Friday, December 23, 2011

Daily Lives and Corruption, Public Opinion in S. Asia

More than one in three people who deal with public services in South Asia pay bribes, according to a new survey published on 22nd December 2011.
In the report, titled “Daily Lives and Corruption, Public Opinion in South Asia,” anticorruption group Transparency International surveyed 7,500 people between 2010 and 2011 in Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka on the frequency of bribes in those countries.
The survey asks respondents whether they think corruption has increased and which institutions are considered most corrupt. It also asks if people have paid a bribe in the past 12 months, to whom and for what.
“With bribery such a big a part of life for South Asians, you can see why so many people are angry at their governments for not tackling corruption. People are sick of paying bribes just to get on with their daily lives, and they are sick of the sleaze and undue influence of public servants,” Rukshana Nanayakkara, TI’s senior program coordinator for South Asia, said in a news release.
Political parties and the police are the most corrupt institutions in each of the six countries, followed closely by legislatures and public officials, according to the survey. Officials overseeing land deals were the next likely to demand a bribe, the survey found.
Bangladesh has the most rampant corruption, with 66% of people saying they pay bribes to public institutions. Meanwhile, two-thirds of Indians, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis who dealt with the police ended up paying a bribe.
The study also found that most people think corruption is on the rise in the region, with 62% of those interviewed saying they believe corruption has become worse in the past three years. But 83% of people said they were ready get involved in fighting corruption.
39% of people report paying a bribe in the past 12 months. The result was startlingly high in Bangladesh at 66 per cent, followed by India and Pakistan, with 54 per cent and 49 per cent respectively reporting having paid a bribe to one of nine service providers in the past 12 months. 
62% of people feel that corruption in their country has increased in the past three years. This was felt most strongly in India and Pakistan, where three out of four people felt that corruption had increased over the past three years. Government leaders were named as the most trusted to fight corruption by 38% of people.
Government leaders were named as the most trusted to fight corruption in Bangladesh, the Maldives and Sri Lanka. The media was the most trusted institution in India and Nepal. In Pakistan the highest proportion of people reported that they trust ‘nobody’ to fight corruption.
81% of people agree that ordinary people can make a difference in the fight against corruption. People are especially positive in the Maldives and Pakistan, where 90 per cent and 89 per cent respectively agree that ordinary people can make a difference. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Outlook for Remittance Flows 2012-14

Nepal has ranked 6th among all countries across the globe that receive more remittances as a share of gross domestic product in 2011, says a report released on 1st December 2011 of the World Bank on Migration and Development.
The Outlook for Remittance Flows 2012-14 estimates that Nepal will receive around US$ 400 million worth of remittances from its overseas workers in 2011, making remittances stand at 20 percent of country´s total GDP. 
“Tajikistan, Lesotho, Samoa, Moldova and Kyrgyz Republic are the top five countries receiving more remittances as a share of GDP, and Nepal stands at the 6th place,” says the report. Remittances received by these top five countries were equal to 31 percent, 29 percent, 25 percent, 23 percent and 21 percent of their respective GDPs.
The new estimates show that the top recipients of remittances among developing countries in 2011 are India (US$58 billion), followed by China (US$57 billion), Mexico (US$ 24 billion) and the Philippines (US$ 23 billion). Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Vietnam, Egypt and Lebanon are other large recipients in terms of US dollar.
The report estimates that remittance flows to developing countries in 2011 could have touched US$ 351 billion. This is 8 percent growth over what those countries received in 2010 and well above the growth forecast of 7.3 percent that the WB had made earlier.
When flows to high-income countries are included, the global remittance flows could touch US$406 billion this year.
“And this is the first time since the global financial crisis that remittance flows to all developing regions have increased in 2011”, reads the report. 
The report attributes the rise in remittance flows to countries like Nepal to high oil prices, something which enabled Gulf countries to hire more workers and pay them better than the past few years. The depreciation of local currency, which enabled families back home enjoy net exchange rate gains, also contributed in the flow of remittances in countries like Nepal.
Such finding of the WB matches with the figures that the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) released recently. The latest macro-economic report that NRB made public on Wednesday says Nepal received some Rs 75 billion worth of remittances over the first quarter of this fiscal year, which is about 28 percent rise over remittances received in the same period last year.
The report further adds that even though remittances to developing countries grew in 2011, they are vulnerable to the uncertain economic prospects in the migrant destination countries. Following this rebound, the WB predicts that the remittance flows to developing countries could continue in a range of 7-8 percent per annum and reach US$441 billion by 2014.
The remittances are expected to increase 8.0 percent to $351 billion in 2011, 7.3 percent to $377 billion in 2012, 7.9 percent to $406 billion in 2013, and 8.4 percent to $441 billion in 2014.
Global remittance flows, including those to high-income countries, are expected to exceed $515 billion by 2014.
Remittances to the developing economies in East Asia and the Pacific are projected to rise 7.6 percent to $101 billion in 2011 and 7.3 percent to $109 billion in 2012. They are forecast to increase by another 8.0 percent to $117 billion in 2013 and 8.7 percent to $127 billion by 2014.
The World Bank report says that high oil prices, which have hovered over $100 a barrel in recent months, continue to provide a much-needed cushion for migrant employment in, and remittance flows from, the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) and Russia. Oil driven economic activities and increased spending on infrastructure development are making these countries attractive for migrants from developing countries.
The report acknowledges that the remittance costs have fallen steadily from 8.8 percent in 2008 to 7.3 percent in the third quarter of 2011. However, it pinpoints that the cost is still too high, especially in Africa and other small nations where remittances provide a lifeline to the poor.
Following such finding, the WB has pressed the countries across the globe to improve the data on remittances at the national and bilateral levels.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Corruption Perception Index - 2011

Nepal is the second most corrupt country in the South Asia, according to an annual report  by the global anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI).
The Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2011, published by TI on 1st December 2011, Nepal is ranked at the154th position on the list of the least corrupt countries. Last year, Nepal was placed in the 146th position.  
Among the South Asian countries, Bhutan is the least corrupt country placed in the 38th position and Afghanistan being the most corrupt country ranked in the 182th position.
Similarly, Sri Lanka is placed in the 86th, India in the 95th, Bangladesh in the 120th and Pakistan and the Maldives jointly in the 134th positions.
The TI report says that corruption continues to plague too many countries around the world. According to the Transparency International’s 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index, some governments failing to protect citizens from corruption be it abuse of public resources, bribery or secretive decision-making.
Transparency International warned that protests around the world, often fuelled by corruption and economic instability, clearly show citizens feel their leaders and public institutions are neither transparent nor accountable enough.
The 2011 index scores 183 countries and territories from 0 (highly corrupt) to 10 (very clean) based on perceived levels of public sector corruption. It uses data from 17 surveys that look at factors such as enforcement of anti-corruption laws, access to information and conflicts of interest. Two-thirds of ranked countries score less than five. New Zealand ranks first, followed by Finland and Denmark. Somalia, North Korea (included in the index for the first time) and Myanmar are last.
1. New Zealand 9.5
• 2. Denmark 9.4
• 2. Finland 9.4
4. Sweden 9.3
5. Singapore 9.2
6. Norway 9.0
7. Netherlands 8.9
• 8. Australia 8.8
• 8. Switzerland 8.8
10. Canada 8.7
11. Luxembourg 8.5
12. Hong Kong 8.4
13. Iceland 8.3
• 14. Germany 8.0
• 14. Japan 8.0
• 168. Angola 2.0
• 168. Chad 2.0
• 168. Democratic Republic of Congo 2.0
• 168. Libya 2.0
• 172. Burundi 1.9
• 172. Equatorial Guinea 1.9
• 172. Venezuela 1.9
• 175. Haiti 1.8
• 175. Iraq 1.8
• 177. Sudan 1.6
• 177. Turkmenistan 1.6
• 177. Uzbekistan 1.6
• 180. Afghanistan 1.5
• 180. Myanmar 1.5
• 182. North Korea 1.0
• 182. Somalia 1.0

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Human Development Report 2011

Nepal has improved itself in 21st annual Human Development Index (HDI), according to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Its HDI stands at 0.458, which gives the country a rank of 157 out of 187 countries with comparable data, said the report published first week of November 2011 globally.
The index forms part of the UN Development Report, and this year it is focused on environment, sustainability and inequality.
However, Nepal still ranks in the Low Human Development group among the four — Very High Human Development, High Human Development, Medium Human Development and Low Human Development — groups.
 “The HDI of South Asia as a region increased from 0.356 in 1980 to 0.548 at present, placing Nepal below the regional average, the annual flagship publication of the UNDP said, adding that the HDI trends tell an important story both at the national and regional level and highlight the very large gaps in well-being and life chances that continue to divide the interconnected world.
The HDI measures the average achievements in a country in three basic dimensions of human development — a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living.
Data availability determines HDI country coverage. To enable cross-country comparisons, the HDI is, to the extent possible, calculated based on data from leading international data agencies and other credible data sources available at the time of writing.
Each year since 1990, the UNDP has been publishing the Human Development Index (HDI), which was introduced as an alternative to conventional measures of national development like level of income and the rate of economic growth.
The index represents a push for a broader definition of well-being and provides a composite measure of three basic dimensions of human development including health, education and income.
The report said income distribution has worsened in most of the world - with Latin America the worst region.
By 2050, in an ‘environmental challenge’ scenario factoring in the effects of global warming on food production and pollution, the average HDI would be 12 per cent lower in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa than would otherwise be the case, the report estimated, adding that bold global action is urgently required for sustainable development, but local initiatives to support poor communities can be both highly cost-effective and environmentally beneficial.
Adverse environmental factors are expected to drive up world food prices by up to 30-50 per cent in the coming decades, the report has warned.
Food production must rise to meet the demands of growing populations, but the combined environmental effects of land degradation, water scarcity and climate change will restrict supply, the report says adding that income poverty and malnutrition could worsen if the prices of key staples rise.
It has also called for a currency transaction tax to help the world’s poorest countries deal with the effects of climate change. “In updated analysis prepared for this report, the North-South Institute estimates that a tax of 0.005 per cent would yield around $40 billion a year,” the annual Report, said, adding that the revenue potential is thus huge.
Half of the malnutrition cases in the world arise from environmental factors, according to the UNDP.
High living standards need not be carbon-fuelled and follow the examples of the richest countries, says the Report, presenting evidence that while Carbon dioxide emissions have been closely linked with national income growth in recent decades, fossil-fuel consumption does not correspond with other key measures of human development. “Growth driven by fossil fuel consumption is not a prerequisite for a better life in broader human development terms,” it said, adding that investments that improve equity—in access, for example, to renewable energy, water and sanitation, and reproductive healthcare — could advance both sustainability and human development.
The Report has also called for electricity service to be provided to the 1.5 billion people who are now off the power grid. It can be done both affordably and sustainably, without a significant rise in carbon emissions.
Overall, this year’s annual human development ranking showed progress made in the quality of life. However, when adjusted against inequalities among the population, there was an overall drop of 23 per cent in the quality of living this year.
In the South Asian region, Bangladesh ranked 146, India 134, Sri Lanka 97, the Maldives 109 and Bhutan 141.
Norway, Australia, the Netherlands, the United States and New Zealand were the top five respectively, while Burundi, Niger and the Democratic Republic of the Congo came last. This year, that spot is taken again by the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the life expectancy is less than 50 years and the gross national income is $280 a person, or about 75 cents a day.
However, when adjusted for inequalities, some countries fell off their top rankings.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Economic Freedom of the World Report 2011

The Economic Freedom of the World Report 2011 released on 19th September 2011 says Nepal's rank slid to 129 out of 141 countries this year. With a score of 5.50 (out of 10), Nepal continued to be one of the least free countries in the world in case of economic freedom.
Nepal continued to fare dismally in economic freedom, an indicator which highlights people's freedom to choose and undertake business activities, due to weak enforcement of industrial and consumer laws, low commitment of country's interim constitution and ongoing political discourse on security of property rights.
The report notes that not just Nepal, but all the countries across the globe performed badly during the year, particularly as enforcement of stringent financial and other sector regulations in the wake of global financial crisis ate up freedom. 
This year, the average global economic freedom score fell to 6.64, the lowest in nearly three decades, from 6.67 in 2008, reads a statement.
Among all 141 countries covered by the report, Hong Kong retained the highest rating for economic freedom, scoring 9.01 out of 10. Other top economically free countries include Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Chile, United Kingdom, Mauritius and the United States. Similarly, Hong Kong scores 9.01 out of 10, followed by Singapore (8.68), New Zealand (8.20), Switzerland (8.03), Australia (7.98), Canada (7.81), Chile (7.77), the United Kingdom (7.71), Mauritius (7.67), and the United States (7.60).
This year Zimbabwe maintains the lowest level of economic freedom among the 141 jurisdictions measured. Myanmar, Venezuela, Angola, and Democratic Republic of Congo round out the bottom five nations.
The Economic Freedom of the World Report uses 42 different measures and rank economic freedom under five broader indicators like size of government, legal structure and security of property rights, access to sound money, freedom to trade internationally and regulation of credit, labor and business.
Sadly, Nepal's scores on all those indicators fell down this year, with score remaining the least on indicator related to legal structures and security of property rights. 
The report shows that individuals living in countries with high levels of economic freedom enjoy higher level of prosperity, greater individual freedoms and longer life spans. 

Measuring the Information Society 2011

Nepal has moved three places up from the ranking of 137 in 2008 to 134 in 2010 among 152 countries in the Information and Communication Development Index (IDI) that is published on 19th September 2011 by International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
Publishing its report ‘Measuring the Information Society 2011’, the union has said that information and communication technology uptake continues to accelerate worldwide, spurred by a steady fall in the price of telephone and broadband Internet services.
A key feature of the report is the ICT Development Index (IDI), which ranks 152 countries according to their level of ICT access, use and skills, and compares 2008 and 2010 scores. ICT Development Index captures progress made in regard to ICT infrastructure, use and skills. 
Nepal received the actual IDI value of 1.56 in 2010, up to from 1.28 in 2008, according to the report. 
However, Nepal fell in the lower raking compared to the countries from Asia Pacific countries. Nepal is ranked at the 25th position among the 27 Asia Pacific countries. 
In South Asia, Maldives tops the rank with 67th position followed by Sri Lanka (105th), India (116th), Bhutan (119th), Pakistan (123rd), Nepal (134th) and Bangladesh (137th), according to the report.
Nepal is in the low economics level according to ICT Development Index levels and Income, the union in report said, adding that the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has divided four major levels – high (IDI values above 6.16), upper (IDI values between 4.09 and 6.4), medium (IDI values between 2.59 and 4.05) and low (IDI values below 2.55).
All the South Asian countries have been categorized as a low economics level. Countries that are categorized under low IDI levels and income need to give attention on policy-makers and ICT investors to promote ICT sector, according to the report.
“Falling prices are fuelling growth in high-speed Internet services, especially in developing countries,” it said.
South Korea has the world’s most developed economy in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), though, South Korea is the fourth largest economy in Asia.
Sweden, Iceland, Denmark and Finland were also among the top five in the ICT Development Index (IDI). Global mobile broadband subscriptions reached 872 million by the end of last year, the report said, adding that three hundred million of those are in developing countries.
Even so, the report warned that the people in many low-income countries were still paying too much for high-speed Internet connections. “Also, there are differences in broadband speed and quality from country to country,” it said.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Nepal ranks 17th on women representation in Parliament

Nepal ranks 17th on women representation in Parliament as per the list of World and Regional Averages of Women in Parliament, available at the Regional Seminar on Asian Parliaments (2011 Sep 15-17, New Delhi). The seminar is organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the Indian Parliament.
While Rwanda, a small East African nation, tops the list of nations across the world for having the maximum representation of women in Parliament. Strife-torn Afghanistan and Iraq are ranked at 32nd and 38th rank, having 27.3 % and 25.5 % women representation in their lower houses.
India ranks a poor 100th, has only 10.8 % representation of women in the Lok Sabha with 59 out of 545 members as women. In the Rajya Sabha, India has only nine % women with only 21 women out of a total of 233 members.
India's ranking on this front falls even below its neighbours like Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and troubled Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Global Competitive Report 2011-12

Nepal improved its score to 3.47 to climb up to 125th position — among 142 economies — from last year’s score of 3.36 and 130th position among 139 economies according to the Global Competitive Report 2011-12.
The report released on 7th September 2011 by World Economic Forum globally, the country has improved in macroeconomic environment and health, though its needs to have a lots of improvements in institutions and infrastructures — the two key pillars of the index among the 12 pillars based upon which the score is calculated.
However, Nepal still falls under factor driven country category that needs to focus on first four pillars — institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment and health and primary education.
Under the first pillar — institutions — government’s attitude towards market also plays key role and under second pillar — infrastructure — market integration to reduce cost to the market is key, which has pulled Nepal's overall score.
There are 37 economies like Nepal that fall under the factor driven category that has their per capita income below $2,000. The economies that have between $3,000 and $8,999 per capita income fall under efficiency driven category which has 28 countries and the economies that have over $17,000 per capita income fall under the innovative driven category that has 35 countries.
Nepal’s GDP stands at $15.8 billion with $562 per capita income, according to the report.
The report has identified government instability, inefficient government bureaucracy, policy instability, corruption and inadequate supply of infrastructure as five most problematic factors for doing business, which was similar to last years report.
The Global Competitiveness Report’s competitiveness ranking is based on the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI), developed for the World Economic Forum by Sala-i-Martin and introduced in 2004.
The GCI comprises 12 pillars — institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labor market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication and innovation — of competitiveness that together provide a comprehensive picture of a country’s competitiveness landscape.
The rankings are calculated from both publicly available data and the Executive Opinion Survey — a comprehensive annual survey conducted by the World Economic Forum with its network of Partner Institutes. In Nepal, (Centre for Economic Development and Administration (CEDA) is the partner that has been releasing the report since 2006.
This year, over 14,000 business leaders were polled in a record 142 economies. In Nepal some 103 small (with less than 20 employees), medium (between 20 and 50 employees) and large (with over 50 employees) industries were polled for the survey that is designed to capture a broad range of factors affecting an economy’s business climate.
As usual Switzerland still leads the world in competitiveness because of innovation and labor market efficiency, whereas Singapore came second and Sweden third.
The United States ranked fifth, falling for the third year in a row. 
The United States has good universities, is strong in research and development and has a big economy and a flexible workforce, the report said, adding that the business community, however, continues to be critical toward public and private institutions.

The South Asian ranking
• Sri Lanka — 52
• India — 56
• Bangladesh — 108
• Pakistan — 118
• Nepal — 125

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Missing Persons in Nepal- 2011

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS) on 29th August 2011 published the names of 1,383 people who went missing during the Maoist insurgency (1996-2006) on the eve of the International Day of the Disappeared on August 30.
A report titled ´The Missing Persons in Nepal: The right to know´ released on the occasion has updated the list of persons still missing, according to an ICRC press statement issued on Monday. This is the fourth such list published by the institution since the end of the Maoist insurgency in 2006.
Since 1999, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), supported by the Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS), has maintained contact with the families of missing persons across Nepal and has been encouraging the former parties to the conflict to clarify the fate of those who remain unaccounted for. Over the years, the ICRC has received 38191 reports from families regarding the disappearance of a relative in relation to the conflict. While the fate and whereabouts of hundreds of people has been established, 13832 people are still missing, nearly five years after the end of the conflict. Their families are anxious to know what happened; they need a formal answer so they can get on with their lives. Until then, they are torn between despair and hope: despair at the loss of a relative and hope that he or she may reappear, against all odds.
For three consecutive years (2007, 2008 and 2009) the ICRC and the NRCS published lists of missing persons in Nepal. These lists contained 812, 1227 and 1348 names respectively. In 2010, the ICRC published the updated list of 1369 names on its website, in English and Nepali (
Since 2007, 42 families have received an answer and have been able to move on with their lives; meanwhile many more have come forward and asked the Red Cross to help them obtain information.
The present document contains an updated list of 1383 missing persons, taken from ICRC records. This is not a comprehensive list of everyone who went missing during the conflict; it only includes people whose families have approached the NRCS or the ICRC looking for information about a missing relative. Each name represents the missing person, his or her family, the suffering of that family, the statements the families provided to the ICRC, and the ICRC’s repeated representations to the authorities.

For original report click here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Need Assessment for Nepal 2010

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 'Need Assessment for Nepal 2010' released 24th August 2011 revealed that the country suffers from a resource gap to the tune of Rs 451.43 billion (a 32.34 per cent) over the last 5 years of the MDGs period. This further slims the country´s chances of achieving the goals by 2015. However, it points out that during 2011 and 2015, a total of Rs 1,395.8 billion is required to achieve targets.
In the context of shifting global priorities towards fighting global recession and climate change implications, it is difficult to manage.
Nepal is on track to achieve goals like universal primary education, rise in household income, improvement in child health and maternal health.
Targets that Nepal is likely to miss, according to the report of National Planning Commission (NPC) and UNDP, include the ones like halving the population below minimum level of dietary energy consumption, proportion of underweight children (aged between 6-59 months) and proportion of stunted children (aged 6-69 months).
Nepal also faces difficulty in achieving targeted survival rate to Grade 5 in primary education, literacy rate for 15-24 years old, proportion of births attended by skilled attendants, universal access to reproductive health, and proportion of population using an improved sanitation facility.
If Nepal is to achieve the targets, it must reduce proportion of population below minimum level of dietary energy consumption to 21 percent by 2015 whereas such proportion stood at 25.4 percent in 2010.
Likewise, the report notes the proportion of underweight children in 2010 stood at 36.4 percent against the target of 29 percent, proportion of stunted children is 46.8 percent against the target of 30 percent, survival rate to Grade 5 in primary education is 77.9 percent against cent percent target and literacy rate for 15-24 years old is 86.5 percent against the target of cent percent.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Third Nepal Living Standards Survey

Nepal has made significant progress in the social sectors in the last seven years.
Also, the income gap between the poor and the rich is shrinking, according to findings of the Nepal Living Standards Survey (NLSS)- III whose preliminary report was unveiled by the Central Bureau of Statistics on 8th August 2011.
The NLSS 2010-11 said common Nepalis' access to basic facilities has improved in the years.
Despite political upheavals and unrest, average household income of Nepalis has increased by more than four-fold to Rs 202,374 over the span of 15 years due to rise in the number of employed population, switch from agricultural to non-agricultural jobs and increased receipt of remittances.
Remittance is widely spent on daily consumption, followed by loan repayment and household property instead of capital formation. Some 78.9 per cent of the remittance is used on daily consumption, whereas 7.1 per cent of the remittance is used to repay loans followed by 4.5 per cent on household property, 3.5 per cent on education and only a minimal 2.4 per cent is used on capital formation.
However, percentage of household receiving remittances has also more than doubled from 23.4 per cent 15 years ago to 55.8 per cent in 2010.
Consumption of expenditure on food, housing and education has increased but on other non-food items it has decreased. Share of food in total household consumption has seen a increased to 61.5 per cent from 59 per cent in 2003-04, whereas share of non-food consumption has decreased to 22.2 per cent in 2010-11 from 2003-04’s 28.7 per cent, according to the survey that reflects the migration has not only increased the average income of a Nepali and consumption pattern but changed the social structure too.
The female headed households percentage has doubled — to 26.6 per cent from 13.6 pre per cent — in the last 15 years since the first Nepal Living Standard Survey 1995-96.
For instance, the third edition of the survey, which compared living standard of same households that were studied during the first NLSS in 1995/96, says almost 70 percent households have access to electricity at present, whereas only about 14 percent and 37 percent households had such access in 1995/96 and 2003/04 respectively.
The number of households with access to safe drinking water too has increased to 83 percent from 70.4 percent in 1995/96. Likewise, almost 18 percent households are presently using liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) - efficient and less polluting fuel - for cooking, up from 8.2 percent of 2003/04 and 0.1 percent of 1995/96.
Over the span of 15 years, access of Nepalis to primary school has jumped to almost 94.7 percent from 88 percent, access to health centers to 73.8 percent from 45 percent, market center to 45 percent from 24 percent and paved road to 51 percent from 24 percent
Over the same period per capita income of an individual has undergone a tremendous growth that average per capita income of Nepali has gone up to Rs 41,659 in 2010/11 from just Rs 7,690 in 1995/96.
The survey also shows a significant change in sources of income of Nepali households. According to the survey, more Nepalis have started to make non-agricultural income, whereas in the past, agriculture used to contribute the bulkiest share in households income.
The contribution of agriculture sector in the household income has come down to 27.7 percent from 61 percent in 1995/96. Subsequently, share of non-agricultural income in household income has increased to 37.2 percent from 22 percent of 15 years ago. The survey notes that in 2010/11, almost 56 percent of total Nepali households are receiving remittances, which is a remarkable rise over 23.4 percent recorded in 1995/96 and 31.9 percent in 2003/04.
The survey has also traced striking growth in the number of employed population. According to the survey, a total of 78.5 percent of the total population were employed in 2010/11, whereas in 1995/96 only 67.2 percent Nepalis were employed.
The percentage of not active population has dropped to 19.9 percent now from 29.4 percent of 1995/96.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Nepal ranks 134th on FDI Inflow Index- 2011

Nepal's ranking in UNCTAD's foreign direct investment (FDI) Performance Index is unchanged in 2011. UNCTAD's World Investment Report (WIR) 2011 has placed Nepal at 134th position in the Inward FDI Performance Index. According to WIR, FDI inflow to the country in 2010 was same as that in 2009. The report says Nepal received $39 million in FDI in 2010.
Nepal's worsening image as FDI destination is further illustrated by the latest statistics of the Department of Industry (DoI). As per DoI statistics, FDI commitment has declined by 48.35 percent in 2010-11.
With FDI inflow to India and Pakistan declining by 31 percent and 14 percent, respectively, in 2010, it was understandable that Nepal would not witness an increase in foreign investment. If delays in the approval of large FDI projects along with other macroeconomic concerns were responsible in the slide in FDI inflow in India, protracted political transition played a key role in the slowdown in FDI commitments in Nepal.
Interestingly, more than half of global FDI inflows were into developing countries and transition economies. The report says FDI inflows to Bangladesh increased by nearly 30 percent to $913 million with the country becoming a major low-cost production location in South Asia.
Accroding to UNCTAD report, global FDI flows recovered from the post-meltdown $1.19 trillion to $1.24 trillion in 2010, with the United States being the largest recipient ($228 billion), followed by mainland China ($106 billion) and Hong Kong ($69 billion).
The new report tells the same story about Nepal which the 2010 report had told. The 2010 report had said FDI to almost all LDCs increased during the 1990-2008 period, with the exception of Nepal, Burundi, Eritrea, Samoa and Timor-Leste.
Nepal, after success of 1990s, has not been able to attract foreign investors in recent years.
Although Nepal got FDI commitments worth Rs 9.81 billion in 2007-08, the highest in the last two decades, Nepal's image as FDI destination is eroding fast.
FDI or foreign investment refers to the net inflows of investment to acquire a lasting management interest (10 percent or more of voting stock) in an enterprise operating in an economy other than that of the investor. It is the sum of equity capital, reinvestment of earnings, other long-term capital, and short-term capital as shown in the balance of payments. It usually involves participation in management, joint-venture, transfer of technology and expertise. There are two types of FDI: inward foreign direct investment and outward foreign direct investment, resulting in a net FDI inflow (positive or negative) and "stock of foreign direct investment", which is the cumulative number for a given period. Direct investment excludes investment through purchase of shares. FDI is one example of international factor movements.
The UN World Investment Reports have been published by the UN since 1991. They focus on worldwide FDI trends, at the regional and country levels. The reports contain recommendations as well as put special emphasis on the development implications that influence the FDI trends.
(2011 July)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Nepal ranks 25th among 26 Asia-Pacific in ICAO audit

Nepal is at the botton of International Civil Aviation Organisation’s audit report of the Asia Pacific region featuring at the 25th position.
The Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme of ICAO that has featured 26 nations within Asia Pacific region is based on the survey by ICAO team in Kathmandu on May 8 - 14, 2009.
According to the audit report Nauru stood at the 26th position.
Civil Aviation Regulation 2058, Civil Aviation Accident Investigation Regulation 2024, and Aviation Security Regulation 2046 of Nepal are the legislation in the process of amendment.
The ICAO Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) was launched on 1 January 1999. It is managed and run by the Safety Oversight Audit (SOA) Section of the ICAO Air Navigation Bureau. SOA is certified under ISO standard Quality Management Systems - Requirements: ISO 9001:2000 since 16 October 2002.
(2011 July 10)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Progress of the World's Women- 2011

Nearly half the population of women in the Asia-Pacific region have experienced physical and sexual violence at the hands of their partners, a report called 'Progress of the World’s Woman: In The Pursuit of Justice,', by UN Women claimed. Released on 6th July 2011, the report, which offers a comprehensive global review of women's rights around the world, said that the level of domestic violence is very high in the Asia-Pacific region.
In the Asia-Pacific context, the report said that there are 19 countries and territories in the region that have passed laws to prohibit domestic violence. "However, only eight countries and territories throughout Asia-Pacific region explicitly criminalise marital rape, leaving millions of women exposed to abuse at the hands of their partners," it said.
Even as India continues to seek 33 percent reservation for women in parliament and state legislatures, Nepal is the only country in the region which has reached the 30 percent critical mass mark for women in parliament. "Women parliamentarians have played a key role in passing new laws on domestic violence and improving poor women's access to reproductive health care," the report said.
The report also highlights 10 fascinating legal cases from around the globe that forever changed laws restricting women’s rights and access to justice. These range from the case of Martha Solay of Columbia who won the right to have a life saving abortion; or the case of Meera Dhungana of Nepal which lead to the enactment of marital rape laws.
Since 2000, a number of countries have decriminalized homosexuality, including Armenia, Fiji, Nepal and Nicaragua. Sic more prohibit discrimination on sexual orientation in their constitution: Bolivia, Ecuador, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden and Switzerland. Same-sex activity between consenting adults is still illegal in 40% of nations.
Saying that the private sphere must not be "outside justice", the report added that a large number of women in the region feel it's alright for a man to beat his wife. "According to surveys in seven countries in the region, on average, a third of respondents say that it is sometimes acceptable for a man to beat his wife, including over half of respondents in Malaysia and nearly two-thirds in Thailand," the report said.
The report says that the issue of women's rights in the present day world is a paradox. "The past century has seen a transformation in women's legal rights, with countries in every region expanding the scope of women's legal entitlements". "Nevertheless, for most of the world's women, the laws that exist on paper do not translate to equality and justice," it said.
Women are also under-represented in the justice system, the report said. In South Asia, women make up just nine percent of judges and four percent prosecution staff. Also, women are just three percent of police in South Asia and nine percent in East Asia and the Pacific, the report said.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) - 2011

The government of Nepal has continued to improve efforts to combat human trafficking despite limited resources, according to the 11th US Annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report released on 27th June 2011 on Washington.
The report released by the U.S. Department of State says the country has not fully complied with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.
Nepal's section on the report
Nepal is mainly a source country for men, women, and children who are subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Some Nepali women and girls are subjected to sex trafficking in Nepal, India, and the Middle East, and also are subjected to forced labor in Nepal and India as domestic servants, beggars, factory workers, mine workers, and in the entertainment industry, including in circuses and in pornography. They are subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor in other Asian destinations, including Malaysia, Hong Kong, and South Korea. Nepali boys also are exploited in domestic servitude and – in addition to some Indian boys – are subjected to forced labor in Nepal, especially in brick kilns and the embroidered textiles industry. One NGO is concerned that China is an emerging sex trafficking hub for Nepali girls. There were reports of traffickers in the remote Karnali region who deceive families into sending their children to urban areas with false promises of schooling. Many of these children, however, are never sent to schools and some end up in forced labor, including forced begging. Bonded labor exists in agriculture, brick kilns, and the stone-breaking industry. Particularly in agriculture, this is often based on caste lines, where traditional landlord castes use debt bondage to secure unpaid labor from Dalit laborers. Traffickers generally target uneducated people, especially from socially marginalized and traditionally excluded groups. However, a growing number of victims are relatively well-educated and from traditionally privileged groups.
Many Nepali migrants seek work in domestic service, construction, or other low-skilled sectors in Gulf countries, Malaysia, Israel, South Korea, Afghanistan, and Libya with the help of Nepal-based labor brokers and manpower agencies. They travel willingly but some subsequently face conditions indicative of forced labor such as withholding of passports, restrictions on movement, nonpayment of wages, threats, deprivation of food and sleep, and physical or sexual abuse. Some are deceived about their destination country, the terms of their contract, or are subjected to debt bondage, which can in some cases be facilitated by fraud and high recruitment fees charged by unscrupulous agents. Many workers migrate via India; this is illegal, due to the 2007 Foreign Employment Act that requires all workers to leave for overseas work via the Kathmandu airport. Many migrants leave by land because it is easier and cheaper than traveling by air, and to avoid legal migration registration requirements, the scrutiny of a labor migration desk in the airport, and bribes that some officials reportedly require at the airport to secure migration documents. A recent survey of returned migrants served by the NGO Maiti Nepal assessed that 67 percent of female Nepali workers who returned from the Gulf were unhealthy; most disorders were psychological illnesses. Nepali officials have reported a large increase of Bangladeshis transiting through Nepal in recent years due to increasing migration restrictions of Bangladeshis by foreign countries. Officials believe many Bangladeshis illegitimately obtain Nepali visas and work permits for employment in the Gulf, and noted, because these Nepali documents are often produced fraudulently, the Bangladeshis are at risk of being trafficked.
The Government of Nepal does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so, despite limited resources. During the year, the government established the Central Crime Investigative Bureau’s special unit to investigate trafficking and increased its direct financial support for protective services in Nepal and abroad. Incidents of trafficking-related complicity by government officials were not documented by the government, but reported by civil society. The lack of proactive victim identification remained a serious problem in Nepal.
Recommendations for Nepal: Increase law enforcement efforts against all types of trafficking, including labor trafficking, and against government officials who are found to be complicit in trafficking, while respecting the rights of victims and defendants; institute a formal procedure to identify victims of trafficking and refer them to protection services; ensure that sex trafficking victims are not punished for involvement in prostitution; improve protection services available for victims of all forms of trafficking; promote legal awareness programs to potential trafficking victims and government officials; work with Indian officials to establish a procedure to repatriate Nepali victims of trafficking in India; decentralize the system to file complaints under the Foreign Employment Promotion Board as a means to facilitate victims’ access to legal remedies; consider increasing avenues for female migrant workers to migrate legally and safely to the Gulf; and provide disaggregated data under the Human Trafficking and Transportation Control Act.
Prosecution : Nepal prohibits most forms of trafficking in persons, including the selling of human beings and forced prostitution, through its Human Trafficking and Transportation Control Act (2007) and Regulation (2008) (HTTCA). Prescribed penalties range from 10 to 20 years’ imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The Bonded Labor (Prohibition) Act (2002) prohibits bonded labor, but has no penalties. Defendants in trafficking cases are not assumed innocent, violating fair trial standards. According to the Office of Attorney General, 174 offenders were convicted in 119 cases tried in court under the HTTCA; 71 cases resulted in convictions and 47 cases resulted in acquittals in Nepal’s 2009-2010 fiscal year. This compares with 172 offenders convicted in 138 cases tried in court, with 82 cases resulting in convictions and 56 case acquittals, in the previous fiscal year. It is not known how many of these cases were for human trafficking, since the HTTCA also prohibits other offenses that do not constitute human trafficking, such as people smuggling. Government statistics did not include information about punishments and did not disaggregate whether convictions were for sex trafficking, labor trafficking, or non-trafficking offenses. The much lower number of convictions reported in the 2010 Report represented only convictions obtained from the Supreme Court, while the numbers offered above represent convictions obtained from district courts. Some Foreign Employment Tribunal case convictions under the Foreign Employment Act may have involved human trafficking. The tribunal is based in Kathmandu without branch offices, which restricts victims outside of the capital from filing cases. In 2010, the government established a special unit to investigate human trafficking within the Central Crime Investigative Bureau. One government source noted a decrease in victims’ confidence in the prospect of justice in Banke district – a western district of Nepal – because very few labor traffickers of migrant workers have been punished in the district. This is believed to have negatively affected the number of trafficking cases filed with police in the district.
The incidence of trafficking-related complicity by government officials remained a problem. Anecdotal evidence suggests that traffickers use ties to politicians, business persons, state officials, police, customs officials, and border police to facilitate trafficking. Although in the past it was reported that many dance bars, “cabin restaurants,” and massage parlors in Kathmandu that facilitate sex trafficking were co-owned by senior police and army officials, some security officials report that recently adopted police and army rules prohibit officials from running businesses without approval, and that this has decreased the practice; this has not yet been confirmed by civil society groups. Some Nepali officials may work with traffickers in providing false information in genuine Nepali passports. Politically-connected perpetrators enjoy impunity from punishment. There were no trafficking related investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials for complicity in trafficking during the reporting period. Between January and March 2010, according to official statistics, the Maoists discharged the 2,973 child soldiers they recruited during the 10-year conflict, some of whom may have been trafficking victims. However, no Maoist official has been charged in connection with the conscription of child soldiers. Government officials who participated in counter-trafficking training-of-trainers programs led workshops in their various districts.
Protection : The Government of Nepal does not have a formal system of proactively identifying victims of trafficking among high-risk persons with whom they come in contact. Some police officers made arrests during raids on commercial sex establishments but did not identify victims. As a result, child trafficking victims were arrested, jailed, and then charged “bail” which the police and court allowed traffickers to pay; this further indebted the girls before they were handed back to their traffickers. A 2009 Supreme Court ruling which ordered police to not arrest females in these establishments was largely unheeded, but some NGOs recently filed successful contempt of court cases which released some girls from detention. Police arrested some Bangladeshi migrant workers during raids in 2010 while they were allegedly trying to fly overseas with fake Nepali passports, and did not make attempts to identify whether they were trafficking victims.
During the last year, the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MWCSW) fulfilled a commitment reported in the 2010 TIP Report to open and partially-fund five NGO-run shelter homes for female victims of trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual assault; a total of eight NGO shelters are now given some funding by the government. As of February 2011, 77 victims were in those shelters. During the year, the MWCSW fulfilled a second commitment to open 15 emergency shelters across the country for victims of trafficking and other forms of abuse. All facilities that assist trafficking victims were run by NGOs and most provided a range of services, including legal aid, medical services, psychosocial counseling, and economic rehabilitation. The Nepal Police Women’s Cells reportedly sustained partnerships with NGOs to ensure that victims were provided with available shelter; however, it is unknown how many survivors received assistance. There were not sufficient facilities to meet the needs of all survivors, nor were there any protective services for males. The Government of Nepal allocated approximately $7,000 for rescue efforts by the Nepal Embassy in India in the 2010 to 2011 fiscal year, a 55 percent increase compared to the previous fiscal year. The government continued to run emergency safehouses in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. While the Foreign Employment Promotion Board collected fees from departing registered migrant workers for a welfare fund, most of the funds remain unused and are inaccessible to migrants who did not register with the Board; these irregular migrants may be most at risk to trafficking.
Limited protections for victims negatively affected law enforcement efforts. Victims were often intimidated in their communities not to pursue a case, and they did not want to prosecute due to concerns for personal and family safety, particularly as their traffickers may have been family members. Many victims were unaware that legal recourse was available against traffickers. The government did not encourage trafficking victims to participate in investigations against their traffickers. Judges reportedly often took an adversarial, rather than impartial, stance when dealing with trafficking victims.
Prevention : The Government of Nepal improved efforts to prevent human trafficking during the reporting period. The government organized rallies and distributed posters and pamphlets to mark the fourth annual National Anti-Trafficking Day. The National Human Trafficking Task Force was more active in the reporting period; it met more times than in previous years, secured more funds for rescue, and helped repatriate a Nepali victim from a rehabilitation home in Bangladesh. The MWCSW established District Committees on Controlling Human Trafficking in 49 districts this past year. While all districts are now covered, a number of those in rural areas are not active. According to the Foreign Employment Promotion Board, during the year the Board conducted safe migration radio programs on more than 50 stations throughout the country; this is twice as many stations as was reported in the previous year. In January 2011, the Ministry of Labor formed a Committee to Hear the Issue of Undocumented Workers. The committee met once during the reporting period, and includes an NGO. Chapter 9 of the 2007 Foreign Employment Act criminalizes the acts of an agency or individual sending workers abroad through fraudulent recruitment promises or without the proper documentation, prescribing penalties of three to seven years’ imprisonment for those convicted; fraudulent recruitment puts workers at significant risk of trafficking. Despite national registration drives and committees responsible for registering births, the Central Child Welfare Committee in 2008 reported that only 40 percent of children had birth registration certificates. All Nepali military troops and police assigned to international peacekeeping forces were provided some pre-deployment anti-trafficking training funded by a foreign government. Nepal is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Nepal is 27th most failed states as of FSI- 2011

Nepal ranked 27th in the list of the "most failed states", according to the annual ranking prepared by the Foreign Policy magazine and released on June 20, 2011.
With Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka -- are also in the list of the most failed states.
The Fund for Peace today released the seventh edition of its annual Failed States Index (FSI), highlighting global political, economic and social pressures experienced by states. Foreign Policy magazine, which collaborates on the FSI with The Fund for Peace, has feature articles based on the FSI in its issue.
Pakistan is at number 12, Myanmar is at 18, Bangladesh (25); Sri Lanka (29) and Bhutan is at 50 in a list of 60 countries in which African countries dominate.
Other countries in the top 10 are Chad, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan Central African Republic and Iraq.
On Pakistan, the report said, "Pakistan has long been dubbed the world's most dangerous country in Washington policy circles" and "yet Pakistan isn't just dangerous for the West -- it's often a danger to its own people."
On Bangladesh, the report said, two of five Bangladeshis live under the poverty line. Any improvements will also be fighting the environmental clock. If sea levels rise just by 1 metre, scientists warn, 17 percent of the country could be submerged.
"Nepal is the poorest country in South Asia, according to the United Nations, and that's unlikely to change until the peace process is implemented and security restored. There are signs that the Maoists may be losing patience -- and thinking about going back to the trenches to fight for more," the report said.
On Sri Lanka, it said, "The government's final push against the rebels relied on the shelling of civilians and other atrocities, according to a 2010 report by the International Crisis Group.”
"The most recent statistics from last year indicate that some 327,000 are still displaced from the conflict."
"Despite the pronounced fractures still lingering, the Sinhalese-dominated government in Colombo seems eager to forget the past," it added.
The 2011 FSI ranks Somalia as number one for the fourth consecutive year, citing widespread lawlessness, ineffective government, terrorism, insurgency, crime, and well-publicized pirate attacks against foreign vessels.
Finland has displaced Norway from the best position for the first time. Slight fluctuations in demographic and economic indicators, though minimal, lowered Norway's scores, allowing Finland, with continued its stability, to slip in front of its Nordic neighbor.
The FSI ranks 177 countries using 12 social, economic, and political indicators of pressure on the state, along with over 100 sub-indicators. These include such issues as Uneven Development, State Legitimacy, Group Grievance, and Human Rights. Each indicator is rated on a scale of 1-10, based on the analysis of millions of publicly available documents, other quantitative data, and assessments by analysts. A high score indicates high pressure on the state, and therefore a higher risk of instability.
Other notable changes this year include countries affected by natural disasters. Haiti, which suffered the greatest decline in the 2011 FSI, shot to fifth place in the index, largely as a result of the January 2010 earthquake and its aftermath. Natural disasters, including earthquakes, floods and drought, likewise affected scores in countries as diverse as New Zealand, Chile, Benin and Nigeria.
Greece and Ireland declined from the 2010 FSI as economic crisis have adversely affected their economic indicators. A loss of confidence in the state, coinciding with the state's lessened capacity to provide public services, have led to growing social pressures.
Georgia is the most improved nation, reaping the benefits of new accountability and transparency measures in the security sector and a government crackdown on corruption. A reduced threat of conflict with neighboring Russia further improved scores.
The Fund for Peace is an independent research and educational organization based in Washington, DC, with the mission to prevent conflict and promote sustainable security. Visit The Fund for Peace website at for more information on its work.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Global Economic Prospects- 2011

Remittances expanded by 17 per cent in dollar terms in 2010 supported in part by vibrant growth in India, a key source-country for Nepali remittances, according to Global Economic Prospects (GEP) 2011 report released on 8th June 2011 by the World Bank (WB).
The bank flagship report on world economy GEP has projected that Pakistan and Nepal are expected to lag behind in economic progress in the South, given continued political challenges and associated macro-policy slippage.
The GEP 2011 pointed out that the region’s relatively strong projected growth path - reaching 7.9 percent in 2013 as compared with the 6.0 percent average from 1998 through 2007 (compound growth rate) - is projected to be led by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, where acceleration of investment activity is expected to support higher growth outturns. In contrast, Pakistan and Nepal are expected to lag, given continued political challenges and associated macro-policy slippage. Indeed, GDP growth in Pakistan is not projected to recover to above the pre-crisis decadal average of 5.0 percent during the forecast period.
Nepal had received Rs 231.72 billion in remittance in 2009-10 and in the nine months of the current fiscal year, it has already received Rs 181.84 billion. “Worker remittance inflows to South Asia rose by 8.2 per cent in 2010 to $81billion, helping to offset sizeable trade deficits,remaining a critical source of foreign exchange,”the mulatilateral agency’s report said.
However, when measured in local currency terms, remittances inflows to the region grew by only 4.1 per cent in 2010, while high inflation rates meant that the real value of the inflows declined by 3.9 per cent. The pick-up in dollar value of remittances was strongest in Sri Lanka, where it increased by 24 per cent in 2010, reflecting increased inflows through official channels and the boost inconfidence following the end of the civil war.
In India, the uptick in the dollar value of remittances inflows was more modest (7.4 per cent), reflecting larger shares of Indian migrants in high-income countries that have yet to fully recover from the financial crisis.
Elsewhere in the region, remittances inflows moderated sharply in 2010 — in dollar terms — by 2.7 per cent in Bangladesh, following 19.4 per cent growth in 2009, the report said, adding that the deceleration appears to partly reflect a delayed impact of the decline in the net outflow of migrants, which nearly halved during the first half of 2009 and continued to decline in 2010 and into early-2011.
Similarly, South Asian current account deficit deteriorated in early 2011, reflecting higher oil import bills and strong, albeit moderating, import volume growth.
Helping to contain the deterioration in external balances, the region recorded strong export volume growth in early-2011 — led by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka — supported by strong external demand from China, the report added.
During calendar year 2011, the regional current account deficit is projected to expand to 2.8 per cent as a share of GDP from 2.4 per cent in 2010. “It reflects a projected shrinking of Bangladesh’s current account surplus, due to a stronger pace of growth in imports over exports, falling terms of trade — driven by rising international food and fuel prices — and a major slowdown in worker remittances receipts.”
Meanwhile, FDI to the region has fallen and regional current account deficit is expected to continue to be covered by significant foreign exchange reserve holdings, particularly in India, and sustained capital inflow.
Nepal experienced a moderation in activity in early-2011, it said, adding that ongoing political uncertainty attached to the post-conflict transition to a new government has extended into its fourth year, with law and order problems, continued extensive infrastructure bottlenecks — particularly widespread load-shedding and unreliable power delivery — projected to limit real GDP growth to 3.5 per cent.
"Globally, GDP is expected to grow 3.2 percent in 2011 before edging up to 3.6 percent in 2012.
"But further increases in already high oil and food prices could significantly curb economic growth and hurt the poor."
The bank predicted economic growth in developing countries will slow to around 6.3 percent each year from 2011 to 2013, from 7.3 percent in 2010.
High-income countries will see growth slow to 2.2 percent in 2011, from 2.7 percent in 2010, before picking up to 2.7 percent in 2012 and 2.6 percent in 2013, it said.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Nepal : 7th/13 dangerous countries for press

Nepal ranked 7th among 13 most dangerous countries for journalists in the world by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a US-based media watchdog. The organization has updated its 2011 Impunity Index and released on 1 June 2011.
In its full report titled Getting Away with Murder, the CPJ said that Iraq remains at the top of the list for the fourth consecutive year for violence against journalists, where none of the 92 murdered journalist cases were solved.
According to the CPJ website, impunity is the main factor in evaluating the levels of freedom of journalists and speech. Unsolved anti-press crimes most often result to restriction of the freedom of the press.
The 12 other countries that received the shameful distinction in descending order based on number of murdered journalists per one million population are: Somalia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Afghanistan, Nepal, Mexico, Russia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Brazil and India.
The Philippines maintained its third most dangerous country for journalists status from last year when the watchdog recorded 69 crimes since 1992.
The CPJ stated, "Initial trial proceedings in the Maguindanao killings have been plagued by threats and bribes targeting witnesses, and incompetence and corruption among local investigators. The slow-moving prosecution has yielded no convictions thus far. "In countries with weak law enforcement, political reporting is the most dangerous beat. Among the unsolved cases on this index, nearly 30 percent of victims had covered politics."
First published in 2008, the Impunity Index gauges countries where media people are killed regularly and the state fail to have them solved. When no convictions are made, they are considered unsolved.
Nepal's part on the report :
Six local reporters and editors have been murdered with complete impunity in the past decade. Maoist cadres are suspected in a number of the killings, including the 2007 murder of reporter Birendra Shah, whose coverage had been critical of what was then an armed Maoist insurgency. After joining the government in 2008, Maoist leaders pledged to investigate the numerous press freedom violations that had been ascribed to their members, including several non-fatal attacks and abductions. Yet no evident progress has been made in achieving justice.
Impunity Index Rating: 0.205 unsolved journalist murders per 1 million inhabitants.
Last year: Ranked 7th with a rating of 0.210.

To read full report click here.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Global Peace Index- 2011

The Global Peace Index (GPI) 2011 Report, which was published by the Institute for Economics and Peace on 25th May 2011, stated that Nepal has been ranked in 95th place, 13 ranks and 18th ranks lower than its 2010 and 2009 positions respectively. The report presents Bhutan as most peaceful nation in South Asia after Bangladesh.
In 2010, Nepal was most peaceful nation in South Asia after Bhutan but 2011 findings, which involve 153 countries, placed the country in third place in the region. Neighboring Bangladesh has been ranked in 83rd place while Bhutan further improved its status in 2011 with 34th position in that order.
Bhutan’s place was 36th and Bangladesh was at 87th in the 2010 survey which ranked only 149 countries.
Now in its fifth year, the GPI measures the relative peacefulness of 153 countries by looking at both qualitative and quantitative indicators that combine 23 internal and external factors determining a nation's peacefulness. These include arms imports and exports, violent crime, battlefield deaths, prison populations, potential for terrorism, political stability and the likelihood of violent demonstrations.
According to the report, Nepal scored 4.5 of 5 points in 2011 at the level of disrespect for human rights. Nepal secured only 36.38/100 score for the press freedom against 35.63/100 in 2010.
According to 2011 report, life expectancy in Nepal has remained unchanged as of 66.69 years in 2010. Consequently, Nepal’s infant mortality rate has been also decreased to 38.6 from 40.84 per thousand live births of 2010.
The findings of the other indicators including the civil liberties (5.59/10), potential for terrorist act (3/5), political democracy index (4.24/10), functioning of government (4.29/10), political instability (4/5), relation with neighboring countries (2/5), corruption perceptions (2.2/10) hostility to foreigners (3/4), gender inequality (0.61%) and unemployment rate (15%) remained unchanged from the previous year.
According to the report, Pakistan was ranked as the world’s eighth most unstable country, better than only Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Congo and DPR Korea, Russian Federation and Sudan. The main countries experiencing decreases in peacefulness in South Asia were India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. India was ranked 135th, Sri Lanka 1263rd, Pakistan 145th, and Afghanistan 150th.
The 2011 Index dramatically reflects the impact on national rankings of the Arab Spring. Libya (143) saw the most significant drop – falling 83 places; Bahrain (123) dropped by 51 places – the second largest margin; while Egypt (73) dropped 24 places.
According to 2011 report, Iceland (1.148) is the world’s most peaceful nation, followed by New Zealand (1.279), Japan (1.287), Denmark (1.289) and the Czech Republic (1.320). In 2010, New Zealand (1.188) had snagged the top spot, earning the title of most peaceful nation in the world for the second consecutive year, followed by Iceland (1.212) and Japan (1.247).
According to report, United States is ranked at 82nd place, falling behind China (80) and Egypt (73). Iraq (152) moved from the bottom of the Index for the first time ever.
The threat of terrorist attacks and the likelihood of violent demonstrations were the two leading factors making the world less peaceful in 2011, the report says.
If the world had been 25% more peaceful over the past year the global economy would have reaped an additional economic benefit of just over US$2 trillion. This amount would pay for the 2% of global GDP per annum investment estimated by the Stern Review to avoid the worst effects of climate change, cover the cost of achieving the Millennium Development Goals, eliminate the public debt of Greece, Portugal and Ireland, and address the one-off rebuilding costs of the most expensive natural disaster in history – the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

Key Findings
• The world is less peaceful for the third straight year.
• Due to an increased threat of terrorist attacks in 29 nations.
• A greater likelihood of violent demonstrations in 33 countries.
• Arab Spring unrest heralds biggest ever change in rankings, Libya tumbles 83 spots.
• Iceland bounces back from economic woes to top ranking.
• Somalia displaces Iraq as world’s least peaceful nation.
• Violence cost the global economy more than $8.12 trillion in 2010.
• US peacefulness shows minimal change.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Life expectancy in Nepal is 67 : WHO

According to the World Health Organization's health statistics 2011, released late on 14th May 2011, life expectancy (factoring in both genders) in Nepal is 67 (in 2009).
Globally, the average life expectancy (LE) at birth stood at 68 years in 2009 — an increase by two years since 2000.
An average Indian lived till 65 years in 2009. In comparison, an average Indian lived for 57 years in 1990 and 61 years in 2000.
WHO said since 1990, LE has increased globally by 4 years (both sexes). However, during the 1990s, it stagnated in Europe and decreased in Africa.
Compared to an average Indian's life expectancy in 2009, a Chinese (both sexes) lived nine years longer. The life expectancy of an average Chinese (both sexes) stood at 68 in 1990 which increased to 71 in 2000. In 2009, it stood at 74 years. An average Pakistani, however, lived two years less than an average Indian in 2009. The LE stood at 63 in Pakistan, 70 in Thailand and 65 in Bangladesh.
WHO said life expectancy at birth reflected the overall mortality level of a population. It summarized the mortality pattern that prevailed across all age groups in a given year – children and adolescents, adults and the elderly.
"In 2009, life expectancy was 68 years, ranging from 57 years in low-income countries to 80 years in high-income countries, giving a ratio of 1.4 between the two income groups," the report said.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Nepal : Journalism in unsettled times

Since the April 2008 elections that set up a Constituent Assembly to guide Nepal’s transition to a future of republican democracy, the country has had three governments. The first resigned in May 2009 and was followed by an unstable coalition that was deeply riven and finally quit in June 2010. The cabinet though, continued in a caretaker capacity for a record period of seven months while various rival combinations of parties that could
between them establish a parliamentary majority were tried. A coalition of the United Communist Party of Nepal Maoist (UPCN-M or simply Maoists) and the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML or simply UML) finally took office in February 2011, with the UML in the leadership role despite being the smaller partner. Early disagreements about portfolio-sharing caused some worries about the long-term stability of the alliance, and these remain to be worked through. Writing of the constitution has been delayed beyond its target date and the term of the Constituent Assembly ends on 28 May 2011. Agreement remains elusive on the two key issues that divide Nepal’s main political parties: the integration of the Maoist combatants into the structures of the new order and the devolution of power within Nepal’s diverse ethnic and regional mosaic.
The ceasefire of 2006 and the aftermath of the 2008 elections were seen by the country’s journalists as an opportune moment to build a legal framework that would promote the healthy growth of the media, on firm foundations of the public interest and the right to free speech. Nepal’s journalists and their organisations played a central role in both resisting the repression that was unleashed during the years of royal absolutism and turning back the tide by creating a popular movement for the restoration of democracy. Since the ceasefire, the journalists’ community has secured legally protected rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association. Journalists were key participants in lobbying for and successfully securing the passage of a right to information law.
The momentum for positive change has since been lost. Journalists in Nepal still face enormous challenges, not the least of them being security. Though formally ended, the Maoist insurgency has, in certain perceptions, implanted a cult of violence and spawned numerous militant groups which are smaller, uncoordinated and hence more dangerous. State institutions and authorities have shown a limited ability to protect lives and assure people of security. Maoist elements that are keen to enter the political mainstream and participate in democratic politics feel betrayed that there is no sense of accountability for the years of royal absolutism and its structural and often hidden violence against the poor and the underprivileged.

Caught in crossfire

The coalition that took office following the resignation of the Maoist led government in May 2009 had little popular legitimacy. A succession of Maoist-led protests seeking to force the resignation of this coalition government, turned violent during May 2010 and several journalists were injured in the ensuing affrays. These protests and a nationwide general strike forced then Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal of the UML to resign in June, though as mentioned, the transition to a new government took inordinately long .
On May 5, Maoist supporters attacked the assistant editor of Shikshak monthly, Sudarshan Ghimire, in Kathmandu.
In similar incidents during that cycle of political protests, Gyanendra Niraula, a correspondent for the Purbanchal daily, was assaulted in Jhapa and Kashi Ram Sharma, correspondent for the state-owned news agency in Surkhet, was attacked in Birendranagar. Ramesh Chandra Adhikari, a correspondent of the Kantipur daily in Dhankuta, was threatened by Maoist cadre over a news item that had appeared under his name.
In most of these cases, the journalists had identified themselves as media workers but were attacked regardless.
Among those to bear the brunt of the violence unleashed during these protests was journalist and cameraman Sri Krishna Phuyal, who was attacked in Gogabu in Nepal’s Central Region on May 6.
The Maoist leadership issued a statement on May 8 that included a criticism of the media for its supposed hostility. The implicit threat of retribution inflamed further violence against journalists. On May 10, Avenues Television cameraman Rabindra Shrestha and Associated News Agency photographer Prabin Mahajan were reportedly beaten by a group of political activists at a demonstration outside the Nepali Parliament. Shrestha was seriously injured after being hit with metal rods and sticks and his camera was destroyed.
Towards the end of May, Maoist activists burnt copies of the Nagarik and Republica dailies in Kathmandu, allegedly because of stories published about a Maoist hand in the kidnapping of a hospital director. Maoists also disrupted newspaper distribution in sections of the country, according to their publishers.
The southern plains bordering India (the Terai) remain the arena where the most serious contestations of identity politics are taking place. And this is where attacks on journalists have been a recurrent phenomenon. In March 2011, Pawan Yadav, a correspondent for the Nepali-language Kantipur Daily, was threatened allegedly by close aides of a local Maoist MP over articles he had written. Around the same time, Nepal Samacharpatra journalist Deepak Gautam was warned by the Chief District Officer of Parsa in the Terai of possible criminal action for arms smuggling and drug dealing, after he published reports suggesting serious corruption in the local administration.
The previous month saw two journalists Ram Pukar Raut and Pravin Sharma Jha, who bring out a local weekly, being arrested in Rautahat district, in the eastern Terai, and charged with illicit links to a banned underground armed group. The arrests followed the weekly’s publication of a press release put out by the underground group.
SAMSN partner and IFJ affiliate, the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) believed that the arrests were in retaliation for a number of articles published in the weekly exposing corruption in the local administration and police.
Rautahat, a district bordering India, is believed to be a transit point for contraband traffic and Raut and Jha had suggested in their reports that local police may be complicit in smuggling.
Journalists recognise that the post-conflict situation in Nepal does not yet bear sufficient assurance that there will not be a relapse into violence. They characterise the current situation as one where the potential for violence is inherent in the delicacy of the political transition underway.
And the institutions that could mediate between the competing demands and beliefs of different groups are yet to be built up.

Radio operators murdered

Three radio operators were killed in Nepal between February and July 2010, indicating that the environment for journalists is becoming progressively more unsettled. In the most recent of these, Devi Prasad Dhital, chairman of Tulsipur radio in the mid-western district of Dang was shot dead on 12 July 2010. At the time of his murder, Dhital was campaigning for elections to the local village committee of the Nepali Congress (NC) party, of which he had been an ordinary member for fifteen years. The NC was then a coalition partner in Nepal’s interim caretaker government, but local investigators were convinced that the election Dhital was campaigning for was not a high-stakes contest, being merely about local delegates to the provincial and national conventions.
Tulsipur FM, run by a trust that Dhital chaired, is a community radio station set up in 2005 with international donor assistance. The station has since been running on local advertising revenue, which amounts to roughly NPR 250,000 (USD 3,300) a month. The station employs 17 journalists and manages to break even with a certain nominal level of donor assistance for content generation.
Government ad placements also contribute significantly to the radio station’s viability.
Early in 2010, a journalist working in Tulsipur FM, Narayan Khadka, received a threat via telephone after the station ran a story on a local criminal gang, calling itself the “Tigers”, which had burnt down a village school that refused to comply with its extortion demands. Khadka sought refuge in Kathmandu and returned to Tulsipur only after he was assured that the threat had abated. Local police acknowledge that the “Tigers” are a criminal group that has long been under surveillance and has been, to a great extent, neutralised. Several months on, the Dhital murder remains unsolved. The sole witness to the crime and her family have long since left their home in Tulsipur for fear of their lives. Police rule out any motive connected to Dhital’s chairmanship of a radio station, but without the murderer being found and the motive established, difficulties remain with this theory.
Chairman of National Television Nepal, Yunus Ansari, who was being held in the Sundhara Central Jail on charges of counterfeiting and drug-dealing, was shot at on 10 March 2011 by a visitor but survived the attack. News reports tended to rule out any connection between his role as a radio station head and the attempt on his life. Jasjeet Singh, from just across the border in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India, admitted to being paid INR 1.5 million (USD 33,500) to carry out the contract killing. The attack was thought, in local media reports, to bear a similarity in terms of motive, to the daylight murder of TV entrepreneur Jamim Shah in Kathmandu in February 2010. The fact that the assailant managed to carry a firearm into the jail through several layers of security suggested complicity at very high levels in prison hierarchy.

Investigations lacklustre

As with human rights violations during the years of conflict, impunity has been the norm when it has come to investigating the murder of journalists during the period of transition. A commission of inquiry was set up to ascertain the truth behind the killing of journalist JP Joshi in late 2008, with the explicit mandate that findings would be made available within fifteen days. After repeated extensions, the committee finally submitted a report late in 2009, only to have it vanish under a shroud of official secrecy. Late in 2010, an application under the Right to Information law by Ramji Dahal of the fortnightly paper, Himal Khabar Patrika, revealed that the commission had spent NPR 3 million (USD 40,800) on its sittings, including in the acquisition of SIM cards for members’ mobile phones. All this time Joshi’s impoverished family had received absolutely no financial support, Ramji Dahal’s investigations found. Soon after these reports were published, Nepal’s cabinet met to approve financial support of the order of NPR 1.5 million (USD 20,400) for Joshi’s family.
The conduct of the committee constituted to inquire into Joshi’s murder has been referred to the Commission for Investigation of the Abuse of Authority, a special body created under the 1991 constitution and expected to function as a vital part of the process of national reconciliation after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2006.
Reporting on the land seizures that took place during the years of civil war could also prove hazardous, as illustrated by the tragic case of Uma Singh, murdered in the Terai town of Janakpur in January 2009. Because of the international attention her brutal killing elicited, the local authorities moved quickly to arrest some among those suspected of involvement. The story was then put by the local police that the killing was related a family quarrel rather than her pioneering reporting on the continuing iniquity of land seizures during a supposed period of reconciliation and peace. The main suspect in Uma Singh’s murder reportedly still roams free in the border region with India. Police have failed to bring him in because of the vast political influence he exercises. Meanwhile, the five who were arrested in deference to nation-wide and international outrage, continue to languish in prison.
Arun Singhaniya, chairman and part owner of the Janakpur Today Media Group, which runs the local FM station and newspaper that Uma Singh worked with, was shot dead in March 2010 in a busy part of Janakpur.
In a grim sequel in July 2010, Pramod Shah, director of Radio Janakpur, was brutally assaulted at his home by a group of about eleven persons armed with heavy rods and canes. Shah sustained deep injuries to his head and back.
Though the police swiftly arrested three of the supposed attackers and claimed that they were all under the influence of psychotropic drugs, there is no denying the Janakpur Today group has valid reason to consider its very existence under threat.
Accountability processes for attacks on journalists are often subject to unforeseen political pressures. Illustratively, in September 2010, the local Maoist leadership in the far-western district of Mahendranagar went public with accusations that three journalists in the district had been responsible for the abduction of a professional colleague, Pappu Gurung in 2007. The accusation caused outrage, since the three journalists named, Karna Bohra, Yubaraj Ghimire and Lakshman Tewari are all senior figures and widely respected in the profession. At a town hall meeting organised by the FNJ a few days afterwards, the Maoist leadership seemed to relent marginally. And the journalists were prepared to concede that their early reports – that the Maoist leadership was behind the momentary disappearance of Gurung – may have been in error. The situation was retrieved by the prompt intervention of the FNJ, but underlying tensions remain.

Training lacking

Journalists have key concerns regarding the lack of training and awareness among personnel in the many media establishments that have sprung up across the country. They worry that a failure by poorly trained media workers and others to understand and recognise the human rights of minorities can become a base for serving special interests, leading to renewed conflict. Integral to this concern is the limited availability of high-quality professional training focused on the principles of ethical and inclusive journalism.
The development of a public service journalism culture in Nepal is already evident in reports like that which emerged in one of the country’s largest circulated Englishlanguage
dailies on the day that the Dashain observance began in October 2010. Dashain is a nation-wide cycle of festivals rooted in the Hindu faith but respected equally by all Nepal’s religious communities. The front-page article of state-owned newspaper Rising Nepal on October 9 under the headline, “Festivals fail to bring joy to families of disappeared”, reported that:
Many families who lost their close ones during the armed conflict have not yet received the information regarding the whereabouts of their families till date. Their continuous appeal for providing them with the information regarding the whereabouts of family members has not been addressed yet. Three years have passed since the country has been
declared as democratic federal republic state but still the state had not made public the whereabouts of persons got disappeared (sic) from the state.
The Maoists too have not made public the whereabouts of the persons who were disappeared from their side.
Meanwhile, the struggle for decent wages and working conditions continues among Nepal’s journalists. An officially mandated inquiry found in a report submitted in November 2010 that 37 percent of the country’s journalists are paid below the prescribed minimum wage, while 45 percent of journalists are working without letters of appointment.
Among the media houses surveyed, 48 percent had failed to introduce basic measures such as retirement and welfare funds, medical cover and insurance. The figures revealed that media houses were choosing not to invest in quality journalism or the professional development of staff and in many cases were not compliant with legal obligations to issue letters of appointment.
The recent media boom in Nepal has created favourable conditions for professionals within newspapers and broadcasters catering to the upper income demographic strata, which are generally favoured by the high-value advertisers. However, the situation for the vast majority of journalists, including those in Nepal’s dynamic and expanding radio sector, remainsuncertain. Without a serious investment in quality reporting, the ability of the media to contribute in a constructive fashion to Nepal’s transition to democracy will remain constrained.

Box : A spot of bother with an embassy

India’s Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), an office under the country’s Finance Ministry, seized a shipment of 1000 tonnes of newsprint imported from Canada and South Korea en route to its destination in Kathmandu on 27 May 2010. The 39 containers routed through the port of Kolkata were found to be in need of “investigation” and were detained for more than a month. The shipment was bound for the Kantipur group of Kathmandu, publisher of the largest circulation dailies in Nepali and English, Kantipur and the Kathmandu Post.
Under trade and transit arrangements to which all landlocked countries are entitled, Nepal can move imports and exports across India without impediment. Sealed containers are allowed to arrive directly at a dry port within Nepali territory, unless there is evidence of misuse of the facility. Although authorities, both in the Indian embassy in Kathmandu and in India’s External Affairs Ministry, denied involvement, it was clear that the Kantipur group had drawn ire for reporting deemed to be adverse to India’s national interests.
It is believed that the Indian embassy may have been annoyed by coverage in the newspapers regarding the attacks on Nepali-speakers in the Assam-Meghalaya region of India and a report about canal works on the Kosi River, shared by the two countries, endangering Nepali villages.
Kantipur’s editorial stance against the Madhav Kumar Nepal government then in office and widely perceived to be backed by India, as well as its coverage of New Delhi’s handling of India’s home-grown Maoist crisis, were reportedly other sources of annoyance. When backroom negotiations did not work, Kantipur proceeded to make the newsprint seizure front page news in June, prompting statements of concern from the IFJ and other press freedom organisations.
The Indian Embassy issued a belligerent note in response, saying that motives were being imputed to a routine customs examination and that “the distorted manner in which the issue has been publicised is hardly helpful in bringing about an early resolution to the customs investigations”. But it was precisely this publicity and pressure that led to the consignment of newsprint being released on 27 June.
That should have been the end of the story. However on 27 August the Indian embassy in Kathmandu issued a press release speaking of “certain print and television media” that had been reporting “against products manufactured by Indian Joint Ventures in Nepal”.
The statement went on to impute an extortionist intention to these media organisations. Certain organisations, the statement said, had “informed the embassy that they have been approached by such media houses for release of advertisements and are being threatened with negative publicity if those requests are not met”.
A storm of protest followed, with journalists’ unions, media organisations and the Nepal Press Council all denouncing the Indian embassy for breaching diplomatic propriety and acting in gross disrespect of the freedom and autonomy of the Nepali media. The Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) termed the embassy statement as “unfit and improper” and vowed to undertake a “detailed study” of the entire incident. Also joining issue with the Indian mission were the Television Broadcasters’ Nepal, the Nepal Media Society, the Broadcasting Association of Nepal and the Association of Community Radio Broadcasters.
The Indian mission responded by pointing out that the organisations would carry more credibility if they were also attentive to the unethical practices that in its estimation, flourished within the media.
The IFJ with the support of SAMSN partners in India criticised the Indian Government’s decision to hold up the newsprint imported by the Kantipur group. In the context of the later upsurge in friction, SAMSN partners urged that all parties submit the entire range of issues to the adjudication of the Nepal Press Council. This course of action, SAMSN held, would help build institutional capacity in the Nepali media and establish precedents that could guide future decisions on matters of ethical practice and professional conduct.

(2011 May 3,
By : International Federation of Journalists; IFJ
To read full report click here)