From the Kathmandu Press: Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Besides issues and incidents related to upcoming provincial and federal parliamentary elections, major Nepali and English newspapers published from Kathmandu on Tuesday have also prioritised the Cabinet decision to scrap the agreement signed with a Chinese company for the construction of Budhigandaki Hydropower Project.


Ministers at odds over Budhigandaki contract

File image: Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers

Nagarik and Republica claim that the decision to scrap the assignment awarded to China’s Gezhouba Group has also become controversial as ministers engaged in a serious debate over the issue in the Cabinet meeting held yesterday.

Nagarik says Minister for Finance Gyanendra Bahadur Karki apparently opposed the decision as he told media after the meeting that the meeting did not discuss anything about scrapping the agreement. Deputy Prime Minister Kamal Thapa, who also looks after the Ministry of Energy, had submitted the proposal to invalidate the deal claiming it involved a number of irregularities, according to the report.

Republica report adds that few ministers representing the Nepali Congress, however, objected to Thapa’s proposal claiming Nepal already requested China to make the project a part of One Road One Belt initiative.

Meanwhile, Naya Patrika quotes the President of Nepal Independent Power Producers Association, Shailendra Guragain, to say that the decision to scrap the agreement was as irregular as the decision to award the assignment to the company. Guragain suspects that the decision might give a message to the international community that Nepal lacks an environment for foreign investment.

Rs 73 billion needed to reconstruct flood-hit structures

A human settlement inundated by a flood in Rautahat district in August 2017.

Karobar lead story for the day says the National Planning Commission has estimated that Rs 73 billion is needed to reconstruct various structures hit by floods in various districts of Terai region few months ago. The report has calculated that property worth Rs 61 billion was lost in the disaster.

The report quotes NPC Vice-Chairman Swarnim Wagle as saying that the planning body found 18 districts to be worst-hit and 35 other districts hit by the disaster. Total 1.7 million population were affected in the worst-hit 18 districts.

The United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank had extended technical support for the study.

Government turns north for poll materials

In past elections, the government would import ‘too sensitive’ materials necessary for voting from India. But this time, it has turned towards China for such materials including indelible ink and ballot boxes, reports Annapurna Post in its three-column story in the front page.

The Election Commission says it only imported the stamp to be used to cast votes from India, but other ‘sensitive’ materials have been drought from China. The Commission’s spokesperson Nawaraj Dhakal says the Commission decided to purchase them from China as other countries said they would take a longer time to deliver the supplies.

The Commission is spending Rs 44 billion to purchase the materials, according to him.


Govt to deploy quick response teams for poll security

Security troops are likely to reach any troubled spot during upcoming provincial and federal polls within 30 minutes of the report as the government is preparing to deploy quick response teams, informs The Himalayan Times in its anchor story for the day.

The Ministry of Home Affairs spokesperson Narayan Prasad Sharma Duwadi says the well-equipped teams will be deployed within five kilometres of the polling stations.

There will be 19,809 polling booths in 10,671 polling stations across the country for both phases of elections, the report informs.

Middlemen blamed for veggie price hike

File image: A vegetable market in Kathmandu

The price of vegetables in Kathmandu Valley is ever increasing for last three weeks, but farmers are not getting any significant benefit for it is middlemen who have been pocketing the surplus, according to the anchor story published in Republica today.

The report begins with a case study: “Farmers in Bhaktapur sell one kilo of big tomatoes to middlemen at Rs 60, while the same tomatoes cost Rs 115 per kilo at Kalimati retail market in Kathmandu.”

Meanwhile, both farmers and consumers lament the government’s reluctance to intervene in the market distortion, according to the report.

Gopal Khadka succeeds to transfer secretary in his favour

File: Then NOC Executive Director Gopal Bahadur Khadka

Former Executive Director of Nepal Oil Corporation, Gopal Bahadur Khadka, who has been stationed at the Ministry of Supplies these days, has been founded involved in pushing the government to transfer secretary and other officials of the Ministry on his will, reports Nagarik.

The report claims that Supplies Secretary Krishna Prasad Devkota, who is the boss of Khadka at the Ministry, has recently been transferred by the Cabinet owing to pressure from Khadka, who has been accused of irregularities in the purchase of land to construct petroleum storage facilities in different parts of the country.


 Medicine price can dramatically come down if government sells them

Kantipur anchor story says a study carried out by a government-formed task force has suggested that the government purchase medicines from international companies and sell them through pharmacies directly, claiming it can reduce the cost of drugs by 40 to 2,200 per cent.

The panel formed around six months ago submitted its report to the government yesterday, recommending the constitution of a separate mechanism to facilitate the process of purchase, sale and distribution of medicines.

The report says Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has directed Chief Secretary Lok Darshan Regmi to take initiatives for implementation of the recommendations.

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