Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Japan to provide grant assistance of Rs 1.83 billion to Nepal

Japan has pledged grant assistance of Rs 1.83 billion to Nepal for the improvement of aviation safety facilities and school sector development programme.
Ambassador of Japan to Nepal Masashi Ogawa and finance secretary Lok Darshan Regmi signed and exchanged two separate sets of notes – one each for aviation safety and school sector development programme – today on behalf of their respective governments to this effect in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Nepal.
Deputy Prime Minister and finance minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara and the State Minister for Foreign Affairs of  Japan Nobuo Kishi witnessed the signing ceremony, according to a statement issued by the Kathmandu-based Embassy of Japan.
"Under the first notes, the government of Japan is extending Rs 1.518 to the government of Nepal for the implementation of the Project for Improvement of Aviation Safety Facilities in major airports with the purpose of improving the safety and efficiency of air transport in Nepal,” the statement reads.
The largest assistance so far from Japan in the civil aviation sector will be used to implement the Project which will help improve safety at eight airports across Nepal, 5 short take-off and landing (STOL) airstrips, two regional airports and the only international airport Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA).
The Project will install a Localiser (LOC) with Terminal Distance Measuring Equipment (T-DME) at Tribhuvan International Airport – which provides horizontal guidance to aircraft during the landing approach – and install VHF Omni-directional Range/Distance Measuring Equipment (VOR/DME) at Chadragadhi and Dhangadhi Airports, for the improvement of aviation safety facilities in Nepal.
Likewise, it will install VOR/DME Test Rack at the Navigation Aid Maintenance Section at Sinamangal, Kathmandu; supply and replace equipment to enhance capacity at the Civil Aviation Academy, Sanothimi, and install other necessary equipment like Runway Threshold Identification Lights, Runway Threshold and End Lights, Runway Edge Lights, and Solar Power Supply Systems at Lukla, Jomsom, Jumla, Rara and Simikot Airports, based on the plan/design envisage by this Project, it adds.
"After the completion of the project, it is expected that the number of flights that can land with precision by using the LOC at TIA – the only airport of the country – will be increased; the number of flights that can fly to the designated airports by utilising VOR/DME will be increased, and the runway usability factor for big aircrafts at TIA will be improved,” the statement reads, adding, "As a result of this project, aviation safety will be significantly enhanced at the eight selected airports."
According to Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) director general Sanjiv Gautam said that the three-year project would begin in 2017.
At the same function, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Nepal chief Jun Sakuma and joint secretary at the Finance Ministry and coordinator of the International Economic Cooperation and Coordination Division Baikuntha Aryal also signed the grant agreements for smooth implementation of the projects.
In March 2013, the JICA had provided Rs 906 million in grant to install two new radars at TIA and Bhatte Danda in Lalitpur to the south of the airport. The installation of second generation Monopulse Secondary Surveillance Radar (MSSR) systems at TIA and Bhatte Danda under a TIA modernisation project, which is expected to make Nepali skies safer, has been completed. The radar is planned to come into operation by November after tests are completed.
The MSSR will replace the existing airport surveillance/secondary surveillance radar system to enhance and strengthen the existing surveillance system installed under the Japanese official development assistance (ODA) extended in 1994.
Likewise, Rs 313 million would be spent for the implementation of the School Sector Development Programme (SSDP), the statement further adds.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Government bans Indian couple for faking Mt Everest summit

The government has imposed a 10-year ban on an Indian police couple for morphing the photographs to obtain their Mt Everest summit certificates.
The couple would not be allowed to enter Nepal for 10 years and will be banned from mountaineering expeditions, according to a ministerial-level decision taken by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation today.
"Likewise, the government has also rescinded the certificates they gained," reads a statement issued by the ministry.
The ministry was in dilemma since there was no minister at the Ministry for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation due to political transition. However, the newly-appointed Tourism Ministry Jeevan Bahadur Shahi endorsed the legal action against the couple as per a recommendation made by the Department of Tourism. The department has the right to issue summit certificate and rescind it.
The Indian police couple Dinesh Chandrakant Rathod and his wife Tarkeshwari Chandrakant Bhelerao from Pune had made a false claim of having reached the 8,850-m summit of Mt Everest on May 23. They had submitted morphed photographs while applying for the summit certificates. But their fellow Indian mountaineers disputed their claims and accused them of crudely manipulating photographs to support their claim to have reached the top of Mt Everest.
Eight other mountaineers had lodged a complaint against the couple saying that Dinesh Rathod and his wife Tarakeshwari never made it to the summit and had 'morphed' photographs of themselves at the top, which the couple denied. But after the investigation, it was found that the climber couple had altered the photographs to support their summit claim and get certificate.
The others mountaineers had said that the couple, who had arrived at Mt Everest base camp very late in the climbing season to have a chance of reaching the top, had morphed the photographs. They also pointed to apparent contradictions in the photographs published online by Dinesh.
After 2 consecutive years of disasters on the mountain, a total of 454 mountaineers scaled the highest peak of the world this year during the March-May climbing season.
Last year 19 climbers were killed and 61 injured by an avalanche at the base camp triggered by a devastating earthquake, whereas in 2014, an avalanche at the Khumbu Icefall killed 16 Sherpa guides cancelling the entire climbing activities.

Nepal among top performers in national water security: ADB

Nepal, with a score of 37.3 points, is one of the top performers in the national water security index, according to a report prepared by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
The new edition of the Asian Water Development Outlook (AWDO) 2016 released on the sidelines of World Water Week in Stockholm today also revealed that water security in Asia and Pacific has progressed overall in the past five years, but major challenges, including overexploited groundwater, demand from rising populations, and climate variability, remain.
In terms of water security (2013-16), Nepal has a score of 28 points compared to South Asian average of 33.7 points.
Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan use about 23 million pumps with an annual energy bill of $3.78 billion for lifting water, the report states. Likewise, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan annually pump a total of about 210- 250 cubic kilometers of groundwater using about 21 million-23 million pumps, it adds.
The report also states that some 23 per cent of Nepalis have access to piped water, whereas Nepal has least resilience to water-related disasters. "Among the five categories – Hazardous, Engaged, Capable, Effective, and Model – Nepal falls in the second category."
The report provides a snapshot of water security status of 48 of the region's countries, using latest data sets. According to these, the number of countries assessed as water insecure has dropped to 29, compared to 38 (out of 49 countries) identified in the previous report of 2013.
"Asia and Pacific remains the world's most vulnerable region to water insecurity and cannot sustain its recent economic growth without addressing this issue," said ADB vice president for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development Bambang Susantono, who led the launch in Stockholm. "Meeting the region's socioeconomic challenges and achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6 on water will require bridging the gap in provision of water services between rich and poor in urban areas, and between rural and urban areas," he added.
According to the report, some 1.7 billion people in the Asia Pacific lack access to basic sanitation. Recent estimates suggest that by 2050, some 3.4 billion people could be living in water-stressed areas in Asia and the Pacific while water demand will increase by 55 per cent.
Asian Water Development Outlook 2016 assesses water security in 5 key dimensions; household access, economic viability, urban services, restoring rivers and ecosystems, and resilience to water-related disasters. Advanced economies like Australia, Japan and New Zealand consistently lead the way, followed by countries in East Asia-led by the People's Republic of China, which has taken the biggest stride to improve water security since the previous study of 2013.
On household access to piped potable water and improved sanitation, the water security score in Asia and the Pacific, on a 20-point scale, ranges from 4.5 for South Asia to 20.0 for the advanced economies. All parts of the region improved their performance by about 2 points since 2013, except for the Pacific islands. But although the rural-urban gap has been reduced in some countries like Armenia and Thailand, the report says major disparities remain between rural and urban areas and between rich and poor on services and infrastructure for piped water supply and sanitation. South Asian countries particularly need to make considerable efforts to improve their performance in this dimension, the report states.
The second key dimension, economic water security, provides an assessment of the productive use of water to sustain economic growth in food production, industry and energy. Most of the change since 2013 has been positive with advanced countries again showing the highest scores and Pacific islands lagging, the report states. But there remains room for improvement across the region. Countries that merit strengthening current conditions are concentrated in Central Asia.
Likewise, in urban water security, East Asia has shown positive progress while South and Southeast Asia still have some way to go. Nearly half of the economies have piped water supply levels higher than 85 per cent but less than 50 per cent of the urban population has access to improved sanitation. In many areas, the majority of wastewater is discharged to the environment having received little to no treatment. The report further says significant investment and leadership is needed to reliably meet the water needs of cities.
The fourth key dimension describes how well a country is able to manage its river basins and sustain ecosystem services. It shows a wide range of results, with the Pacific islands scoring highly due to good river health and advanced economies doing well due to strong governance. Declining river health is most evident in Bangladesh, the lower Yangtze River Basin of the PRC, Nepal, and Mekong Delta in Vietnam, the report states.
For the fifth key dimension, resilience to water-related disasters, advanced economies show the strongest performance while much of the rest of Asia and the Pacific has been weak. "Between 1995 and 2015, there were some 2,495 water-related disasters striking Asia, killing 332,000 people and affecting a further 3.7 billion. South Asia showed the lowest resilience score, but several other countries showed strong improvement since 201”," the report adds.
The report concludes that the relationship between water security and the economy can be a virtuous or a vicious-circle. "There is a strong relationship between water management and the economy, and investments in good water management can be considered as a longer term payback for increased growth and poverty reduction," the report reads, "Water-related investments can increase economic productivity and growth, while economic growth provides the resources to invest in institutions and capital-intensive water infrastructure."

Sunday, August 28, 2016

China pledges five times more FDI in Nepal than India

China has surpassed India in terms of committing foreign direct investment (FDI) in Nepal in recent years.
According to the latest statistics from the central bank, China has outdone India in terms of committing FDI as well as in terms of projects in Nepal.
The latest data put India on the fourth position in terms of the number of development projects pledged in Nepal and on the second position after China in terms of FDI amount pledged.
Likewise, South Korea ranks second after China, the United States of America third, India fourth and Japan fifth in terms of the number of projects they have pledged to carry out in the country.
According to the statistics of the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), China has pledged Rs 6.21 billion for 125 projects in the last fiscal year 2015-16 whereas India has pledged Rs 1.94 billon for 23 projects.
Likewise, the Nepal government has authorised South Korea in 55 projects, the USA for 40, Japan 18, the United Kingdom 11 and other countries 69 projects, taking the number of total projects to 341, according to the central bank report.
The report has also stated that as many as 11, 426 people will get employment directly from the authorised projects.
While the FDI pledges slumped by 77.5 per cent in the last fiscal year, the number of projects decreased by 7.3 per cent, compared to a fiscal year ago in 2014-15.
In the last fiscal year 2015-16, the Department of Industry authorised 341 foreign-funded development projects worth Rs 15.14 billion while it had authorised 368 projects worth Rs 67.42 billion in the fiscal year 2014-15.
Similarly, the foreign investors have repatriated almost Rs 1 billion less to Rs 6.25 billion in bonus in the last fiscal year 2015-16 compared to Rs 7.21 billion a fiscal year ago in 2014-15, the central bank data revealed.
The foreign companies’ profit slumped after their financial transactions were hit by the earthquake and the Indian blockade against Nepal in the last fiscal year.
The NRB approves – on the recommendation of Industry Ministry – the foreign companies repatriate bonus from their profit based on financial details and other liabilities.
In the last fiscal year 2015-16, the foreign companies related to hydro projects repatriated Rs 3.15 billion in bonus to their countries. Foreign companies have invested in the hydro projects including Khimti, Bhotekoshi in Nepal.
Likewise, companies that have invested in the communication sector have taken Rs 1.69 billion as bonus. Foreigners have invested in Nepal’s telecommunication sector including Ncell, UTL, and Smart Telecom.
According to the central bank, the companies which have invested in the industrial sector have also repatriated bonuses worth Rs 1.38 billion so far. Foreign companies including Dabur Nepal, Unilever, Arati Strips, Surya Nepal have invested in Nepal’s industrial sector.
Foreigners are allowed to repatriate the bonus in line with the Company Act and the Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Act, 1992 with approval from the central bank.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

China Southern to operate daily direct flights from September 1

China Southern Airlines is operating daily direct flights between Guangzhou (China) and Kathmandu (Nepal) from Thursday.
Organising a special programme in Kathmandu on Friday, officials of China Southern Airlines announced that the airline is going to operate daily flight between Guangzhou and Kathmandu from September 1.
"We will fly to Kathmandu two times a day from October," deputy sales manager at China Southern Airlines office in Nepal, Dhiraj Shrestha, said on the occasion.
Almost all the foreign carriers, including China Southern Airlines, were forced to suspend their flights to Nepal after last year's devastating earthquake and also aviation fuel shortage due to five-month blockade by India.
However, the Chinese airliner is now planning to increase the flight frequency considering the growing number of Chinese tourists in Nepal also due to the festival season, he said. "We are extending the number of flights because of increment in passenger frequency and major festivals," added Shrestha.
The airline is currently operating three flights a week from Guangzhou to Kathmandu with Airbus A319 aircraft. Four Chinese airlines are operating flights to Kathmandu at present.
China is also the second largest tourist source market for Nepal. Since the Chinese carrier is planning to double the flight frequency, an increased flight is expected to contribute to raise the number of Chinese tourists which decreased by 28 per cent in the first six months of 2016, according to the Department of Immigration.
Country-wise, arrivals from India increased by 37.62 per cent to 54,224 in the first six months of this year.  However, arrivals from China decreased by 28 per cent to 33,991, though Nepal has also started issuing on-arrival free visa for Chinese tourists to boost arrivals from the northern neighbour since January.
During the programme, China Southern Airlines also awarded best travel agents based in Kathmandu.
According to the company that has served over 110 million passengers worldwide till 2015, it has 90 travel agents within Nepal.
Nepal received 313,512 tourists in the first half of 2016, against 277,992 in the same period a year ago. Despite the rise, the arrivals are still low as compared to previous years.
In 2014, the country had received 412,461 tourists in the first six months, according to the department, the tourist arrivals to Nepal fell to a six-year low of 538,970 in 2015 too. Nepal had received 251,148 less tourists last year, representing a sharp drop of 31.78 percent, compared to the 2014 figure.

Friday, August 26, 2016

WB okays $55m loan for roads, bridges

The World Bank today approved credit worth $55 million (Rs5.91 billion) for Nepal to scale up its Road Sector Development Programme (RSDP) and address post-earthquake reconstruction needs, including the strengthening of the country’s strategic road and bridge network to withstand future seismic and climate vulnerabilities.
The additional financing will top up the World Bank’s support to the Road Sector Development Project which has been ongoing since 2008, it said, "When it began, the project intended to provide residents in 10 beneficiary districts, including the poorest, in the Mid-Western and Far Western regions of Nepal, with all-season road connectivity, reduced travel time and improvements in access to economic centres and social services."
With the additional financing, 25 more districts stand to benefit from the maintenance of earthquake-affected bridges. The original 10 districts will also continue to benefit from road upgrading, slope stabilization and bridge works, the bank said in a press release.
“The RSDP has been the cornerstone of our support to Nepal’s strategic roads network for nearly a decade,” said World Bank country manager for Nepal Takuya Kamata. “While the primary focus has been to develop connectivity in the poorest and remotest regions of the country, the 2015 earthquakes highlighted the need to improve the resilience of key roads and bridges to future natural shocks,” he added.
The RSDP currently serves a population of 2 million in 10 districts in the Mid-Western and Far Western regions of Nepal. The project will serve another 10.2 million Nepalis following the maintenance of earthquake affected bridges in the 25 additional districts.
The bridges that will undergo maintenance in these districts provide connectivity along the Birgunj-Narayanghat-Mugling-Kathmandu corridor which carries the vast majority of freight into and out of Kathmandu and Pokhara. This corridor is among Nepal’s most vital infrastructure assets for supporting economic growth and development.
“Nepal’s hills and mountains are susceptible to extreme precipitation, earthquake and landslides that can result in severed connectivity, loss of life and damage to property,” said task team leader for the project Farhad Ahmed. “Robust construction, better maintenance and improvements in the capacity to respond will help Nepal adapt to unforeseen events.”

Monday, August 22, 2016

Nepal fares better in Habitat Commitment Index

Nepal has fared marginally better in the recently released Habitat Commitment Index (HCI), which tracks every country's performance record as against the commitments made during Habitat II in Istanbaul in 1996.
Nepal has improved by 1.94 points in the last two decades, according to the HCI that creates an index, which tracks the progress made in six broad categories of the Habitat II agenda including Infrastructure, Poverty, Employment, Sustainability, Institutional Capacity, and Gender. Nepal has scored 69.22 points in HCI scale in 2016 compared to 67.28 in 1996.
Habitat III also revealed that Nepal has fared better than India as India has slipped marginally by 0.41 points on the HCI scale. The South Asian average stands at 1.26, it said, adding that Nepal and Pakistan are the only two countries – among the 8 countries – in South Asia – that have fared better.
The UN member states will agree on the New Urban Agenda at Habitat III, scheduled to be held in Quito in October this year. "In the run-up to the event, the review of each country's score on the previous urban agenda was released by the New York based Global Urban Futures Project," it added.
Instead of comparing absolute outcomes between countries of varying levels of economic development, the outcomes are adjusted for resource difference, as measured by per capita gross domestic product (GDP).
In the absence of any monitoring mechanism or binding commitment, the overall global HCI score has increased by only 1.49 points, the report further stated, adding, “Despite the Habitat Agenda's 241 paragraphs containing over 600 recommendations, there has been little meaningful change in urban conditions since Habitat II."
From a global average of 69.68 in 1996 it has now gone up to current average score of 71.17, which means that global performance is at around 70 per cent of what could have been possible given the level of resources available. "Of all the six indicators, the worst performance is on the sustainability index where the global average performance is not even at half of what it should be."
Among the drivers of the changes – or lack thereof – in the HCI scores, the greatest change was in the Gender dimension, it reads, adding that the average gender HCI score increased by 8.62 points in the period between Habitat II and the present, rising to a global average of 76.82, one of the highest among the HCI categories. "This rise was due in part to phenomenal increase in the Female Tertiary Enrollment indicator, which rose by an HCI score of 22.13 points, by far the largest positive change among the indicators."
The report also states that minimal progress was made in the Infrastructure dimension (+1.78), while Poverty (+5.69) and Sustainability (+3.63) improved modestly in the last 2 decades. Only two dimensions saw declines in overall average HCI scores; Employment and Institutional Capacity.
While decline in the Employment dimension was negligible (-0.56), Institutional Capacity had the most extreme change among the dimensions, with the global average HCI score for Institutional Capacity falling by 11.26 points, from 74.8 in 1996 to 63.5, and accounting in large part for the overall lack of HCI progress, since the decline was large enough to offset gains made across the other categories.
The two components of the Institutional Capacity dimension, the International Country Risk Guide's Quality of Government index and the World Bank's Government Effectiveness index, declined by 18.09 and 6.52, respectively.
However, the two Institutional Capacity measurements do not take into account levels of participation, democracy, or freedom, but rather are based on surveys sent to firms and NGOs to assess perceptions of governments' abilities to provide public services.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

CAAN renewes Simrik Air AOC without licence renewal

In a serious case of aviation safety lapse, the civil aviation regulator – Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) – has renewed Air Operator Certificate (AOC) of Simrik Airlines despite the expiration of the airliner's flying licence 15 months ago.
"How did the CAAN renew the AOC of an airline, whose licence has been expired," questioned a senior CAAN official. "It demands a serious investigation into such safety lapses," he added.
According to the rule, the airline should start the process of renewing its AOC from the CAAN, only after the issuance of the licence.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has given the significant safety concern tag to Nepal’s aviation sector in its audit report in August 2013 on the ground of th country's inability to oversee air safety. Nepal is already under EU black list due to lapses in aviation safety.
The Tourism Ministry is in dilemma over whether or not to renew Simrik Airlines’ flying licence that expired 15 months ago. Ministry officials have been conducting rounds of meetings exploring legal grounds to renew the permit of the airline that has been grounded since Monday, though its licence has expired more than a year ago.
Today, the issue was discussed at the Prime Minister’s Office. "The airline’s flying licence has expired,” tourism secretary Prem Kumar Rai said, adding that the private airliners has now two alternatives; either begin a fresh process to obtain a new licence or convince the minister to table a proposal at the Cabinet to extend the permit in recognition of its contribution to the industry.
The airliner's chairman captain Rameshwor Thapa also runs a newspaper Annapurna Post, apart from being the ex-president of Airlines Operators Association of Nepal (AOAN).
However, such carelessness has once again raised serious safety question on Nepal's sky that has already been under scanner from the European Union (EU). But the ministry officials are waiting for the appointment of a new Tourism Minister to get the issue sorted out.
According to the regulation, domestic airlines must renew their licenses every four years. They have to renew the permit within one year after its expiry. But Simrik Airlines has been flying till Monday without renew the permit for 15 months.
The airline – issuing a press release – said that it was unable to renew its licence due to last year’s earthquakes and subsequent trade embargo. Though, it has apolisised with its customers, it’s a sheer careless in the part of airlines safety.
Simrik Airlines has in its press release also said that it has initiated the process to renew the licence. "The process could be delayed as the minister is yet to be appointed,” the statement reads.
According to ministry officials, it will take at least a week to issue a new licence, if the airline applies for the new licence. However, the airline should pay an additional Rs 600,000 to renew its route permit. The carrier has got permits on 20 domestic routes. The royalty for each route stands at Rs 30,000, which the airlines should pay again. To initiate a fresh licence process, it has to show a bank guarantee of Rs 2 million and should have a paid-up capital of Rs 20 million.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

PM urged to crack the whip over development projects

Apart from improving the current governance system and restructuring the administration, the political leadership must regularly prod the bureaucracy to expedite development projects, according to experts.
Until policy reforms, depoliticisation of the bureaucracy, enhancing of institutional capacity and restructuring of the administration can be achieved, the government has to work under a Plan-B, with a commitment towards national development, they said. The government – especially Prime Minister Puspa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' – should take a lead role in expediting development projects under the personal initiative of the prime minister, they suggested.
Although obsolete policy and the lethargic  bureaucratic structure need to be reformed as soon as possible, until then the prime minister Dahal – under Plan-B – has to himself monitor  development projects regularly, every fortnight if possible, to expedite development work, suggested senior economist Prof Dr Bishwhambher Pyakuryal.
Either Nepal has to address development projects on a war footing now or remain poor, under developed and paralysised, he said, suggesting the government also adjust the three-year plan, the annual fiscal plan and the long-term plans, as these do not dove-tail.
The delay in development projects is also due to negligence in monitoring and evaluation, and this has to be looked into seriously, he said.
"Though there are various mechanisms under the National Planning Commission (NPC), the Prime Minister's Office and also the ministries concerned with monitoring and reviewing development, the progress at almost all development projects including the national pride projects is pathetic," according to former vice chairman of the NPC Dr Govind Raj Pokharel.
Commitment from both the bureaucracy and the political leadership is key, he said suggesting enhancement of institutional capacity and logistics to help expedite development projects.
Currently, the Prime Minister's Office looks after mega projects whereas the Finance Ministry looks after projects with outlays of above Rs 150 million. The ministries concerned are also responsible for monitoring development projects apart from the planning commission. Likewise, the parliamentary committees – especially the development committee – also takes stock of development projects, though it has been blamed for obstructing the development rather than facilitating.
Almost all the development projects are either running behind schedule, thereby escalating costs, or have shown little progress. "Political instability is no excuse although it is a reality hampering the progress of the development projects," according to another former NPC vice chair Deependra Bahadur Kshetry.
However, he opined that every authority – including the Project Monitoring Division under the planning commission – must be held responsible and they must function on a routine basis even in the absence of ministers. "Otherwise they also should be penalised," he added.
The NPC meets every three months to take stock of development projects and review their status but these  meetings, which are chaired by the Prime Minister, have become a mere formality, he added.
Delayed development projects have not only been holding the the country back but also adding to economic costs for the people. The weakness of the planning commission and also the various ministries in effectively monitoring development is going to cost not only the economy but also social progress, as scarce and precious resources are misused in the last months every year thereby encouraging financial indiscipline and recklessness.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Nepal among countries with weakest property rights in the world

Though, Nepal is ranked 97 out of 128 countries in terms of the strength of property rights in this year's International Property Rights Index (IPRI), it is still a nation with one of the weakest property rights in the world, landing at the bottom 20 percentile.
The IPRI – an annual publication of the Property Rights Alliance (PRA) –is a comparative study that aims to quantify the strength of property rights - both physical and intellectual - and to rank countries accordingly.
Nepal's ranking has shown a slight progress this year with a score of 4.5 – compared to a score of 4.2 last year – placing the country 17th in the Asia and Oceania and 97th in the world ranking, according to the Property Rights Alliance.
Political Environment (LP), Physical Property Rights (PPR) and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) have each grown stronger with a score of 3.92, 5.5 and 3.97 this year compared to 3.4, 5.3 and 3.8 last year, the publication reads, adding that Nepal is, however, still a nation with one of the weakest property rights in the world, landing at the bottom 20 percentile.
IPRI scores and ranks each country based on 10 variables – in a scale of zero to 10 – reflecting the state of its Legal and Political Environment (LP), Physical Property Rights (PPR) and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).
In Legal and Political Environment, it evaluates Judicial Independence, Rule of Law, Political Stability and Control of Corruption as sub-categories. Similarly, under Physical Property Rights, the sub-categories are Protection of Physical Property Rights, Registering Property and Access to Loans. Likewise, the sub-categories under Intellectual Property Rights are Protection of Intellectual Property Rights, Patent Protection and Copyright Piracy.
Finland is at the top spot this year index with 8.4 score. Other Scandinavian countries have also performed well with Norway and Sweden ranking fourth and seventh, respectively, with a score of 8.3 and 8.1.
At the bottom of the ranking are Venezuela (2.7), Haiti (2.8), Myanmar (2.8), Bangladesh (2.8), Zimbabwe (3.4), Burundi (3.4), Nigeria (3.6), Moldova (3.7), Pakistan (3.7) and Mauritania (3.7).
Property Rights Alliance has secured the support of 102 other think tanks and policy organizations in 69 countries involved in research, policy, development, education and promotion of property rights in their countries to prepare the report. Samriddhi, the Prosperity Foundation is the partner think tank in Nepal for Property Rights Alliance. It has proudly been releasing the International Property Rights Index – one of the most comprehensive international measurements of property rights around the world – in Nepal since 2012. From measuring the status of 70 countries in the first edition, the IPRI has grown to examine 128 countries in its tenth edition in 2016.
The index is expected to be helpful to politicians, economists, academicians, and entrepreneurs in learning about the necessity of protecting property rights around the world for world-wide economic growth, the publication adds.

The 2016 IPRI – toppers
Finland – 8.38
New Zealand – 8.27
Luxembourg – 8.26
Norway – 8.25
Switzerland – 8.16

The 2016 IPRI– bottom 15
Republic of Venezuela – 2.73
Myanmar – 2.76
Bangladesh – 2.77
Haiti – 2.84
Zimbabwe – 3.40
Burundi – 3.44
Nigeria – 3.56
Pakistan – 3.68
Moldova – 3.72
Mauritania – 3.73
Chad – 3.74
Lebanon – 3.83
Madagascar – 3.84
Ukraine – 3.93
Nicaragua – 3.98

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Nepal improves ICT ranking

Nepal has improved its Information and Communication Technology (ICT) ranking to 118 out of 139 countries with a score of 3.2, according to the Global Information Technology Report 2016 launched recently by the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Of the 10 pillars under 4 sub-indices, Nepal fared better in affordability but worst in economic impact and infrastructure. Nepal ranked 110th with the score of 3.5 in the Environment sub-index and pillars that includes political and regulatory environment (at 114 with 3.2 score) and business and innovation environment (at 99 with 3.9 score), whereas the country ranked is in 106th position in Readiness sub-index and pillar with 3.9 score that includes infrastructure (at 130 with 1.9 score), affordability (at 30 with 6.1 score) and skills (at 115 with a score of 3.6).
Likewise, Nepal ranked 129th with a score of 2.6 in the Usage sub-index and pillars that includes individual usage (at 117 with a score of 2.2), business usage (at 128 with a score of 3) and government usage (at 129 with a score of 2.7).
The survey asked questions for responses on a scale of 1 to 7, where 1 was the worst possible outcome and 7 is the best, according to a press note issued by the World Economic Forum.
Similarly, in Impact sub-index and pillars, Nepal ranked 128 with a score of 2.7 that includes economic impacts (at 136 with a score of 2.3) and social impacts (at 120 with a score of 3.1).
Likewise, in the availability of latest technology, Nepal is in 125th position out of 143 countries. However the country is ranked 35th in total tax rate pillar, 82nd in intensity of local competition and 114th in secure internet server.
Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Israel, Singapore, the Netherlands and the United States are the world leaders when it comes to generating economic impact from investments in information and communications technologies (ICT), according to the report. On average, this group of high-achieving economies at the pinnacle of the report's Networked Readiness Index (NRI) economic impact pillar score 33 percent higher than other advanced economies and 100 percent more than emerging and developing economies. These seven countries are all known for being early and enthusiastic adopters of ICT and their emergence is significant as it demonstrates that adoption of ICTs –  coupled with a supportive enabling environment characterised by sound regulation, quality infrastructure and ready skills supply among other factors – can pave the way to wider benefits, the report added.
In prepaid mobile cellular tariffs – that is average per-minute cost of different types of mobile cellular calls (PPP $) – Nepal is ranked 15 in world and 5 in South Asia, and in fixed broadband Internet tariffs that is monthly subscription charge for fixed (wired) broadband Internet service (PPP $), Nepal ranks 29.
Likewise, Nepal is ranked at 109th position in Internet and telephony sectors competition index – that that is level of competition index for Internet services, international long distance services, and mobile telephone services on a 0-to-2 (best) scale – with a score of 1.29.
Under households with a personal computer Nepal ranked 119 among the 139 countries, whereas the country is in 127th position in households with Internet access.

Networked Readiness Index 2015 (out of 143) – 118 – 3.2
Networked Readiness Index 2014 (out of 148) – 123 – 3.1
Networked Readiness Index 2013 (out of 144) – 126 – 2.9

Friday, August 5, 2016

Nakao to continue as ADB president

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) Board of Governors has unanimously reelected Takehiko Nakao as the president of ADB for a five-year term beginning from November 24.
Issuing a statement on Friday, ADB said that Nakao was first elected to the post on April 28, 2013, to serve the remaining three and half years term of his predecessor, Haruhiko Kuroda.
Nakao is the ninth President of ADB. He was the sole nominee after ADB's Governors were invited from May 31 to June 30, 2016 to make nominations for the organisation's presidency.
“It is a great honour to receive the mandate of ADB members to serve as President of the ADB for another five years,” Nakao is quoted in the statement. "I will devote myself to continuing to lead ADB to an even more elevated standing as the primary development institution in the region that helps achieve inclusive and sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific.”
During Nakao's first term, ADB has realigned its strategic priorities through the Midterm Review of Strategy 2020 and increased its lending capacity from $13 billion in 2014 to $20 billion by 2020 through the merger of Asian Development Fund operations with the Ordinary Capital Resources balance sheet, the statement said, adding that the scaling up of its operations has already made good progress.
Last year, ADB's loan and grant approvals reached a record $16.3 billion, including private sector operations of $2.6 billion which is also a record high. ADB's Board of Governors in May approved a replenishment of the Asian Development Fund of $3.8 billion.
Under Nakao's leadership, ADB has also implemented institutional reforms including delegating more authority to resident missions, streamlining procurement and other procedures, establishing the Office of Public-Private Partnership (PPP), and strengthening sector and thematic expertise, according to the multi lateral development partner.
Prior to joining ADB in 2013, Nakao was a senior official in the Ministry of Finance, Japan, where he gained extensive experience in international finance and development. Nakao also taught international finance as a Visiting Professor at the University of Tokyo in 2010 and 2011.
Born in 1956, Nakao holds a BA in Economics from the University of Tokyo and an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley.