Nepal's HDI shows no improvement
Human Development Report 2000 (HDR 2000), commissioned by United Nation's Development Programme (UNDP), reveals that Nepal's human development situation is bleak. Although the country has achieved a slight improvement in its Human Development Index (HDI) value, calculated on basis of people's access to health, out of 174 countries studies by the report.
Nepal's achievements in human development sector lags behind even in comparison to other South Asian neighbors. According to the HDR 2000, Nepal has the lowest life expectancy in the region. Life expectancy at birth in Nepal is 57.8 years in average, which is 4.2 years lower than the average for South Asian countries.
The report observes glaring disparities in the life expectancy between advantaged and disadvantaged communities. The report calculates the life expectancy at birth for people from disadvantaged groups and castes to stand at 46 years that is 15 years less than that of "upper castes".
Nepal's Human Poverty Index (HPI) stands at 51.3 percent, making it one of the only eight countries in the world where more than half of the population suffers from human poverty. When measured by HPI Nepal rank 80 out of 85 countries for which data is available. The government also recognises poverty as a "major obstacle" in enjoying human rights in the country. It claims that 42 percent of the citizen are under the absolute poverty line, and classifies 17 percent of them as ultra poor.
Income inequalities are also vast in Nepal. HDR 2000 observes that the poorest 20 percent of population earn less than 8 percent of national income, while the richest 20 percent earn nearly 50 percent. The income disparities have badly affected the average income of Nepalese. Nepal's GDP per capita income is lowest in the South Asian region. Yet, the planner and policy makers seem to overlook the necessity to increase life chances for the poor section of the population. Almost 50 percent of the spending on education is directed to the richest 20 percent while a little over 10percent goes to the bottom 20 percent.
Gender discrimination is also observed in Nepal. Presently Nepal is the single country in the world where life expectancy of women is less than that of their women is less than that of their male counterparts. Life expectancy for female is calculated to be 57.6 years as against 58.1 years for male. Deprivation from care benefits and low social status is blamed for low life expectancy for women. Biologically, females are expected to live longer than males. Gender based discrimination has also limited human development chances for women. Only 28 percent of women were in Nepal in 1999, which is world's one of the lowest female literacy rate.
In the recent years, the report observes, attempts have been made towards restructuring of nation's annual budget to provide non-discriminatory expenditures. Social sector as a percentage of public spending increased from 15.8 percent in 1985/86 to 29.2 percent in 1996/97. Although public spending as percentage of GDP fell by 3.2 percent between the same years, social sector spending allocated to primary health and education, water supply and local development increased towards the international standard. However, the report points out the areas where more improvements are required in budgetary structure. The international benchmark for spending on priority social sector is 5 percent of the GNP, whereas Nepal spends only 3.4 percent of GNP in priority social sector.
HRD 2000 proposes bold new approaches to political and economic governance for social justice. It advocates for stronger international action for disadvantaged peoples and countries and to offset global inequalities. At the national level, it calls for inclusive democracy that protects minorities and extension of the state-centred model of accountability to include non-state actors.
Task forces to convert AIC into company
In the process splitting Agriculture Input Corporation (AIC) into two separate entities, Ministry of Agriculture has constituted two task forces to speed up the work and the task forces have begun their homework.
A cabinet meeting recently decided to divide the government run enterprise into National Seed Company (NSC) and National Fertilizer Company (NFC) within a year.
The decision to transform AIC into a company as per the agreement reached between the government and Asian Development Bank (ADB) on 16 February 1998 on Second Agriculture Program Loan.
A three-member task force has been formed under the coordination of Bharat Parajuli for Seed Company and another similar task force has been formed under the coordination of Ishowri Prasad Bhattarai for Fertilizer Company.
Ministry of Agriculture has asked the task forces to complete the necessary works for transforming the Corporation into a company within three months ending mid-October.
Despite a delayed formation of the task forces they have almost completed 60 percent work of property valuation of the Corporation.
Capital formation is a pre requisite for the registration of any company.
Nepalese tea to compete in Calcutta auctions
Despite strong resistance from Darjeeling tea industry, the Indian government is likely to open Calcutta tea auctions for Nepal.
Indian Government has already directed Calcutta Tea Auction Committee through Indian Tea Board to allow Nepal sale its tea at Calcutta auction. However, the Committee is yet to make final decision to this regard due to tough resistance from Darjeeling Tea Industry.
Officials at Nepal Tea and Coffee Development Board (NTCDB) also said they have no knowledge of the final decision on it. Nepal had been requesting the Indian government for over four years to provide Nepal an access to Calcutta auctions.
Nepal had requested India forits inclusion in the auction not only in Asian International Tea Conference, held in Kathmandu last year, but also at the Tea Conference held in Pakistan recently.
Export of sugar banned
His Majesty's Government has, in view of the likely pressure on the supply and price of sugar from the unchecked export of sugar during the great festivals of Dashain and Tihar, decided to put a quantitative ban on the export of sugar from the Kingdom of Nepal effective from 17 August.
According to the press communiqué published by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, the government is confident that this arrangement will ensure the supply of sugar and make it easily available.
Electro tech 2000 exhibition from Nov. 29
Nepal Electrical Association is to organise an electro tech 2000 from November 29 to December 3. Electrical appliances producers and entrepreneurs from countries including Australia and India will take part in the exhibition.
About 150,000 visitors are expected at the exhibition to be held under the joint auspices for Nepal Electricity Authority, the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Nepal chamber of Commerce.
According to the organisers besides displaying electrical appliances, the exhibition will also serve as a platform for identifying new lines of product as well as exportable items.
Salt Trading Corporation to run Nepal Coal Ltd.
At agreement was signed between Salt Trading Corporation Limited and Nepal Coal Limited at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies in Kathmandu recently to conduct the business of the Nepal Coal Ltd.
According to the agreement reached in line with he decision of HMG, Nepal Coal Limited will be run by the Salt Trading Corporation Ltd.
After the Salt Trading Corporation conducts the business, at least 10 percent of the dividends will be given to the shareholders every year, whether it runs in profit or loss, according to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies.