Daily Briefs

Photo : WION

The NIAS Neighbourhood Reader Daily Brief #10, 12 June 2023, Monday

Prachanda’s visit to Hindu temples sparks debate

Seychellois President in Maldives on a state visit


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



Prachanda’s visit to Hindu temples sparks debate

On 10 June, PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal, and a few cabinet ministers, visited the Pashupatinath temple,sparking a debate among political parties. Critics argue that Dahal is portraying a contradicting character, as Maoists have historically criticized Hindu rituals. The PM's visits to temples are raising questions about his political motives. (Saloni Murarka, “Nepal's 'Communist' PM’s visit to Hindu temples triggers debate,” WION, 12 June 2023)

“He gifted the two rivers for peanuts,” states Oli

On 10 June, the former prime Minister, KP Oli, criticized PM Dahal for giving two hydropower projects to India for ‘peanuts,’ referring to the Lower Arun and Phukot Karnali projects. However, it was Oli as the prime minister, who initiated the project. The agreement to award Lower Arun to India's SJVN was signed during Prime Minister Oli's term as prime minister. The project was given to India's SJVN for study and project development following a memorandum of understanding and a detailed feasibility study. (Anil Giri, “Oli okayed Lower Arun for Indian firm, now blames Dahal,” The Kathmandu Post, 12 June 2023)



“We are, if anything, relaxing the immigration conditions,” says WA speaker

On 12 June, Kuensel reported on an interview with the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia, Michelle Hopkins Robers. She stated that the delegation met with Bhutanese officials, including the Speaker of the National Assembly and Parliamentarians. They attended the opening of the Bhutanese Parliament, networked with Parliament members, and met The King. The delegation expressed gratitude for the support of Australia and the excellent educational institutions. She further stated that as WA faces skill shortages in various sectors, including nursing, medical, age care, and construction industries, Bhutanese experience in WA can be beneficial. (“We are keen to further support Bhutanese community,” Kuensel, 12 June 2023)



Dhaka to import fertilizer from Moscow

Bangladesh has decided to import fertilizers from Russia. During 2023–2024, the government would buy 180,000 tonnes of potash muriate from Russia. Every year, Bangladesh needs 750,000 tonnes of fertilizer. (Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury, “Bangladesh follows India; signs pact to import fertilizer from Russia,” The Economic Times, 11 June 2023)

Dhaka and UN to collaborate to achieve the SDGs

On 11 June, the UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh, Gwyn Lewis, stated that the UN in Bangladesh will stand by the Bangladesh government and its people in navigating their path towards sustainable development. Bangladesh and the UN Country Team reviewed collaborative efforts to accelerate SDG progress at the second Joint Steering Committee meeting of UNSDCF 2022-26. The UNSDCF 2022-26 is a five-year plan to accelerate sustainable development in Bangladesh, aligning with the country's 8th Five-Year Plan. (“Bangladesh, UN to work closely to achieve SDGs,” The Daily Star, 12 June 2023)



COPE to investigate fertilizer imports from China and India

On 11 June, the chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) Prof Ranjith Bandara stated that a probe would be soon conducted into the importation of organic fertilizer from China and Nano Nitrogen from India. The statement came against the backdrop of heavy losses incurred by Sri Lanka due to fertilizer imports during President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s administration. Bandara said that stringent actions should be taken against all those responsible irrespective of their position. MP Premadasa questioned the basis under which USD 6.9 mn was paid to China over rejected organic fertilizer consignment. He further mentioned that the nano fertilizer from India was also imported under controversial circumstances. He added, “I do not want to point finger at China and India as the responsibility of both deals lie with Sri Lanka.” (“COPE promises to probe SJB accusations over fertiliser imports from China, India,” The Island, 12 June 2023)

NPC condemns the arrest of the leader of the Tamil National People’s Front

On 11 June, the National Peace Council (NPC) expressed dissent over the arrest of the leader of the Tamil National People’s Front Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, citing that many other Parliamentarians are treated with respect despite mischievous acts in the ethnic dimensions. According to the statement from the NPC, the arrest depicts unequal treatment of individuals and communities in the country and it called for equal treatment of the people of North and East by the government. Further, it urged the government to set up an equality and pluralism commission to ensure equal treatment and avoid discrimination in all spheres of life. (“NPC: Ensure law is applied equally regardless of ethnicity or religion,” The Island, 12 June 2023)

Dengue cases on the rise; 25 per cent school children affected

On 11 June, the Director of the National Dengue Control Unit stated that there were 42,000 dengue cases in Sri Lanka out of which 25 per cent affected are school children. The official, while addressing the media, mentioned that the spread of dengue at the school level should be controlled as a national priority. Further, he stated that half of the cases were from the Western Province of the country. (“Dengue: 25% of patients schoolchildren,” The Island, 12 June 2023)

Joint Apparel Association Forum warns against removal of SVAT scheme

On 11 June, the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF)  expressed its opposition to the government's decision to do away with the Simplified Value Added Tax (SVAT) scheme. In a statement issued by the JAAF, it said that the abolition of SVAT will hamper the apparel industry and its company cash flows. It emphasized that the refund system before SVAT led to much fraud in the non-export sector and not among exporting companies. A system based on payment and refund will be more prone to fraud than the voucher system of SVAT. It recommended that the present situation of declining exports and the consequent effects on companies and employees will be exacerbated if SVAT is abolished. (“JAAF opposes govt. move to abolish SVATs,” The Island, 12 June 2023)



Seychellois President in Maldives on a state visit

On 12 June, Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and First Lady Fazna Ahmed welcomed the President of Seychelles, Mr Wavel Ramkalawan, and First Lady, Mrs Linda Ramkalawan, at the Republic Square. Both leaders are expected to hold talks regarding bilateral relations. Further, they are scheduled to sign agreements and issue a joint statement on the outcome of the discussions. (“Maldives gov't welcomes Seychellois President and First Lady,” Avas, 12 June 2023)

Parliamentary sitting ends abruptly following protests from pro-government MPs

On 12 June, the Maldivian Democratic Party MPs started to protest on the parliament floor following the appointment of Vilufushi MP Hassan Afeef to preside over the sitting. The appointment was made as both the Speaker Mohamed Nasheed and Deputy Speaker Eva Abdulla recused themselves from presiding, as they face a no-confidence motion. The protestors alleged that Afeef took over against regulations. Further, they expressed their dissent over the stalling of the no-confidence motion against the deputy speaker Eva Abdulla and stated that the parliament could not carry on without proceeding with the no-confidence motion first. After the parliament floor lacked order, the siting was cut short. (“Parliament sitting cut short after protest from pro-govt MPs,” Sun.mv, 12 June 2023)

Other Daily Briefs