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News Digest May 8-14, 2019

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Contents

Government and the Ruling Party

Policy, Programs and Budget

Home Affairs

UN Leadership

Nepal Communist Party

Opposition Politics

Nepali Congress

Samajbadi Party

RJP-N

Rastriya Prajatantra Party

Biplab

Security and Strategic Affairs

Citizenship

Nepal’s One China Policy

Networking Business

Press Freedom

Natural Disasters

Gender Based Violence, Discrimination, Social Inclusion

Sexual Abuse, Dowry and Trafficking

Education

Federal Affairs

Federal Bills

Employees Adjustment Process and Service Delivery

Name and Capital

Budget Session

Plan, Budget & Expenditure

International Relations

Trade and Transit

Government and the Ruling Party

Policy, Programs, and Budget

The policy and programs for the upcoming fiscal year passed without any discussion as many questions raised by the opposition party went unanswered.[1]

NCP leaders have expressed dissatisfaction on one-man leadership style of both the party chairs, KP Oli and PK Dahal. Former finance minister Surendra Pandey criticized the party leadership for the censorship that party members cannot comment on the policy and programs. Likewise, Standing Committee Members Ganesh Sah and Ghanashyam Bhushal accused the leadership for its intolerant nature.[2]

Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara stated that he has directed the Secretariat to delete the words the PM used while responding to queries on the policy and programs at the parliament as the opposition party leaders had protested that the words were against parliamentary norms and were disrespectful.[3]

Lawmakers, former finance ministers, and leaders of ruling and opposition parties have put forward their suggestions and comments for the upcoming budget. Former Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai said the Appropriation Bill was poorly prepared. Former Finance Minister Surendra Pandey urged the government to focus on unemployment and trade deficit while preparing the fiscal budget.[4]

Home Affairs

The government brought forward a new criminal law as Criminal Offence Rules 2019 for prisoners. As per the rule, a prisoner who serves three-fourth of jail term with good behavior may be entitled a commutation. However, prisoners convicted of grave charges such as rape, corruption, human trafficking, kidnapping, drug smuggling, organized crime, money laundering, torture against humanity, offence against state, etc. will not be considered.[5]  

The Ministry of Home Affairs has issued a new order of precedence and has placed president, vice president, prime minister and chief justice in the first, second, third and fourth ranking, respectively. The new protocol list was published in Nepal Gazette on May 7.[6]

UN Leadership

The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs has selected Nepal for the first time with 44 votes from 54 members of the United Nations of Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Nepal signed the Convention of Narcotic Drugs in 2003 and ratified it in 2011.[7]

Nepal Communist Party

Nepal Communist Party is mulling conclusion of the merger process after PM Oli returned from Vietnam and Cambodia. The NCP Politburo team will be of 146 members including 81 from UML and 66 from former Maoists. However, decisions haven’t been taken on the party wings of Women, Student, Youth, and Workers.[8]

After the merger of NCP-UML and Maoists, Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa (Badal) and his group have the majority in the state mechanism at federal as well as provincial level. Province 1 Minister Indra Aangbo, Gandaki Province Deputy Speaker Saraswoti Pokhrel, Minister of Internal Affairs and Law Hari Chuman, Kul Prasad K.C with the portfolio in province no.5 and Dev Prasad Gurung as Chief Whip are all from his group.[9]

 

Opposition Politics

Nepali Congress

Nepali Congress launched a month-long nationwide public awareness program from May 8. The party has confirmed that women participation will be mandatory and one of the three key speakers will be a female leader. Earlier, leader Nima Giri had submitted letter to the leadership to ensure women participation in the campaign.[10]

NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba strongly criticized Speaker Mahara and termed him the weakest ever in Parliamentary history. Deuba added that the President’s role is akin to the UK royalty and was against Nepal’s Republic.[11]

NC finalized the party Statute with inclusion of new provision of power distribution for district and provincial committees. The party for the first time delegated power to provincial and local levels.[12]

Samajbadi Party

Samajbadi Party, a merger of erstwhile Naya Shakti and Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum faces difficulties in registering at the Election Commission as the name already exists because of the party led by former CPN (ML) leader Bishnu Raj Aryal in 2017.[13]

Samajbadi Party cadres damaged the Birgunj office of Avenues Television on a pretext of ‘improper way of interviewing Samajbadi Party Chairman and Deputy Prime Minister Upendra Yadav’ during a televised interview.[14]

 

 RJP-N

Leader Laxman Lal Karna led a nine-member committee to revise the party statute of RJP-N, including new provisions from federal to ward level, after merger of six Madhes-led political parties. The party made amendment in the number of official committee.[15]

RJP-N Coordinator Sharat Singh Bhandari remarked that the government is unwilling to make amendments in the constitution and is risking a mass movement again. He accused the government of risking press freedom with the new Bills on Media Council. He overruled the unification with Samajbadi as his party is not clear about their own stances due to ongoing amendment in the party statute.[16]

Rastriya Prajatantra Party

RPP chairman Kamal Thapa said that they will start the second phase of Mechi-Mahakali Rashtriya Swabhiman Abhiyan at the end of May. Four central committee members, Kamal Thapa, Dipak Bohora, Buddhi Bahadur Tamang, and Rajendra Lingden will lead the journey and will operate in 41 districts.

Biplab

Nepal police arrested district chairman of Rukum Dilli Sharma after a security personnel was injured in a two-sided firing.[17] Police also arrested student wing chairman Chiranjeevi Dhakal from Anamnagar in Kathmandu. Dhakal was protesting against privatization and commercialization of education and health and was seeking government action against corruption including the wide-body scam.[18]

 

Security and Strategic Affairs

Citizenship

The Supreme Court stayed the implementation of April 3 circular from the Home Ministry that ordered all 77 districts administration offices to issue citizenship by descent to children of citizens by birth. A division bench of justices Ishwor Prasad Khatiwada and Sushmalata Mathema issued the interim stay order for until and unless issue settled down by full bench of SC.[19]

Nepal’s One China Policy

Two Members of Parliament, Pradip Yadav of Samajbadi Party and Iqabal Miya of Rastriya Janata Party Nepal, attended an event in Riga organized by Parliamentary Support Group in Latvia, to support Tibet movement while on a personal trip to Europe. [20]  The act is against Nepal’s official stance on One-China Policy. The party is investigating this matter.

Networking Business

Twelve Indian nationals were arrested in Kathmandu while organizing orientation and training program for Nepalis to run networking business. The arrested Indians had opened an unregistered company named Shine Group International and had already swindled many Nepalis.[21]

Human Rights/Judiciary/ Transitional Justice 

The single bench of Apex Court Justice Tej Bahadur KC[22] rejected a writ petition filed by senior advocate Shambhu Thapa and advocate Purna Rajbanshi on Monday claiming that Apex Court Justice nominee Manoj Kumar Sharma is not eligible and competent to serve in the position.

The position of chairmen and members have not come to solution even after the leaders including the PM, Dahal, and Deuba have discussed for three rounds. Victims and rights defenders, however, demand amendment in the TJ Act, prior to selection of new leadership, as the current one cannot provide justice.[23]

The government is trying to review the Supreme Court’s decision regarding transitional justice. Human rights commission member Prof. Kapil Shrestha said that it would not be surprising if the verdict gets reversed. Advocate Dinesh Tripathi said hearing on the review petition around this time is a way to delay the transitional justice process.[24]

Press Freedom

The government secretly registered the Media Council Bill to replace the existing Press Council Act in the Federal Parliament on May 8. This is the first time government presented the bill in Parliament in secrecy bypassing consultation with stakeholders.[25] Stakeholders, however, have mixed reactions on whether or not the media bill affects press freedom.[26]

Group of Journalists met Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara about provision of Media Council Bill, demanding withdrawal of the bill for press freedom.[27]

Likewise, Federation of Nepali Journalist has launched protest against provisions in the bill claiming that they are against the spirit of Nepal’s Constitution, FNJ general secretary said.[28]

Nepal Media Society has called for withdrawal of the Bill arguing that it would risk press freedom if endorsed. The society also demanded revision in the Bill in consultation with the stakeholders.[29] 

The Government Spokesperson and Minister of Communication and Information Technology Gokul Baskota has claimed that the proposed Media Council Bill was forwarded to promote rights and welfare of journalists. The voices against the bill saying it to be attack on press freedom was just a rumor.[30]

Natural Disasters

The federal government has constructed 453 households for victims of tornado in Bara and Parsa districts. Twenty-seven people lost their lives and more than 500 sustained injuries on March 31, 2019.[31]  Similarly, Province 1 has provided Rs 10 million to provide relief to the victims of both districts.[32]

Gender Based Violence, Discrimination, Social Inclusion

Sexual Abuse, Dowry and Trafficking

An investigation committee formed to look into series of allegation of sexual abuse against three teachers of Lalitpur Madhyamik Bidhyalaya has cleared all three of them, saying it couldn’t find sufficient evidence against the alleged perpetrators as the sexual abuse happened more than 10 to 15 years ago.[33]

Kamal Prasad Shah of Rangeli Morang, has registered a complaint with the police to get back Rs 1.5 lakhs and a motorbike which he had given to as dowry to the groom, as he refused to marry his daughter after receiving it.[34]

Twenty three women who have been rescued from Mizoram, India were brought to Nepal on May 9. They were going for foreign labor migration through illegal routes. Maiti Nepal, Shakti Samuha and other similar organizations took the initiative for their return. [35]

Education

Most community schools in rural parts of Rolpa district lack government teacher quota and specialized subject teachers. As per the government data, around 200 among 407 schools in Rolpa are running with the financial resources contributed by poor locals, many of whom are laborers.[36] 

 

 

 

Federal Affairs

Federal Bills

The National Concerns and Coordination Committee of the National Assembly has directed the government to promulgate laws related to power-sharing among the three tiers of government. The committee has suggested the Prime Minister’s office to concern recent Federal Police Bill, the Federal Civil Service Bill and Public Commission in the formulation of laws, giving top priority to laws endorsing those bills within the ongoing House session. [37]

Employees Adjustment Process and Service Delivery

The Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration (MoFAGA) had demanded details of vacant post form local levels within May 3.  Out of 753 local levels 433 local levels have sent details to MoFAGA demanding around 10,000 staffers to fill the posts. The Ministry will send employees’ details to Public Service Commission. According to the MoFAGA 26,118 employees has been remained to fill in the local level.[38]

Public services delivery and development activities in various local governments have been affected due to shortage of staffers. In the Baglung district, the government has sent a section officer in each ward officer. However, maximum of ward offices has been vacant due to lack of government staffer. Out of the 85 wards in the district, 45 do not have any government staffer.[39]

Leaders and local representatives of Raghunath Gaupalika of Myagadi have decided to add an additional ward to enhance accessibility to services help to provide easy services to the local.[40]

Name and Capital

Provincial assembly of province 1 and the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) has finalized Biratnagar as the capital city. The decision came after months of discussion and dispute among leaders of the ruling party, Nepali Congress and Federal Socialist Forum Nepal.[41]  Likewise, liaison office of the province was established in Dhankuta on 11 May 2019. An under-secretary is mandated to carry out functions like hearing people’s complaints and monitoring of development activities.[42]

Budget Session

Province 3 started its fourth session of Provincial assembly from May 3.  The provincial government will be discuss budget as their main agenda, with the issue of name and capital as well. Nepali Congress (NC) has interrupted the house proceedings as the government remains indifferent in concluding the name and capital. [43]

Likewise, cabinet meeting of Karnali Pradesh has announced the budget session to start from 24th of May. [44]  

Plan, Budget & Expenditure

The Economic Affairs and Planning Ministry of Karnali Pradesh has prepared their first periodic plan.  The Province Planning Commission has considered road connectivity as the key focus in the plan.[45]  

Chief Minister of Gandaki Pradesh has said the low expenditure of the budget was due to delay from federal government in allocating the budget and lack of government staffers.[46] Similarly, CMs also claimed that the provincial government has not performed well in development, service delivery and other activities due to confusion in their activities.[47]

International Relations

Trade and Transit

Nepal now has access to use transit facilities via three countries-India, China and Bangladesh. These three gateways for third country trade will cut time and cost for shipments of goods using Nepali vehicles to ferry cargo. In the trade agreement with Bangladesh to use six transits, only dry ports are in use and a letter of exchange to use of more sea ports has been sent. Among the six transit points bordering China, only Rasuwagadhi is in operation at the present. The Ministry of Trade and Commerce is going form two technical committees to study the remaining transit points and publish guidelines for traders to use the routes.[48]

Likewise, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pradeep Gyawali announced both China and Nepal have initiated construction of physical infrastructure in Tatopani transit. The transit point which went defunct after the 2015 earthquake will re-open from May 31.[49]

With the introduction of electronic cargo tracking system (ECTS), the rail cargo carrying Nepali imports will no longer require Indian Custom Clearance in the port of Kolkata and Visakhapatnam. This will ensure free movement of good across international border.[50]

Vietnam Visit

PM of Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his Nepali counterpart PM Oli agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation by boosting high level visits and people to people relations between two nations and also strengthening relations between Communist Party of Vietnam and Nepal Communist Party. The two sides signed several agreements, including one on visa exemption for official and diplomatic passport holders; an MoU on establishment of a bilateral consultation mechanism between foreign ministries; and a letter of intent on negotiation and signing of a framework agreement on trade and investment cooperation.[51]


[1] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/ruling-opposition-parties-at-loggerheads-in-house/

[2] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-05-13/ruling-party-is-using-fear-and-coercion-to-control-them-say-party-members.html

[3] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-05-10/olis-unparliamentary-remarks-removed-from-the-house-record-following-speakers-directive.html

[4] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/keep-aside-budget-for-consolidating-federalism-mps/

[5]https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/new-rules-to-commute-jail-sentence-of-prisoners/ 

[6] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/government-issues-new-order-of-precedence-with-amendment/

[7] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/nepal-elected-member-of-un-cnd/

[8] http://annapurnapost.com/news/126954

[9]http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-05-10/benefits-for-thapa-led-group-concern-leaders-of-the-maoist-stream-in-unified-communist-party.html

[10] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/nepali-congress-ensures-womens-participation-in-awareness-drive/

[11] https://www.kantipurdaily.com/news/2019/05/09/155736642883444689.html

[12] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/13875/2019-05-12 

[13] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/13500/2019-05-08

[14] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/samajwadi-party-nepal-cadres-vandalise-avenues-television-office-in-birgunj/

[15] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/13510/2019-05-08

[16] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/govt-against-statute-amendment-bhandari/

[17] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/13765/2019-05-10

[18] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/leader-of-cpns-student-wing-held/

[19] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/apex-court-stays-implementation-of-citizenship-circular/

[20] https://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-05-13/government-officials-say-they-were-unaware-of-nepali-lawmakers-visit-to-europe-to-attend-tibet-convention.html

[21] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/12-indians-arrested-for-running-illegal-networking-business-in-nepal/articleshow/69292443.cms

[22] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-05-08/supreme-court-quashes-writ-petition-challenging-sharmas-appointment.html

[23] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-05-09/parties-in-negotiations-to-get-their-people-in-transitional-justice-bodies.html

[24] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-05-12/supreme-court-set-to-hear-review-petition-on-its-landmark-2015-ruling.html

[25] https://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-05-08/media-council-bill-moves-quietly-to-parliament-after-remaining-shrouded-in-secrecy-for-months.html

[26] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/bill-on-nepal-media-council-draws-mixed-reactions/

[27] https://nagariknews.nagariknetwork.com/news/76763/

[28] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/umbrella-body-of-journos-launches-protest/ 

[29] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/nepal-media-society-seeks-bills-withdrawal/

[30] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/media-council-bill-in-favor-of-journalists-minister-baskota/

[31] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/13914/2019-05-12

[32] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/14046/2019-05-13

[33] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-05-07/investigation-committee-report-clears-lalitpur-madhyamik-teachers-accused-of-sexual-abuse.html

[34] https://www.kantipurdaily.com/news/2019/05/08/155728810405014132.html

[35] https://www.kantipurdaily.com/news/2019/05/09/155737762345459936.html

[36] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/in-lack-of-financial-resources-rural-rolpa-schools-struggling-for-survival/

[37] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/house-panel-directs-govt-to-ready-federal-laws-at-the-earliest/

[38] http://annapurnapost.com/news/126905

[39] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-05-12/administrative-works-in-local-units-affected-due-to-shortage-of-staff.html

[40] http://annapurnapost.com/news/126855

[41] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/province-1-fixes-biratnagar-as-capital/

[42] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-05-13/province-1-sets-up-government-liaison-office-in-dhankuta.html

[43] https://www.kantipurdaily.com/pradesh-3/2019/05/13/155771376119658251.html

[44] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/14107/2019-05-14

[45] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/karnali-state-concludes-pre-budget-discussion-focuses-road-construction/

[46] https://nagariknews.nagariknetwork.com/news/76773/

[47] https://nagariknews.nagariknetwork.com/news/76681/

[48] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com.np/news/2019-05-08/china-deal-offers-nepal-more-options-for-third-country-trade.html

[49] https://www.nepal24hours.com/nepal-china-tatopani-border-to-reopen-fm-gyawali/

[50] https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/logistics/electronic-cargo-tracking-system-at-kolkata-port-does-away-with-customs-check-for-nepal-bound-freight/article27060973.ece

[51] http://www.china.org.cn/world/Off_the_Wire/2019-05/11/content_74774379.htm

Photo: Sushma Bhatta

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