THT 10 YEARS AGO: Matrika stages matribhasha stunt

Kathmandu, January 2, 2008

How long does it take for a minister-designate to take oath of office and secrecy? Hardly five minutes, one would say.

But it took about two hours for Maoist leader Matrika Yadav, who was appointed Minister for Forest and Soil Conservation on Sunday and took oath of office and secrecy from Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala today.

The delay was caused by Yadav’s sudden demand that he be allowed to take the oath in his mother tongue, Maithali. He took everyone, including Maoist leader in the cabinet Krishna Bahadur Mahara, by surprise with his demand at the eleventh hour when all was set for the swearingin of Yadav and another m i n i s t e r- d e s i g n a t e Ramesh Lekhak. Efforts of Mahara and other Maoist ministers to make Yadav change his mind went in vain.

When Speaker Subhas Nembang, Mahara and Maoist ministers tried to convince him that the oath taking function could not be held in any language other than Nepali, he walked out of the hall. He didn’t even attend phone calls by Maoist chairman Prachanda and Dr Baburam Bhattarai. “I want to be sworn in my mother tongue.

I will return only after a provision is made to take the oath in mother tongue,” Yadav told the media. While he was walking out, Minister for Physical Planning and Works Hishila Yami and Minister for Women, Children and Social Welfare Pampha Bhusal rushed to him with calls from Prachanda and Baburam Bhattarai on their mobile phones. But Yadav refused to entertain the calls.

Nepal Metal’s fate foggy

Kathmandu, January 2, 2008

The fate of Nepal Metal Company is still in a limbo after the Finance Ministry could not take a decision over its privatisation and handed the matter back to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies.

According to an official of the Finance Ministry, the ministry could not take a decision on the proposal of the Khetan group to take over the management of the metal company because the finance ministry lacked the expertise to judge the potential of the company.

“The Finance Ministry can only take decisions on privatisation.” The official said since the ministry could not look into the minute details about the Nepal Metal Company, it was unable to decide whether the company should be privatised or not. “That is why the matter has been sent back to Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, which had forwarded the Khetan group’s proposal to the Finance Ministry in the first place.”

The Secretary of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, Purushottam Ojha said the ministry was looking into the matter but no concrete decision was likely to be taken soon.

Earlier, Khetan group had proposed that they take over the management of the company and give 10 per cent of the profits to the government.