy. Recalling the provision in the Indian laws whereby a woman marrying to an Indian man can apply for Indian citizenship only after seven years of marriage and residence in India, he said Nepali citizens marry with Indian and Chinese citizens also.

                National Assembly member Dr Bimala Rai Paudyal said the legal provision is such that on the one hand it looks at the daughter with suspicion while viewing the daughter-in-law (a foreign woman married to a Nepali man) with trust.

                “A daughter of a Nepali citizen marrying with an Indian national has to wait for seven years to become the citizen of India whereas a woman who is a citizen of India marrying a Nepali man can apply for a Nepali citizenship immediately after marrying. We passed the Act with such provision. We the poor lawmakers are compelled to endorse such provisions from the parliament even after knowing that the provision is discriminatory thinking the ‘masters’ will be upset with us,” she remarked, indicating how the lawmakers are not free to take decisions independently in the name of toeing the party whip.

                Another member of NA, Anita Devkota said there is discrimination between son and daughter in the Citizenship laws, stressing on the need of establishing the equal rights of daughter to the ancestral properties.

                FWLD executive director Sabin Shrestha presented a paper on citizenship laws, calling on the lawmakers to put to an end the situation of provisions written in the constitution itself not being reflected in the laws.

Problems seen in industry, construction sectors will be resolved pronto: Finance Minister

                Manahari (Makawanpur), Dec 19: Finance Minister Dr Prakash Sharan Mahat has shared that problems seen in the industry and construction sector in recent period would be resolved immediately. 

                At a programme organised by Makawanpur Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Hetauda today, Finance Minister Mahat mentioned that problems seen due to bank’s interest rate and payment would be resolved. 

                The management process for the industrial area located in Hetauda would be forwarded in collaboration of Makwanpur Chamber of Commerce and Industry and private sector, and the government would make decision soon on the issue of Hetuda Cement Industry, he said. 

                The Finance Minister urged the private sector to carry out activities collaborating with local government, administration and security bodies in festivals to be held in Makawanpur.

                Similarly, MCCI President Krishna Kumar Gupta, President of Contractors’ Association, Makawanpur, Bal Gopal Kandel submitted separate memoranda to Minister Mahat.

                Nepali Congress Bagmati Province President Indra Bahadur Baniya, central committee member of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Krishna Katwal, NC Makawanpur District President Buddha Lama, among others were present on the occasion.

Parliamentary Committee directs for suspending Ncell share transactions

                Kathmandu, Dec 19: The State Affairs and Good Governance Committee of the House of Representatives has instructed the Government of Nepal to make a recovery of tax that Ncell, the private telecommunications service provider in the country, owed to it.

                A meeting of the Committee today issued directives to the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies. The meeting directed the government to not allow the transactions of Company shares until the Committee formed to investigate the matter about the sale of company shares submits the report.

                Committee President Ramhari Khatiwada said the meeting asked the government for amending the Telecommunications Act and Regulations, making them compatible with time. In addition to this, the government has been directed to assess the capacity and business experiences of buyers during the sale and purchase of shares of big companies like the Ncell.

                Similarly, the meeting decided to seek information regarding the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA)’s response to the sale of Ncell share, directing the government to make necessary amendments to bring the Ncell under the government ownership.

PM Dahal argues NTA’s jurisdiction will not be affected by formation of probe committee           

                Kathmandu, Dec 19: Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ has said that the formation of and study to be carried out by the investigation committee related to the sale of shares of Ncell, the private sector telecommunication service provider, will not affect the works and jurisdiction of Nepal Telecom Authority (NTA), the regulatory body.

                Responding to the queries related to the sale of Ncell shares put by lawmakers in the meeting of the State Affairs and Good Governance Committee under the House of Representatives today, he said the probe committee was formed with the advice, suggestions and coordination of the regulatory body.

                The PM reiterated that the investigation committee was constituted after holding adequate discussions and on the basis of common conclusion.

                Stating that the works of the probe committee will not in any way interfere with and impact the authority of the regulatory body, he believed that the regulatory body shall fulfill its responsibility.

                Prime Minister Dahal also urged not to make any unnecessary comments regarding the coordinator of the investigation committee.

                To the question why the need for forming investigation committee when there is already the regulatory body there giving approval on the sale and purchase of the shares, he made it clear that the committee was formed to investigate into this scam on the matter of revenue evasion and handover of the ownership to the government.

                Lawmakers had put various questions to the PM on the occasion.

Minister Basnet directs to accelerate construction works of Bheri Babai project

                Kathamndu, Dec 19: Minister for Water Resources and irrigation, Shakti Bahadur Basnet, today directed the office-bearers of Bheri Babai Diversion Project and contractors to accelerate the construction works after the construction activities of the project were not found effective. 

                He mentioned, “No one is exempt for making delay in construction of projects.”   Minister Basnet at the Ministry asked high-official, office-bearers of the project and contractors to expedite the construction works, saying delay in the construction of the project would not be acceptable.

                No expected progress was seen in dam site and power house of the project and construction activities has not been able to pick up take a speed due to weak performance of the contractors.

                Minister Basnet warned the project officials and contractors, saying they could not tolerate if the construction activities could not make the expected progress.

                Chief of Raman Construction Company, Raman Kumar Mahato, project Director Rana Bahadur Bam, Secretary at the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, Sushil Chandra Tiwari, Director General of Department of irrigation, Churna Bahadur Oli, among others were present in the meeting.

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