Nepal eager to welcome Chinese president: Pun


Jun 13, 2016

Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun, who is on a weeklong official visit to China, on Sunday said Nepal and Nepalis are eager to welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping to Kathmandu.

Addressing the inaugural session of China-South Asia Exposition and the China Kunming Import and Export Commodities Fair here on Sunday, Pun said the recent visit of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli to China has strengthened Nepal-China relationship. Agreements signed by the two neighbours during the visit are in the process of implementation in Nepal, Pun added.

No Chinese president has visited Nepal since 1996 despite several visits by Nepal’s heads of government and state in the period.

Quoting sources from Nepal’s Foreign Ministry, Hong Kong-based newspaper South China Morning Post reported that Xi’s visit is likely to be scheduled in October. Sources in Beijing told the Post that the Chinese side has notified Nepal that a high-profile visit from China is likely in 2016.

Xi is reportedly preparing to visit Nepal while attending the BRICS Summit in India in October. Admiral Sun Jianguo of the People’s Liberation Army, who visited Nepal last week, also hinted at the Chinese president’s visit. He invited Defence Minister Bhim Bahadur Rawal to China, which is seen as part of preparations for the visit.

During his speech, Vice President Pun recalled that Nepal has welcomed the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, become a founding member of the China-led Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, and joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation recently as its dialogue partner.

“Nepal wants to strengthen its relations with China and I am sure China too wants the same,” he said.

Stating that Nepal has completed the transition by promulgating the new constitution, Pun invited investments in the areas of infrastructure, energy, tourism and agriculture.


The perfect blend of tourism and agriculture


Apr 30, 2016



Not so long ago, villagers of Zhongliao, a small village in the island province of China—Hainan—used to greet each other saying LaoTa (Did you have food?). Mired by severe poverty and the unavailability of food, villagers in Zhongliao faced an uncertain future and thousands of people migrated to the provincial capital and beyond in search of better opportunities.

“Our living condition was bad. And a person who could afford proper food would be considered prosperous and happy,” Gao Wen Cai, a 69-year-old resident said. Cut to 2016. Things have changed. Zhongliao has emerged as one of the most prosperous villages in China. The people are prosperous, happy and have everything they wanted the village to have. The transformation of the tiny village is in line with the larger transformation witnessed by the Hainan province in the past decades.

According to the Hainan’s provincial government, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the province in 2015 stood at $317 billion. In 1987, the GDP of the province stood at just $700 million. Particularly after 2010, this tiny tropical island in southern China has witnessed an accelerated growth following the decision of the central government to promote it as a tourism destination.

To do so, the provincial government took immediate initiatives to develop infrastructure, so as to cater to the needs of the tourists. As of today, Hainan has 82 five-star hotels and 23 international hotel management groups operating in the province. Zhao Hang, deputy director general of Tourism Development Commission-Hainan, told the Post that the island province is being promoted as a destination for marine tourism, cultural tourism, vacation destination and wildlife tourism.

“Hainan is known for sunshine and fresh air,” Hang said, adding that the quality of air, which has become a big issue in the Chinese capital Beijing and financial capital Shanghai among others, is one of the major factors drawing local Chinese tourists to Hainan. Identifying accessible transportation as one of the prerequisites for boosting its economy and attracting tourists, Hainan has established an impressive transportation network throughout the province. With bullet trains that travel at the speed of 195 kilometers per hour in place, it is now possible for a tourist to take a round trip of the entire province in just four to five hours. Now one of the prime attractions in Hainan, the bullet train connects all the major cities in the province.

For tourists, the view of farmlands, lakes and tropical forest makes the bullet train not just a means of transportation but an ideal way of enjoying the scenic beauty of the province. “The bullet train route has been designed to show landscape of Hainan,” Hang said. As of today, Hainan has 27,000 kilometres of roadway, 650 kilometres of train tracks, five ports and two international airports that can handle 16 million travellers per year. Two major events of global importance–BOAO Forum for South Asia and Lancang-Mekong Summit–are held on a regular basis in the city of Boao and Sanya respectively. These international events not just bring in delegates from a number of Asian countries, but also play a significant role in promoting tourism.

With its massive focus on tourism, Hainan received about 53.36 million tourists in 2015, an increment of over 10 percent year-on-year. Yet, even though Hainan is developing as a fascinating province with significant infrastructural development, the provincial government has also continued to promote agriculture, its other major sector. Hainan is a key supplier of vegetables and tropical fruits across China. The provincial government has spent close 100 million RMB for the promotion agriculture in Hainan. Moreover, from meagre 3,300 cooperatives in 2010, institutions facilitating farmers have grown to 13,189 in 2015 as well.

In 2005, Sanya Municipal Government established the Sanya Science and Technology Academy of Hainan National Breeding and Multiplication (STA) for assessing the province’s resource advantage. STA has set up a series of several organs including administration offices, scientific research and project management offices, tropical cucurbits and vegetables laboratories, plant protection research and tropical resources’ laboratories, tropical garden and flower research centres, tropical fruit laboratories, tropical garden and flower research centres, soil fertiliser and safety of agriculture products laboratories and a public experimental centre which have been playing a crucial role in the development of agriculture in the province.

“We have deployed 70 couples to look after the farm land. Every couple has to look after one patch. They earn 100,000 RMB annually,” Xie Yun Shong, general manager of Hefong, an agriculture company based in Hainan said. The 20-year-old company farms 100 hectors of land for the organic cultivation of agroproducts ranging from varieties of vegetables to grains and fruits. “With the provincial government prioritising agriculture and professional companies thronging to it, farmers now have a handsome income,” Shong said.

Zhou Yanhua, deputy director general of the Agriculture Department of the provincial government of Hainan adds, “To make sure that there is balance among urbanisation, infrastructure and cultivable land, we make sure that if a farmland is affected, it is relocated,” she said, adding that this also ensures that farmers are not displaced from their jobs while development of modern amenity continues taking place.

At a time when Nepal’s government has declared the year 2073 as Ghumphir Barsha (Travel Year), the expedited development of the Tourist Island as one of the most sought after locations in China within a few years can have some crucial pointers to turn to. Hainan’s massive growth within a short span of time illustrates if there is adequate infrastructure and political will, pegged with peace and stability in place, it doesn’t take long for a country to achieve greater economic prosperity. Given that Nepal remains heavily dependent on agriculture and tourism, Hainan’s fast-tracked development can serve as a great model to study and maybe even emulate. Strolling around Hainan it seems increasingly obvious that development and economic prosperity don’t necessarily have to be a drawn-out and laborious Herculean task.  Published: 30-04-2016 08:47

Beijing ‘sends’ freight train for Nepal


May 13, 2016



China has opened its first combined transport service (rail and road) to Nepal with an international freight train departing from Lanzhou, the capital city of northwestern China’s Gansu province, for Kathmandu, on Wednesday.

People’s Daily of China reported that the final destination of the international freight train is Kathmandu, but rail transport will change over to road transport in Shigatse (Xigaze), Tibet.
It will take 10 day for the consignment to reach Kathmandu, the newspaper reported.
The journey includes 2,431 kilometres of rail transport from Lanzhou to Shigatse, 564 kilometres of road transport from Shigatse to Kyirong (Geelong Port) and 160 kilometres of road transport from Kyirong to Kathmandu.
Altogether, the combined transport takes 35 days fewer than traditional ocean transport would, according to the paper.
On the development, Nepali officials and businessmen said though Nepal and China have recently signed Transit Transport Agreement, it will take great commitments from both the sides to make this combined route commercially feasible.
Nepali officials in Beijing and Kathmandu, however, said they were not aware about the international freight train leaving China for Kathmandu and that they had read reports about it.
The Nepali Embassy in Beijing said it has no official information regarding the international freight.
“I got to know about the freight train with destination Kathmandu through news reports. The event seems to be private in nature,” said Nirmal Raj Kafle, deputy head of Nepali mission in Beijing. “It could be an one-off event as well.”
An official at the Ministry of Commerce in Kathmandu said “multiple talks” were held in the past with the Chinese government for connecting Shigatse-Keyirong, the border point of Nepal-China through railway. “However, no further efforts have been made by our government in recent times,” said the source.
Purushottam Dhungel, consul officer at Lhasha, Tibet, also seemed to have received the information through media reports. Nevertheless, Dhungel said that officials from Lanzhou had visited Nepal on multiple occasions. The purpose of the visit was to strengthen economic cooperation between Kathmandu and Langzhou, according to him.
“On March 4, Deputy Party Secretary of Lanzhou Municipality Wuduo Mao
had visited Nepal,” said Dhungel. “We had informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kathmandu about the visit.”
On May 5, an official of Langzhou Municipality had visited consul office at Lhasa and informed that a cargo train would leave for Nepal this week, according to Dhungel.
“The official neither informed about goods being shipped nor about the receiver of the goods in Nepal,” he added.
The consul officer at Lhasa said they have got unconfirmed information that
these goods have been ordered by traders who used to import products via Tatopani route.
Around six Chinese people including two journalists have acquired visa for Nepal and are on board the train.

Published: 13-05-2016 08:52

Smart driving licences delayed


Jun 17, 2015

The government’s plan to launch smart driving licences in mid-July has been delayed as the earthquake has thrown it into disarray. Madras Security Printers, the Indian company contracted to implement the project, has been immobilized after most of its employees returned to India for fear of further tremors, the Department of Transport Management (DoTM) said.

The company has been ass- igned to change the existing licences and registration into an electronic system under a project funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

“We were planning to introduce smart driving licence cards from July 17,” said Basanta Adhikari, director at the DoTM. “However, the employees of Madras Security Printers could not proceed due to the earthquake. There has been some impact on the machinery too.”

The task of installing equipment and networks in the 14 zonal offices to use the new technology has been completed. The DoTM had also conducted a networking demo. Adhikari said the government now aims to start issuing smart driving licences by mid-November 2015.

The government had officially unveiled a dummy of the proposed smart driving licence in April. The new technology is expected to end duplication of licences, blue books and other documents related to vehicles by maintaining electronic records of all the vehicle owners. A smart licence is expected to last for a period of 10 years.

According to Adhikari, the smart driving license contains a 512 Mb chip in which data regarding the license holder can be stored. “This will bring down fraudulent activities related to driving licences to zero,” Adhikari said, adding that the department aimed to store vehicle registration information, insurance records and records of bank loans electronically.

“Presently, a person whose license has been revoked by the traffic police in Bagmati can go to another zone and get a new one. This is because of lack of coordination and networking. The use of electronic technology will bring such cases to zero,” said Adhikari said. Apart from this, carrying a smart card will me more convenient for motorists as it will be the same size of an ATM card.

During the first phase of the programme, the government envisages converting around 2.5 million conventional driving licences to smart cards. According to the DoTM, around 2.1 million licenses have been issued across the country so far. By the time the smart driving license system is implemented in mid-November, the government anticipates distributing 2.5 million licenses.

Once the old licenses have been replaced by smart driving licences, the DoTM will start chipping in blue book data. “We aim to combine the driving licence and blue book in the smart driving license within five months after the scheme is implemented.”

Published: The Kathmandu Post /

Nepal, B’desh, Bhutan and India ink MVA deal

Nepal, B’desh, Bhutan and India ink MVA deal


Jun 16, 2015

Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) on Monday signed a Motor Vehicle Agreement (BBIN MVA) which would enable the exchange of traffic rights and ease cross-border movement of goods, vehicles, and people.

Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Bimalendra Nidhi, Bangladesh’s Minister of Road Transport and Bridges Obaidul Quader, Bhutanese Minister for Information and Communications Lyonpo DN Dhungyel and Nitin Jairam Gadkari, Indian Minister for Road Transport and Highways, and Shipping signed the agreement to this effect.

Issuing a joint statement, the ministers of four countries have stated that they will make an effort to carry out a six-month work plan from July to December 2015 for the implementation of the BBIN MVA and aim to implement the agreement by October 2015.

The member states have agreed to formalise the BBIN MVA by August 2015; make preparations for bilateral (and perhaps trilateral/quadrilateral) agreements/protocols for their implementation by July 2015; negotiation and approval of bilateral (trilateral/quadrilateral) agreements/ protocols by September 2015 and installation of the prerequisites for implementing the approved agreements like the IT systems, infrastructure, tracking and regulatory systems, among others, by December 2015. They aim to implement the agreement by October 2015

The agreement would allow the four nations to expedite the implementation of land transport facilitation arrangements between and among the member countries, according to the statement.

“We will endeavor to accelerate the preparatory steps for the effective and sustainable implementation of the agreement, starting with the formulation, negotiation, and finalisation of the necessary legal instruments and operating procedures. We recognise that the BBIN MVA is a complementary instrument to the existing transport agreements or arrangements at the bilateral levels that the contracting parties will continue to honour. Implementation difficulties, if any, will be resolved based on the BBIN MVA provisions,” the statement reads.

In a recent conversation with the Post, Secretary at Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport Tulsi Prasad Sitaula had said that since the BBIM MVA is an umbrella agreement, a bilateral and trilateral agreement will have to be signed to facilitate

seamless connectivity of passengers and vehicles through the roadways of these countries.

Prioritising the regional road connectivity projects within the BBIN nations, the statement has further stated that the member states have identified 30 priority transport connectivity projects with their total cost estimated at over $8 billion to rehabilitate and upgrade the remaining

sections of trade and transport corridors in the four countries.

“We take note of the finding that transforming transport corridors into economic corridors could potentially increase intra-regional trade within South Asia by almost 60 percent and that with the rest of the world by over 30 percent,” the agreement states.

Meanwhile, a BBIN Friendship Motor Rally has been slated for October 2015 to highlight the sub-regional connectivity and the scope and opportunities for greater people-to-people contact and trade under the BBIN initiative.

The transportation ministers flagged off the route survey for the rally on Monday.

Published: The Kathmandu Post /

Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal to sign vehicle pact

Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal to sign vehicle pact

Jun 12, 2015

Nepal is scheduled to sign a Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) motor vehicle agreement on Monday which will permit seamless connectivity of passengers and vehicles through the roadways of these countries.

The deal will be concluded at a meeting of the BBIN transportation ministers slated to be held in Thimpu, Bhutan.

Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Bimalendra Nidhi is scheduled to leave for Thimpu on Sunday to participate in the meeting. BBIN officials had agreed to seal the agreement at the ministerial level at a meeting held in Kolkata last February.

According to Physical Infrastructure and Transport Secretary Tulsi Prasad Sitaula, the agreement was endorsed by a cabinet meeting held last week. The pact will allow movement of passengers and cargo in the four Saarc nations without the need to change vehicles at the border. They will allow each other’s vehicles to enter its territory under certain terms and conditions which will be fixed bilaterally and trilaterally. “Issues like customs and tariffs will be determined by the respective countries and they will be discussed at the bilateral and trilateral forums,” Sitaula said.

“This is an umbrella agreement between the four nations and is completely under the model of the Saarc Motor Vehicle Framework Agreement,” Sitaula said. The motor vehicle agreement was one of the items on the agenda of the 18th Saarc Summit held in Kathmandu in November last year. However, it could not be signed due to Pakistan’s reservations. The motor vehicle agreement has been pitched as one of the most crucial aspects in increasing trade, tourism and connectivity within the Saarc region to create greater socio-economic ties.

At a meeting held in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 2009, Saarc transport ministers had approved the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Group on Transport (IGGT) to set up an expert group to negotiate and finalize the text of the draft Regional Agreement on Motor Vehicles for SAARC Member States. Last September, the expert group finalized the draft of the agreement which was subsequently endorsed by the fifth meeting of the Saarc IGGT in 2014, which was attended by delegates from all the member states except Maldives.

Devendra Karki, joint secretary at the Physical Infrastructure and Transport Ministry, said that after the umbrella agreement is signed, countries will be able to hold bilateral meetings and define the terms and conditions to enable passage of vehicles and passengers.

“The only difference between the Saarc Motor Vehicle Agreement and the BBIN is the name,” Karki said. According to him, Nepal’s cabinet had endorsed the agreement prior to the 18th Saarc Summit and was ready to sign it. “Since there was some reservation from one of the member states, the deal could not be finalized. Hence, the four countries which were agreeable to the pact have come up with the alternative BBIN,” Karki said.

Meanwhile, senior economist Bishambar Pyakurel said seamless connectivity could help increase inter-regional trade in the Saarc region. “Connectivity is one of the top most priorities to facilitate trade and the economy. However, member states should be able to sit together and discuss the ways of reciprocity,” Pyakurel said.

He added that ease of access to important markets like India and Bangladesh, with which Nepal shares deep economic ties, would do good for the country’s economy if handled properly.

Published: The Kathmandu Post /

With Rs112.5b losses, services sector worst-hit

  • Post disaster needs assessment

Jun 14, 2015

The services sector faced a cumulative business loss of around Rs112.5 billion due to the April 25 earthquake and subsequent aftershocks, according to the Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) prepared by the National Planning Commission (NPC).

Tourism is the worst-hit sub-sector with an economic loss of Rs62.37 billion, followed by financial and transportation sectors. Economic loss to the country stands at Rs187.08 billion.

The tourism sector requires Rs41.33 billion for reconstructing and rebuilding, according to the PDNA report. The sector has sustained damage worth Rs 18.86 billion and total disaster effect worth Rs81.24 billion.

“Hotel bookings have been cancelled while occupancy of international as well as domestic flights too has gone down. This has caused a huge loss to the tourism sector,” NPC Vice-chairman Govinda Raj Pokharel said.

The government will appeal for help to the international community based on the PDNA report in a donors’ meet scheduled to be held in Kathmandu on June 25.

Hari Bhakta Sharma, senior vice president of Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI), said the government will have to hold a global marketing exercise with a message that Nepal is alright for tourists. “This needs to be done at the possible earliest. Proactive marketing can help to a larger extent,” he said, adding the private sector is ready to collaborate with the government.

Tourism entrepreneurs from Pokhara to Sauraha have introduced discount schemes to attract visitors.

As per the government’s categorisation, retail and wholesale markets, hotels and restaurants, transportation, storage, financial sector, real estate and business services, public administration, defence, education, health, community infrastructure and social as well as personal service fall under the services sector.

The services sector growth is projected to drop to 3.86 percent this fiscal year from 5.89 percent last fiscal year.

The report reveals the second hardest hit is the financial sector, which faced an estimated loss of Rs26.89 billion. Sharma said the sector has sustained such a huge loss due to insurance claims. “The way the claims are increasing, the figure should jump further,” he said.

The transportation sector saw an economic loss of Rs4.93 billion. Losses in the sectors like water and sanitation stood at Rs8.73 billion, health and population Rs6.33 billion and education Rs3.25 billion.

Sharma said business losses are higher than what the PDNA states, as the losses of small- and medium-scale enterprises have not been taken into account. “Some 50,000 small- and medium-scale enterprises have been damaged. Operating a small and micro industry cost around Rs50,000 to Rs400,000 on an average. This is a huge loss,” he said.

Services sector losses

Sub-sector         Loss

Tourism            Rs 62.37b

Financial Sector         Rs 26.89b

Transportation         Rs 4.93b

Water and Sanitation     Rs 8.73b

Education         Rs 3.25b

Health and Population     Rs 6.33b

Total             Rs 112.5b

Published: The Kathmandu Post /