News February 2019

News Digest May 15-21, 2019

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Government and the Ruling Party

Bills and Parliamentary Affairs

The government registered the Environment Protection Bill in the Federal Parliament with new provisions on carbon trading, reducing adverse impacts of pollution especially from vehicles, machine, equipment, industries, hotels and restaurants and pollution control measures during mountaineering, trekking, and sightseeing. [1]

Prime Minister KP. Oli reiterated that didn’t use any words against parliamentary decorum, in contrast to what the Speaker said earlier, few of PM’s words in his parliamentary address has been deleted, as the opposition objected to them.[2]  

The proposed bill presented for amending the University Act which in the Federal Parliament kills the autonomy of the academic institution has been widely called out. Former vice-chancellor Kedar Bhakta Mathema said the universities are already in a poor state due to politicization and would worsen further if the Bill is endorsed.[3] 

Policy, Programs, and Budget

A three-day pre-budgetary session ended without any significant progress and failed to give meaningful suggestion and recommendation for the fiscal year 2019-20 federal budget. The opposition lawmakers criticized the policies and program of the government with ruling lawmakers defending them. [4]

The government has announced that the Social Security Scheme will be officially implemented from mid-July onwards.[5] 

Nepal Communist Party

The Nepal Communist Party (NCP) has finalized the Okhaldhunga District Committee unification process including 68 members from erstwhile UML and 58 for former Maoist Center (MC).[6] NCP has also finalized the formation of its 13 sister wings and selected coordinator and joint coordinator of all those. [7]

On completion of a year of unification, the erstwhile UML leaders talk of People’s Multi-Party Democracy while the Maoists push for 21-century People’s Democracy, showing a rift between them.[8]  NCP Chair Prachanda and Deputy Prime Minister Ishwor Pokhrel are on the frontline of the debate.[9]

Human Rights and Press Freedom   

National Human Rights Commission has strongly objected the controversial Media Council Bill in the parliament and demanded its withdrawal as it is against Nepal’s Constitution, international practice, and principle of human rights including freedom of expression. [10]

Federation of Nepali Journalist (FNJ) secretary Ramesh Bista said the bill would kill freedom of press and warned of protest and call international media missions including the UN if the government doesn’t withdraw it.[11] 

Lawmakers from the ruling party itself, like leader Subhash Nembang criticized the Media Bill recalling his fight for press freedom during the Panchayat Era. However, Minister of Communication and Technology Gokul Baskota and Central Committee Member Bishnu Rimal have backed it saying that the bill will be amended, not withdrawn.[12] 

Speaker of the House of Representatives Krishna Bahadur Mahara met journalists representing FNJ and received their memorandum on the Media Council Bill.[13]    

Nepal Communist Party-Baidhya celebrated its first anniversary on May 15. The leaders accused the government of corruption and fascism and also called for withdrawal the Media Council Bill. [14] 

Opposition Politics

Nepali Congress

Nepali Congress leader and lawmaker Pradip Giri said the incumbent finance minister should consider Nepali model to be sure on whether social justice or economic growth is the priority in the upcoming budget session.[15]

NC central committee member Gagan Thapa said that the government has failed to implement Federalism.[16] 

Central committee member of NC Shekhar Koirala criticized the party leadership for failing to finalize the party structure and stressed the need of awareness at the local level as internal rifts within the party and increasing level of distrust in the central leaders affects the party’s nationwide program. [17]

Chairman of Parliamentary State Affairs and Good Governance Committee Sashi Shrestha restricted entry of journalists in the committee’s meeting for the fourth time. Shrestha barred the entry mainly during discussion on Federal Civil Service Bill and Kathmandu-Tarai-Fast track project.  Nepali Congress lawmaker Amresh Kumar Singh said the act was against democratic principle and a first ever incident in parliamentary history of Nepal.[18]  

Nepali Congress has formed shadow government as per the party Statute of Section 9 (5A). The shadow government will function as a cabinet and submit the report on functioning of government to the party president and leaders. [19] 

Samajbadi Party

The unification process of Samajbadi party with RJP-N stalled over a debate on withdrawal from the government. RJP-N leader Rajendra Mahato said that unification was stalled as Samjabadi neither withdraws nor criticizes the government policies and programs. However, Samajbadi leader Ashok Rai defends his party’s position saying they are waiting for amendment in Nepal’s Constitution as per their demands. [20]

RJP-N

RJP-N decided to protest in the Parliament and obstruct its proceedings if the government does not make the Lal Commission report public. The commission, formed in February 2016 to investigate the Madhes and Tharuhat movement in 2015, already submitted the report to former Deuba government in December 2017.[21]

Biplab

Nepal Police arrested cadre Karna Bahadur Nakal (Sibira), the district in-charge of Eastern Rukum.[22]  

Janamat Party

Janamat Party leader led by CK Raut has been officially registered in the Election Commission. Central committee member of the party Chandan Singh said the party will now expand in structure and size including formation of associations.[23]  

Security and Strategic Affairs

Nepal’s One China Policy

Lawmakers Pradeep Yadav and Ekwal Miya said they were unaware of the motive of the event they attended in Riga, Latvia, on May 7-10 at World Parliamentarians Convention on Tibet. The Nepali lawmakers from RJP-N and Samjabadi party are under scrutiny as Nepal follows One China Policy.[24]

Digital Nepal

Nepal Rastra Bank announced a ban on the use of Chinese digital wallets Wechat and Alipay saying that the country was losing its foreign income due to the use of those applications. Chinese tourists visiting Nepal and Chinese nationals operating business in Nepal use the payment application not registered in Nepal. A few Nepali companies have expressed their interest to work as intermediaries to link the payment getaways with NRB, but the permission has not been granted yet.[25]

China Communications Services International Limited started to lay 555 km of optical fibers from Panchthar Gorkha district along the Mid-Hill highway for Nepal Telecom (NT). The firm holds a contract for installing radio access network for NT to expand 4G service in Nepal. Another Chinese company ZTE bagged a contract to develop the core network for 4G service in the country.[26]  While the US bans Chinese Telecom giant Huawei on the sharing of US tech, Huawei’s executive vice-president in the UK, Jeremy Thompson sees it as one of the outcomes trade war rather than the issue of security.[27]

Gender Based Violence, Discrimination, Social Inclusion

Rape and Murder

Rape cases are on the rise across the country with police arresting many alleged perpetrators. The rape victims range from a 3½ year old girl to a 58 year old woman. A Nepali woman was also raped in New Delhi while she was en route to Mumbai to meet her brother. Two security personnel have been suspended in Dadeldhura for their alleged involvement in raping two women while a teacher has also been arrested in the same charge in Makwanpur.

A 15-year-old girl of Hilihang Rural Municipality-4 was found beheaded outside her home on May 12. One of the accused Bhagirath Bastola of Falgunanda Rural Rural Municipality-2 is under arrest while the other Padam Tamang is at large.[28]

Child Marriage

The government’s pledge to end child marriage by 2030 seems to be a far-fetched idea with the number of child marriages not decreasing, especially in the far western region. A report by Community Development Centre (CDC) shows that total 163 incidents of child marriages occurred in Silgadhi of Doti during the past three years. Most of the marriages happened at the age of 14-19.[29] Majority of girls got married after they appeared in the SEE examination. As many as 62 students, including 24 girls had appeared for SEE last year. Of the 24 girls, only three are continuing their studies while others were forced to quit studies and were married off.[30]

The growing use of social networking sites, especially increased access to internet services and lack of sex education, played a negative role in increasing child marriage. Tikapur Health Unit of Dhangadhi reported that many girls below 15 came for pregnancy tests at the facility in the current fiscal year.[31] Despite various awareness campaigns, cases of child labour and child marriages is on the rise in Dang district with 382 cases reported.[32]

Trafficking

Fifteen Nepali men who were trafficked to war-torn Libya were rescued on May 19. The International Organization of Migration has been providing shelter as Nepali Embassy in Egypt prepares for their repatriation.[33]

The number of women and children going abroad without documents for work through the Nepal-India border in Banke district is increasing. Maiti Nepal has registered 400 complaints of missing people in the past nine months.[34]

Child and Maternal Health

The government’s provision of cash allowance for mothers who deliver children at health facilities and an additional amount for completing all four antenatal visits at health facilities has not been met at Seti Zonal Hospital, Kailali. As many as 1000 mothers in Kailali have been deprived as the authorities at the hospital failed to pay them citing lack of budget. [35]

A traditional practice of keeping new mothers in cowshed in Bajura resulted in death of as many as 18 neonates under one month of age.[36] Similarly, lack of a proper birthing centre in Mahottari Rural Municipality in Mahottari district has put lives of mothers and the newborns at risk. [37]

Increasing number of migrant workers in Kailali, especially visiting Indian cities, have come back with HIV/AIDS. They further spread the disease to their spouses and their children as well. There are around 200 HIV positive people in Godawari Municipality ward-10, 11 and 12 alone. [38]

Acid Attack

Bishnu Bhujel attacked his wife Jenny Khadka, 20, with acid at Kalopul on the evening of May 15. The victim is undergoing treatment and the attacker arrested.[39] A former acid attack survivor, Sangita Magar, has come forward to help Khadka.[40] 

Cyber Crime

Cyber-crime cases including cheating, blackmailing, phishing, identity theft, hacking, spreading hate and inciting violence, circulating lewd photos and videos and cyber grooming is on the rise in the country with 85 cases registered against 93 persons with the Nepal Police in 2018.  In around 60 percent of the cases the victims are women and unemployed youth. [41]      

Social Inclusion

Naso Rural Municipality in Manang district has taken an exemplary step to improve the lives of the Dalit families. The municipality has allocated Rs two million as housing aid to 11 families to construct their houses.[42] However, in Budhiganga Rural Municipality of Morang, The Thapa Magar family cut off water source of families and relatives of Sani Rishidev because of inter-caste relationship between the children of two families. The couple is out of contact since April.[43]

Education

A school in Butwal, established 13 years ago, is having a hard time to pay salaries to teachers and employees as the government budget is only for two staff. The school has 200 students, and some families provide donations while most cannot afford to pay to the school.[44]       

Federal Affairs

Policy, Program and Budget Issues

Province 3 government has not made satisfactory revenue collection in the ongoing fiscal year. Only a meagre 17% of the target has been collected so far. The revenue collection did not see any change even after sending letters to all 119 local governments for depositing the revenues in the reserve fund.[45] Office of the Auditor General in its observation of the Budget implementation in the province has remarked that only a quarter of the funds are used and the Public Procurement Act was not followed. Ironically, however, 26% of the expenses were made on procuring vehicles.[46]

Karnali Pradesh has bought four vehicles from the Ministry of Land Management Grant. The province government is in a process to buy seven additional vehicles. Staffers have expressed dissatisfaction over the budget spending in unproductive sectors.[47]

Karnali Pradesh started a campaign make the province organic in its aim to prevent chemical fertilizers. The Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Development has endorsed to forming a separate council for agriculture promotion.[48]

Chief Minister of Sudurpashchim Pradesh directed all offices and ministries for timely implementation of budget. The provincial government, with a budget of Rs 28 billion in the current fiscal year, will have Rs 30 billion rupees next fiscal year.[49]   Gandaki Pradesh is also mulling on its budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The budget is expected to go up to Rs 34 billion this year with nearly 50% growth.[50]

The government of Province 1 has called its budget session for May 27. The provincial government has already passed the policy and program of the upcoming fiscal year.[51]

Administrative Issues

The government of Province 2 has tabled its Public Administration Bill in the provincial assembly. The aim of the Bill is to provide more public facilities, maintain peace and good governance in the province. A provision in the Bill will allow the provincial government to appoint provincial first class Chief Administration Officers.[52]

The Prime Minister Employment Program (PMEP) allocated Rs 2.36 billion to provide a minimum of 30 days’ wage to unemployed persons registered all across the local governments in the country.[53]

Development issues

Three rural municipalities in East Nawalparasi have come forward with a joint plan and budget to develop areas of religious and historical significance in their common areas. Activities in those areas were halted earlier due to confusion among the local governments and political demarcation of the area. [54]

Chief Minister of Province 5 and China’s Governor of Gansu province discussed on making Lumbini a tourist hub. An agreement was done regarding bilateral cooperation to develop the tourism area. [55]

Federal Bills

The government tabled a Bill related to coordination and management of three tiers of federal, provincial, and local governments at the National Assembly. The Bill has provisions to control dispute among the governments as the inter-provincial council will have the mandate to settle any political disputes between the federal and provincial government.[56]

Name and Capital

The provincial assembly of Province 3 is in the course of issuing the name and capital for the province. Similarly, a request was made to name the province as Gaurishankar. The provincial government prepared a voting system to finalize the capital city. The Chief Minister of Province 3 said it will be easy to name the province after deciding on the capital city.[57]

International Relations

US Engagement

The US State Department Official for South Asia, David J Ranz said the Indo-Pacific Strategy is a collaborative initiative and is not against any country and the US will not put Nepal in a situation where it has to choose between projects.

Although Nepal disapproves that it plays a significant role in the Indo-Pacific Strategy, Ranz verified US’ intention by saying the US$500 million through MCC is very much part of the strategy.[58] American ambassador to Nepal Randy Berry tweets his support for freedom of press. Berry also highlighted on Nepal’s leaders commitment to democratic freedom.[59]

Nepal-India Ties

Nepali embassy in New Delhi issued a notice that all Nepali travelers should mandatorily carry a ‘no objection letter’ while travelling to third country via India. This notice was published after Nepal received criticisms from various sources. Nepalese travelers are now requested to fill an application in the Indian embassy and submit all necessary documents.

Nepali embassy has written to the airport authorities in India to not allow Nepalis to fly to countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Malaysia, and Lebanon, without an NOC. Nepal initiated this in order to contain wide spreading human trafficking.[60] 

The first Nepal-India Franchise Investment Expo and Conclave was organized on May 15-17 in Kathmandu, for entrepreneurship development between countries comprising investment, brand concept and business operations.

Loose border security between Nepal and India saw two separate incidents regarding Indian groups trying to rescue two criminals arrested in Nepal. On May 16 and 17, two Indian men were arrested in Rupandehi and Banke, one with a pistol and a magazine and other with 5 kg of hashish respectively. In both cases, mobs came to the police station and to coerce their freedom, which the police foiled in both instances with the use of firearms.[61]

Same Sex Marriage

Taiwan, a self-ruled island, becomes the first area in Asia to legalize same sex marriage on May 17, 2019. Lawmakers passed a bill allowing same sex couples have “exclusive permanent unions” and apply for “marriage registration”. The voting comes after two years of amendments ruling out the existing marriage law-marriage was been men and women.[62]

India Elections

According to exit polls, Narendra Modi’s ruling alliance party NDM is likely to win the election again. Modi’s party is projected to win 287 seats out of 545 seats in the lower house, and it takes the support of 272 lawmakers to rule the Indian parliament.

Modi faced severe criticism for failing to create employment for youths and for weak farm price, but he supported his campaign through Hindu nationalist base into a fight for national security after the tensions grew with Pakistan.[63]

Buddhism Bridge

The Embassy of Nepal in Beijing celebrated 2563rd Buddha Jayanti, which was attended by Chinese Buddhist monks from the Buddhist Association of China. Nepal’s Ambassador to China Leela Mani Paudyal welcomed the attendees saying Buddha’s teaching serves to solve not only individual and societal problems but also regional and global issues.


[1] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/bill-registered-to-protect-environment/

[2] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-05-16/prime-minister-oli-says-speaker-hasnt-asked-to-remove-his-remarks-in-parliament-he-has.html

[3] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-05-18/prime-minister-must-not-have-power-to-sack-university-officials-say-former-vice-chancellors.html

[4] https://thehimalayantimes.com/business/pre-budget-debate-ends-on-low-note/

[5] https://thehimalayantimes.com/business/social-security-scheme-to-be-implemented-from-july-17/

[6] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/14126/2019-05-14

[7] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/nepal-communist-party-ncp-forms-13-sister-wings/

[8] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-05-17/as-ruling-party-marks-one-year-of-merger-leaders-still-undecided-on-political-ideology.html

[9] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-05-19/game-of-one-upmanship-begins-in-ruling-party-as-power-play-intensifies.html

[10]http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-05-16/national-human-rights-commission-objects-to-media-council-bill.html

[11] https://www.karobardaily.com/news/society/19238

[12] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-05-20/as-protest-mounts-media-bill-draws-ruling-party-members-ire.html

[13] http://annapurnapost.com/news/127289

[14] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-05-15/fringe-communist-parties-launch-a-movement-against-the-ruling-nepal-communist-party-calling-them-fascists.html

[15] http://annapurnapost.com/news/127319

[16] http://annapurnapost.com/news/127456

[17] http://annapurnapost.com/news/127664

[18] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/media-barred-from-covering-state-affairs-and-good-governance-committee-meet/

[19] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/nepali-congress-forms-shadow-government/

[20] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/14266/2019-05-16

[21] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-05-20/rastriya-janata-party-asks-government-to-make-report-on-tarai-protest-public.html

[22] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/14129/2019-05-14

[23] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/14670/2019-05-20

[24] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-05-20/under-pressure-from-speaker-and-parties-lawmakers-say-sorry-for-attending-tibet-convention-in-europe.html

[25] https://thehimalayantimes.com/business/use-of-chinese-digital-wallets-banned-in-nepal/

[26] http://www.china.org.cn/world/Off_the_Wire/2019-05/21/content_74806742.htm

[27] https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/may/20/trump-us-ban-huawei-google-trade-war

[28] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/violence-against-women-unabated-in-eastern-nepal/

[29] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/163-incidents-of-child-marriage-in-a-ward/

[30] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/absence-of-grades-xi-xii-forces-girls-into-early-marriage/

[31]  https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/in-tikapur-social-media-sites-being-blamed-for-child-marriages/

[32] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/child-labour-child-marriage-still-rife-in-dang/

[33] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/fifteen-nepali-nationals-rescued-from-war-torn-libya/

[34] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/number-of-trafficked-women-and-children-increasing/

[35]http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-05-15/women-deprived-of-maternity-allowance-in-kailali-district.html

[36] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/new-born-fatality-higher-in-cowshed-shelters-in-bajura/

[37] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/in-lack-of-birthing-centre-in-mahottari-rural-municipality-expecting-mothers-face-problems/

[38] http://therisingnepal.org.np/news/31271.

[39] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/man-attacks-wife-with-acid-at-kalopul/

[40] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/acid-attack-survivor-magar-comes-forward-to-support-another-victim/

[41] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/cybercrime-cases-up/

[42] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-05-15/local-unit-helps-dalit-families-in-manang-to-construct-houses.html

[43] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-05-16/musahar-families-denied-access-to-water-after-an-intercaste-marriage-dispute.html

[44] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-05-15/non-formal-womens-school-in-butwal-hit-by-financial-crisis.html

[45] https://www.karobardaily.com/news/economy/19558

[46] https://www.kantipurdaily.com/pradesh-3/2019/05/19/15582311486055293.html

[47] https://nagariknews.nagariknetwork.com/news/76892/

[48] https://www.karobardaily.com/news/economy/19314

[49] https://www.karobardaily.com/news/economy/19313

[50] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/gandaki-province-preparing-budget-for-next-fiscal/

[51] http://annapurnapost.com/news/127790

[52] http://annapurnapost.com/news/127312

[53] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-05-17/state-aims-to-provide-minimum-30-days-of-work-to-the-unemployed-this-fiscal-year.html

[54] https://www.kantipurdaily.com/pradesh-4/2019/05/15/155789282203733361.html

[55] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/province-5-cm-meets-governor-of-gansu-province/

[56] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/bill-to-coordinate-three-tiers-of-government-tabled/

[57] https://www.kantipurdaily.com/pradesh-3/2019/05/15/155788935424582217.html

[58] https://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-05-15/indo-pacific-strategy-is-not-against-any-country-visiting-us-official-asserts.html

[59] https://twitter.com/USAmbNepal/status/1127903803385081861

[60] https://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-05-14/nepali-embassy-in-delhi-issues-public-notice-regarding-no-objection-certificate.html

[61] https://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-05-21/two-incident-of-indian-nationals-trying-to-rescue-criminals-arrested-by-nepal-police-has-pointed-serious-lapses-in-border-securit.html

[62] https://edition.cnn.com/2019/05/17/asia/taiwan-same-sex-marriage-intl/index.html

[63] https://www.reuters.com/article/india-election-polls/modi-set-to-return-to-power-with-a-bigger-majority-exit-polls-show-idUSKCN1SP0EH

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