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The brief on Wednesday

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Bright future
Nepali Congress President Girija Prasad Koirala and Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal have agreed to set up a high level political mechanism within a week to bring the peace process back on track. Top political leaders had discussed setting up such an apparatus four months ago, but it materialised concretely after Dahal’s visit with Koirala in Singapore. “All the problems will be resolved after the mechanism is in place,” Dahal said yesterday. (The Kathmandu Post)

Defence budget
Defence Minister Bidya Bhandari has asked for an additional Rs 12 billion to upgrade the accommodation of Nepal Army personnel. Speaking in the parliament yesterday, she said 51 percent of the soldiers don’t have basic accommodation. The army should always be on high alert, she said, adding that they should therefore be given seven per cent of the budget for operations. (Kantipur)

Media’s fault

When Deputy Prime Minister Sujata Koirala was in Singapore last week, it was reported that she spent over Rs 300,000 per day in accommodation and transportation. She refuted the claims yesterday saying she did not exploit the state’s fund recklessly, and the media was plotting a conspiracy against her by circulating fictitious news. Responding to lawmakers’ questions during the budget session, she said: “You are not unaware of the standard of Nepali media.” (The Himalayan Times)

Bad deal
The parliament’s Public Account Committee has launched an investigation into  Nepal Airlines Corporation’s Airbus deal after the latter defied the Committee’s direction to hold off its purchase of two jet planes to expand its international fleet. On Monday, the Airlines paid US $750,000 (Rs 56 million) to Airbus as an advance despite the Committee’s warning not to pursue the deal without a detailed study.  The Airlines hopes to borrow Rs 10 billion from the Employment Provident Fund, but a government guarantee is required to secure the loan. (Kantipur)

The Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers refuted a report published yesterday about a cabinet decision to prosecute several Nepal Army officers. In a press statement, it said no proposal had been filed at the Council of Ministers for action against any individual or government officers.

Must see:
Mass animal sacrifice in Nepal, photo gallery from The Guardian

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