EDITORIAL: More teeth given

As the bill has given more legal teeth to the NRB no persons in the BFIs management will dare indulge in financial irregularities as in the past

The Legislature-Parliament has finally endorsed the revised bill on Banks and Financial Institutions (BFIs) giving more teeth to the financial regulatory body Nepal Rastra Bank and ensuring corporate governance in BFIs.

The parliament has also curtailed some rights enjoyed by the board of directors and members, their tenure and increased the lock-in period to convert the promoters’ share into an ordinary one as suggested by the NRB.

A similar bill was tabled in Parliament some six months ago making revisions on major areas recommended by the NRB and the Finance Ministry.

But the bill to amend the Banks and Financial Institutions was resent to the parliamentary Finance Committee after much criticism from all walks of life, including officials from NRB, Finance Ministry and independent experts on financial issues.

The parliamentary Finance Committee received flak from all sides alleging that the original bill, prepared by the NRB, was altered due to conflict of interests of some lawmakers who also were chairmen or members of the board of directors of some financial institutions.

It was a clear violation of the parliamentary rules that bar a lawmaker from taking part in committee discussions if s/he has any interest in the bill being considered.

As per the bill endorsed by Parliament, a person cannot chair the board of directors for more than two terms of four years each; chairs/members of the constitutional bodies and lawmakers have also been barred from holding any positions in the BFIs with a view to avoid conflict of interests.

The chief executive office must hold a master’s degree either in management, accounts, banking, finance, trade, maths or statistics, administration or law or s/he must have 10 years of experience if s/he holds a bachelor’s degree. The new bill to be authenticated by the president also has a provision in which BFIs will set up a consortium and disburse loans accepting projects or movable assets as collateral.

The lock-in period has been kept intact for 10 years as proposed by the NRB. Earlier, the parliamentary Finance Committee, influenced by some lawmakers linked with BFIs, had revised this provision to seven years.

In addition, the BFIs will also have to take the NRB’s permission before converting the promoter share into an ordinary one. The bill has, however, allowed the BFIs to issue up to 0.5 per cent of the total shares to their staffers.

It may be recalled that a bill to amend BFIs was considered to ensure good corporate governance in the financial sector which had been governed by some influential individuals who remained as chairmen or members of board of directors.

Such tendency led some BFIs into insolvency forcing the NRB to intervene to safeguard the depositors’ money. Once the bill becomes law after the presidential seal, the depositors will feel assured that their money will be in safe custody, and the board of directors will have little chance to take unnecessary advantage from the financial institutions they lead, simply because of their position.

As the bill has given more legal teeth to the NRB no persons in the BFIs management will dare indulge in financial irregularities as in the past. The bill will help enhance corporate governance and the financial health of all BFIs.

Eradicating TB

It is believed that as many as 4,000 to 5,000 people die from tuberculosis every year in Nepal.

Those with persistent cough for more than two weeks are therefore advised to consult a doctor who would recommend several tests in order to confirm whether the patient is suffering from the disease.

Sputum culture is one such test which can identify whether they have the bacteria which cause active tuberculosis. Now this test is available in Pokhara too. Previously, such tests were available in Kathmandu only and samples had to be sent to the capital for necessary tests.

It takes at least eight weeks to receive the culture report for the sputum culture test. This test is to be carried out free of cost.

This is in keeping with the campaign to eventually eradicate the disease by the year 2050.

The number of those suffering from TB was a staggering 5,635 in the entire western region alone in the fiscal 2015 /16. If the sputum test fails to show the disease then the patient is advised to undergo a gene expert technology test already available in Pokhara.

Therefore, additional culture tests to confirm TB is welcome.