Biz News November 2015

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Agreement between NRN and Government
The Government of Nepal and Non Resident Nepali Association (NRNA) have signed an agreement to rebuild homes destroyed by the April 25 earthquake and its aftershocks. 

According to the agreement, NRNA will construct 1,000 houses in five 5 earthquake-affected districts. Deputy director general of Department of Urban Development and Building Construction, Ramesh Prasad Singh and NRNA President Shesh Ghale signed the agreement on Sunday (October 11). 

As per the agreement, NRN will construct earthquake resistant houses, local cultural houses as per a design approved by the government. 

After the earthquake, NRNA had announced to construct 1,000 houses, which, according to preliminary estimates, would require Rs 350 million. NRN president Shesh Ghale said, "We have started our reconstruction campaign formally from today." 

The agreement says the reconstruction will be complete within two years but senior NRNA officials say the Association wants to complete it within a year.

Shesh Ghale Elected NRNA President for Second Term
Shesh Ghale has been elected the president of Non Resident Nepalese Association (NRNA) for the second consecutive term. In an election held on Thursday (Oct 15), Ghale secured 867 votes while his only contender Tek Bahadur Karki got only 226 votes.

Ratan Jha another contender for presidency had withdrawn his nomination in the last hour, supporting Ghale. NRNA’s new executive committee will work for two years. Similarly, Bhuvan Bhatta and Kumar Pant were elected vice-presidents of NRNA, SECURING 538 AND 512 votes, respectively. 

Likewise, Badri KC (555 votes), Arjun Shrestha (393 votes) and Hikmat Thapa (264 votes) were elected as general secretary, secretary and treasurer of NRNA.  

Handicraft and Gem and Jewellery Expo in November 
The 13th Handicraft Trade Fair and Nepal International Gem and Jewellery Expo 2015 will be organised from November 26 to 30 at Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu. 

The Federation of Handicraft Associations of Nepal, Federation of Nepal Gold and Silver Dealers Association and Federation of Nepal Gold Silver Gem and Jewellery Associations are the organisers of the expo. The expo is being organised with support from the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies and the Trade and Export Promotion Centre, according to a press statement.

Various handicraft products made of wood, metal, felt, dhaka, along with gold and silver jewellery and precious gems will be on sale at the expo. Local handicrafts from more than 45 districts of the country will be displayed at the expo. According to the organizers, the expo will have six pavilions and 160 stalls.

Foreign companies from countries such as Germany, Kuwait, China and India will also have their stalls at the expo. The organizers expect a footfall of around 300,000 and business transaction worth around Rs 100 million at the expo.

Norwegian Investor Exiting Butwal Power Company
Interkraft Nepal (IKN) of Norway which owns around 6.11 percent of shares in Butwal Power Company (BPC) is going to sell its shares. Preparing to exit BPC, the Norwegian company, through Nepal Stock Exchange, sold 4.15 percent of its BPOC shares on October 11.

“Nepse made the transaction as a letter came from the Ministry of Industry for the selling of the shares,” said a Nepse official. At rate of Rs 4 per share, more than 695,000 units of shares were transacted. 

Now IKN owns only 327,000 units of shares in BPC. But, according to a source, IKN requested Nepse to sell off all its shares in BPC a few days ago. 

Shangrila Energy Limited which has bought IKN’s shares now owns 73 percent of BPC shares. Sources said the company will also buy the remaining shares of IKN, thereby acquiring 76 percent share ownership in BPC.  

Shangrila has an investment from Panchakanya Group, Jyoti Group, Mercantile and other companies. 

IKN also owns 46.90 percent shares of Nepal Hydro and Electric Limited, a subsidiary of BPC. 

Currently, Nepal government, United Mission to Nepal and general public have 9.19, 1.9 and 12.13 percent shares of BPC, respectively.

Pokhara Trade Mall Opens, Shoppers Get Ready! 
Equipped with all modern facilities, Pokhara Trade Mall has come into operation in Chipledhunga, the heart of the tourist city Pokhara. The mall was formally inaugurated by the Parliament’s Development Committee Chairman Rabindra Adhikary. 

Speaking at the programme, Adhikary said bringing commercial buildings into operation with the investment from small and medium entrepreneurs has set a good example. He further said, “Learning lessons from India’s unofficial embargo, we should now focus on self-sufficiency.” 

It cost more than Rs 1 billion to build the mall, according to Pokhara Trade Mall and Housing Chairman Bindu Kumar Thapa. The commercial building covers six and a half ropanies of land. 

“The Mall has 503 shutters out of which 402 are for business purpose and remaining 102 for office, ware-house and cafeteria purpose,” said the mall’s Managing Director Minraj Kafle.

The mall has a restaurant on the top floor and also has two Multiplex cinema halls, a food-court, and a gaming-zone. The mall offers all kinds of ladies and gents garments shops, fancy-clothing stores, cosmetic shops, boutiques, ladies and gents’ parlor, mobile shops, kitchen items, gold shops etc.

The building has 65 shareholders. The mall has also features like detector, electric stairs, fire fighting, lifts and CC cameras. The building is said to be earthquake resistant up to 8.5 magnitude.

Non-life Insurance Companies Spent Four Times More on Settling Claims
Non-life insurance companies have spent four times more on settling claims in the recently concluded FY 2014/15 than the previous year.

During FY 2013/14 the amount stood at Rs 1.33 billion. But in the following year, it increased 3.82 times tp reaching Rs 5.10 billion.

The increment can be attributed to the damages caused by the April 25 quake and the subsequent aftershocks, said Nepal Insurance CEO Chandra Singh Saud. “In the current FY, the amount is expected to increase more,” he said. According to government figures, non-life insurance companies received claims worth Rs 18 billion following the quake. 

In Nepal, more than 70 per cent of the policies under non-life insurance, cover vehicle insurance. The government has made it making compulsory for all vehicle owners to buy third-party insurance. “The April 25 earthquake has damaged lot of vehicles too,” said Saud.

Post-quake Insurance Claims : 40 Percent Survey Reports Yet to Come
Almost six months on from the April 25 earthquake, survey details of 40 percent of the insurance claims are yet to come. The statistics of the Insurance Board shows that nonlife insurance companies have received survey reports of only 60 percent of the claims as of October 6. 

“Conducting the survey for mega projects and in the rural areas is a difficult task. That is why the report is taking a long time” said Sagarmatha Insurance CEO Birendra Baidabar Chhetri, adding, “It will take some more time for the damage report to come.”

The existing 16 nonlife insurance companies (excluding NB Insurance) have so far received a total of 17,178 claims whereas survey reports of only 10,416 claims have been received. 

Industry insiders have blamed the delay on the limited number of surveyors and equipment related problems. 

After the earthquake, the companies conducted survey in the city areas first, because of the easy access and limited number of surveyors. For major damages (claim above Rs 4 million), the re-insurance companies mobilized their own surveyors.

The claims received by the companies so far are worth nearly Rs 18 billion. Out of that, claims worth only about Rs 5 billion have been settled which is just about 27 percent of the total claim amount.  

Insurance Board under Pressure to Restart Licensing
The Insurance Board has not decided what to do with an application it received to open a new life insurance company few weeks ago. The board in the third week of August had registered an application filed by Maha Laxmi Life Insurance Company. The board has not issued new licenses for the last seven years.

The news comes as the board is preparing to amendment the Insurance Act, and set minimum paid-up capital required to open a new insurance company. The board is thinking of giving permission to new companies which can raise paid-up capital as required by the new Act, it is learnt. However, according to a source, the proposed paid-up capital of Maha Laxmi is less than what the board has proposed in the draft Act. Maha Laxmi Life Insurance Company has a paid-up capital of Rs 1 billion. The draft states that the life insurance companies should have at least Rs 5 billion as paid-up capital and non-life insurance should have Rs 4 billion.

Patent, Trademark Registration Made Stricter
The Department of Industry (DoI) has made the registration of patents and trademarks stricter. According to DoI Director General Maheshwor Neupane, the Department has already prepared and implemented an “internal guideline” to plug the loopholes in patent and trademark registration. 

Neupane claims the move is aimed at attracting and securing domestic and international investment. 

“Securing the right of worldwide popular brands will help create investment environment in the country,” says Neupane, “That’s why the DoI has prepared the internal guideline to make the registration of patents and trademarks stricter.” 

He adds that Nepal is party to several treaties related with patent rights. “The guideline will help us address these treating properly,” he explains. 

According to him, the DoI will not register new company names which are similar to the names of companies which are already operating and also not permit names which are made up by making minor changes to world famous brands. 

The registration of some companies or brands which resemble worldwide popular brands has already created problems. Matters have been taken to courts and several lawsuits regarding the violation of patent or trademark rights have been filed with the commercial bench of Patan Appellate Court.

 According to the Patent, Design and Trademark Act 2022, the company which registers a trademark first can keep its ownership. But being a member of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Nepal cannot give ownership of the trademark logo of internationally popular brand to any Nepali company. Till now there is not any list of popular trademarks in Nepal. According to business people, this is creating obstacles for FDI in Nepal.
The drafts of some crucial laws such as the Special Economic Zone (Sez) Act, Industrial Entrepreneurs Act and Intellectual Property related Act have already been presented at parliament. The implementation of these acts will have a positive impact on the country’s investment climate, says Neupane.

Sharda-Rathi Joint Venture to Produce GENA in Nepal  
Sharda Group and Rathi Group, two prominent business groups of the country, have come together to set up Premier Organics Pvt Ltd, a joint venture company which will manufacture Grain-based Extra Neutral Alcohol (GENA), a key raw material for producing various types of alcoholic drinks like Vodka, Whisky, Rum, Gin etc. 

According to a press release, the factory has been established at Duhabi in Sunsari district with an initial investment in excess of Rs 1 billion. The state of the art plant is slated to manufacture Nepal’s own GENA, which will be sold to alcohol manufacturers in the country.

Displacing import of GENA and making the country self-reliant in it are the other objectives of the company, according to the press release. 

Over 500 people are expected to be employed at the company’s factory alone, reads the press statement.

11 Yr Old Nepali Girl Finalist in Toyota Contest
In a first of its kind, an 11 year old Nepali girl has been selected as one of the 30 best finalists at the 9th Toyota Dream a Car Contest which was held at the end of August this year at the MEGA WEB in Tokyo, Japan. 

Anjali Kedia, a student at Modern Indian School had visited Japan with her parents in August for the award ceremony. Every year Toyota Motor Corporation selects 30 children to draw their dream car in a drawing contest. Anjali’s drawing was selected from among 875,000 entries from 81 countries. 

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