Writs being filed in the Supreme Court to abrogate pork barrel funds has been featured in a few newspapers along with the news of Nepali leaders being confused if it has entered the Indo-Pacific strategy or not. A teacher beating up 14 students in Rolpa has also been featured in a few newspapers along with the government introducing a provision which makes it mandatory for both the consumers and suppliers to pay VAT.
Here is a summary of important, ignored and interesting stories from the front pages of national broadsheets:
Indo-Pacific Strategy causes confusion among Nepali leaders
The Kathmandu Post reports that even though the Nepal government categorically rejected any role and engagement in US-led Indo-Pacific Strategy, a recent report from the US Department of Defense states that the United States seeks to “expand” its defence relationship with Nepal under the ‘State Partnership Program in the Indo-Pacific.’
In South Asia, the US is working to operationalise major defence partnerships with India, while pursuing emerging partnerships with Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Bangladesh, and Nepal under the Indo-Pacific Strategy where the US seeks to expand its defence relationship with Nepal, focusing on “humanitarian assistance and disaster response, peacekeeping operations, defence professionalisation, ground force capacity, and counter-terrorism,” the report says.
However, The Himalayan Times reports that Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali said that Nepal would not be part of any strategic alliance. He further added that the Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact Programme the Nepal was planning to be a party of and United States Indo-Pacific Strategy were two different things, and that there was no need to link them together.
But Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for South Asia at the US Department of State David J Ranz and US Ambassador to Nepal Randy Berry said that the MCC Compact would not only provide critically needed infrastructure to boost Nepal’s energy sector, but also boost regional connectivity — a crucial goal of the Indo Pacific Strategy.
Lalita Niwas Land Case: Chief Secretary returns proposal, asks it to be reviewed
Republica and Nagarik report that Chief Secretary of the Ministry of Land Management, Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation Lok Darshan Regmi recently returned the proposal document, which was approved by the minister concerned, for revision saying that the proposal was ‘immature’ and ‘weak’, according to sources at the PMO.
Sources at the PMO said Chief Secretary Regmi decided to send back the proposal document, which says the land mafia had produced fake Guthi (trust) and fake tenants to grab the land and the land compensation provided to ‘land mafia’ and businesspersons under the pretext of expanding the prime minister’s official residence premises, was ‘vague’.
Regmi has asked the ministry to prepare the proposal in such a way that the government would be able to reclaim even the land pieces that were given away to private individuals by the then prime ministers Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, Madhav Kumar Nepal and Baburam Bhattarai.
Sources close to Regmi say that a few ministers have tried to save culprits behind the land grab case.
Writ filed to abrogate pork barrel fund
The Himalayan Times reports that Advocate Paras Mani Bhattarai, a resident of Babarmahal, Kathmandu, and Dinesh Raj Subedi, a social activist from Ramechhap district, have filed the petitions demanding abrogation of the pork barrel fund.
Bhattarai and Subedi argued that the new federal constitution had provisioned for three types of government – federal, provincial and local – and all types of governments were autonomous and independent. They added that the budgetary proposal to allow FPTP lawmakers to spend Rs 60 million in their electoral districts violated constitutional provisions, as lawmakers would be interfering in the work of local levels which had absolute authority to carry out infrastructure development projects.
Dharan seeking help as 75 people infected by dengue in three weeks
Republica reports that Dharan Sub-Metropolitan City has sought help from the provincial and federal governments to combat dengue outbreak which has infected 75 people in three weeks.
Despite the local unit’s effort to destroy the mosquitoes that carry the disease, dengue is spreading at an alarming rate in the sub-metropolis, say the local authorities. More and more patients are arriving in hospitals everyday as the total number of dengue-infected patients has reached 75 within three weeks, according to doctors.
Experts claim that until a campaign to destroy the mosquito eggs and larva is not run, the outbreak cannot be controlled.
Govt forces both consumers and suppliers to share VAT burden
The Himalayan Times and Annapurna Post report that the government has introduced a new provision which makes it mandatory for consumers who purchase goods and services from contractors and consulting firms to deposit half of the value-added tax amount in the state coffers themselves.
Yagya Prasad Dhungel, information officer at the Inland Revenue Department, said the existing VAT guideline had been amended to this effect in a bid to end the trend among firms to hold on to the collected VAT amount.
The government has introduced such a provision also because contractors and consultancy service providers were increasingly found to be collecting VAT from service seekers, but were reluctant to deposit the collected amount in the state coffers.
Govt to cancel 1,800 contracts
Kantipur reports that the government is planning to cancel the contracts of construction firms which have not completed even 50 per cent work. Ministry of Transport and Physical Infrastructure says that nearly 1,000 contracts are going to be scrapped in the coming months. Secretary at the Ministry, Devendra Karki, says that the Ministry has no choice but to cancel the contracts as most contractors were not serious about completing the work. Federation of Contractors Association on the other hand has blamed the amendment of the procurement regulation for the delay in the work.
14 students injured after being beaten up by teacher
Rajdani and Nepal Samacharpatra report that a teacher in Rolpa has beaten up and injured 14 students. Laxmi Pun of Bhanu Basic School in Runtigadi Rural Municipality beat up students from call 1 to class 8 injuring 14 of them. Five of the 14 are have suffered injuries in the hands and are being treated in Dang. Pun hit the students with a stick for coming late.