In case you missed it: Here are the top five news from todayTake a quick look at some of the important news you may have missed from today’s paper.
Take a quick look at some of the important news you may have missed from today’s paper.
Nepali bureaucrats regularly asked for ‘their cut’ from Melamchi contractor, Italian officials say
The latest dispute between the Nepal government and the Italians flared up after the government refused to pay Rs 362 million—decided by the Dispute Adjudication Board in October last year—to the contractor for the additional work it did at the site after the 2015 earthquake. According to two top CMC officials, both of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorised by their headquarters to speak with the media, the same government officials who asked for commissions with the contractor were the ones actively involved in blocking the payment recommended by the independent third-party committee.
Both Italian officials named two senior Nepali bureaucrats—Gajendra Kumar Thakur, a former secretary at the Water Supply Ministry, and Surya Raj Kadel, executive director of the Melamchi Water Supply Development Board—as the officials who demanded a cut in the amount approved by the Dispute Adjudication Board.
The Melamchi Water Supply Project, which was launched in 2000 after decades of conceptualisation, has long been seen as the sustainable solution to Kathmandu’s chronic shortage of drinking water. In the first phase of the project, the government plans to divert about 170 million litres of fresh water per day from the Melamchi River in Sindhupalchok district to the three cities of the Valley.
In recent months, the Italian contractor’s troubles have appeared elsewhere. Last month, newspapers in Kenya reported that CMC had left three of the country’s megaprojects in limbo.
Kathmandu-Tarai expressway to cost Rs213 billion
The estimated cost of the Kathmandu-Tarai expressway stands at a whopping Rs213 billion, according to the final Detailed Project Report prepared by Korea-based Soosung Engineering and Consulting.
The cost is almost double the amount estimated by Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services, and Indian consortium which was earlier building the project. The Indian consortium had projected the total cost to be around Rs112 billion ($1.12 billion) in case it was built on soft loan. The total cost would have escalated if it were to be built on commercial loan. This, however, did not include the cost for land acquisition, supervision and consulting charge.
As per the earlier plan, there will have been a 1.35-km tunnel along the expressway, but now the Detailed Project Report has envisioned three which will have a total length of 6km.
Inland waterways become part of Nepal-India trade and transit treaties
India is actively pursuing development of inland waterways from Kolkata to Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Nepal will use the Indian facilities to import and export cargos via its two rivers—Koshi and Gandak—to reach Haldia port in Kolkata.
Waterways transit facilities are also expected to reduce the import and export expenditures significantly.
The major thrust of the agreement was to reduce Nepal’s ballooning trade deficit with India and find its remedies by reducing the transit expenditure and diversification of Nepal’s trade from various Indian ports.
New rule to encourage use of electronic cargo tracking system
In a bid to facilitate the implementation of electronic cargo tracking for third country imports, Nepal Rastra Bank has allowed commercial banks to issue payment instruments in foreign currency for cargo transported by railway to Birgunj dry port and Biratnagar customs point only.
Earlier, banks were allowed to issue payment instruments for cargo dispatched to other customs points on the Nepal-India border too. Nepal Rastra Bank published a circular containing the new provision on Monday.
Currently, electronic cargo tracking and transshipment facilities only apply to shipments transported by Indian Railways to Birgunj and Biratnagar.
EDITORIAL: Foreign investment in small industries could do more harm than good
Recently, the government tabled the Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Act in Parliament that would allow foreign investment in small and cottage industries too. Foreign investment is welcome in that it is an important source of external finance. Developing countries like ours could especially benefit from the expertise and transfer of technology and skill sets, too. Yet, inviting foreign direct investment in small industries could do more harm than good in the long run. More often than not, allowing foreign direct investment is often tilted in the favour of big companies; and having them in cottage industries like handicraft and garments will wipe out small, local traders.