Saturday, October 1, 2022

Development expenditures improves

Kathmandu, Sept. 30

Mobilisation of development budget has been improved in the current fiscal year 2022/23, although it has not been on par with the generally expected size.

The government has spent Rs. 17.63 billion – about 4.64 per cent – of the total Rs. 380.38 billion capital allocation by Thursday, September 29, according to the statistics of the Financial Comptroller General Office (FCGO). In the same period last year, only 1.01 per cent was spent of the Rs. 378.09 billion capital budget.

Likewise, with the increased spending on election preparation and management, recurrent expenditure has also reached 16.3 per cent. Finance Minister Janardan Sharma had earmarked Rs. 1,183.2 billion for recurrent expenditure, of which Rs. 192.8 billion has been spent.

Recurrent expenditure in the same period last year was Rs. 97.8 billion from the total allocation of Rs. 1065.2 billion, FCGO reported. This is about 9.19 per cent of the total allocation.

However, financing budget, earmarked for government investment and debt servicing has been lower this year compared to last year. Rs. 25.39 billion is spent for financing this year against Rs. 30.8 billion last year.

The government has spent 13.15 per cent budget from the treasury in about two and a half months of this fiscal year against 8.11 per cent in FY 2020/21. The size of budget this year is Rs. 1793.83 billion while it was Rs. 1632.82 billion last year.

But revenue collection has plummeted this year both in terms of amount and percentage. There was a collection of Rs. 167.02 billion by Thursday which is 11.9 per cent of the total target for this fiscal year. In the budget of the current FY 2022/23, FM Sharma had announced the target of collecting Rs. 1403.14 billon in revenue with 1295.3 billion in tax revenue, Rs. 107.7 billion in non-tax revenue and Rs. 55.4 billion in grants.

Revenue collection during the same period last year was Rs. 198.6 billion, about 16.8 per cent of Rs. 1180.6 billion target.

While the political wranglings about whether to wholly accept the budget presented by the erstwhile KP Sharma Oli led government or replace it fully or partially with a replacement bill had disturbed the implementation of the budget for the first two months of the FY 2020/21. The mobilsation of the development budget was one of the poorest in decades that year with the use of about 55 per cent of the total allocation.

According to the experts, poor government expenditure was one of the major causes of the liquidity crisis that the country has been witnessing for the last many months. 

Published in The Rising Nepal daily on 1 October 2022. 

‘Nepal need more Canadian support for its hydropower development’

Kathmandu, Sept. 30

Foreign Secretary, Bharat Raj Paudyal, has called for more investment and technology from Canada in Nepal’s hydropower, a vital source of clean energy.

At the third meeting of Nepal-Canada Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM) held in Ottawa on Thursday, he cited the contribution made by Canadian Climate Fund for the Private Sector in Asia II (CFPS II) in the financing of Upper Trishuli-1 Hydropower project, and said that Nepal needed more such supports.

According to the Embassy of Nepal in Ottawa, Paudyal and Assistant Deputy Minister of Global Affairs Canada, Paul Thoppil, had led their respective delegations to the meeting.  

“During the meeting, the two sides discussed a range of matters of bilateral interest that included development cooperation, trade and investment, education, culture and tourism as well as environment and climate change, among others,” the embassy said in a statement.  

Paudyal updated the Canadian side about Nepal’s development priorities, graduation from the LDC category and the efforts made towards meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals. He underscored the need of enhanced level of cooperation from Canada in terms of resources and technology for Nepal’s smooth and sustainable transition from the LDC status.

The Canadian side expressed its readiness to support Nepal in its development pursuits and highlighted its feminist international assistance policy.    

Foreign Secretary Paudyal thanked Canada for their generous support of vaccines and essential medical equipment to Nepal during the difficult time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two sides reviewed the progress made since the second meeting of the BCM held in December 2020. They agreed to work closely towards further deepening and widening cooperation and engagements in identified sectors for mutual benefit, the embassy said in a statement.

In view of growing size of Nepali diaspora in Canada and increasing people-to-people contacts between the two countries, Foreign Secretary Paudyal requested Canada to consider establishing Canadian representation in Nepal and making arrangements for the issuance of visas in Kathmandu.

Nepali delegation included Bhrigu Dhungana, Ambassador of Nepal to Canada as well as officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Nepal in Canada. The Canadian delegation consisted of officials of the Global Affairs Canada, including Director General (South Asia) and the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Canada in India, which is concurrently accredited to Nepal. The next meeting of the mechanism will be held in Kathmandu in 2024.

Published in The Rising Nepal daily on 1 October 2022. 

Friday, September 30, 2022

In two years, MFIs come down to 65

Kathmandu, Sept. 29

While the number of microfinance companies has gone down significantly to 65 from 84 in the past two years due to mergers and acquisitions, their branches have increased by 1,116 over the same period. Of the 65 microfinance institutions (MFIs), four are wholesale lenders and 61 mobilise the retail loans.

There were 3,946 branches of MFIs by the end of the fiscal year 2019/20 and it has reached 5,062 by the end of the last fiscal 2021/22, according to a recent ‘Situation of microfinance institutions’ report of the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB). They have their presence in all 77 districts in the country.

The number of MFI’s branches has gone up by 9.54 per cent (from 4,621 to 5,062) by the end of the last fiscal compared to the previous year. According to the report, there are 429,000 microfinance centres and 1.35 million groups across the country. There were about 311,000 centres and 1.04 million groups two years ago. 

Province-wise, Lumbini has the highest number of branches and Karnali the lowest – 1,160 and 230 respectively. The central bank has noted that the Karnali has the poor access to the financial services extended by the microfinance companies. This means Lumbini has 23 per cent of the branches of the microfinance while Karnali has just 4 per cent.

Likewise, the number of microfinance members has increased by 12.87 per cent – from 5.19 million to 5.86 million – in the last fiscal compared to the previous year 2020/21. Likewise, there are 3.30 million creditors of microfinance companies. These class ‘D’ sector companies licensed by the central bank have created employment for 23,303 so far.

The NRB has found the capital fund of the microfinance satisfactory. By the end of the last fiscal, this sector has 11.87 per cent primary capital and 13 per cent capital fund, up by 21.64 per cent and 20.35 per cent respectively.

Meanwhile, retail lending MFIs have increased their savings and lending amount. They have collected Rs. 159.02 billion in savings and Rs. 186.21 billion from borrowing. The savings and borrowings were Rs. 106.15 billion and 107.75 billion respectively two years ago. 

However, the growth in the collection of financial resources has not gone up significantly due to the shrinking liquidity situation.

The central bank has found that the investment from the microfinance banks has decreased. By mid-July 2022, the total investment from them has reached Rs. 6.10 billion which is 58.57 per cent less than the previous year when the size of investment was Rs. 14.71 billion and by the end of the FY 2019/20, it was Rs. 10.19 billion. 

Their areas of investment are government bonds, shares and debentures, fixed deposits and others. Their investment in shares and fixed deposits have decreased during the review period. 

Published in The Rising Nepal daily on 30 September 2022.

Trudeau wraps up Nepal visit

Kathmandu, Sept. 29

The United States’ Acting Assistant Secretary for Global Public Affairs, Elizabeth Kennedy Trudeau, wrapped up her visit to Nepal on Thursday.

According to the Embassy of the USA in Kathmandu, during her short visit, she participated in a discussion on the role of media and civil society in democracy.

On the occasion, she observed the restoration work of various heritage areas that were damaged at different times and revitalised with the help of the American Ambassador's Cultural Conservation Fund. She interacted with the experts, technicians, artistes and historians.

She also met with minority group activists, media and embassy exchange programme alumni as well.

Trudeau had arrived in Kathmandu on Wednesday. According to the US Department of State, she is on a visit to Asian countries – including United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyz republic – from September 28 to October 9, 2022.

Published in The Rising Nepal daily on 30 September 2022.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Green trade financing deal signed

Kathmandu, Sept. 28

International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, is extending an unfunded short-term facility under the Global Trade Finance Programme (GTFP) to Global IME Bank, with a carve out allocated towards climate smart trade finance.

This is the first IFC green trade finance line globally.

Chief Executive Officer of Global IME Bank, Ratna Raj Bajracharya, and Regional Manager Financial Institutions Group South Asia of the IFC, Joon Young Park, singed on the document.

GTFP is IFC’s response to the shortage of trade finance limits in developing economies such as Nepal and the project will support Global IME Bank in addressing the demand and supply gap for its growing trade business, the bank said in a statement on Wednesday.

According to it, inclusion of ‘green’ component in this GTFP is a strong value proposition for the Bank to do climate trade business responding to the need of the hour. 

GIBL said that the GTFP line is expected to improve the access to Trade Finance for the bank and its trade finance customers.

Likewise, IFC anticipates that GTFP improves overall market integration by maintaining and expanding trade finance, financial linkages and trade across multiple markets through strengthening bilateral correspondent banking connections and serving as an enabling platform to make new connections between local and international banks and their customers.

Speaking on the occasion, Chairman of GIBL, Chandra Prasad Dhakal, said that the agreement would be a roadmap for climate smart trade financing in Nepal.

“This IFC GTFP line will allow the bank to connect with more global confirming banks with better capacity which will help the Bank process more transaction for its clients in different geographies.” said Bajracharya. He said that this fits into the bank’s strategic agenda as it has a climate component to it.

"This will help the bank better address the growing demand for trade finance in Nepal," said Babacar S. Faye, IFC's Resident Representative in Nepal. “While responding to Nepal’s shortage of trade finance, this facility also focuses on addressing the impact of climate change, by supporting the adoption of energy efficient technologies, ensuring sustainability of operations, and cutting carbon emissions.”

He said that IFC has now had partnership in trade and finance, but it would go in other sectors such as energy, manufacturing and agriculture, among others in the days to come.

This is the second partnership between IFC and Global IME. In 2019, IFC invested $20 million in the bank to support SMEs.

 Published in The Rising Nepal daily on 29 September 2022. 

NAFIJ awards journalists

 ‘Better strategy needed to create self-reliant economy’


Kathmandu, Sept. 28

Khem Raj Shrestha of Bizmandu won the Sharada Devi-Dhundiraj NAFIJ Economic Journalism Award while Bijaya Parajuli of Onlinekhabar and Anup Acharya of Taksar magazine won CBFIN-NAFIJ Banking Journalism Prize. The economic award comes with a purse of Rs. 100,000 and a certificate while the latter is the prize of Rs. 50,000 each to two journalists. The awards are given away to the best journalists of the year in the respective field.

Nepal Association of Financial Journalists (NAFIJ) has established the economic journalism award with the financial support of Rs. 1 million in a revolving fund from insurance expert, Ramesh Kumar Bhattarai, and banking award with the cash support from the Confederation of Banks and Financial Institutions (CBFIN).

Deputy Governor of the Nepal Rastra Bank, Bam Bahadur Mishra, CBFIN President Pawan Kumar Golyan, Bhattarai and President of Nepal Chamber of Commerce, Rajendra Malla awarded the winners with cheques, certificates etc at a programme organised in the Capital on Wednesday. Both the awards will be given to the best journalists/reports every year.

NAFIJ also released its annual journal ‘Arthachitra’ on the occasion. It focuses on self-reliant economy and contains articles and opinions from the experts from various sectors in the government and private sector.

On the occasion, Deputy Governor Mishra said that there is still a lot to be done to create a self-sustaining economy.

"There is a big gap in the trade deficit, we should pay attention to the items that can be self-sufficient and move ahead with a better plan and strategy,” he said while warning that the economy should not be destroyed in the name of self-sufficiency.

Mishra said that much can be expected from agriculture and tourism when talking about self-reliance.

While addressing the award ceremony, NCC president Malla announced that two awards will be given to journalists. Nepal Non-Life Insurance Association would manage resources and support in awarding journalists covering agriculture and insurance. He also announced that the amount of two prizes will be Ra. 50,000 each to two journalists. Malla has been elected to the post of the chairman of the association.

He demanded that the banking system should be made more convenient. He argued that the provision of unnecessary information seeking while making deposits has caused losses to the economy. "If it is found that a person has earned money through unfair means, the government will find out from the investigation, but general people have been hit more by this provision," he said.

Likewise, Golyan said that there should be an economic revolution to make the economy self-reliant and media should extend its support to the drive.

“There is a great need to encourage indigenous production and its use. Such awards helps the journalists in feeling the responsibility of the profession and help in the economic growth,” he said.

Another award trustee Ramesh Kumar Bhattarai said there is a need of in-depth economic journalism. “If a regulatory agency announces a new policy, media should just not only report about it but also interprets it and analyse its impacts and repercussions on the business and economy,” he maintained.

Published in The Rising Nepal daily on 29 September 2022.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

EC enforces code of conduct

Kathmandu, Sept. 27

The Election Commission Nepal (ECN) has directed the political parties, leaders and other concerned individuals to follow the 'Election Code of Conduct, 2022' from Wednesday.

Issuing a 60-point directive to them, the election authority said that to maintain fairness, impartiality, transparency and fearless environment during the election, adherence to the code of conduct is crucial.

People/agencies responsible to abide by the code of conduct:

a.       Government of Nepal and its ministers

b.      Provincial governments and its ministers

c.       Constitutional bodies and their office bearers

d.      Agencies of federal and provincial government and their officials

e.       Local executives and their members

f.        Employees of federal, provincial and local level

g.      Security agencies and its employees

h.      Government, semi-government and public offices and employees

i.        Political parties and their sister organisations

j.        Candidates and their relatives

k.      Election agents and vote counting representatives of political parties and candidates

l.        Public office holding individuals

m.    Officials of the observation committee and monitors

n.      Media institutions and their employees and media persons

o.      Private and non-government organisations, and their employees

p.      Teachers and staff of schools, colleges and universities

q.      Voters

r.        Development partner organisations

s.       Projects run by government or semi-government agencies and their staff

t.        Organisations running voters' education and their staff

u.      Officials, employees and workers of private sector banks and financial institutions, cooperative organisations, and commercial and industrial sector

v.      Officials, employees and workers of commodity or service providing companies

w.    Other agencies and persons identified by the ECN

"No work should be done to exhibit weapons or explosives, threaten anyone or damage their social prestige, boycott or threaten to boycott someone from the society, misuse economic resources to influence voters and votes," said the ECN in a statement.

The 60-point directives bar any candidates or concerned persons as well as organisations to offer or pledge or receive any gift, prize, donation in the form of cash or goods, and throw or participate in feasts. 

Independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, national unity, and dignity of the country should not be hurt or affected while conducting election and promotional campaign. Likewise, no one should disturb the harmony among the various castes, religions, classes, regions and communities or propagate hatred among them and incite violence.

The code of conduct has barred any political party, candidate, sister organisation or concerned individual from conducting demonstration or protest programmes targeting someone at his/her residence. They are not allowed to hold rallies and processions, corner meetings, mass meetings and other gatherings without obtaining permission from the local administration.

Similarly, use of flags, clothes, stickers, caps, vests, T-shirts, jackets, shirts, towels, masks, badges or lockets containing the insignia, election symbol of the candidate or political parties is also restricted. Such items can't be pasted or hung at public places or private properties.

"More than two political parties, candidates or sister organisations of the parties should not organise rallies, processions, meetings and other programmes at the same location or road at the same time," read the code of conduct.

No stakeholders are allowed to announce to donate money or goods or prizes or election expenditures to any other parties while children are not allowed to be used in any political activities.

No posters or digital displays or road shows are allowed for the election campaigns.

 Published in The Rising Nepal daily on 28 September 2022. 

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