New monetary policy
Nepal Rastra Bank announced its monetary policy for the fiscal year 2010/11 on Wednesday. It targets 5.5 per cent growth, and bringing down inflation to 7 per cent from the current rate of 10.5 per cent.
The monetary policy has restricted the registration of new banks and tightened loan provisions for the land-plotting business by limiting the credit flow of banks to 10 per cent. Banks are being encouraged to expand their financial services to rural areas through incentives. It is hoped that mergers and acquisitions among financial institutions can be boosted by an incentives policy for those that acquire struggling financial institutions.
The monetary policy also aims to encourage banks to come up with a detailed plan to double their investment in agriculture, energy, small industries, and tourism within two years.
Iraq ban lifted
The government formally lifted the ban on Nepali migrant workers in Iraq on Wednesday to ease the difficulties of 30,000 Nepalis already in Iraq. They were facing the prospect of deportation after the US asked its contractors to prove that their staff were in Iraq legitimately.
"We took the decision for the sake of Nepalis already working in Iraq," said Purna Chandra Bhattarai, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Labour and Transport Management. "However, workers will not be allowed to go there just yet without a further assessment of the situation of Nepalis in Iraq."
The ban was introduced in 2004 after the brutal murder by Islamic extremists of 12 Nepalis in Iraq. However, the incident has not deterred Nepalis from taking up jobs in Iraq at relatively high wages. An estimated 2.7 million Nepalis work abroad.
PCL phased out
Thirteen agitating student unions and the Ministry of Education signed an eight-point agreement on Friday, ending a long-running row over phasing out Proficiency Certificate Level, meant for post-high school students under the Tribhuvan University (TU) curriculum. TU will not take admission for PCL level from this year on, though admission into technical subjects like engineering, medicine and forestry will continue.
Three major student unions affiliated to the Maoists, NC and UML as well as 10 other student unions affiliated to various political parties agreed to end their strike against the phase-out once the ministry agreed to make higher secondary education more accessible. The ministry has agreed to intensify the process to open community higher secondary schools teaching science along with other streams across the country.