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Province 2 votes today

Chief Election Commissioner Yadav requests people to ‘give one day for the nation’

KATHMANDU - People in 136 local units of the eight districts in Province 2 are voting on Monday to elect their representatives.
The Election Commission (EC) has said all the preparations for the polls have been over. Voting will take place between 7am and 5pm.
Chief Election Commi-ssioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav appealed to voters on Sunday to exercise their democratic right of electing their representatives for the local government for a five-year term.
Remembering the devastation caused by recent floods and inundation in the province, Yadav urged people to “give one day for the nation”, by forgetting the sorrow caused by the natural disasters.
The EC expects good participation of voters in the third phase of local level elections, with the agitating Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal getting on board the elections.

In the first phase of local polls, voter turnout was 74 percent, which increased to 76 percent in the second phase, according to the EC. The RJP-N, formed after the merger of six Madhes-based parties, had boycotted the first and second rounds of polls.
The government had announced on February 20 its plan to hold the local polls in a single phase on May 14. But the election has stretched over three rounds, largely due to the protests of some Madhes-based parties.

The polls were held in provinces 3, 4 and 6 on May 14 and in provinces 1, 5 and 7 on June 28, electing people’s representatives to the local councils for the first time in 20 years.In order to ensure maximum participation, the EC has allowed voters to cast the ballot by showing the voter identity card issued for the 2013 Constituency Assembly elections, citizenship certificate, passport, driving licence, land ownership certificate or any other ID issued by a government agency, provided that their names are on the voter roll.
The EC has appealed to the people to participate in the elections without fear.

In the run-up to the vote, few violent clashes have been reported in a region considered “very sensitive” from the security point of view.The third-phase polls will elect 6,627 people’s representatives in total. There are 37,236 candidates, 39 percent of them women, in the fray, according to the poll authority. Some eight candidates have been elected unopposed.

Forty percent women have been elected in the two phases in the local federal units. After the polls in Province 2, a total of 36,639 posts in 753 local units will be manned by people’s representatives.Around 68,000 security personnel will be deployed to maintain law and order during the elections. The security arrangement is robust, said Home Ministry Spokesman Ram Krishna Subedi.



President urges people to vote

KATHMANDU: President Bidya Devi Bhandari has appealed to the people to make the third phase of local level elections in Province 2 a success with broad participation.

Issuing a message to voters on the eve of the polling day, President Bhandari said she was confident that the elections will open the door for social and economic prosperity by empowering the local federal units.Recalling the successful holding of the first and second phases of local elections, the head of state wished for success of the third
phase polls. (PR)


Invalid vote concerns


KATHMANDU - As polling for the third phase of local level elections takes place in Province 2 on Monday, there are concerns over the possibility of a high number of invalid votes, considering the scenario in the first two phases and the past records of void votes in the eight Tarai districts.

Despite the Election Commission spending a large sum of money on voter education, the share of invalid votes in local polls held in the six other provinces was alarming.

In the May 14 vote, Lalitpur district recorded the highest number of invalid votes—17.1 percent. Kathmandu came third with 16.2 percent votes wasted. A complex ballot paper and an ineffective voter education were blamed for the situation.The Tarai districts have a historically high number of invalid votes, blamed on various factors. Invalid votes in the eight Tarai districts remained higher than elsewhere during the two Constituent Assembly elections in 2008 and 2013.

Election Commission Spokesperson Navaraj Dhakal said invalid votes in Central Tarai accounted for more than 7 percent in the CA elections, higher than the national average of 5 percent. The percentage of invalid votes in Saptari-1 was 7.89 in 2013 and 9.22 in 2008.

For the latest polls, as many as 3,580 people were deployed for voter education, with the EC spending around Rs50 million including on training for volunteers in Province 2. The election body also spent millions to publicise messages through state-owned media.

Former chief election commissioner Surya Prasad Shrestha, who now leads the National Election Observer Organisation, said there could be a higher share of invalid votes in Province 2 this time around as the EC had failed to make voter education effective. The recent floods and inundation in the plains had also hampered efforts to reach out to voters with sample ballot papers.

“A complicated ballot paper increases the chances of invalid votes where the literacy rate is low if voter education is ineffective,” Shrestha observed, adding that the EC should have allowed organisations to devise effective voter education programmes.
Since a voter has to vote for seven candidates at a local council, the ballot papers have been large. On June 26, pointing to a large number of invalid votes in the first phase, three organisations had alleged that the EC failed to introduce adequate measures for reducing the invalid vote in the second phase.

In the June 28 vote, Kapilvastu recorded the highest percentage of invalid votes at 22.72. Other Tarai districts also came on top in void votes—Sunsari -13.91, Morang 16.14, Rupandehi-15.81 and Nawalparasi 13.61 percent.\



MPs not to get ‘retirement benefit’

Rejecting calls from lawmakers across the party line to provision state facilities for retired MPs, a subcommittee of the State Affairs Committee of Parliament has endorsed the Bill on Provision of Facilities for Former Office Bearers.Members of the sub-panel argued that it was inappropriate to ensure state facilities for retired members of Parliament. The team turned down amendment proposals registered by around half a dozen lawmakers.

There is, however, a provision that former members of the Constituent Assembly will be provided free treatment facilities lifelong.Members of the second CA will get a status equal to provincial assembly members.There will be a logo for them in recognition of their role in promulgating the constitution.

The bill has ensured life-time facilities for six top VVIPs of the country. The recipients are the President, Vice President, prime minister, chief justice, Speaker of the House of Representatives and chairman of the National Assembly. The bill will be tabled in Parliament for endorsement after the House committee endorses it most likely on Monday. Lawmakers Tapta Bahadur Bista, Sanjay Gautam, Rajeeb Bikram Shah and Nar Bahadur Chand from the Nepali Congress and Kalpana Chaudhary from the Nepal Loktantrik Forum had registered amendments to the bill seeking retirement facilities for the MPs.In addition to the Rs200,000 and Rs75,000 monthly for residence, the bill proposes allowances of Rs50,000 and Rs40,000 for former presidents and vice presidents, respectively. It also provisions Rs75,000 in house rent for a former PM, chief justice, Speaker or chairperson of the National Assembly or the CA.If the bill is endorsed, a former president will get an under-secretary, a driver and a helper throughout their life. The other office bearers will get an officer (gazetted third class) and a driver. All of them can ride state-provided vehicles.

The MPs had demanded medical, travel and other expenses post retirement. Santa Kumar Darai, a member of the subcommittee, said the proposal was rejected because the country cannot afford such expenditures.

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More Nepalis going abroad for employment

Qatar emerges as top destination ahead of Saudi

More than 1,750 Nepalis leave the country daily for foreign employment, according to a latest data available at the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE).A total of 639,167 aspirant migrant workers left for various countries in the last fiscal year 2016/17, up from 418,713 in the previous FY 2015/16.

Mohan Adhikari, the DoFE spokesperson, said Qatar has emerged as the most popular destination among Nepali migrants. A total of 125,892 people left for the gas-rich nation in the FY 2016/17; the previous year 129,038 Nepalis had left for Qatar to work.

“Qatar remains one of the most preferred countries among Nepalis because it is friendly to migrant workers than other Gulf-nations,” said Adhikari. Qatar has bumped down its neighbour Saudi Arabia to become the most preferred job destination for Nepalis. According to the latest data, the number of Nepali migrant workers going to Saudi Arabia has declined by more than 50 per cent, from 138,529 in the FY 2015/16 to 76,888 in the FY 2016/17.

“Saudi Arabia has faced problems in recent times. Oil price and other economic issues contributed to closure of many companies there,” said Adhikari. “There were also reports of migrant workers getting low wages and of payment delays, which might have led to the decline in the number of Nepalis going there for jobs.”

Number of Nepali migrant workers going to Saudi Arabia stood at 98,246 in the FY 2014/15. The number picked up to 138,529 in the FY 2015/16 before it dropped to 76,888 this past fiscal year, the record low in three years. Malaysia, the most popular foreign job destination for Nepalis until the FY 2014/15, made an improvement after seeing the number of Nepali migrant workers plunge from 202,828 in the FY 2014/15 to 60,979 in the FY 2015/16. The number of Nepali migrant workers going to Malaysia for jobs rose to 98, 437 in the FY 2016/17. “There has been positive signal from Malaysia, which was receiving very nominal number of Nepali migrant workers in the last few years,” said Adhikari.

According to the DoFE, Nepalis can get work permits for nearly 170 countries. However, countries like Malaysia and members of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that include Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab of Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, among others, are favoured destinations for Nepalis.

Experts believe the recent Gulf-crisis is likely to affect intake of Nepali migrant workers in this year. “Gulf-crisis that begun in the month of June could not affect much this year as it was near to the closing of our fiscal year. However, this upheaval will surely cause a decline in the number of Nepali workers going to Qatar. Demand of workers has already been very low,” said Adhikari.


DPM Mahara leaves for New York for UNGA


Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Krishna Bahadur Mahara left for New York on Sunday to participate in the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). He is accompanied on the trip by some senior officials of the ministry.
But leading the Nepali delegation to the UNGA will Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba who leaves for New York on Tuesday after celebrating the Constitution Day. PM Deuba’s major diplomatic agenda while attending the 72nd UNGA will be to garner support for Nepal’s bid for securing a seat at the UN Human Rights Council for the 2018-20 term.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, DPM Mahara will head a foreign ministerial level meeting of the Saarc Council of Ministers and attend a meeting of the Asian Cooperation Dialogue in New York. Mahara will also be part of other engagements on the sidelines of the UNGA, including ministerial level meetings of Landlocked Least Developed Countries, Non-Aligned Movement, G-77, South-South Cooperation, UN Peacekeeping Operations and will sign the Treaty on Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons. The DPM will attend the reception hosted by US President Donald Trump on Tuesday and will join the luncheon hosted by the UN Secretary General later in the afternoon.

PM Deuba will address the UN General Assembly on Saturday, followed a bilateral meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. On the sidelines of the UNGA, the PM is set to meet President of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Thursday. Deuba will also address the Columbia University’s World Leaders Forum on Thursday.

On Friday, he will have a bilateral meeting with President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid, followed by an address to the Americas-based heads of Nepali Diplomatic missions. Deuba will attend the National Day reception to be hosted by the Permanent Mission of Nepal to the United Nations in New York on Friday as the Chief Guest. Similarly, the Prime Minister will attend the National Day programme being organized by the Consulate General of Nepal in New York on Saturday.

On Sunday, Deuba will leave New York for Muscat, Oman where he is scheduled to address Heads of Nepali Diplomatic Missions based in the Middle East and provide direction on matters relating to promoting and protecting interest of Nepal and Nepali migrants in the region. Minister for Labour and Employment Farmullah Mansur will join the delegation in Muscat.

The Nepali delegation to the 72nd UNGA comprises, among others, Minister for Women, Children and Social Welfare Asha Koirala; PM’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Dinesh Bhattarai; Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi; Permanent Representative of Nepal to the United Nations in New York Durga Prasad Bhattarai.


Transport office STAFFER faces GRAFT SUIT


KATHMANDU - The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) on Sunday filed a case against Janak Kumari Rijal, accountant at the Transport Management Office, Kathmandu at the Special Court on charge of embezzling government’s revenue of Rs2.37 million.

A separate corruption case has been filed against two staffers of Shyakar Trading Company Limited--Dinesh Bohora and Thakur KC--on charge of abetting Rijal. The CIAA has sought punishment against Rijal under Clause 7, Clause 3 (1) and Clause 3 (1f) of the Corruption Prevention Act. If convicted, she will be liable to pay a fine equivalent to double the embezzled amount, serve two and a half years in prison with a maximum penalty of Rs2.5 million. Half of that penalty has been sought from her accomplices as per Clause 22 of the Act.

Earlier in June, the CIAA had filed a case against eight officials of the Transport Management Office in Itahari for failing to deposit Rs612.2 million revenue into the state coffers.


Ghartimagar released


ROLPA - Abducted chairman of Thawang Rural Municipality Bir Bahadur Ghartimagar was freed by his captors after three days on Saturday evening.

Ghartimagar, who was kidnapped by the activists of the Netra Bikram Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal (CPN), was released at the presence of journalists at Dhawang Bhanbhane in Rolpa Municipality. The journalists later submitted Ghartimagar to police. Chief District Officer Dijan Bhattarai and Rolpa Municipality Mayor Purna KC were also present on the occasion.

Ghartimagar, who was elected the chairman of Thawang Rural Municipality from the CPN (Maoist Centre), was preparing to hold the first council meeting on Saturday, but he was abducted by the CPN cadres on Thursday night.Despite his abduction, the council meeting went ahead as planned. CPN (Maoist Centre) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal attended the meeting as a chief guest.

Following his release, Ghartimagar told reporters that he was treated well by his kidnappers, who wanted him to support their party’s “people’s government”. He said he had not decided whether to press charges against the persons who abducted him.


Chand’s activists smear soot on ward member’s face

NUWAKOT: The CPN activists smeared soot on the face of a ward member of Shivapuri Rural Municipality-4 in Nuwakot on Saturday. They took ward member Uddhav Bahadur Thapa under control and blackened his face, accusing him of misusing his authority. Thapa was elected the ward member from Nepali Congress.



‘Extensive homework must before DPR study’

saptakoshi high dam project

KATHMANDU - Experts have advised to conduct extensive homework and consultations before starting the process of preparing a detailed project report (DPR) of the Saptakoshi High Dam.
Speaking at a programme in the Capital on Sunday, they said the government should consult with experts to ensure the project is beneficial to Nepal. During Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s visit to India last month, both countries agreed to expedite work on preparations of the DPR.

Former secretary Dwarika Nath Dhungel said that the government has not made sufficient preparations to push such multi-purpose projects. “I think we should not push Pancheshwor Multipurpose Project and Koshi High Dam simultaneously. The government should have a priority,” Dhungel said, underlining the need of extensive homework if the government wants to move ahead with both projects at once.

PM Deuba came under fire from his coalition partner a few days ago as the former said that an agreement had been forged with India on the construction of Koshi High Dam during his visit to India. Objecting to Deuba’s statement, CPN (Maoist Centre) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal had called for a proper study in Nepal before moving ahead with the construction of the dam. “The government should take necessary steps only after the completion of a detailed study on whether building a high dam will be in interest of Nepal,” Dahal had said.

Experts have echoed Dahal’s statement, saying that there has not been any detailed study on possible benefits that the construction of dam would bring to Nepal. Water expert Govinda Sharma Pokhrel said Saptakoshi Dam should be constructed in a way that would be beneficial to Nepal. “The government should first form an expert panel. It should negotiate with India on the basis of the panel’s report,” said Pokhrel.


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Race to the end

Lawmakers yet to pass important legislation, even as Dasain will make Parliament inactive

The third phase of the local election is being held in Province 2 today. Observer groups have said that the campaign period was largely free of violence and intimidation. It is to be hoped that the rest of the day will also proceed without event. Elections in Province 2 are an event of substantial significance, as it marks the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal’s (RJPN) entry into the political process. The RJPN had until recently refused to participate in elections unless its demand for a constitution amendment was met. It is to be hoped that the subsequent elections will see the Madhesi populations’ further entry into the mainstream political process. Of course, the underlying issues remain to be resolved. After elections are held, the government will have to take further steps to address the concerns of the Madhesi population. The form of accommodation will most likely be determined by the outcome of the elections. It is partially for this reason that the RJPN and the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal are particularly invested in these elections.

However, this stage of the local elections is only one step in a long electoral process. The government has a lot of work to do immediately afterwards. First of all, there are numerous pieces of legislation that need to be passed. Two bills relating to the elections of the National Assembly and the President and Vice-President have been registered in Parliament. There is not much time remaining for these to be passed. The Election Commission has announced that candidacy registration for federal and provincial elections will be held on October 22. Parliament will become defunct a day prior and will be revived only after the election. Furthermore, the Dasain festival is approaching, which means that Parliament will soon become inactive. It is therefore essential that the government pass the pending legislation very soon, preferably before the holiday season.

It would also be ideal if the government could deal with other legislation as soon as possible. An amendment to the transitional justice legislation, meant to bring it in line with the Supreme Court decision of 2015 and international standards, remains to be passed. This has caused serious problems in the functioning of the transitional justice bodies, and led to increased anguish for victims’ families. The government should bring this Bill before Parliament as soon as possible.

There are also a number of other issues that need to be resolved immediately at the political level. For one, the structure of ballots for the provincial and federal elections have yet to be decided. Such issues need to be resolved in a timely manner so as to allow the Election Commission adequate time to prepare for the elections in November and December.


A matter of time

Government transitions and failure to maintain consistent policies over time may hamper investment grant pledges

On September 14, Finance Minister Gyanendra Bahadur Karki and Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) acting CEO Jonathan Nash signed a $500 grant agreement for investment in the energy and transportation sectors. This assistance is especially significant for two reasons: it is the single largest one-time grant assistance by a development partner, and no cost and time overruns are entertained once the grant becomes effective. 

A large one-time grant amount equivalent to about two percent of Nepal’s gross domestic product by a specialised foreign aid agency, which uses a fairly transparent yet rigorous selection methodology to assess eligible countries, is in itself a significant positive development for Nepal. However, the challenge would be to complete the projects considered under the assistance without cost and time overruns, which unfortunately are also the two most common yet unresolved issues concerning public capital spending in Nepal.

Binding constraints
The MCC selected Nepal to develop a five-year compact program in December 2014 after Nepal met the eligibility requirement, which includes sound performance in about one and a half dozen independent policy indicators related to democratic governance, economic freedom and investment in citizens. Earlier, a threshold program, which has a smaller grant assistance than the compact program, in December 2011 led to a rigorous analysis of Nepal’s growth constraints and identification of potential areas for policy improvement. The diagnostics study—an update of a 2009 study led by Asian Development Bank—identified four key constraints to growth: policy implementation uncertainty, inadequate supply of electricity, high cost of transport and challenging labour relations.
This diagnostic study formed the basis for selection of energy and transport sectors for investment, and sectorial reforms under the compact program. A series of stakeholder consultations—including public and private sectors and donors—were held to identify fairly large investment projects that could be completed within five years and that have the potential to yield substantive outcomes by tackling some of the most binding constraints to economic growth.

Out of $630 million (including $130 million as counterpart investment by the government), about $520 million is planned for the electricity transmission project, under which 300 kilometres of high voltage electricity transmission network will be built and capacity of the country’s energy regulator enhanced. This kind of infrastructure is crucial for supporting transmission of power generated by various hydroelectricity projects across the country and for greater electricity trade between Nepal and India. Around $55 million is earmarked for road maintenance, under which 305 kilometres of road will be built and rehabilitated. The remaining amount is allocated to cover project administration costs, including procurement and monitoring and evaluation expenses.

No overruns
The actual implementation of projects will probably start towards the end of 2018 after they are investment-ready, i.e. procurement packages are finalised, significant proportion of land is acquired, detailed implementation plan is outlined and implementation offices are established. Once implementation starts they have to be completed within five years and without any cost overruns. Else, the unspent grant amount will be returned to the MCC. Against this backdrop, if the same structure of project implementation including staff deputation, policies and laws are going to govern the MCC’s investment projects, then there is little room to be optimistic that it will be completed within five years.

Execution of capital budget is hamstrung by a maze of bureaucratic and structural factors, leading to under spending as well as heavy bunching of spending in the last quarter of every fiscal year. For instance, in 2016/17, the budget was approved one and a half months prior to the start of fiscal year, which in principle gave the ministries time cushion to get approval for spending and initiate preparatory project planning (especially procurement documents). Still, 60 percent of actual spending happened in the last quarter, and 41.2 percent in the last month itself, raising doubts over the quality of spending. Worse, just 65.5 percent of planned capital budget was spent. This pattern of spending, and deficient expenditure absorption capacity, has been persistent irrespective of which political party leads the government.

Capital budget execution is affected by structural weaknesses in project preparation and implementation; low project readiness; bureaucratic hassles in project approvals and sanctioning of spending authority; weak project and contract management; and political interference at planning, management and operation stages. These issues are common across all projects irrespective of investment amount and duration.

Political interference
The exact details about the implementation modality of MCC’s projects in Nepal are not known yet. The MCC usually establishes its own local office to manage and oversee project implementation, which is fairly independent, rigorous and transparent. Meanwhile, the government procures land and secures environment clearances along with preparation of procurement documents before implementation starts. Unfortunately, the government does not have a good track record of completing these preparatory works on time.

Two specific issues are of particular concern regarding implementation. First, the upcoming provincial and federal elections will result in a new political structure along with changes in government leadership, as a coalition government would be a defining feature because no party is likely to secure the necessary majority in Parliament. This in turn would entail transfer of government staff loyal to ruling parties to large project management or implementation offices, leading to snags in implementation and opening up of avenues for funds misappropriation.

For instance, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) led coalition government in 2016 abruptly decided to not renew the contract of former secretary Krishna Gyawali, who was serving as a national coordinator of MCC Nepal upon appointment by the previous Nepali Congress (NC) led coalition government. Similarly, the same government terminated the contract of Radhesh Pant, former CEO of Investment Board Nepal, in 2016, even though Pant’s contract was renewed for an additional term by the NC-led coalition government. The case with the CEO of National Reconstruction Authority is also similar. These kinds of unceremonious contract terminations and transfers to put party loyalists in key positions affect project implementation timelines and escalate costs. The MCC’s projects need to be insulated from this kind of party-based selfish political incursion.

Second, Nepal needs to retain its score above median (threshold score) each year for a majority of policy indicators. For instance, worsening of governance may pull down the country score below the yearly median. Failure to have a satisfactory score in a majority of the policy indicators would also lead to either suspension or termination of grant assistance.

Sapkota is an economist 
[email protected]


Despite setbacks, the implementation of the constitution is commendable

Interview Bipin Adhikari

Nepal marks the second anniversary of the constitution promulgation on Tuesday. Despite the failure of two constitutional amendments and the dissatisfaction of Madhesi-parties, the establishment of federal states as per constitutional guidelines has been progressing and things seem to be on track regarding Nepal’s development as a federal nation. In this context, Kamal Dev Bhattarai and Binod Ghimire spoke to constitutional expert and Dean of Kathmandu University’s School of Law, Bipin Adhikari about Nepal's progress under the new federal structure, the implementation of the constitution, the failure of the recent constitutional amendment, issues of inclusion and proportional representation, and Nepal’s growing geopolitical significance.


How do you evaluate the two-years of constitution implementation?
In my opinion, something is better than nothing. It is essential to realise that the promulgation of the constitution is a huge step forward. Issues with the implementation of the constitution may exist to a certain degree, and so positive development may be hampered somewhat, but the crux of the matter remains that we are at least progre ssing in a positive direction now.

The constitution has a number of flaws, of which its supposed non-inclusivity is the main cause for debate at this juncture. Do you think this argument is justified?
The issue of non-inclusivity in the constitution is purely a result of political discontent. The constitution is inclusive and has a number of pro-people clauses. What is integral now is for the implementation of the clauses calling for inclusivity in our constitution; we may have the structure and principles in place for inclusivity now, but we need the legal structures and law-making bodies in place to implement them on a broader context. The handing-over of power, how the central government nurtures these newly created local bodies, and how they allocate resources to these entities will ascertain the success of the constitution.

So was the call to amend the constitution on the basis of greater inclusivity erroneous?
If amendments could be made for increased inclusion, then it would not be entirely remiss. There can always be positive steps made in this regard. However, the amendment was not passed because it failed to garner a two-third majority required to pass a bill in Parliament. This is the way our society is run; this decisive majority will lend strength to a confident system of governance and provide political impetus for the functioning of the state.

The Nepali Congress (NC) - Maoist Centre (MC) coalition could not make good on their claim to push through the constitutional amendment. They could not garner a two-thirds majority. I believe this was a political stunt. NC is assuming a sympathetic stance to the argument of inclusivity and is taking advantage of the situation.

If an agenda fails to garner a two-third majority, it will not be eliminated. Those who are pushing for the failed agenda can seek an alternative route. They can appeal to their constituents for votes and thus develop their political clout over time. By doing so, they will eventually be able to garner the required majority.

What progress have the major state institutions made in implementing the constitution?
The state is responsible for electing leadership for the implementation of the constitution; the problem is that our government has changed four times following the promulgation of the constitution. So their focus has not been towards the fulfilment of the constitution.

Even within constitutional bodies, a number of issues have arisen in terms of implementation of the constitution. For example, the state has the authority to fix the dates for the election, but they have no power to decide on the phases of elections. This authority has been ceded to the Election Commission (EC), however, the EC has not been able to exercise this authority and has gone along with the government’s dates instead. The failure of the EC to assert their authority has led to debates regarding their lack of decision-making leadership power.

Another issue has arisen in terms of the Constituency Delimitation Commission (CDC). They were given a difficult task to complete within a very limited timeframe, however, the allocation of 90 percent weightage to population and 10 percent weightage to geography while allocating electoral constituencies is not justifiable. Districts in the rural, mountainous areas have only been given one constituency each, whereas, the hills and low-lands districts have a population advantage. Those minority populations living in the rural, mountainous areas will suffer from lack of representation. However, delineation has brought stability in discourse to a certain degree and will promote the success of the elections.

Are there any broader weaknesses in terms of the implementation of the constitution?
There is definitely an issue with law-making. The Ministry of Law, Justice, Constituent Assembly, and Parliamentary Affairs has said that there is a need for about 126 new rules for the proper implementation of the constitution. There has been no expected progress in formulating such rules. The government could have taken advantage of the considerable expertise in Nepal and formed a number of task forces. These task forces could have made a number of recommendations that could then be finalised by the government. This would have allowed a number of inroads in terms of regional decisions, and a number of frameworks and legislation could be brought into effect.

Given these problems, how will the elected bodies help the country progress under the new federal structure?
Change cannot occur through one election alone, especially with the presence of a number of issues that hinder progress. In the face of these problems, we need a magnanimous central government that can help local bodies to establish themselves. The central government should facilitate progress and avoid confrontation. If problems arise between the central and local bodies, transfer of power will be slow and the governance system at the local level will be weak.

Many people believe that Nepal’s bureaucracy has not been able to reconcile themselves with the fact that Nepal is now a federal state; they have not been able to realise that the power base is no longer within the Capital. I believe that once the elected government starts functioning, the central government will be required to toe the line. The constitution has established institutions for the benefit of federalism. For example, the Inter-Provincial Council is a political body that allows discourse for political dissent, and the central government will act according to the commission’s decision. The National Natural Resources and Fiscal Commission is another such institution that has been established to decide on the collection and distribution of national revenue on the basis of the equalisation policy. A constitution bench has also been created in the Supreme Court; if the government proposed a bill that understands the federal system, is functional, and broad-based, this bench has the authority to pass it. With these three institutions in place, positive steps can be taken.

I am also of the view that these local bodies will establish their own independence very quickly. They will have to be democratic and truly reflect local needs and decisions; we need to see how this can accomplished and how the state can help in this regard. The rule of law has to be maintained under all circumstances and if it is followed, self-governance will be a fait accompli.

What geopolitical challenges could hamper the implementation of the constitution?
Nepal’s geopolitical position between India and China affords it considerable economic and political significance but also makes the situation particularly sensitive. India has been involved in Nepali politics since 1947, when BP Koirala sought refuge in India and looked for arms to storm Kathmandu. Since then, India has constantly sought Nepal’s support to bolster its regional political position. China, on the other hand, has only recently extended overtures towards Nepal, and has shown that Nepal could benefit considerably from this particular relationship. However, they seem to respect that Nepal is a sovereign state that retains its independence.

At this juncture, Nepal has to maintain a balanced position between China and India; for this we need strong and stable leadership, we also need to manage internal dissent and maintain our independence.

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The tragedy of Aung San Suu Kyi

The failure of Myanmar’s de facto leader to protect the Rohingya minority

Dhaka—Myanmar is in crisis. The Rohingya—a Muslim ethnic minority group in a predominantly Buddhist country—are under attack by the military, with many fleeing for their lives. This escalating conflict is threatening to undermine Myanmar’s ongoing democratic transition—and to tarnish irrevocably the reputation of the country’s de facto leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

For decades, Myanmar’s government has refused to recognize the Rohingya—who comprise around 2% of the country’s population of over 50 million—as a legitimate ethnic minority, denying them citizenship and even the most basic rights as inhabitants. But it was just last month that systematic discrimination escalated into ethnic cleansing, with security forces responding to attacks on police posts and an army camp by Rohingya militants by launching an assault on all Rohingya people.

So far, Myanmar has confirmed 400 deaths, though United Nations officials put the toll closer to 1,000. Moreover, upwards of 300,000 Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh. Several thousand more Rohingya are waiting at the border, awaiting permission to enter the country.For a Bangladesh already reeling from seasonal flooding, managing the inflow of refugees has proved a momentous challenge. Makeshift camps are overcrowded, lacking in basic resources, and vulnerable to natural disasters; already, a cyclone has destroyed some camps. Other surrounding countries, including India, Thailand, and Malaysia, are also feeling the effects of the Rohingya’s plight.

Far from moving to stop this humanitarian crisis, Suu Kyi’s government has exacerbated it. While Suu Kyi does not control the military, which is leading the murderous crackdown, her government has blocked UN agencies from delivering vital emergency supplies. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA), Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have all been forced to halt work in the affected areas.

This represents a tragic departure for Suu Kyi, who previously won international acclaim—and a Nobel Peace Prize—for her role in the fight for democracy in Myanmar. The rise to power of her National League for Democracy in 2015 marked the end of 50 years of military rule in the country formerly known as Burma, and seemed to herald a new era, in which the human rights of all inhabitants would be respected and protected.

Amid the violence against the Rohingya, faith in Myanmar’s transition from military dictatorship to democracy is rapidly deteriorating. The military, which holds 25% of the seats in parliament, has already blocked Suu Kyi from becoming president, and, along with Myanmar’s nationalists, it continues to constrain her authority. Now, the military is actively persecuting and even murdering members of one of the country’s largest ethnic and religious minority groups, in what the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, has rightly called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”—all for political reasons.

Buddhist nationalism has lately been gaining traction among many Burmese, fuelling hatred and violence toward the Muslim Rohingya. By attacking the Rohingya, the military secures the support of Buddhist monks, who remain influential in Myanmar and could thus challenge the military’s authority. As for Suu Kyi, she is now between a rock and a hard place. If she sides with the Rohingya, she will face a powerful backlash from the military and a large share of voters. But, by remaining silent, she is severely damaging the moral authority that allowed her to wear down Myanmar’s generals and place the country on the path to democracy.

Suu Kyi did appoint a commission, led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, to figure out how to address the divisions between the Rohingya and Buddhists in Rakhine State, where most Rohingya live. But her goal appeared to be simply to buy time, though she probably also hoped that Annan would find a way to resolve her dilemma.

Of course, that was impossible. Instead, the commission called for the immediate establishment by Suu Kyi’s government of a clear, transparent, and efficient strategy and timeline for the citizenship verification process. The commission also emphasized the need to “allow full and unimpeded humanitarian access to all areas affected by recent violence.”

Myanmar’s military made clear its stance on these proposals right after the report was released: it opened fire on Rohingya civilians in northern Rakhine, leaving at least 100 people dead. The massacre was ostensibly a response to an attack by Rohingya militants that killed 12 members of the security forces, though, as al-Hussein put it, the military’s actions were “clearly disproportionate.”

What Myanmar needs today is a genuine peace process that recognizes the ethnic and religious components of the Rohingya crisis. Suu Kyi, who was praised by the Nobel Committee in 1991 as “an outstanding example of the power of the powerless,” should be the person to lead such a process. Yes, her power is severely limited, as she has no authority whatsoever over the military. Yet her moral authority, which once proved powerful enough to bend the military to her will, is not entirely depleted.
To wield that authority effectively, Suu Kyi must be willing to take a political risk. To be sure, as delicate as the political order is in Myanmar, there is no gridlock that obviates an agenda for progress in achieving peace. But a peace process will require Suu Kyi to stand up to Myanmar’s generals, as she has done in the past, reminding them of the enormous benefits they have reaped from the political transition and convincing them that it is not in their interest to jeopardize the democratization process.

Suu Kyi said in her Nobel Peace Prize lecture in 2012, “to be forgotten, is to die a little.” She must not allow the Rohingya to be driven out and forgotten. Her task is to give power to the powerless and bring peace to Myanmar.

Syed Munir Khasru is Chairman of the Institute for Policy, Advocacy, and Governance (IPAG), an international think tank


Closing the youth apathy gap

While developing countries are overwhelmingly young, power remains with the old

Nairobi—When the United Nations’ member countries adopted the Sustainable Development Goals two years ago, they committed themselves to reduce substantially “the proportion of youth not in employment, education, or training.” That commitment will be virtually impossible to fulfil, unless political participation by young people increases considerably.

Young people are critical to progress. As US President Barack Obama put it in a 2015 speech in Nairobi, “no country can achieve its full potential unless it draws on the talents of all its people.” And youth now comprise a large share of those people—18% of the world’s population, to be precise. The share is even larger in much of the developing world. The median age of Africa’s population is just 19.5 years.

Given their numbers, not to mention rising education and literacy rates, young people can make a world of difference, shaping political discourse and electoral outcomes. But that requires them to be engaged and active.In the United Kingdom, most young people wish to remain in the European Union. As a Lord Ashcroft poll showed, 73% of those aged 18-24, and 62% of those aged 25-34, voted accordingly in last year’s referendum. But most young British did not actually show up to cast their votes, allowing the UK’s older, predominantly pro-Brexit cohorts to win the day.

Presumably having learned their lesson from the Brexit referendum, young Britons contributed to an unexpected victory for Labour in June’s snap general election. In Kenya’s presidential election, held last month, 51% of registered voters were below the age of 35 years. Although the Supreme Court annulled the results and ordered a fresh vote, owing to electoral irregularities and illegalities, large numbers of young people are likely to turn out again.

Unfortunately, Kenya is the exception that proves the rule. Political apathy among young people, like that seen in the Brexit referendum, remains pervasive worldwide. In many regions of Africa, for example, young people are disillusioned with politics, convinced that wealthy older people will always prevail and advance their own interests, often at the expense of younger generations.

This sense of disempowerment is threatening to turn the developing world’s youth bulge into a youth curse—with serious potential consequences. The Arab Spring uprisings, which led to violence and instability in most affected countries, were fuelled largely by desperate young people demanding rights and opportunities.

To avoid such outcomes, young people need to be part of their countries’ political life, able to advance their own vision of the future. As young Kenyans repeated during the recent election campaign, “If you are not at the table, you are on the menu.”
So what can be done to increase political awareness and participation among young people? In Kenya, government efforts have focused on the creation of three institutions: the Ministry of Public Service, Youth, and Gender Affairs, the Youth Enterprise Development Fund, and the National Youth Council. Though somewhat dysfunctional, these institutions have helped to empower Kenyan youth, driving the high election turnout last month.

But perhaps the most effective approach to closing the apathy gap focuses on initiatives led by young people themselves. In Nigeria, young people spearheaded the Not Too Young to Run campaign, which led to a constitutional amendment lowering the minimum age for candidates. Their success inspired a global campaign to support young people’s right to run for office.
In Kenya, the youth-led Jiactivate—the name, which combines Swahili and English, means “Activate Yourself”—has sought to boost youth participation in politics by highlighting the main issues affecting young people. Jiactivate, in which I am engaged as National Chairperson, aims to serve as a platform that amplifies young Kenyans’ voices, offering them easier ways to take action.

To inspire more such initiatives, there must be a deliberate effort to engage with youth in a way that supports real political engagement, not tokenism and empty rhetoric. To that end, the Organisation of Africa Youth, of which I am coordinator, has not only worked with local youth groups and community networks; it has also taken lessons from a GeoPoll survey of 2,000 urban and rural Kenyan youth.

That survey showed that, while 27% of respondents had never engaged politically, 26% had attended an event and 34% had posted on social media. Moreover, 68% of respondents said that they would participate in political action only if they had access to a safe and trusted platform that would protect them from victimization, intimidation, or reprimand.

One lesson than can be drawn from these data is the potential value of social media, which, despite being constrained in many countries during elections, remains a potent tool to facilitate youth political engagement. For example, by creatively using social media to collect, collate, and amplify young people’s priorities in the Kenyan elections, Jiactivate helped spur their interest in politics. Nonetheless, many Kenyans who were popular on social media did not make much of an impact on the election’s outcome. Translating social media energy into effective action in the real world remains a daunting challenge.

Increasing youth involvement in politics will require sustained commitment and hard work. But, far from a deterrent, this should serve as a powerful incentive to get started. No one is more affected by past, present, and future policies than young people. They must take their seat at the table, not wait until one is offered.

Michael A. Asudi is Country Coordinator and Secretary of International Affairs at the Organisation of Africa Youth


Data-driven gender equality

The UN’s development goals for women and girls must start with better metrics

New York—A key agenda item at this year’s annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, under way this week, will be to assess global progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the UN’s consensus roadmap for solving the world’s biggest challenges by 2030.

I was part of the UN team that helped create the Millennium Development Goals, which preceded the SDGs. By the time the MDGs concluded in 2015, they had fuelled some of the fastest and most extensive gains in global health and development the world has ever seen. The MDGs paved the way for the SDGs, and I have been encouraged by the commitment the global community has shown to sustaining the post-2015 development agenda.
But it has also become clear to me and others that without a more deliberate, data-driven focus on the needs of women and girls in particular, progress toward a wide range of objectives will suffer. If we fail to achieve universal gender equality, we will fall short of many other goals, from ending poverty to ensuring good health.

One of my personal frustrations with the MDGs was that gender equality was more a matter of rhetoric than of action. Despite their promise of empowerment, the MDGs didn’t adequately target many of the biggest challenges that women and girls face, such as gender-based violence and economic discrimination. These gaps have persisted, because in the 1990s, when the MDGs were being formulated, most people, including me, did not adequately understand the scale or complexity of the problem.
We must avoid a similar fate with the SDGs. Achieving gender equality is more than a once-in-a-generation opportunity; it is also the best way to make progress on nearly all of the SDGs, and to build a world where everyone can thrive. As Bill and Melinda Gates will discuss at a gathering of world leaders next week in New York, and show in a new report, collective action is needed to address the various dimensions of gender inequality and drive progress.

One of the biggest impediments is a dearth of good data on issues that disproportionately affect women and girls, such as land rights, access to education, family planning, or health care. Data are essential to understanding what is working and how to track progress. Yet up-to-date data exist for only a small fraction of the indicators that were developed to assess progress on the 17 SDGs—including the more than 40 that directly relate to gender equality. Of the 14 indicators of progress associated with the primary gender equity goal, SDG 5, most countries are measuring just three.

To help fill these critical gaps, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has created a three-year, $80 million initiative to generate more reliable data that can improve the design and targeting of programs and policy interventions. As part of that effort, the foundation recently launched a $10 million partnership with UN Women to help countries improve the quality of the gender-specific data they collect. The foundation is also supporting Equal Measures 2030, an initiative to empower advocates and civil-society groups with easy-to-use evidence to assess progress toward targets and keep the SDGs for women and girls on track.

These and other efforts will provide gender-equality advocates and decision-makers with better information about the nature and scale of the social and economic barriers holding women and girls back, and help identify who is falling through the cracks.
We know from existing evidence that empowering women and girls can accelerate progress. For example, when girls attend secondary school (SDG 4), they are up to six times less likely to be married as a child. And higher literacy rates among adolescent girls are associated with lower adolescent birth rates and improved health (SDG 3). Likewise, women are much more likely than men to invest surplus income in ways that improve the lives of their children.

The benefits of gender equity are also apparent when women have access to basic financial services, like credit and savings accounts, which enable them to start businesses and save money for family essentials.

Closing the gender gap in agriculture, meanwhile, could have an even more profound impact on families and productivity in the developing world. Today, for example, women make up nearly half of the agricultural workforce in Sub-Saharan Africa. Yet, they typically work smaller, less productive plots of land than men, and often lack access to the best seeds, fertilizer, credit, and training opportunities. Studies show that giving women more decision-making power over productive assets has the potential to increase farm yields by more than 20%, which is essential to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere” by 2030 (SDG 1).

When we remove the barriers confronting the most vulnerable in society, the effects are transformational. But to do that, donors, development partners, governments, and the private sector must invest in more and better data that are sorted by age and sex. Doing so will allow programs to be tailored to the needs of women and girls everywhere.

Our challenge—and opportunity—is to overcome the deeply entrenched barriers that impede progress for women and girls. The SDGs are a huge step in that direction. But goals without actionable strategies are just good intentions. The SDGs provide the roadmap to ending poverty and creating a better, healthier, more secure world for everyone. Ensuring that we have quality data is the best way to ensure that no one gets lost along the way.

Mark Suzman is Chief Strategy Officer and President of Global Policy and Advocacy at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

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‘Organisational values need to trickle down to every employee’

strictly business

After completing her graduation, Anupama Khunjeli joined Grindlays Bank as a teller in 1991. Steadily rising among the ranks, Khunjeli eventually became the Head of Global Market, before leaving for Nabil Bank to take up a similar position there. In 2010, she moved to Mega Bank, where she now serves as the Deputy CEO. In this conversation with the Post’s Alisha Sijapati, Khunjeli talks the challenges she has faced in her corporate career, how she overcame them and the importance of human capital. Excerpts:

A job in the banking sector is viewed very positively by fresh graduates but banks are struggling to retain their employees. Is it because not enough emphasis is placed on developing human capital?
Mega Bank has a slogan, ‘Hamro lai haina, ramro lai prathamikta diney.’ That means: we want people who are qualified to come join the organisation. Due to the rapid expansion of branches, all banks are looking to enhance their business portfolios and the services provided. To reach the desired level of competence, the most important factor is human capital. We believe that our human capital is an invaluable asset for the organisation. If employees are happy, the organisation will automatically thrive. In this day and age, there are a lot of organisations to choose from. One needs to wisely choose the right organisation and when they do join, they need to give their 100 percent and work with full conviction. The onus, however, also falls on the organisation to ensure that the employees are happy professionally and that they are continually growing.

For large organisations, how important is it to have a proper professional system in place in order to manage its vast human resources?
In Mega Bank, we know that human capital is important and believe in teamwork. When we started the bank, we knew the importance of employees--one cannot run the show with just a handful of employees. For any new organisation, qualified and hardworking managers are crucial, but it is also absolutely necessary to keep faith with the employees. It is important that the values and goals that you are eschewing towards permeate through to every employee and level of the organisation. In all organisations, particularly the new ones, authority and responsibility run hand-in-hand. To get all these things into practice is challenging and in the end it is always the system that keeps the organisation ticking.

You have been working in the banking sector for over 25 years now and have held many positions along the way. What traits must all good leaders have? What are your management mantras?
To become a leader, you need to inspire followers. A good leader should walk the talk so that people can emulate them. You also have to be a team player. You need to gain respect, trust and confidence of your team. A leader should work according to the mission and vision of the organisation. All leaders have their own personalities, some can be transformational and some aggressive. Sometimes, you need a balanced leader; it depends on the structure of the organisation. You need to recognise the strengths of your team. The leader must manoeuvre around these strengths and work towards polishing any weaknesses there might be. For any person to be successful, you have to be hard working and learn to grab opportunities as they come. These two things will lead you to success.

You are now the Deputy CEO at Mega Bank, a position we seldom see being held by women in the Nepali corporate sector. Can you tell us about your journey getting here and why it is important that the Nepali workforce be diversified?
My journey from an assistant level to the deputy CEO has been challenging as it has been fruitful. The current board at Mega Bank have taken the bold step of supporting women in higher positions in the organisation. In our bank, we have five women who hold top-level managerial positions. It is difficult but if you are focused and hardworking, time will come when people will realise your capabilities and eventually reward you with what you deserve. For women it is difficult to manage both their personal and professional lives, so the support from your family is important. I consider myself lucky in that regard because my family has always been very supportive. If more women received such support it would be a great push not just for them personally but it would also go a long way in diversifying the Nepali workforce.


How to spread cheer in the office

Over half of employees are not happy in their jobs. Here’s a guide for business owners who want to raise a smile from their staff

The average workplace is not a cheery domain. Over 55 percent of workers are unhappy in their jobs, according to a recent survey by training course site Course Library.

Having grumpy employees isn’t just an office atmosphere killer, it ultimately affects a company’s profits. A study from the University of Warwick reveals that happy and engaged staff are 12 percent more productive, while unhappy staff are 10 percent less productive.
Happiness at work not only improves a person’s overall wellbeing but leads to them staying in their jobs longer. It can also create a stronger workplace culture and improve communication and problem solving. Here are some ways to help spread a bit of joy in your workplace.

Prioritise personal development
Investing in personal development makes people feel they are progressing and, when coupled with recognition and rewards, it becomes a powerful formula for getting the best performance. The Course Library study showed that a quarter of dissatisfied workers felt their unhappiness at work was due to lack of development opportunities. Focus on people’s individual needs and requirements at work. Make sure each member of your team is being challenged in ways that are beneficial to their own development and contribute to the success of the team.

Take time to talk
Everyone has different expectations from their roles. Find out if the people on your team need help or if they feel bored and want to try new things. When things are going well for an employee, ask what’s been working for them and offer support and encouragement. If there is a problem, make time to sit down with them to chat it through.

Give back control
When an employee has a great idea why not offer them some hours in the week to dedicate to seeing it through? When people make their own decisions, they feel more confident, capable, and determined to see a project they own succeed, which boosts their own productivity, sense of pride and job satisfaction.

It’s all about the perks
Bigger businesses may have the budget to offer perks such as free gym membership but rewards and perks don’t have to be costly and are a great way make people feel appreciated. A recent survey by office design firm Peldon Rose showed 84% of workers believe that small perks, such as leaving work early occasionally or even getting ice creams in the summer, would make them more productive – yet 34% of businesses don’t offer these. Introducing a few simple pleasures into the working day helps to show you care.

Get out of the office
Spending time outdoors can improve self-esteem and mood, help concentration and creative thinking. Whether it’s holding a meeting outside, going for a short walk, encouraging sports or even doing a team challenge for charity, creating bonds beyond the office is important for relationship building.

Say thank you
Feeling appreciated makes people more engaged at work. Saying thank you for simple day-to-day tasks doesn’t cost anything but can make a huge difference to a person’s wellbeing.

Tom Shopland
—©2017 The Guardian

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Crushing morale, killing productivity why do offices put up with meetings?

There’s no proof that organisations benefit from the endless cycle of these charades, but they can’t stop it. We’re addicted

Just off to a meeting? Stop right now. Turn back. You will be stuck in an overheated room, chained to a table for an absurd length of time and stopped from proper work. Worse, we are now told that just sitting there is a killer. It shortens life. You will die.

According to Public Health England, we are so addicted to meetings that we don’t realise the threat they pose to ourselves and our organisations. Its chief executive, Duncan Selbie, told this week’s annual meeting that sitting in meetings “haemorrhages productivity”. It slows metabolism and affects the body’s capacity to regulate its sugar and thus blood pressure. This leads to obesity, diabetes, cancer … and death. So don’t do it. Don’t go.

The Get Britain Standing campaign agrees. It says that sedentary office activity is now as dangerous to health as smoking. It takes an hour of exercise to eliminate the toxins built up in one round-table session. Meanwhile, the Columbia University Medical Center this week produced a no less alarming statistic. After tracking 8,000 individuals in all walks of life, it concluded that inactivity for 13 hours a day (including sleep) makes “risk of death” 2.6 times more likely than it is for inactivity of less than 11 hours.

The best meeting is spent walking, like in TV show The West Wing. Mike Loosemore of the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Health rather desperately advises regularly standing up and getting a glass of water. Neanderthals must be laughing themselves sick at what Homo sapiens has to do just to survive.

While we can take that with a pinch of salt, it feeds a wider meetings malaise. All the revolutions of the internet—Skype, Facebook, Twitter—have not diminished humankind’s craving to gather in tedious conclave.

Executives ruthless towards workplace productivity are careless of their own offices. Meetings are the cocaine rush of the corporation. I am told there are scores of executives at the BBC, an institution famously addicted to the meetings culture, who are so high on the stuff that they spend the entire day in meetings, and return home with no one any the wiser, except those who pay their salaries.

It is half a century since C Northcote Parkinson first addressed the meeting as social anthropology, yielding his celebrated “coefficient of inefficiency”. It calculated that a meeting of just five people was “most likely to act with competence, secrecy and speed”. Few such bodies exist because five swiftly expands to nine: and two of the nine tend to be “merely ornamental”, people whom no one has the heart to exclude.

Above nine, said Parkinson, “the organism begins to perish”. Once the meeting reaches 20 people, it may as well go on to 100, since by then most of those present are not contributing. They are spectating, talking to each other, squabbling or forming lobbies. Nowadays many are peering at their phones or tablets—pretending to take notes, or frantic not to fall asleep. All are praying for “any other business”.

Management research on meetings is uniformly hostile, yet like most research it has not the slightest practical effect. A recent study by Microsoft, America Online and found that the average person works only three days a week. The rest of working time was regarded as wasted, with “unproductive meetings” heading the list. Workers on average regard a third of any meeting as pointless.

Minnesota University’s “decisions” guru, the psychologist Kathleen Vohs, has shown that most executives have a limited stock of “cognitive resource”. It depletes over time, like physical energy. People get impatient, they tire and take worse decisions. Curiously, they leave feeling exhausted, despite hours spent doing nothing at all. Four-hour board or “strategy” meetings are probably disastrous to the firm, inducing torpor, claustrophobia and misjudgment.

Yet still recruits arrive from management schools and consultancies, brilliant zombies doped to the eyeballs in presentations “delivering strategic solutions going forward by thinking out of the box”. They are like chateau generals, kept well away from the front line, versed in the parlour games of the articulate classes. They are for coffee and biscuits, not the watercooler.

Nothing is likely to cut this flab. The meeting has become the ceremony of executive importance: who calls it, who chairs it, who presents to it, who is invited and who is not. Its status is a classic cause of office “fomo”—fear of missing out. It soon develops its Harlequinade, the bad jokesmith, the unstoppable talker, the maddening interrupter, the toadies, bad-mouthers, extroverts and those who just sit in silent despair. None is producing goods or services. In short the meeting is the office as religion. Its sacraments, creeds and acolytes are found in agendas, minutes and note-takers. Its liturgy is the canticle of the PowerPoint.
Describing meetings as “secret killers of productivity”, Forbes magazine recently suggested they be simply banned, or held “only on Wednesdays”—all other decisions to be taken in absentia. Anyone who needs to be consulted—the “coordination” role of meetings—will find out soon enough. If not they don’t really need to know. The few brave organisations that have experimented with this drastic step report phenomenal improvements in workrate. One worker who said that if he missed a meeting, “my boss would probably kill me”, was told: “In that case he probably should.”

The number, length and size of meetings must be a sound Parkinsonian indicator of an organisation’s productivity or decay. The FTSE or the government should publish an annual league table of meetings per employee per week. It would illustrate the thesis by economist Joseph Schumpeter that all organisations have a natural lifecycle: they grow, they fatten, they ossify into meetings, and they die—unless funded by the state.

I bet Apple had few meetings in the early Steve Jobs days, but I bet it has thousands now. If so, as Parkinson warned of all who broke his laws, sell the shares. As for that meeting, skip it—and live.

Simon Jenkins
—©2017 The Guardian


The future of HR management


KATHMANDU - Human Resources management has seen its stock rise exponentially in Nepali organisations in the past decade. From instilling professional working culture, catalysing productivity and playing a crucial role in employee retention, HR departments have evolved to become crucial cogs in most organisation today. While Nepali corporate houses continue to play catch up with global best practices, the HR Society Nepal has been working towards spreading awareness regarding the importance of having a strong HR department as the one of the foundations for success and productivity. One way the organisation has been doing this is through its annual HR conference, the sixth iteration of which was held in the Capital last week. 

This edition of the HR Conference was themed, ‘HR for tomorrow trends and transformation’ and saw both international and national speakers delve into how the way human resource is managed in an organisation has been evolving and will continue to do so in the coming years.

The keynote speakers of the event were Colvyn Harris, founder of Harris-Mint, Sandeep Bidani, founder and partner of Cognitiv and Positive Momentum and Karmath Dangol, VP of Engineering at Cloud Factory.

Colvyn Harris, who spoke on the ‘Emerging Trends of Employer Branding’ in his keynote speech said, “Just as brands have the power to engage consumers and make them feel emotionally attached, so do the brands of employers work towards keeping employee engagement levels high. This will help retain employees and make the employer highly relevant and irreplaceable to them.”

Another keynote speaker Sandeep Bidani shared his experiences on how to address HR challenges to stay relevant in today’s evolving context. Earmarking innovation as the key to staying relevant, Bidani said, “Innovation cannot be fostered in an environment where there is fear or shame in failure. If it creates insecurity or impacts people financially, they will stop trying new things. So in order to be creative, a company needs to remove the stigma of failure and realise that failure is an important stepping stone towards eventual successes.”

Similarly, Karmath Dangol spoke about the working culture in Nepal and how it might evolve in the coming years. One of the participants Sagar Prasai, project coordinator of Employment Creation for People with Disabilities, shared, “The event has offered us networking opportunities which we will utilise in exploring suitable jobs for people living with disabilities. Events like these are really helpful in helping those from the Nepali corporate sector to think out of the box and learn about the best practices from around the world. Of course, the networking opportunity is also a big plus.”

The event saw more than 250 participants representing different sectors such as I/NGOs, banks and policy advocates, among others partake in a day full of talks, workshops and networking clusters. The event was held at Soaltee Crowne Plaza, Kathmandu.

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Police arrest second man over London train bombing


LONDON - A second man has been arrested over Friday’s bombing of a London commuter train that injured 30 people and Britain remained on its highest level of alert on Sunday with soldiers helping provide security.

The 21-year-old man was detained under Britain’s Terrorism Act in the west London suburb of Hounslow just before midnight on Saturday, the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.
Police arrested an 18-year-old man in the departure lounge of Dover port earlier on Saturday in what they called a “significant” step and then raided a property in Sunbury, a town near London and about four miles (six km) from Hounslow.

The home-made bomb shot flames through a packed train carriage at west London’s Parsons Green Tube station during the Friday morning rush hour but apparently failed to detonate fully.Islamic State claimed responsibility, as it has for other attacks in Britain this year, including two in London and one at a concert by American singer Ariana Grande in Manchester in May.

Interior minister Amber Rudd said on Sunday the second arrest indicated it was not a “lone-wolf” attack, but there was no evidence Islamic State was involved. “It is inevitable that so-called Islamic State, or Daesh, will reach in and try to claim responsibility. We have no evidence to suggest that yet,” she told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.


Moon, Trump vow to mount pressure on North Korea

Moon Jae-in (left) and Donald Trump

SEOUL - US President Donald Trump and his South Korean counterpart have pledged “stronger pressure” on Pyongyang, Seoul said Sunday, after North Korea defied tough new sanctions with a missile test and said it wanted to match American nuclear strength.
The international community is scrambling to contain an increasingly belligerent North Korea, which in recent weeks has prompted global alarm by conducting its sixth and largest nuclear test and firing long-range missiles over Japan that it says could reach the US mainland.
In a phone conversation Sunday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Trump “gravely condemned” the latest missile test on Friday, which came just days after United Nations Security Council announced a raft of new sanctions against Pyongyang.

“The two leaders agreed on more practical and stronger pressure... to make the North Korean regime realise that further provocation will only bring stronger diplomatic isolation and economic pressure leading to a path of collapse,” the South’s presidential office said in a statement.

Pyongyang says it needs nuclear weapons to protect itself from “hostile” US forces and is determined to build a weapons system capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to hit the US mainland.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, who oversaw the latest missile test, has said the launch increased the “combat power of the nuclear force”, according to the North’s official KCNA news agency.

He said the launch was part of the country’s plan to achieve “equilibrium of real force” with the US. Experts believe Pyongyang’s weapons programme has made rapid progress under leader Kim Jong-un, with previous sanctions having done little to deter it.


UNSC to meet on enforcing sanctions

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council will on Thursday hold a ministerial-level meeting on the threat from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction that will focus on enforcing sanctions on North Korea, diplomats said.

The United States called the meeting that will be held during the annual General Assembly gathering of world leaders at the United Nations.

The purpose of the meeting “is to discuss ways the Security Council can better enforce the resolutions it has adopted to prevent the spread of the world’s most dangerous weapons,” said a US concept note on the meeting obtained by AFP on Saturday.

The Security Council this week imposed a new raft of sanctions on North Korea, slapping an export ban on textiles, freezing work permits to North Korean guest workers and placing a cap on oil supplies.

The impact of those sanctions depends largely on whether China, North Korea’s ally and main economic partner, will fully implement them and on Russia, which is hosting tens of thousands of North Korean workers.

During the council meeting, countries will address ways to stem missile and nuclear technology to “the world’s most dangerous actors,” the note said.


Aid group warns of death among refugees


COX’S BAZAR (Bangladesh) - Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh could die due to a lack of food, shelter and water available for the huge numbers of them fleeing violence in Myanmar, an aid agency warned on Sunday.

Nearly 410,000 members of the Rohingya Muslim minority fled from western Rakhine state to Bangladesh to escape a military offensive that the United Nations has branded a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

“Many people are arriving hungry, exhausted and with no food or water,” Mark Pierce, Bangladesh country director for the Save the Children aid agency said in a statement. “I’m particularly worried that the demand for food, shelter, water and basic hygiene support is not being met due to the sheer number of people in need. If families can’t meet their basic needs, the suffering will get even worse and lives could be lost.”

Bangladesh has for decades faced influxes of Rohingya fleeing persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where the Rohingya are regarded as illegal migrants.

Bangladesh was already home to 400,000 Rohingya before the latest crisis erupted on Aug. 25, when Rohingya insurgents attacked police posts and an army camp, killing a dozen people.

Pierce said the humanitarian response needed to be rapidly scaled up.Rights monitors and fleeing Rohingya say the Myanmar security forces and Rakhine Buddhist vigilantes responded to the Aug. 25 insurgent attacks with what they say is a campaign of violence and arson aimed at driving out the Muslim population.

Myanmar rejects those accusations, saying its security forces are carrying out clearance operations to defend against the insurgents of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, which claimed responsibility for the August attacks and similar, smaller, raids in October.

The Myanmar government has declared the group a terrorist organisation and accused it of setting the fires and attacking civilians.
More than 430 people have been killed, most of them insurgents, and about 30,000 non-Muslim villagers have been displaced, Myanmar has said.


Last chance for Suu Kyi: UN chief

LONDON: Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has “a last chance” to halt an army offensive that has forced hundreds of thousands of the mainly Muslim Rohingya to flee abroad, the UN head has said.

Antonio Guterres told the BBC unless she acted now, “the tragedy will be absolutely horrible”.

The UN has warned the offensive could amount to ethnic cleansing.
In an interview with BBC’s HARDtalk programme ahead of this week’s UN General Assembly, Guterres said Aung San Suu Kyi had a last chance to stop the offensive during her address to the nation on Tuesday.

“If she does not reverse the situation now, then I think the tragedy will be absolutely horrible, and unfortunately then I don’t see how this can be reversed in the future.” (BBC)


India PM Modi inaugurates controversial dam project


MUMBAI - Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated India’s biggest dam on Sunday, ignoring warnings from environment groups that hundreds of thousands of people will lose their livelihoods.
The controversial Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada river in the country’s western state of Gujarat that will provide power and water to three big states was dedicated to the people of India by Narendra Modi.

The project has been beset by controversies since the laying of the foundation stone by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1961. The construction of the project began in 1987. It is the second biggest dam in the world after the Grand Coulee Dam in the United States.

Ahead of the inauguration Modi said in a tweet, “This project will benefit lakhs of farmers and help fulfil people’s aspirations.”
The dam is expected to provide water to 9,000 villages and the power generated from the dam would be shared among three states - Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat.

The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), led by social activist Medha Patkar, has been protesting against the project, raising several environmental concerns.Construction on the dam had been suspended in 1996 following a stay by the Supreme Court which allowed work to resume, four years later, but with conditions.


Pakistanis vote in by-election seen as test of support for ousted PM Sharif

Kulsoom Sharif

LAHORE (Pakistan) - Pakistanis cast votes on Sunday for the parliamentary seat vacated by ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in a by-election seen as a test of support for the Sharif dynasty ahead of the 2018 general election.

Sharif’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party hopes a resounding victory in in the eastern city of Lahore would show that support for the family was undiminished despite the Supreme Court’s removal of Sharif in July.

Sharif’s daughter Maryam has spearheaded the PML-N campaign for her mother Kulsoom—who is the MPL-N candidate despite receiving cancer treatment in London with Nawaz at her side.Maryam, who some PML-N leaders see as a future leader, has framed the poll as a chance for voters to give a bloody nose to the judiciary by handing the party a thumping victory.

Opposition leader Imran Khan is seeking to build on the success of his anti-graft crusade by making inroads into Sharifs’ power base in Punjab.

The Supreme Court in July disqualified Sharif because he did not declare a monthly salary, equivalent to $2,722, from a company owned by his son when the veteran leader, who had held power twice in the 1990s, became prime minister for the third time. Sharif denies receiving the salary.

Khan has turned the by-election into a plebiscite about corruption, and has accused the provincial Punjab government, which is run by Nawaz’s brother Shahbaz, of abusing state resources to help the PML-N campaign. “Your prime minister owns some of the most expensive real estate in the world - all in his daughter’s name. Meanwhile half the children of this country are malnourished,” Khan told a rally on Saturday.

Analysts predict PML-N will win again but they say Khan’s party would build momentum ahead of the 2018 poll if PTI candidate Yasmin Rashid, a gynecologist from the area, substantially reduces the PML-N’s 40,000 vote-winning margin from 2013.

Kulsoom and Rashid will be competing against about 40 other candidates, including religious parties. One candidate is backed by a new party that is led by an Islamist firebrand who is subject to a $10 million bounty offered by the United States.

Page 12

Nepal qualify for Asia Cup

acc u-19 eastern region cricket
Players and officials of Nepal celebrate after winning the ACC U-19 Eastern Region title at the Kinrara Oval grounds in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Sunday. Photo Courtesy: NSJF

Kathmandu - Nepal qualified for the ACC U-19 Asia Cup after winning the ACC U-19 Eastern Region cricket tournament at the Kinrara Oval ground in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Sunday.

With just the champions assured of a ticket to the ACC U-19 Asia Cup, Nepal beat Hong Kong by five wickets in the final to join the Test giants India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh for the November tournament also to be held in Malaysia. Nepal will be joined by the Western Region champions in the Asia Cup. The victory also marked Nepal’s hundred percent record with wins in all five matches in the tournament.

Batting first, Hong Kong were bundled out for a lowly 76 runs in 32.1 overs. But Nepal were made to battle for victory despite chasing the small total, surpassing the target for the loss of five wickets in 14.4 overs.

Like all the other opponents, Hong Kong batsmen capitulated under sharp Nepali bowling. Opener Harpeet Singh, who topscored with 20 runs, S Jhathavedh (16) and Waqas Khan (15) were the only Hong Kong batsmen to put some resistance.

Star leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane once again led the Nepali bowling assault, finishing with an enviable figures of 3-8 in 6.1 overs. Shahab Alam also claimed 3-15 in seven overs, while Anil Kumar Sah and skipper Dipendra Singh Airee bagged one wicket each. Nepal also effected two run outs to derail the Hong Kong innings.

Airee believed that his team showed some nerves chasing the modest target in the final. “We tried to play our natural game and lost a few wickets that resulted put us under pressure towards the end,” Airee admitted. “But the most important thing is that we are now in the Asia Cup.”

He said they need to focus on improving their batting and work on their fitness to put on a good fight in the Asia Cup.
Nepal lost opener Asif Sheikh (1) with just 10 runs on the board but with contributions from his opening partner Sandeep Sunar (19), Airee (22), Pranit Thapa Magar (19) and Anil Kumar Sah (16) ensured their victory. Airee slammed four fours in his 26 ball knock, while Thapa Magar hit two sixes and a four in his 18-ball unbeaten innings. Karandeep Singh was the pick of Hong Kong bowlers with figures of 3-35 and S Jhathavedh claimed 2-18.

Man-of-the-series Lamichhane finished as the leading wicket takers with 16 wickets ahead of his skipper Airee, who claimed 13 wickets, was adjudged the best bowler. Sunar was the second highest run scorer with 143, only behind tournament’s best batsman—Siddhant (173) of Singapore.

Coach Binod Das said Nepal once again showcased their talent, indicating a bright future ahead. “Nepal has always been a dominant force at this level but the trouble back home in recent times had contributing to the poor performance,” said the former national team skipper. “We will return home with so many positives from this event. Our performance will also motivate us to put on a good show in the Asia Cup.”


Nepal 79-5 in 14.4 overs (DS Airee 22, S Sunar 19, P Thapa Magar 19; K Singh 3-35, Jhathavedh 2-18) beat Hong Kong 76 in 32.1 overs (H Singh 20, Jhathavedh 16; S Lamichhane 3-8, S Alam 3-15) by five wickets


Griezmann hits Atletico winner

 Barcelona’s Paulinho (centre) celebrates after scoring a goal against Getafe during their La Liga match in Getafe on Saturday. AFP/RSS

MADRID - Antoine Griezmann ensured Malaga didn’t spoil Atletico Madrid’s moving in party at their new 68,000 Wanda Metropolitano stadium with the only goal in a 1-0 win on Saturday.

The French international, restored to the side after a two-game La Liga ban, swept home Angel Correa’s cross on the hour mark to move Atletico up to third in the table. Atletico remain four points adrift of Barcelona, though, as Paulinho scored his first Barca goal six minutes from time to continue their 100 percent record in a 2-1 win at Getafe.

Correa had Atletico’s only two clear chances of the half as he blazed over and straight at Roberto Jimenez. At the other end Jan Oblak was forced into a fine save from ex-Atletico striker Borja Baston as Malaga broke dangerously. Atletico started the second period brighter as Roberto denied Koke and Saul Niguez before the deadlock was broken on the hour mark. Correa burst clear down the right and his low cross was expertly guided inside the near post by Griezmann on his weaker right foot.

Barca were also made to struggle as they had to come from behind at Getafe to open up a seven-point lead over Real Madrid. However, Barca’s record 105 million-euro signing Ousmane Dembele is set to be sidelined for up to four months as the club confirmed the extent of the hamstring injury he suffered at Getafe on Saturday. “The tests performed on first team player Ousmane Dembele have determined he has ruptured the tendon of the hamstring in his left leg,” Barcelona said in a statement on Sunday.

Paulinho’s 40 million-euro signing from Guangzhou Evergrande was just one of a number of much-criticised moves by the Barca board following the departure of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain. But the Brazilian international showed his worth by smashing home Lionel Messi’s through ball to score the winner.

Barca had barely replaced Dembele with Gerard Deulofeu before they fell behind six minutes before half-time. Sergi Roberto’s headed clearance fell invitingly for Gaku Shibasaki, who made his name with two goals against Real Madrid in last year’s Club World Cup final for Kashima Antlers, to thunder an unstoppable dipping volley beyond Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

La Liga results

On Sunday
Atletico 1-0 Malaga
Alaves 0-3 Villarreal 3

On Saturday
Levante 1-1 Valencia 1
Getafe 1-2 Barcelona
Real Betis 2-1 Deportivo


Arsenal hold champions Chelsea

Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny and Chelsea’s Pedro (left) in action during their Premier League match in London on Sunday. AP

LONDON - Chelsea defender David Luiz was sent off for an ugly foul on Sead Kolasinac as Arsenal finally emerged unscathed from a trip to Chelsea with a 0-0 draw against the champions on Sunday.

The Brazilian saw red in the closing minutes and he could have no complaints about his dismissal after lunging into a crude two-footed challenge on Kolasinac. It was the third sending-off for a Chelsea player in their last three meetings with Arsenal. Victor Moses got his marching orders in last season’s FA Cup final, while Pedro was dismissed in the Community Shield.

The David Luiz flashpoint was the most memorable moment of a hard-fought London derby that was high on perspiration but low on inspiration. After losing on their last five visits to Chelsea, Arsene Wenger’s side had the better of the few clear-cut chances. But Danny Welbeck, Aaron Ramsey and Alexandre Lacazette all squandered good opportunities to hand Arsenal their first win at the Bridge since October 2011.

David Luiz’s moment of madness came too late for Arsenal to capitalise on their numerical advantage, so they had to settle for a first clean sheet at Chelsea since 2005. It was another frustrating encounter with Arsenal for Antonio Conte’s men, who were beaten in both the FA Cup final and the Community Shield. Arsenal weathered an early storm before Welbeck wasted a chance when Hector Bellerin’s cross picked out the unmarked forward, who couldn’t adjust quickly enough to keep his header on target. Wenger’s men threatened again when Ramsey’s pass left Marcos Alonso isolated and put Bellerin in behind the Chelsea defence. Bellerin crossed low for Lacazette, but the striker’s shot was too close to Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

Kolasinac tested Courtois with a stinging drive that the Belgian parried away. The Gunners’ rearguard remained as creaky as ever and Cesc Fabregas sprung their offside trap with a precise pass to Pedro, whose tame shot at Petr Cech let the visitors off the hook.

Encouragingly for Wenger, Arsenal were still picking holes in Chelsea’s usually rock-solid defence. They should have taken the lead just before half-time when Ramsey had only Courtois to beat. However, Ramsey stabbed his shot against the far post before Lacazette contrived to scuff the rebound over from close range.

Chelsea continued to lack a cutting edge after the break and Willian shot straight at Cech, then blazed over from long range as another attack petered out. Shkodran Mustafi had the ball in the net for Arsenal, but the defender’s header was correctly ruled out for offside. As Chelsea’s frustration mounted, David Luiz shrugged off Alexis Sanchez—on as a substitute—and launched into a needless lunge on Kolasinac in the 87th minute. He was immediately shown a red card by referee Michael Oliver.

On Saturday, Tottenham Hotspur failed to win for a third successive league match at Wembley as Swansea City held on for a 0-0 draw. After a midweek Champions League victory over Borussia Dortmund at Wembley, which serves as Tottenham’s home while White Hart Lane is rebuilt, Mauricio Pochettino’s team were frustrated as Harry Kane hit the woodwork, while the hosts also had three penalty appeals turned down.

EPL results

On Sunday
Chelsea 0-0 Arsenal

On Saturday
Spurs 0-0 Swansea


Windies mulled walk-off in their rainswept victory

england-west indies t20

CHESTER-LE-STREET - West Indies captain Carlos Brathwaite said his side were so concerned about the prospect of “career-threatening injuries” on a sodden outfield they considered abandoning before beating England in a Twenty20 international.

None of the West Indies team at Chester-le-Street on Saturday had been involved in their side’s recent 2-1 three-Test series defeat in England. Instead Brathwaite and his men had arrived directly from the Caribbean Premier League Twenty20 tournament. Conditions at the Riverside, the home of northeast county Durham, were always likely to prove challenging for a team used to the rather warmer climate back home in the West Indies.

But jokes about the weather gave way to major concern when Windies wicketkeeper Chadwick Walton, changing direction to field a deflected ball, slipped and jarred his knee on an already wet outfield that had been exposed to yet more rain during the game. Walton recovered, however, and he was behind the stumps as West Indies completed a 21-run win—their 11th in 15 Twenty20 internationals against England, a sequence including last year’s World Twenty20 final triumph in India.

But it almost did not happen after Walton’s injury, with Brathwaite telling a post-match news conference: “I had a chat with a few of the boys in a huddle while Chadwick was getting treatment and most of them said it was unsafe. I told the umpires the boys had some concerns—it could be a career-threatening injury (next).”

On the field, Chris Gayle (40) and heir apparent Evin Lewis (51) got West Indies off to a flying start with a rapid first-wicket stand of 77 before England, with Liam Plunkett and Adil Rashid sharing six wickets, held the tourists to 176-9.

On Saturday Brathwaite starred with the ball by taking 3-20—the 29-year-old Barbados allrounder’s best figures at this level. The key passage of play started when paceman Brathwaite bowled Alex Hales for a rapid 43. Hales’s exit sparked a slump that saw three wickets lost in quick succession, with key batsmen Joe Root and Twenty20 captain Eoin Morgan falling cheaply as England slumped to 68-4.



West Indies 176-9 in 20 overs (E Lewis 51, C Gayle 40; A Rashid 3-25, L Plunkett 3-27) beat England 155 in 19.3 over (A Hales 43, J Buttler 30; C Brathwaite 3-20, K Williams 3-35) by 21 runs  Man-of-the-match: S Narine (WI)


3 departmental teams in semis

sports digest

HETAUDA: Nepal APF Club, Tribhuvan Army Club (TAC) and Nepal Police Club (TAC) on Sunday joined hosts Makwanpur in the semi-finals of the Keshav Lal Memorial second National Volleyball Tournament . Army team Sipapokhari Sindhupalchowk 25-14, 25-12, 25-6, APF saw off Far-west 25-10, 25-20, 25-16 and NPC battled to a 25-14, 15-25, 25-14, 19-25, 15-13 win over Western Region in the quarter-finals. Makwanpur had already secured their place in the last four on Saturday. (PR)


Baba clinch championship

sports digest

KATHMANDU: Baba Boarding School clinched the Apex Life U-12 Inter-school Boys Futsal Championship with a 3-2 win over Siddhartha Vanasthali on Sunday. Anmod Shrestha scored twice and Dawa Syangbo added anther goal for Baba, while Anjan Magar and Krish Thapa replied one goal each for Vanasthali. Mridul Paudel of Vanasthali was declared the best player, while Anjan Magar finished as top scorer with 15 goals. Manish Bikram Luitel of Baba was adjudged the best goalkeeper. (PR)


Excelsior clinch U-14 futsal title

sports digest

KATHMANDU: The Excelsior School won the first Himalaya Inter-school U-14 Boys Futsal tournament on Sunday. Nimesh Gotame struck a hat-trick as Excelsior defeated Rose Bud 4-2 in the final. The best player of the tournament Dhiraj Joshi added the another goal for the champions, while Krish Sherchan and Bidiman Tuladhar struck for Rose Bud. Gotame finished as the top scorer with 11 goals in the tournament. Sworup Timalsina of Rose Bud was declared the best goalkeeper. (PR)


Juve maintain perfect record

sports digest

MILAN: A Paulo Dybala hat-trick lifted Juventus back to the summit of Serie A alongside Inter Milan with a 3-1 victory at Sassuolo on Sunday making it four wins out of four for the champions. The forward left the pitch 10 minutes from the end to a standing ovation from the crowd. His first was a left-footed volley from the edge of the box to beat Andrea Consigli on 16 minutes, the second a close-range effort again surprising the Sassuolo goalkeeper just after the break and the third a sublime freekick on 63 minutes. Juve leapfrog Inter, also on 12 points but behind on goal difference. (AFP)


Hamilton wins Singapore GP

sports digest

SINGAPORE: Lewis Hamilton won the Singapore Grand Prix (GP) for Mercedes on Sunday to go 28 points clear at the top of the Formula One world championship after Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel was caught in a first corner collision. The Briton, fifth on the grid with Vettel lining up on pole position, cashed in on both the Ferraris and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen smashing into each other within seconds of the start on a wet track. The victory was the 60th of Hamilton’s career—third in Singapore and seventh in 14 races this season.(REUTERS)

Page 13

Nepse to miss Nov deadline to introduce online trading


KATHMANDU - Nepal Stock Exchange (Nepse) is most likely to miss the deadline to roll out full-fledged online trading system, as the vendor, which is supplying software to the stock market operator, is yet to complete its work.

Nepse, the operator of the stock market, had earlier said the online trading system would come into operation by November 7. But this announcement was made by its outgoing general manager Sitaram Thapaliya haphazardly, without making any preparation, a source said on condition of anonymity.

Thapaliya, who stepped down from the post of general manager on July 8 after completing his tenure, had even pledged to conduct trial run of the fully automated trading system in mid-August.

Nepse has hired YCO, a software company, to introduce online trading system in Nepal. It began its work seven months ago. But till date not even a third of the work has been completed, said the source.The software development company has divided its work into 18 modules.

“All these modules should have been approved by Nepse within mid-September,” said the source. “But so far only 12 modules related to internal control system, such as listings, matching engine and index management, have been submitted. Of these, only five have been approved by Nepse.” However, no progress has been made on the live trading module till date, the source added.
Following the implementation of fully automated system, stock investors will be able to post ‘buy’ and ‘sell’ orders and obtain related information using their computers, tablets and smartphones. This will reduce stock investors’ dependency on stockbrokers.
At present, stock trading in the country is semi-automated, under which stocks are traded electronically via stockbrokers. The rest of the work has to be performed manually.

After the proposed automation system is introduced, investors will not have to get in touch with their stockbrokers every day to post ‘buy’ and ‘sell’ orders. Nepse’s agreement with YCO is expiring in mid-June 2018. As per the vendor, stock investors may have to wait until mid-January to use the interface for fully automated stock trading.


Taxman to link its system with billing machines of retailers


KATHMANDU - The tax authority has started conducting a study to link its system with computer billing machines of retailers in the Kathmandu Valley in a bid to gain access to real-time
data on financial transactions of vendors and improve tax compliance.The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) had begun the study as per the instruction issued by the Ministry of Finance.

“We’ve directed the IRD to link its system with computer billing machines of at least one organisation within December 1,” said Bishnu Prasad Nepal, head of the Revenue Management Division at the Finance Ministry. Such an organisation, according to Nepal, could be a supermarket or even Nepal Oil Corporation and gas stations under the state-owned oil company.

“We will then gradually link the IRD’s system with computer billing machines of other retailers in the future,” Nepal said.
This move will help the taxman to monitor each and every good or service sold by retailers in real time.Based on this information, the IRD can crosscheck value added tax returns filed by taxpayers with data collected through its system. If there is discrepancy in two sets of data, the IRD can initiate action against the taxpayer and impose penalties.

Also, the information on retail sales will help the taxman to derive a ballpark figure on the taxpayers’ income tax liabilities. This initiative is being taken at a time when many retailers have been found submitting fake tax returns to evade value added tax and income tax. It is easier for retailers in Nepal to evade taxes because their transactions are not electronically recorded. This is because many of them do not use computer billing machines and store all the data in hard copies. Once the taxman starts linking its system with the systems of retailers, it will be mandatory for retailers to install computer billing machines.

“We hope the move will help us improve tax compliance which will eventually increase revenue collection,” said Nepal.
Many governments across the globe have already started collecting transaction details directly from taxpayers’ systems in real time. This information is also tallied with amount parked by taxpayers in banks to track cases of tax evasion. These initiatives reduce compliance-related risks and help tax authorities to respond accordingly.

“Nepal is late in this regard, but we are aware about the gravity of this issue,” said IRD Assistant Spokesperson Sharad Niraula. “We are currently conducting a study on infrastructure and system that we need to install to link our system with those of retailers. We will then see what else needs to be done.”


World Bank revises Nepal’s growth forecast downwards to 4.5pc

lowered expectations


KATHMANDU - The World Bank (WB) has revised Nepal’s economic growth forecast for the current fiscal year downwards to 4.5 percent
(at basic and market prices) stating floods will hit agricultural output, which makes a big contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP).

The Washington, DC-based multilateral lender had previously estimated Nepal’s economy to grow by 5 percent in the current fiscal year which began on July 16.The WB’s forecast is way lower that the government’s growth estimate of 7.2 percent.

“Economic growth is expected to be lower than earlier forecast and is expected to average 4.5 percent over the next two fiscal years,” said Sudyumna Dahal, WB economist and principal author of the Nepal Development Update, which was released on Sunday.

The WB had lowered its forecast following devastations caused by floods, which are expected to affect agricultural output, which contributes to around 30 percent of the GDP. The floods have affected over 5 percent of the total population, with several districts recording the heaviest rainfall in 60 years. Over 80 percent of land in southern Tarai, the country’s food basket, was affected. Estimates of destroyed crops at 64,000 hectares will likely lead to a weak agricultural output in the current fiscal year. This will hamper agricultural output in 2017-18, says the report.

The impact on industry sector, on the other hand, is expected to be temporary, while construction sector is likely to remain strong driven by post-earthquake and flood reconstruction. Activity in the remaining sectors is expected to be affected by uncertainty stemming from the transition to the federal structure, several elections, and the possibility of a further slowdown in remittances, the WB has said.

The main driver of growth will be services in the current fiscal year as well, but the sector will grow more slowly than in previous years. Services are expected to grow at 5.8 percent, on average, during the forecast period, driven by trade, transport, and tourism, according to the WB. “The outlook in services is also dependent on remittances stabilising at the present level, particularly given the large share of wholesale and retail trade subsectors,” says the report, adding, “However, the boost in tourism, in particular, is expected to continue in the forecast period, as some of the damage done by the floods in places like Chitwan is expected to be restored by the fall tourist season.”

Industry sector is likely to get some boost in the current fiscal year, as electricity generation and construction subsectors continue to perform relatively well. However, manufacturing is expected to face some temporary setbacks as the Terai region, where most of the industries are located, has been severely affected by floods. Also, with the 465MW Upper Tamakoshi Hydroelectric Project expected to be delayed until fiscal year 2018-2019, hydropower generation will be lower than earlier expected.

Nonetheless, small hydropower projects will continue to provide some boosts to the electricity subsector. “Hence, internally generated electricity and additional imports from India are expected to keep the manufacturing sector running smoothly in the current fiscal year as well,” says the report.

Page 14

US coastal growth up despite fierce storms

 Flooded downtown is seen from JP Morgan Chase Tower after Hurricane Harvey inundated the Texas Gulf coast with rain causing widespread flooding, in Houston, Texas, US. REUTERS

HOUSTON - Rising sea levels and fierce storms have failed to stop relentless population growth along US coasts in recent years, a new Associated Press analysis shows. The latest punishing hurricanes scored bull’s-eyes on two of the country’s fastest growing regions: coastal Texas around Houston and resort areas of southwest Florida.
Nothing seems to curb America’s appetite for life near the sea, especially in the warmer climates of the South. Coastal development destroys natural barriers such as islands and wetlands, promotes erosion and flooding, and positions more buildings and people in the path of future destruction, according to researchers and policy advisers who study hurricanes.

“History gives us a lesson, but we don’t always learn from it,” said Graham Tobin, a disaster researcher at the University of South Florida in Tampa. That city took a glancing hit from Hurricane Irma—one of the most intense US hurricanes in years—but suffered less flooding and damage than some other parts of the state.

In 2005, coastal communities took heed of more than 1,800 deaths and $108 billion in damages from Hurricane Katrina, one of the worst disasters in US history. Images of New Orleans under water elicited solemn resolutions that such a thing should never happen again—until Superstorm Sandy inundated lower Manhattan in 2012. Last year, Hurricane Matthew spread more deaths, flooding and blackouts across Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. From 2010-2016, major hurricanes and tropical storms are blamed for more than 280 deaths and $100 billion in damages, according to data from the federal National Centres for Environmental Information.

Harvey, another historically big hurricane, flooded sections of Houston in recent weeks. Four counties around Houston, where growth has been buoyed by the oil business, took the full force of the storm. The population of those counties expanded by 12 percent from 2010 to 2016, to a total of 5.3 million people, the AP analysis shows.

During the same years, two of Florida’s fastest-growing coastline counties—retirement-friendly Lee and Manatee, both south of Tampa—welcomed 16 percent more people. That area took a second direct hit from Irma after it made first landfall in the Florida Keys, where damage was far more devastating.

Overall growth of 10 percent in Texas Gulf counties and 9 percent along Florida’s coasts during the same period was surpassed only by South Carolina. Its seaside population, led by the Myrtle Beach area of Horry County, ballooned by more than 13 percent.
Nationally, coastline counties grew an average of 5.6 percent since 2010, while inland counties gained just 4 percent. This recent trend tracks with decades of development along US coasts. Between 1960 and 2008, the national coastline population rose by 84 percent, compared with 64 percent inland, according to the Census Bureau.

Cindy Gerstner, a retiree from the inland mountains of upstate New York, moved to a new home in January in Dunedin, Florida, west of Tampa. The ranch house sits on a flood plain three blocks from a sound off the Gulf of Mexico. She was told it hadn’t flooded in 20 years—and she wasn’t worried anyway.

“I never gave it a thought,” she said during a visit back to New York as Irma raked Florida. “I always wanted to live down there. I always thought people who lived in California on earthquake faults were foolish.”Her enthusiasm for her new home was undiminished by Irma, which broke her fence and knocked out power but left her house dry.

In Horry County, where 19 percent growth has led all of South Carolina coastline counties, Irma caused only minor coastal flooding.
The county’s low property taxes are made possible by rapid development and tourism fees, allowing retirees from the North and Midwest to live more cheaply.

Ironically, punishing hurricanes farther south in recent years has pushed some Northerners known locally as “half-backers” to return halfway home from Florida and to resettle in coastal South Carolina.Add the area’s moderate weather, appealing golf courses, and long white strands—the county is home to Myrtle Beach—and maybe no one can slow development there. “I don’t see how you do it,” said Johnny Vaught, vice chairman of the county council. “The only thing you can do is modulate it, so developments are well designed.”

Strong building codes with elevation and drainage requirements, careful emergency preparations, and a good network of roads for evacuation help make the area more resilient to big storms, said the council chairman, Mark Lazarus. Such measures give people “a sense of comfort,” said Laura Crowther, CEO of the local Coastal Carolina Association of Realtors.


AT&T weighs sale of Latin American TV assets: Sources


NEW YORK - AT&T is evaluating a sale of its pay TV operations in Latin America as it seeks to pay down debt following its planned $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc, people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

AT&T is working with a financial adviser to field interest in the assets, which could be valued at more than $8 billion, the people added, asking not to be named because the matter is private.

Liberty Global PLC, Spanish telecommunications company Telefonica SA and Millicom International Cellular SA, a wireless player in Latin America, are some of the companies that could express interest in all or parts of AT&T’s Latin American markets, according to the people.

AT&T declined to comment. Liberty Global, Telefonica and Millicom could not be reached for comment.Most Latin American countries, with the exception of Venezuela, have stabilised over the past year with markets such as Brazil’s rallying after struggling with a recession for several years following the end of a decades-long commodities boom.

There is no guarantee that AT&T will be successful in selling the business, which includes satellite and cable television services in Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina and several other countries, the people said. It could still decide to keep the systems, the people added.

AT&T is not interested in selling its pay TV business in Mexico, since it has been investing in wireless services in the country, the sources said. It acquired these TV operations as part of its $49 billion acquisition of DirecTV in 2015.

AT&T has been reviewing its portfolio to find ways to help pay down its debt load, which will increase to about $180 million once its acquisition of Time Warner closes.AT&T expects the Time Warner acquisition to close by the end of the year. The deal is currently under antitrust review by the US Department of Justice.

AT&T’s chief executive, Randall Stephenson, said earlier this week at a Goldman Sachs conference that every year the company “monetises a number of assets that strategically don’t fit and aren’t in the longterm game plan of the business.” The company has also said in the past that it would be open to a strategic combination in the region.

In the second quarter, AT&T had 13.6 million total subscribers in Latin America, excluding Mexico, and generated total revenue of $1.4 billion. AT&T owns about 93 percent of Sky Brasil, the largest satellite provider in the region’s biggest economy. It owns PanAmericana, which offers satellite TV services under the DirecTV brand in countries including Venezuela, Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Puerto Rico.


Apple, Dell join bid to buy Toshiba’s chip business


TOKYO - US tech titans Apple and Dell have joined a bid to buy Toshiba’s memory chip business, a deal seen as key to the survival of the cash-stripped Japanese industrial conglomerate, the US investor leading the consortium has said. “Last week Bain Capital made a revised offer” for Toshiba, which “brings in a broad list of strategic partners including Apple, Dell” and others who will invest in the
business, Bain Capital said in a statement obtained by AFP on Sunday.

It was the first time Apple’s name has been officially confirmed as part of the bid, although it has reportedly also been involved in rival bids for the lucrative Toshiba segment. The announcement came after Toshiba said last week it had picked the Bain Capital-led consortium as the leading candidate to buy its prized chip business in a deal reportedly worth some $18 billion.

The development was the latest twist in a long-running saga as Toshiba agonises between three groups of suitors for its chip business. The Bain Capital-led group also includes the state-backed Development Bank of Japan and the public-private Innovation Network Corp. of Japan as well as South Korean chipmaker SK Hynix.

However, Toshiba has stressed that it was a “non-exclusive” agreement with Bain Capital that “does not exclude the possibility of negotiations with other consortia”.

Other suitors in the frame are a group led by Western Digital, Toshiba’s US-based chip factory partner, and Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision, better known as Foxconn.Western Digital demanded control of the memory chip business, frustrating Toshiba’s management which prompted them to turn to the Bain Capital-led group, according to reports in the local media.

Toshiba has sued Western Digital for trying to block the sales process. In the latest statement, Bain Capital said: “We believe this proposal represents a solution that meets the needs of all stakeholders.” The proposal “represents the best possible outcome for Toshiba by ensuring” the memory chip business’s independence, Bain Capital said.


Computers are taking design cues from human brains

Chips Off the Old Block
After years of stagnation, the computer is evolving again, prompting some of the world’s largest tech companies to turn to biology for insights. TNYT

SAN FRANCISCO - We expect a lot from our computers these days. They should talk to us, recognise everything from faces to flowers, and maybe soon do the driving. All this artificial intelligence requires an enormous amount of computing power, stretching the limits of even the most modern machines.

Now, some of the world’s largest tech companies are taking a cue from biology as they respond to these growing demands. They are rethinking the very nature of computers and are building machines that look more like the human brain, where a central brain stem oversees the nervous system and offloads particular tasks—like hearing and seeing—to the surrounding cortex.

After years of stagnation, the computer is evolving again, and this behind-the-scenes migration to a new kind of machine will have broad and lasting implications. It will allow work on artificially intelligent systems to accelerate, so the dream of machines that can navigate the physical world by themselves can one day come true.

This migration could also diminish the power of Intel, the longtime giant of chip design and manufacturing, and fundamentally remake the $335 billion a year semiconductor industry that sits at the heart of all things tech, from the data centres that drive the internet to your iPhone to the virtual reality headsets and flying drones of tomorrow.

“This is an enormous change,” said John Hennessy, the former Stanford University president who wrote an authoritative book on computer design in the mid-1990s and is now a member of the board at Alphabet, Google’s parent company. “The existing approach is out of steam, and people are trying to re-architect the system.”

The existing approach has had a pretty nice run. For about half a century, computer makers have built systems around a single, do-it-all chip—the central processing unit—from a company like Intel, one of the world’s biggest semiconductor makers. That’s what you’ll find in the middle of your own laptop computer or smartphone.

Now, computer engineers are fashioning more complex systems. Rather than funneling all tasks through one beefy chip made by Intel, newer machines are dividing work into tiny pieces and spreading them among vast farms of simpler, specialised chips that consume less power.

Changes inside Google’s giant data centres are a harbinger of what is to come for the rest of the industry. Inside most of Google’s servers, there is still a central processor. But enormous banks of custom-built chips work alongside them, running the computer algorithms that drive speech recognition and other forms of artificial intelligence.

Google reached this point out of necessity. For years, the company had operated the world’s largest computer network—an empire of data centres and cables that stretched from California to Finland to Singapore.

But what began inside data centres is starting to shift other parts of the tech landscape. Over the next few years, companies like Google, Apple and Samsung will build phones with specialised AI chips. Microsoft is designing such a chip specifically for an augmented-reality headset. And everyone from Google to Toyota is building autonomous cars that will need similar chips.

This trend toward specialty chips and a new computer architecture could lead to a “Cambrian explosion” of artificial intelligence, said Gill Pratt, who was a programme manager at Darpa, a research arm of the United States Department of Defense, and now works on driverless cars at Toyota. As he sees it, machines that spread computations across vast numbers of tiny, low-power chips can operate more like the human brain, which efficiently uses the energy at its disposal.

“In the brain, energy efficiency is the key,” he said during a recent interview at Toyota’s new research centre in Silicon Valley.



Russia and Iraq restore air travel after 13 years

news digest

MOSCOW: Russia and Iraq restored scheduled commercial airline services on Sunday for the first time since 2004, in what officials hailed as a sign of stability returning to the war-torn country. An Iraqi Airways plane left Baghdad at 10.31 am (0731 GMT) and was expected to arrive at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport at 2.19 pm (1119 GMT), according to the Russian airport’s online departure and arrival timetables. “The first commercial flight arrives today,” Sergei Izvolsky, spokesman for Russia’s civil aviation authority, told AFP. “It is a signal on the part of the Iraqi authorities that Russian nationals can safely visit Iraq.” The two countries may also later agree on air travel to the Iraqi city of Basra, Izvolsky said. Russia suspended regular flights to Iraq in 2004 after the US-led invasion in 2003 plunged the Arab country into war. (AFP)


Egypt upgrades 70pc of railways in Upper Egypt

news digest

CAIRO: Egypt’s Minister of Transport Hisham Arafat said 70 percent of railways in Upper Egypt had been renovated, local media reported on Sunday. The minister made the remarks during his inspection of a number of road projects in Qena, south of Cairo on Saturday. He was accompanied by Qena Governor Abdel Hamid el Hagan. As many as 245 railway crossings have been renewed as part of the ongoing projects, Arafat said during the trip. The ministry seeks, in cooperation with the Ministry of Military Production and several state companies, to develop 10 to 15 level crossings per month, said the minister. He also inspected the project of a mega axis that includes 15 bridges and four tunnels. (XINHUA)

Page 15

China approves nine IPO applications

news digest

BEIJING: China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) has approved IPO applications from nine companies. The firms will raise up to 4.4 billion yuan (more than $670 million), the CSRC said. Three companies will be listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, three on the Shenzhen small and medium enterprise board and three on the ChiNext, a NASDAQ-style board. The firms and their underwriters will confirm IPO dates and publish prospectuses following discussion with the exchanges. Under the current IPO system, new shares are subject to approval from the CSRC. China’s IPOs are gradually switching from an approval-based system to a more market-oriented system. Since suspending IPOs between July and November 2015, China has sought to normalise IPOs by giving approvals at a faster pace to raise financing efficiency and direct more money into the economy. (XINHUA)


China-funded airline struggles to fly to Beijing, Guangzhou


KATHMANDU - The government has formally requested the Chinese government to allow Himalaya Airlines to operate its flight to and from two major international airports in Beijing and Guangzhou.
Officials of the Civil Aviation Ministry said they had written to the Chinese government two weeks ago requesting Himalaya be granted landing permits at key Chinese airports. Although Himalaya Airlines is a Nepal-China joint-venture company, it has not been able to get the landing permits in airports of major Chinese cities. It has been eying the Chinese market since last year.

Privately-owned Himalaya had written to the ministry requesting that the diplomatic channel be used to ask the Chinese government to expedite the process of granting permission to use the airports in Beijing and Guangzhou.

“We have sent a letter to the Chinese government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” said the officials. The carrier has expressed interest to operate daily flights to the two main Chinese cities. Nepal Airlines is also eying the Chinese market. Although the national flag carrier had applied for landing permission at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport in 2015, it is yet to get the permit.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) officials suspect that Himalaya and Nepal Airlines were not given permission to use Chinese airports due to fallout of the significant safety concern (SSC) tag given to Nepal by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (Icao) in its audit report in 2013.

“Now the SSC has been lifted and we are optimistic that both the airlines will get the operating authorisation,” said Caan officials. “It will be surprising if China denies issuing the permit now.”

Nepal and China had signed a revised bilateral air services agreement (ASA) in February 2014, permitting operation of 56 flights per week with any type of aircraft on a reciprocal basis. The pact allowed each country to increase the flight frequency to 70 per week by 2016. Under the old ASA, Chinese airlines were allowed to operate 14 flights per week. Currently, five Chinese carriers—Air China, China Southern, China Eastern, Sichuan Airlines and Tibet Airlines—operate flights to Nepal. With operation of these flights, flight operation quota extended to Chinese airline companies has been fully utilised.

According to the Caan, request recently made by China Southern to operate additional flights to Nepal could not be entertained because of full utilisation of the flight operation quota.

In March 2016, Himalaya Airlines had taken delivery of its first aircraft to serve the international market. The carrier has a fleet of three A320 jets and serves direct flights to Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, Doha and Dammam.

The airlines had previously planned to launch scheduled flights from October 2014, but the plan was deferred due to “technical problems”.
It was further delayed by the devastating 2015 earthquakes.The company plans to link various Asian and Middle East cities. It also plans to acquire 15 Airbus aircraft, including long-haul A330 wide-body jets, to expand operations to Japan, Korea, Europe, Australia, and the Americas in the next five years.

Himalayan Infrastructure Fund Aviation Investment and Yeti World Investment hold 51 percent stake in the company, while Tibet Airlines owns the remaining 49 percent.


Rickshaws to jump start India’s all-electric drive


NEW DELHI - India will roll out nearly 100,000 battery-powered buses and autorickshaws onto its sulphurous city streets in the coming weeks, setting it on the bumpy road to making new vehicle sales all-electric by 2030.

India, one of the world’s most polluted nations, has one of the most ambitious plans to kick its fossil fuel addiction.Analysts say the target is “daunting”. Transport is a major source of India’s carbon emissions and the Greenpeace group blames at least 1.2 million deaths a year in the country on pollution.

Getting off diesel and petrol would improve the nation’s health and bolster India’s bid to meet the bold climate change targets it pledged in Paris in 2015.ndia is not alone in wanting all-electric cars, though it is aiming to go faster than others. Britain and France have said they want to end the sale of fossil fuel cars by 2040.

But electric and hybrid models make up just three percent of all cars on the road worldwide, say London-based consultancy firm PwC.That figure is even lower in India, underscoring the enormity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s electric challenge. On top of gradually bringing in electric rickshaws and buses in New Delhi, the government has issued a tender to auto makers for 10,000 cars to replace pollution producers at four government ministries. “To go all electric is a daunting task,” said PwC partner Abdul Majeed.

“Electric vehicles have a few huge challenges to deal with before they can take off in a big way.”The government does not want to pay for a network of charging stations for millions of future green motorists to power up depleted car batteries.


Real Madrid adds lustre to China’s wannabe ‘Orlando’ tourist hub

economic transformation
A layout of Hengqin under development is displayed inside a government showroom at Hengqin Island adjacent to Macau, China. REUTERS

HENGQIN (China) - Just a stone’s throw across a narrow waterway from the world’s largest gambling hub Macau, a former oyster farming island is being transformed into China’s newest tourism haven.

Dubbed by some as China’s answer to Florida’s Orlando—a global tourist magnet with its cluster of major theme parks—Hengqin has seen property prices more than double over the past two years.
While still a dusty mass of construction sites, Hengqin now draws millions annually to its anchor attraction, the “Chimelong Ocean Kingdom” theme park, with a slew of hotel, malls and sprawling residential developments being built nearby.

Spanish soccer club, Real Madrid, announced last week they would open an interactive “virtual reality” complex in Hengqin, in partnership with Hong Kong-listed developer, Lai Sun Group .

The 12,000-square metre venue, set to open in 2021, will include virtual reality entertainment and a museum showcasing the club’s history. The transformation of Hengqin, which is three times as large as Macau, is part of Beijing’s efforts to bolster links between Hong Kong, Macau and nine cities in the Pearl River Delta region, or so-called “Greater Bay Area”, modelled after other dynamic global bay areas such as Tokyo and San Francisco.

“Hengqin will be the Orlando of China. Macau is Las Vegas (and) Hong Kong is New York,” said Larry Leung, an executive with Lai Sun that is helping build the Real Madrid complex at its “Novotown” project in Hengqin. “Within an hour you can have them all.”
Novotown’s entertainment mix will also feature China’s first Lionsgate movie world with theme rides from blockbuster films such as the Hunger Games and Twilight, as well as a National Geographic educational centre. And high-end hotel chains and luxury yacht makers are building more hotels and a marina on Hengqin.

Chinese officials see Hengqin helping Macau diversify away from casinos to a more wholesome tourism industry. More than 80 percent of Macau’s public revenues come from the gambling sector. Businesses in Macau have been encouraged to invest in Hengqin with the government providing cheaper rent and tax subsidies. Galaxy Entertainment, Shun Tak and Macau Legend have also earmarked developments for Hengqin.

Realtors expect property prices to keep rising once a sea bridge linking Hong Kong, and a high speed rail station are completed.
Hoffman Ma, deputy chairman of Success Universe Group, which operates the Ponte 16 casino in Macau, said Hengqin could take some convention and exhibition business away from the former Portuguese colony.

“It doesn’t make sense for Macau to do that, due to a consistent labour shortage,” he said. Wang Lian, from Wuhan in central China, brought his daughter to watch whale sharks and polar bears at Chimelong Ocean Kingdom recently.

Industry reports show 8.5 million people visited China’s top theme park last year, more than Hong Kong Disneyland’s 6.1 million, and almost a third of the 28 million people who visited Macau last year.

“China’s population is so big they need something like this nearby ... its (Hengqin’s) economic ties will also help Macau develop,” Wang said.


Alipay cooperates with Thai bank

news digest

BANGKOK: China’s Alipay and Thailand’s Kasikorn Bank said on Saturday at Bangkok tourist hotspot Jatujak Market that they will enhance their cooperation in promoting QR code payment in Thailand. The Thai Bank has already developed a mobile app which supports QR code payment for the Thai market. Chinese tourists can use Alipay app to scan the QR code generated by the Kasikorn app to complete the buying with Thai sellers. “Chinese accounts for the majority of my customers and we just began to use the Kasikorn app a few days ago and we hope it will make buying more convenient for the Chinese customers,” said Piyanas, a woman selling clothes at the Jatujak Market. Viu, owner of a shop selling colorful notebooks, told Xinhua that she began to use the app this morning and one Chinese tourist had paid her by Alipay soon after. (XINHUA)


Xiamen holds Brics cultural festival

news digest

XIAMEN: Xiamen, the host city of the ninth Brics Summit earlier this month, is holding a week-long cultural festival to celebrate Brics cultural diversity and cultural exchange. The festival began with a Night of Ballet, featuring dancers from Russia’s state academic Bolshoi theater, South Africa’s Joburg Ballet and China’s National Opera and Dance Drama Theater. Each performed its most known piece. For China, it was a scene from Red Detachment of Women. For Russia, Swan Lake. In the week to come, 210 artists from Brics
countries will stage 30 shows of theater performance music, dance, exhibition and cinema in Xiamen. People-to-people exchange, including the host of joint cultural events, is one of the three pillar cooperation among Brics countries. (XINHUA)


Dubai adds 50 electric vehicles to limo fleet

DUBAI: Dubai launched on Sunday the operation of 50 Tesla electric
vehicles to the limo fleet of the Dubai Taxi Corporation, the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said in an e-mailed statement. RTA said the initiative also replicates the green economic drive launched by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum. It aims at converting 25 percent of total journeys into driverless journeys by 2030,” said Mattar Al-Tayer, Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of RTA. The limo service can be paid by passengers, but it is also included in the price of a business class ticket of Dubai’s government-controlled carrier Emirates Airline of which Sheikh Ahmed is the Chairman and CEO. (XINHUA)

Page 16

Mobile expos bloom in Kathmandu


KATHMANDU - As the festive season descends upon us, many of us are feeling the itch to spend our hard earned money. And it is no surprise that the bulk of most companies sales occur during the festival period. Mobile phones in particular, are a hot ticket item for most people and various mobile expos have been organised in the Capital to attract potential buyers. This has resulted in more mobile expos being held in the Capital.

The festive period of Dashain and Tihar is the ideal time for people to pick up a new mobile phone as companies will offer discounts and other goodies upon purchase.

One of the largest mobile expo is at Tamrakar Mobile Complex, located at New Road in the Valley. The complex houses the most diverse range of companies selling mobile phones. If you need a spare part, chances are you will find it at Tamrakar Mobile Complex. The “Dashain Tihar ko bahar Tamrakar ma mobile kinda upahar nai upahar” fair started on September 7 and will continue till October 26.

Tamrakar Mobile Traders Association organised the fair with over 50 stores taking part. Lenovo and Motorola are the sponsors. Customers will get discounts ranging from 5 to 60 percent at the fair.

Smartphones such as the Samsung S4 and S5 can be bought by customers for cheap, as a 60 percent discount have been applied on these phones. Huawei is also offering the Honor Holly with a 40 percent discount. Likewise, 20 to 60 percent discount is provided on every purchase of Lenovo phones.

Customers who purchase phone at the expo will be entered into a lucky draw where two people stand a chance to win the bumper prize—a Suzuki Gixxer motorbike. One lucky customer will receive a Suzuki scooter. Every day, customers stand a chance to win mobile phones, bluetooth headset and power bank. And a 32-inch LCD TV will be presented to one customer every weekend.

“Dashian is the festival when people splurge on shopping and buy goods for themselves. Over the years, people have also started buying mobile phones during the festive season,” said Guru Datta Sharma, secretary of the Tamrakar Mobile Traders Association, the organiser of the exhibition.

While Tamraka Mobile Complex is the de facto place for people to buy new mobile phones, companies such as Lalitpur Mobile Complex and KL Mobile are organising their own mobile expos to attract customers.

Lalitpur Mobile Complex recently concluded the 4th Lalitpur Mobile Expo held at Lalitpur Mall, on Sept 11. Discounts of up to 70 percent were given to customers at the Lalitpur Mobile Expo. Customers received free gifts like power bank, memory card, bluetooth headphone, selfie stick and speakers at the expo with every mobile phone purchase.

Purushottam Basnet, president of Lalitpur Mobile Complex said that Nepal’s biggest multibrand mobile showroom which is situated in the complex, organised this expo to celebrate the festive season with customers. “Costumers knows that only quality and branded mobile phones are available here. Now we want to make our customers happy with exciting gifts,” said Basnet.
Lalitpur Mobile Complex which is situated in Lalitpur Mall, Lagankhel is Nepal’s first multibrand mobile showroom where customers can get a wide range of devices in one location. More than 40 mobile showrooms and authorised service centres are being operated on the second floor of Lalitpur Mall.

KL Mobile Hub is another company to organise their own mobile expo. Located at Chabahil, Kathmandu, the company launched “KL Mobile Mega Mela” to celebrate Dashain and Tihar with customers. Customers will be able to lower the cost price of new phones by exchanging their old, damaged phones at the fair. With every purchase, customers will receive a random gift.

The bumper prize at this fair includes not one but two prizes. One lucky customer will receive the latest iPhone 8 while another will win a trip to Malaysia and Singapore.


Samsung launches ‘Khushi Farki Ayo’


KATHMANDU: Samsung Electronics has launched its campaign for this year’s festive period titled, ‘Khushi Farki Ayo.’ Under the scheme, Samsung offering Samsung LED TV and home appliances with discounts up to 33 percent.

Samsung Electronics also offers a two years warranty on purchase of selected TVs. The offers are valid through October 31 for selected TVs such as the Samsung 24H4003, Samsung 32FH4003 and the entire range of K and M series of LED TV, reads a press release. (PR)


NIC Asia concludes 20th AGM


KATHMANDU: NIC Asia has concluded its 20th annual general meeting that approved bonus shares worth Rs1.33 billion in total for the bank’s shareholders. In addition, the AGM also gave the greenlight in providing cash dividend of Rs70.4 million. NIC Asia has been offering its service through 125 branches and extension counters across the country. (PR)


First winner of Money Gram’s festive campaign announced


KATHMANDU: Money Gram, money transfer and payment service, has announced Tika Ram Karki from Kathmandu and Anil Adhikari from Morang as the first week winner of festival campaign named ‘Money Gram special promotion’. Under the campaign that was launched two weeks ago, Money Gram customers can win the offer in which they can have the transaction amount doubled by MoneyGram. (PR)


Nikon D7500 launched in Middle East and Africa


KATHMANDU: Nikon Middle East FZE, a subsidiary of Nikon Camera, has launched NikonD7500 in Middle East and Africa. The new camera from Nikon features high-performance EXPEED 5 image-processing engine. It comes with 4K UHD video recording finesse, and outstanding low-light and subject acquisition capabilities for its still images’ capture, within an improved camera body to provide a refined photography experience.

In addition, the 180K-pixel RGB sensor and 51-point AF System ensures highly precise Autofocus (AF), Auto Exposure (AE) and auto white balance performance. The latest Nikon DSLR also seizes picture-perfect moments with a high-speed continuous capture of up to 50 shots with each burst of approximately 8 frames-per-second, reads a press release by United Marketing Inc, the authorised distributor of Nikon camera for Nepal. (PR)


Coca-Cola Nepal launch partnership with AIESEC


KATHMANDU: Coca-Cola in Nepal has officially launched partnership with AIESEC—a global youth-led organisation working to achieve peace and fulfillment of humankind’s potential by activating leadership qualities in youth. Through the partnership, Coca-Cola has targeted to bring together the companies and youths in developing a road map for sustainable development, states a press release. (PR)


NBI, Everest Bank sign MoU for strategic alliance


KATHMANDU: National Banking Institute (NBI) and Everest Bank Limited (EBL) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for strategic alliance. As per the agreement, NBI will be providing exclusive customised training programmes to EBL staffers.Under this agreement, EBL will be investing more than Rs5 million for training this year. EBL CEO Someshwar Seth and NBI CEO Sanjib Subba signed the MoU. (PR)


Khukri Rum to host cocktail event at Deja-vu


KATHMANDU: Khukri Rum is introducing a brand event named ‘Khukri Cocktails’ targeting its consumers and partners. The celebration is expected to offer an authentic Nepalese taste of rum and an immersive experience that will excite the palates of cocktail enthusiasts. As a part of its initiative, the distillery is introducing Nischal Gurung, a popular cocktail specialist, to be lined up with Steve Aoki, a popular DJ, in an event to be organised in Club Deja-vu on Tuesday. (PR)