Daily Briefs

Photo : The Kathmandu Post

The NIAS Neighbourhood Reader Daily Brief #13, 15 June 2023, Thursday

“After the parliamentary ratification, the political environment has been adequately positive toward

Trade with a company in Germany less expensive for Bangladesh, than with one in India, says WB


By Immaculine Joy Paul C, Melvin George and Lakshmi Parimala H


“After the parliamentary ratification, the political environment has been adequately positive towards the programme,” says MCA-Nepal

On 15 June, The Kathmandu Post reported on the Millennium Challenge Corporation-Compact Programme. As the MCC programme is set to come into force in August, the preparations for the same are gaining momentum. The process of acquiring lands that fall along the alignment of the transmission line will be taken up in FY 2023-24. Additionally, hiring contractors and consultants for the project is underway, with six to have participated in the bid. The contractors will be allotted right after the programme comes into force in August. (Prithvi Man Shrestha, “Nearly Rs11 billion allocated to implement MCC projects,” The Kathmandu Post, 15 June 2023)

Implementation of 5G trials is uncertain

On 15 June, The Kathmandu Post reported that Nepal Telecom has been stalling the 5G trials repeatedly. The State-owned phone company has postponed the trial despite announcing several launch dates. The Spokesman for Nepal Telecom said, “I cannot say when the tests in public places will begin. No decision has been made to this effect. But we have started internal trials in Kathmandu, Birgunj, and Pokhara.” Further, the company reasoned out that the lack of 5G compatible mobiles in Kathmandu and other cities is holding back the launch of new technology. However, according to import records, millions of mobile phones with advanced features have been imported in the last two years. Meanwhile, there has been speculation that the 5G rollout is influenced by geopolitics, which Nepal Telecom officials deny. (“Nepal waiting and waiting for 5G mobile technology,” The Kathmandu Post, 15 June 2023)

Labour deal renewed with UAE

On 14 June, Nepal and the United Arab Emirates renewed the bilateral labour agreement for the next four years which was first signed in 2007. Following the renewal, the UAE has requested Nepal to resume sending domestic helpers which is yet to be approved by Nepal’s Cabinet. Previously, in 2017, Nepal banned its women from working as housemaids in the Gulf countries to avert any potential exploitation. However, the delegation from UAE, during the renewal of the agreement, informed that a new law has been passed for the protection of domestic workers. (“UAE requests Nepal to resume sending domestic helpers,” The Kathmandu Post, 15 June 2023)


Trade with a company in Germany less expensive for Bangladesh, than with one in  India, says WB

On 14 June, the first phase of the World Bank’s flagship regional programme: Accelerating Transport and Trade Connectivity in Eastern South Asia (ACCESS) was launched in Bangladesh. The programme aims to develop transport and trade across the eastern South Asia region. As part of the programme, USD 1.03 billion was allocated for the project to Bangladesh (USD 753.45 mn) and Nepal (USD 275 mn), who are currently participants in the programme. In the second phase, Bhutan will be given USD 100 mn, while discussions are being held to include India. The regional trade in South Asia is 5 per cent of the total trade, owing partly to the poor connectivity. In a report, the World Bank stated that Bangladesh can trade easier with Germany than with India. Additionally, as Bangladesh will be graduating from its LDC (least developed country) status, intra-regional trade could offer a new avenue for growth. WB estimates that the transport integration with India could increase Bangladesh’s national income by over 16 per cent. (“Trade, connectivity in SA: $1.03b WB project to boost national income by 16pc,” The Daily Star, 15 June 2023)

PM Hasina spoke the mind of a large part of the international community, says China’s spokesperson

On 14 June, the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, made a statement on PM Sheikh Hasina’s remarks on the USA’s new visa policy. He stated that PM Hasina “spoke not just the strong position of the Bangladeshi people, but also the mind of a large part of the international community, especially the developing world.” He further reiterated the friendly relations between China and Bangladesh and expressed China’s support. He further stated that China stands to uphold the UN-centered international system. (“China lauds Hasina’s remarks on US sanctions,” The Daily Star, 15 June 2023)


Bangkok emerges as a crucial crude palm oil supplier to India

On 14 June, The Hindu Businessline reported that Thailand’s crude palm oil export share to India has risen from 1.37 per cent in 2019-2020 to 11.65 per cent in 2021-2022 thereby making it a crucial supplier of crude palm oil to India. This position was achieved against the backdrop of Indonesia banning the export of palm oil in April 2022. Additionally, Indonesia and Malaysia faced issues in getting domestic production to export markets. Apart from the underlying issues, India favours Thailand exports as the latter does not levy export duty on palm oil, unlike Indonesia and Malaysia. (“Thailand comes to India’s rescue with crude palm oil exports,” The Hindu Businessline, 14 June 2023)


Two more dead as Dengue cases rise

On 14 June, Daily Mirror reported two more deaths due to dengue, which raised the death toll to 27. This comes in the wake of medical experts warning against a hyper-dengue epidemic. According to the Epidemiology Unit, 44,038 cases have been reported in 2023 while the Gampha district registered the highest number of cases which stood at 9,638. (“Dengue claims two more lives,” Daily Mirror, 14 June 2023)

Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) criticized police over custodial deaths

On 14 June, The Bar Association of Sri Lanka issued a statement stating that despite the Supreme Court’s directions, there are still rising cases of custodial torture and deaths. It exclaimed that custodial deaths are “one of the worst crimes in a civilized society under the Rule of Law.” It added that strict law enforcement against guilty police officers will help prevent the occurrence of custodial torture and deaths. Further, it insisted that the duty of the state includes both safeguarding citizens’ rights and also compensating the victims and punishing the offenders of the law. (“BASL slams police over custodial deaths,” The Island, 15 June 2023)

Norway extends support to UNDP in Sri Lanka’s flagship portfolio

On 15 June, The Island reported that the Norwegian government pledged its continuous support to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka’s flagship portfolio on SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions project. The portfolio initially set up for the period 2018-2022, will now extend from 2023-2026. According to a release by the UNDP, it stated its intention to broaden its efforts on the SDG through a multi-stakeholder approach in Sri Lanka. (“Norwegian govt. pledges continued support to UNDP’s flagship SDG16 Portfolio for 2023-2026,” The Island, 15 June 2023)

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