THT 10 YEARS AGO: Govt bans export of food items

Kathmandu, April 30, 2008

The government today decided to ban export of food items in a bid to tackle the soaring food prices. Prices of essential food items have gone drastically up within the past few months.

The problem became acute in Nepal after India and Bangladesh cut down the export of rice to Nepal following an international rise in the prices of staple food. As the government was preoccupied with CA election, it was least bothered about the rising prices of food items until now.

A meeting held at the Ministry of Supplies today decided to ban export of food items. “We are dependent on India for food items. India has stopped exporting to us now. On the other hand, we export wheat flour to Tibet, China and Basmati rice to Bangladesh,” said Gyan Darshan Udhas, a senior official at the ministry of supplies. He said the decision to ban the exports was taken to prevent food crisis in the country.

The price of Basmati rice has gone up by approximately Rs 400 per sack (20 kg) to Rs 1,400 as compared to last year’s price. Similarly, price of mansuli rice has gone up by more than Rs 200 per sack (30 kg) to Rs 800. Nepal Food Corporation has a practice of buffer-stocking food items, but the officials refused to divulge the details on the amount of food stocked by the corporation.

Recently, SAARC made a decision to stock 4,000 metric tonnes of food items. Though there is no ration scheme for lower income families in Nepal, the government provides transportation subsidies to thirty remote districts.

UNMIN likely to cut staff

Kathmandu, April 30, 2008

United Nations Mission in Nepal chief Ian Martin met CPN-Maoist supremo Prachanda here today. Their meeting centered on the issue of the monitoring of arms and both the armies — Nepal Army and the People’s Liberation Army, said a source on condition of anonymity.

In the meantime, political experts are expecting a downsizing of the UNMIN operations in Nepal following the successful holding of the CA elections. The UNMIN had played an expansive role in Nepal, sometimes drawing allegations that it was exceeding its mandate.

UNMIN had expanded its role to cover areas like human rights, de-mining, child protection and social inclusion. Political scientist Krishna Pokharel said UNMIN’s assignment was not over, as the issue of the integration PLA and NA had not been resolved. “But UNMIN needs to work within its mandate,” he said.

Under the arms monitoring activity, the UNMIN chairs a Joint Monitoring Coordinating Committee, which includes members from both the PLA and the Nepali Army.

UNMIN’s mandate expires on July 22. The UNMIN was also involved in a large ceasefire monitoring activity. Now that the Maoists are likely to lead the government, the issue of ceasefire no longer remains relevant.