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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

July 17, 2019

Netanyahu makes history as Israel’s longest-serving leader

JERUSALEM: As Benjamin Netanyahu becomes Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, he is solidifying his place as the country’s greatest political survivor and the most dominant force in Israeli politics in his generation.

He has persevered through scandals, crises and conflicts, winning election after election even as the country grows more bitterly polarized. His supporters credit him with keeping Israel safe and prosperous, maintaining its Jewish character and boosting its standing internationally.

His opponents, with equally visceral emotion, claim he has dashed hopes for peace with the Palestinians, torn society apart with vicious attacks on minority Arabs and left-wing opponents, and infused politics with a culture of corruption.

But as the longevity of his 13-year rule is set to surpass that of Israel’s founding father David Ben-Gurion on July 20, all agree Netanyahu has left a permanent imprint on Israel.

“He thinks that he is the right guy in the right place. That he is the one who will save Israel and lead Israel to a safe haven,” said Aviv Bushinsky, a former Netanyahu aide. Israelis think that “things are good, so why should we change a winning horse,” he added.

Just as he is about to cross a milestone, Netanyahu faces perhaps his greatest political challenge yet. After failing to form a parliamentary majority following April elections, the country is holding a repeat vote on September 17. The following month, he faces a hearing with Israel’s attorney general, who has recommended indicting Netanyahu on corruption charges. If formal charges are filed, Netanyahu could be forced to step aside.

In contrast to his predecessors, the 69-year-old hasn’t left his mark by winning a war or signing a peace accord. He has proudly resisted various peace initiatives and allowed West Bank settlements to flourish. The signature achievements most associated with him, such as combatting Iran’s nuclear program, covertly striking weapons shipments to Israel’s enemies and building a border fence to stop the flow of African migrants, had begun taking shape before he assumed office.

“His rule has been characterized by conservatism and hesitancy,” said opposition lawmaker Tamar Zandberg. “If he is going to be remembered for anything it’s going to be his idleness.”

Netanyahu has often said he would like to be remembered as the “protector of Israel.” But admirers and critics alike say that what sets him apart is his unparalleled political acumen, a ruthless drive to win at all costs and an uncanny ability to sell his shifting policies to the public.

“He so deeply believes in himself and what he is doing, and his marketing skills are so amazing that he can argue for one thing and then the opposite with the same conviction. It’s an art form,” said Bushinsky.

A gifted orator in both English and Hebrew, he was elected for a single term in the late 1990s on a platform of opposing the Oslo accords with the Palestinians. But once in office, he continued implementing them and even met with arch-enemy Yasser Arafat.

As finance minister in the early 2000s, he cut taxes and rolled back entitlements to the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community — only to reverse course once he returned to power to secure their political backing. He wrote counterterrorism books in which he preached never to negotiate under threat, but as prime minister he released more than 1,000 prisoners in exchange for a single captive Israeli soldier in 2011.

Despite his tough talk, Netanyahu has shown relative moderation when it comes to using military force. Over the past year, he has resisted calls by hard-line constituents to strike harder against Gaza militants.

Even after so long in power, Netanyahu has maintained an outsider image, railing at perceived enemies in the media, judiciary and opposition. His tactics have mirrored those of his good friend, President Donald Trump, as well as other right-wing populist leaders like Hungary’s Viktor Orban and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro — both of whom he has welcomed to Israel.

The anti-establishment rhetoric, along with occasional incitement against the country’s Arab minority and the political left, has played well among his base of traditional, working-class voters.

The son of a historian — and a keen student of history himself — Netanyahu already holds the record for being Israel’s youngest elected prime minister and for serving the longest consecutive term.

Anshel Pfeffer, a columnist at the Haaretz daily and author of a Netanyahu biography, called the prime minister an “incredibly good political strategist” who has presided over a period of prosperity and relative quiet. Netanyahu often boasts of expanding ties with countries that once shunned Israel — including Arab states that share Israel’s enmity toward Iran — while rejecting demands for a Palestinian state.

“If you want one ideological legacy it’s that he has broken the paradigm that we need to end the occupation or else we will be isolated,” said Pfeffer. “He has proven that is not true.”

Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said Netanyahu will be remembered as the one who “buried” the peace process and paved the way to a future apartheid state by deepening Israel’s control over the West Bank, which it captured in the 1967 Mideast war. “I think his legacy will be his success in making sure that any ray of hope to achieve peace based on two states along the 1967 border is blocked,” he said.

In confronting President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran in a brazen 2015 speech to Congress, Netanyahu also debunked the conventional wisdom that an Israeli leader could not survive an open clash with an American president. Since Trump’s election in 2016, Netanyahu has enjoyed unprecedented backing, drawing frequent accusations of partisanship.

“The combination of a very difficult relationship with the Obama administration and the exaggerated embrace of Trump potentially create a rift in the quality of US-Israel relations,” noted Dan Shapiro, Obama’s former ambassador to Israel. “When the pendulum swings in the other direction that will also be part of his legacy.”

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July 17, 2019

G7 finance ministers look to rein in tech giants at French meeting

CHANTILLY: G7 finance ministers will have the growing powers of big digital firms in their sights when they meet on Wednesday outside Paris despite divisions about how best to tax them.

France wants to use its presidency of the two-day meeting in the picturesque chateau town of Chantilly north of Paris to get broad support for ensuring minimum corporate taxation.

G7-economy

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire delivers a speech during a conference entitled “Bretton Woods: 75 years later” in Paris, France, July 16, 2019. Photo: Reuters

G7 governments are concerned that decades-old international tax rules have been pushed to the limit by the emergence of Facebook and Apple, which book profits in low-tax countries regardless of the source of the underlying income.

The issue has become more vexed than ever in recent days as Paris defied US President Donald Trump last week by passing a tax on big digital firms’ revenues in France despite a threat from him to launch a probe that could lead to trade tariffs.

“France is a sovereign nation and will continue of course to decide as a sovereign nation on all taxation issues,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said at a conference at the French central bank on the eve of the G7 meeting.

“So let’s work during the G7… on that key question of digital taxation because this is for us the best way to fix this issue,” Le Maire added.

Their bilateral dispute aside, France and the United States are in favour of rules ensuring minimum taxation as part of an effort among 139 countries to overhaul international tax rules.

Although a G7 agreement would set the tone for the broader push, an agreement among all of the G7 ministers on a minimum rate or range of rates is likely to prove elusive as Britain and Canada have reservations, a French Finance Ministry source said on Friday.

Common ground should be found more easily among ministers and central bankers present at the meeting on the issue of digital currencies and coins.

Facebook’s recent announcement of plans to launch a digital coin has met with a chorus from regulators, central bankers and governments insisting it must respect anti-money-laundering rules and ensure the security of transactions and user data.

But there are also deeper concerns that the growing powers of big tech companies increasingly encroach on areas belonging to governments, like issuing currency.

“These digital giants are turning into private states – states over which citizens have no control and where democracy has no place,” Le Maire said.

“We cannot let companies, which are serving private interests, gather all the attributes of sovereign states. We must act,” he added.

Off the official agenda, ministers are also due to consult on possible successors to replace Christine Lagarde at the head of the International Monetary Fund.

US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and some European ministers are due to meet with Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, who has been mooted as a possible candidate for the IMF job.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

July 16, 2019

US imposes sanctions on Myanmar military leaders over Rohingya abuses

WASHINGTON: The United States announced sanctions on Tuesday against the Myanmar military’s Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing and other leaders it said were responsible for extrajudicial killings of Rohingya Muslims, barring them from entry to the United States.

The steps, which also covered Min Aung Hlaing’s deputy, Soe Win, and two other senior commanders and their families, are the strongest the United States has taken in response to massacres of minority Rohingyas in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

It identified the two others as Than Oo and Aung Aung, both brigadier generals.

“We remain concerned that the Burmese government has taken no actions to hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations and abuses, and there are continued reports of the Burmese military committing human rights violations and abuses throughout the country,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

Pompeo said a recent disclosure, first reported by Reuters in May, that Min Aung Hlaing ordered the release of soldiers convicted of extrajudicial killings at the village of Inn Din during the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya in 2017 was “one egregious example of the continued and severe lack of accountability for the military and its senior leadership.”

“The Commander-in-Chief released these criminals after only months in prison, while the journalists who told the world about the killings in Inn Din were jailed for more than 500 days,” Pompeo said.

The Inn Din massacre was uncovered by two Reuters reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who spent more than 16 months behind bars on charges of obtaining state secrets. The two were released in an amnesty on May 6.

The US announcement came on the first day of an international ministerial conference on religious freedom hosted by Pompeo at the State Department that was attended by Rohingya representatives.

“With this announcement, the United States is the first government to publicly take action with respect to the most senior leadership of the Burmese military,” said Pompeo, who has been a strong advocate of religious freedom.

“We designated these individuals based on credible information of these commanders’ involvement in gross violations of human rights,” he said.

SANCTIONS CONDEMNED

A spokesman for the Myanmar military, Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun, said by phone the military had not ignored the accusations, citing internal probes. One army-led investigation in 2017 exonerated security forces of all accusations of atrocities. Another is ongoing.

“Right now we have an investigative committee … to conduct a detailed investigation,” he said. “They should value these facts.”

He said the soldiers had been lawfully released.

Myo Nyunt, a spokesman for the ruling National League for Democracy Party, condemned the decision to impose sanctions.

“This kind of action happened because they don’t understand the real situation of Myanmar,” he said. Myanmar’s leaders had not ignored human rights concerns, Myo Nyunt said.

A 2017 military crackdown in Myanmar drove more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh. UN investigators have said Myanmar’s operation included mass killings, gang rapes and widespread arson and was executed with “genocidal intent.”

The State Department has so far stopped short of calling the abuses genocide, referring instead to ethnic cleansing and a “well-planned and coordinated” campaign of mass killings, gang rapes and other atrocities.

“He (Pompeo) has not come to the point at which he has decided to make a further determination. Generally our policies are focused on changing behaviour, promoting accountability, and we have taken today’s actions with those goals in mind,” a senior State Department official told reporters, asking not to be identified.

The military in Myanmar, where Buddhism is the main religion, has denied accusations of ethnic cleansing and says its actions were part of a fight against terrorism.

A declaration of genocide by the US government could require Washington to impose even stronger sanctions on Myanmar, a country where the United States has competed for influence with regional rival China.

The senior State Department official said Washington hoped the latest steps would strengthen the hand of the civilian government in Myanmar in its effort to amend the constitution to reduce military influence in politics.

“Our hope is that these actions … will help to further delegitimize the current military leadership, and can help the civilian government gain control of the military,” he said.

The Trump administration had thus far imposed sanctions on four military and police commanders and two army units involved in the abuses against the Rohingya and had been under pressure from the US Congress to take tougher steps.

A United Nations investigator said this month Myanmar security forces and insurgents were committing human rights violations against civilians that may amount to fresh war crimes.

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July 16, 2019

Electricity import drops

Kathmandu, July 16

With the monsoon and floods affecting the consumption of electricity in the Tarai region and most of the industrial corridors, Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has said that import of electricity from India has fallen to 150 megawatts.

As per NEA, the demand for electricity had dropped to nearly 600 megawatts till Sunday and has gradually been rising now with the demand at present standing at 1,000 megawatts.

Electricity consumption in normal times is usually 1,200 MW to 1,300 MW.

According to Prabal Adhikari, spokesperson for NEA, till today, the power utility had been importing only 150 MW of electricity from India through the Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur cross-border transmission line against the normal figure of around 400 MW.

Moreover, with incessant rain across the country, the country’s only reservoir dam in Kulekhani at present has ample supply of water. As the reservoir is nearly filled to the brim and since water could flow out of the facility, NEA is operating the project in a fullfledged manner and producing 92 megawatts of energy from the Kulekhani I hydropower project and its cascade project Kulekhani II to prevent overflow and possible dam fracture.

Adhikari further said that the level of water massively increased in the Kulekhani reservoir by 20.13 metres in between Thursday night and Sunday. In the past years, the generation plants used to remain closed in the monsoon season so as to allow the reservoir to replenish, but this year the water level is at the maximum point from the very beginning of the monsoon, so it needs to be operated earlier, he added.

As per NEA’s records, the water level at the reservoir has increased by six centimetres per day from Monday till today and even after operating the power plants in full swing for 24 hours, the water level has dropped by only three centimetres.

As of Monday night, the water level at the Kulekhani reservoir stood at 1,526.05 metres. As the reservoir’s threshold capacity stands at 1,530 metres, the government has alerted people residing in Bhimphedi, Indrasarovar and Bagmati rural municipalities of Makawanpur, Hariharpurgadhi of Sindhuli and Bagmati Rural Municipality of Lalitpur, along with those living near water bodies in Sarlahi and Rautahat districts to remain safe.

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July 16, 2019

Report on organic farming promotion gathering dust

Kathmandu, July 16

The final report of the organic farming promotional programme has been stuck at the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD) for over a month.

The 15-member taskforce formed by the ministry to prepare a programme draft for organic farming promotion submitted the report to Agriculture Minister Chakrapani Khanal on June 7.

However, the report has not been submitted to the prime minister yet.

“It has been over a month since the taskforce submitted the final report to Minister Khanal and we have learnt that it has not yet been forwarded to the prime minister,” said Uddhav Adhikari, a member of the taskforce. He further said that the taskforce has also not been called by the ministry for any kind of discussion after they submitted the report.

Aiming to turn the country’s farming into organic farming completely, the ministry had introduced this project.

However, the ministry has been delaying in implementing the project. “The report was supposed to be endorsed by the prime minister for its effective implementation,” Adhikari added.

Immediately after the taskforce submitted the report to Minister Khanal, PM KP Sharma Oli left on a foreign visit. And when PM Oli returned from his trip, Minister Khanal left for a foreign trip to China. Thus, the minister did not get time to submit the report to the PM, as stated by the ministry.

Later, Khanal informally handed over the report to members of the taskforce — Ganga Acharya, Krishna Prasad Poudel and Bimala Rai — for proof-reading. However they have not handed back the report yet to the minister, as per the secretariat of Minister Khanal.

Meanwhile, taskforce member Poudel who had also coordinated in preparing the report, said that the final copy of the report is at the ministry.

After submitting the report Poudel had informally told Minister Khanal to thoroughly proof-read the report, Poudel said.

“I requested the minister to recheck the language once and as far as I know some staffers of the ministry were assigned to do the task,” Poudel said, “I later learnt that the minister has not been getting time from the PM’s office due to several reasons.” Moreover, the recent pesticide issue and then the situation with the floods have not allowed for a meeting for the report submission, he added.

The report has suggested several recommendations, including forming a separate Organic Development Board, conducting skills training for farmers to use organic technologies, awareness programmes, and knowledge-based workshops for farmers. Likewise, the report has also recommended deploying researchers and technicians in the field.

The ministry had allocated a total of Rs 520 million for the organic farming promotional programme in fiscal year 2018-19. The budget has been distributed to Provinces 1, 3, Karnali and Gandaki for the implementation of the project.

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July 16, 2019

How lithium-rich Chile botched a plan to attract battery makers

SANTIAGO: In March 2018, the Chilean government unveiled big news: Corporate investors, including South Korean electronics giant Samsung, would build three factories in Chile to produce battery parts for electric vehicles.

Chile had lured the companies with an enticing offer. In exchange for helping the South American country, the world’s Number 2 miner of lithium, jumpstart its own EV battery industry, the firms would get a guaranteed supply of the coveted metal at attractive prices for nearly three decades amid a global race to lock down supplies.

Now that arrangement is falling apart. Chile’s government has failed to deliver the bountiful, bargain-priced lithium it had promised in a fast-changing market, according to a Reuters review of regulatory filings and internal documents from a state development agency.

Chilean chemical company Molymet, which had planned to build one of the battery parts factories, last week announced it is scrapping that effort; it declined to say why. That follows a similar defection by South Korea’s POSCO. The steelmaker in June said it was pulling out of a joint venture to build a Chilean plant with Samsung’s battery unit, citing worries about lithium supplies. Samsung told Reuters it is now reviewing the project.

China’s Sichuan Fulin Transportation Group Co, meanwhile, has yet to get its planned Chilean factory off the ground. Fulin did not respond to requests for comment.

The deals hinged on the globe’s top producer of lithium – Albemarle Corp – boosting output from its Chilean operations to supply the planned factories. But Albemarle’s expansion has been hampered by technological and regulatory hurdles. The US-based miner has feuded with Chile’s government over the price battery makers would pay for its lithium. And it does not produce lithium hydroxide in Chile, the type of processed lithium required by POSCO-Samsung.

While Chile possesses the world’s largest reserves of the “white gold”, it has not capitalized fully on those riches. Like Albemarle, the nation’s other big lithium miner, SQM, has struggled to boost output amid strong global demand, which is expected to triple by 2025. The government, meanwhile, has been slow to allow new players to enter the market.

Chile’s latest stumbling effort to woo battery makers shows that uprooting that industry from Asia will not be easy, says Emily Hersh, a managing partner with the Washington, DC-based consultancy DCDB group.

“It’s a big reality check,” Hersh said. “Chile is a powerhouse in the production of battery chemicals. If they can’t do this, everybody needs to pay attention and figure out why.”

RARE DEAL

Then-President Michelle Bachelet in late 2016 struck an unusual deal with Albemarle, the source of nearly half of Chile’s lithium production.

Her center-left government gave Albemarle the green light to more than double its output through 2043. In return, Bachelet mandated the US-based miner guarantee a quarter of its annual production at favorable prices to battery makers willing to set up shop in the country.

Chilean development agency Corfo opened a tender to prospective investors in April 2017 with the hopes of new factories breaking ground by early 2020. It received 12 bids.

But behind the scenes, Chile worried about its ability to deliver the promised lithium, according to government documents viewed by Reuters describing the decision-making process.

State projections showed Albemarle producing 64,000 tonnes of lithium by 2020, with as much as 16,000 tonnes of that earmarked for the new factories, according to the tender documents.

But the three winning projects combined called for 28,496 tonnes of lithium, according to the documents, nearly twice the amount Albemarle was required to supply.

“It would only be possible to satisfy the requirements of Fulin and Molymet, on the one hand, or Posco-Samsung, on the other,” said an internal Corfo memo dated March 9, 2018.

The documents show the agency pinned its hopes on Albemarle speeding its expansion. The company in March 2018 applied to increase its export quota to as much as 145,000 tonnes of lithium annually.

But Chilean regulators in September rejected that plan, saying the miner had failed to prove it had the technology necessary to produce the extra lithium without straining water resources.

Albemarle now says it is on track to boost production capacity to over 80,000 tonnes of lithium by 2021, still short of what the government needs to make good on its promises to the tender winners.

The state has “mistaken its wishes for reality,” said Jaime Alee, a Santiago-based lithium consultant.

Corfo declined repeated requests for comment.

Albemarle and the government also bickered over the price at which the company was obligated to sell its lithium.

Corfo, now under the direction of center-right President Sebastian Pinera, threatened Albemarle with arbitration in October 2018. In January, the parties struck a deal but have not released details of their agreement.

An Albemarle spokesman told Reuters that Corfo had misrepresented to the battery makers the way the price was to be calculated.

Eduardo Bitran, the former head of Corfo, said the terms were clear.

LAST STRAW

The dealbreaker for POSCO was product mix.

Albemarle produces only lithium carbonate in Chile, used commonly in consumer electronics. The proposed POSCO-Samsung plant required 14,231 tonnes of lithium hydroxide, increasingly preferred for making EV battery cathodes.

Talks between POSCO and Albemarle to produce the material collapsed in June, POSCO said, propelling the company to hit the exits.

Amid the disarray, Chilean officials recently took to the road in Europe, Japan and South Korea to pitch another auction to battery makers, this one slated for early 2020 and offering discounted lithium from SQM for companies willing to build plants in Chile.

InvestChile, the nation’s investment promotion agency, told Reuters the rules are more clear this time around.

“This is important to guard against the types of situations which have happened in the past,” the agency said.

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July 16, 2019

Internet cost to go up by 13 pc from today

Kathmandu, July 16

While the government has been promising to provide cheap internet and free wi-fi services, the internet cost will be raised by 13 per cent by the internet service providers (ISP) from Wednesday.

As the government and ISPs have failed to come to a mutual understanding to provide lowcost internet service, the hiked price will be implemented from Wednesday.

According to the recent announcement of the Internet Service Providers Association of Nepal (ISPAN), now the internet users will have to pay extra 13 per cent value added tax (VAT) on their regular bill.

With this increment, internet subscribers will have to bear an additional burden of at least Rs 100 on a minimum package, while other internet packages will be costlier depending on the type of internet package.

Earlier too, the ISPs had raised the internet fee by 13 per cent on July 26, 2018 as the government had announced it would charge them 13 per cent telecommunication service charge (TSC). Back then, the government had been hugely criticised by consumers for taking this decision. Later, the ISPs revoked their decision after the government assured that it would provide 6.5 per cent subsidy on TSC and also waive TSC on internet wires and routers, leased line data connectivity and repair cost.

However, citing that the government had failed to keep its promise of subsidising the ISPs, they have again decided to implement the 13 per cent VAT on internet fee. According to ISPAN, the government had assured them that it would share half of TSC burden imposed on internet services. Till fiscal 2017-18, the government used to charge only 11 per cent tax on the service providers. But from fiscal 2018- 19, the government had decided to increase TSC from 11 per cent to 13 per cent, following which the ISPs decided to increase the service charge for customers.

ISPAN has also said that despite holding several rounds of discussions with the Ministry of Information and Communication, their request has been ignored.

Hence, the ISPs have no option other than to raise the internet fee, it stated.

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July 16, 2019

NIBL, Jebil’s joint operation begins

KATHMANDU: Nepal Investment Bank Ltd (NIBL) has commenced joint operations with Jebil’s Finance Ltd after its successful acquisition, raising the total paid-up capital to Rs 12.89 billion, the highest amongst the private sector commercial banks.

The total deposit has reached Rs 147 billion and total loans stand at Rs 132 billion, as per a media release. At the commencement of the new entity as its 81st branch at Pyukha, Newroad, Jyoti Pandey, CEO of NIBL, indicated that mergers and acquisitions will be part of the bank’s strategic plan for the next financial year as well.

NIBL has 81 branches, 118 ATMs, 14 extension counters, 10 revenue collection counters and 51 branchless banking counters.

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July 16, 2019

Kathmandu city to enroll private companies for waste collection

Kathmandu, July 17

The Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) is registering private companies and organisations so as to let them collect and manage solid waste in the city.

The KMC is planning to proceed for registering private companies to address lack of coordination among the collectors and raise revenue systematically.

Currently, private companies manage 80-100 tippers of waste in Kathmandu every day. The companies are paying Rs 350 per trip to the city office.

Hari Kumar Shrestha, chief of KMC Department of Environment, says, “We come up with this move to bring uniformity in the delivery of services and collection of costs from households.”.

The KMC has been collecting wastes in eight out of its 32 wards while private companies are doing the same job in remaining 24 wards.

“Some companies have started categorising waste. We will collaborate with private companies to categorise waste as it is indispensable for long-term management and solution,” he adds.

The KMC has been collecting and managing 350 metric tons of waste every day. It has 21 tippers to collect and manage garbage.

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July 16, 2019

Capital spending at 73 pc in 2018-19

Kathmandu, July 16

With the new fiscal year to begin from Wednesday, the government has been able to spend merely 73.4 per cent of the development budget in fiscal year 2018-19, which ends today.

As per statistics maintained by the Financial Comptroller General Office (FCGO), the government has been able to spend Rs 230.4 billion by today evening during the fiscal year or 73.4 per cent of the Rs 313.99 billion development budget allocated for 2018-19.

Though the government has been claiming to have simplified public procurement process and other policies to boost spending on development works, inability of the government to spend more than 26 per cent of the allocated capital expenditure has reflected problems in government spending and sluggish progress in development works throughout fiscal 2018-19. Moreover, the sluggish spending has also reflected the inability of the ‘comparatively powerful’ government to expedite project development throughout the year.

The Ministry of Finance (MoF) had revised downwards the capital budget for the ongoing fiscal to Rs 265.20 billion through the mid-term review report of the budget for fiscal year 2018-19 following the government’s failure to expedite project development and enhance its spending capacity. Meanwhile, the government has also failed to meet the revised capital expenditure too.

However, the government’s total budget spending, including capital expenditure, financing and recurrent, in the fiscal year 2018-19 stands at 82.34 per cent of the total budget of Rs 1.31 trillion for the fiscal year.

The government, in 2018-19, has been able to spend Rs 711.3 billion as recurrent expenditure of the total allocated Rs 845.45 billion during the review period. The recurrent expenditure is the spending of the government on non-capital formation programmes such as salaries of government staffers, social security and other expenses.

Likewise, the government has been able to spend Rs 141 billion on financing in 2018-19, out of the total allocated budget of Rs 155.72 billion for the ongoing fiscal.

Citing that the mounting pressure to spend a huge amount of the budget at the end of fiscal year will promote haphazard spending and also affect project development, experts have suggested the government to improve the bureaucratic and contracting mechanisms in Nepal in a bid to ensure effective capital budget expenditure.

Similarly, they have also stressed on the need to focus on project planning and policy execution to expedite projects and improve spending of the government.

“The government should invest in enhancing the capacity of Nepali bureaucrats and also contractors. Lessons should be learnt to ensure effective spending in the new fiscal year and thereafter,” said Bishwo Poudel, an economist.

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