EDITORIAL: Ties on track

The visit proves that Nepal and India share an ineluctable bond and that acrimony should have no place in our age-old ties

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli returned home yesterday evening after completing his three-day visit to India, his first after assuming office in February following the historic local, provincial and general elections last year. Oli had left for New Delhi on Friday at the invitation of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PM Oli’s this visit carried huge significance at home as well as in India. Oli this time visited New Delhi as the most powerful Nepali prime minister in recent years, as the left alliance of his party CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre has won the mandate to govern for a full five-year term. Secondly, the visit was announced amid speculations as to which country – India or China – PM Oli would make his first port of call after returning to power, given his public statements criticising the southern neighbour on a number of occasions. Thirdly, during his visit as prime minister to Beijing in March 2016, Oli had signed a slew of trade and transit agreements with China, which had given rise to perceptions whether he was more tilted towards the north. But most importantly, Oli’s visit took place at a time when there was a growing realisation of the need, from both sides, to redefine the bilateral ties.

Modi, who had spoken with Oli after the elections thrice over phone, congratulated the people and the government of Nepal for the successful conduction of local, provincial and federal parliament elections. While Oli expressed the desire to develop bilateral relations in such a way that Nepal benefits from India’s progress and economic transformation, Modi assured that India remained committed to strengthening partnership with Nepal. “Being close neighbours, our destiny is intertwined,” said Oli as Modi appreciated the recent elections, describing them as the pinnacle of the changes that began in 2006. Some agreements on bilateral partnership and cooperation were signed. Three separate joint statements on key areas – agriculture, rail linkages (connecting Raxaul in India to Kathmandu in Nepal) and connectivity between India and Nepal through Inland waterways – were issued. Similarly, focus was laid on the need for expeditious implementation of bilateral projects in Nepal, and to reinvigorate the existing bilateral mechanisms to promote cooperative agenda across diverse spheres.

There is no doubt that Oli’s visit this time has been successful in resetting Nepal-India ties which hit an all-time low in the wake of the border blockade that followed constitution promulgation in September 2015. The two prime ministers have resolved to take Nepal-India relations to newer heights on the basis of “mutual trust, respect and benefit”. The visit has once again proved that Nepal and India share an ineluctable bond and that braggadocio and acrimony should have no place in the age-old bilateral ties the two countries cherish. Minister of Foreign Affairs Pradeep Gyawali has described PM Oli’s visit to India as highly successful in redefining Nepal-India relations. One of the key takeaways of the visit is the emphasis laid by both sides on expeditious implementation of projects such as Arun-III, Pancheshwor, Upper Karnali and post-quake reconstruction. With ties on track, the time has come to charter a new and better course for increased mutual benefits.

Property tax

The federal government has issued the Integrated Property Tax Management Procedure to make all 753 local levels capable of mobilising local resources. It aims to enable them to exercise powers given by the constitution and other relevant laws with regard to collection and management of local tax. The constitution and Local Government Operation Act have empowered the local levels to levy and collect integrated property tax in areas falling under them.

The procedure has made the property tax management process clear and systematic. This procedure will come into force once the respective local level units publish it in their Local Gazette. The federal government had to issue this circular to make sure that all local level units collect property tax in a uniformed manner. The procedure has authorised local governments to levy tax on the basis of classification and valuation of the land and houses. Each of the local level shall form a five-member valuation panel consisting of experts to fix valuation of land and houses. The property tax will be fixed on the basis of the current market price of land and buildings.