Republica Morning Brief: Oct 3

Published On: October 3, 2020 06:00 AM NPT

The main opposition party Nepali Congress (NC) has launched protests in Butwal following the decision of the Province 5 Cabinet to pick Deukhuri of Dang as the permanent capital of the province. As NC, Rupandehi, asked its cadres to launch a strong protest against the decision, a number of youths and students affiliated to Nepal Tarun Dal and Nepal Students’ Union took to the streets of the province's temporary capital, Butwal, on Friday afternoon. President of NC, Rupandehi, Abdul Razzak, issuing a statement shortly after the Province 5 Cabinet decision, accused the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) of imposing the “vested interests” by naming Dang as the provincial capital and undoing the decision of NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government to pick Butwal as the capital after an extensive study.

Province 5 government has decided to pick Dang as its provincial capital. A meeting of the Council of Ministers of the province on Friday approved Deukhuri of Dang district as the permanent capital of the province, according to Provincial Minister for Internal Affairs and Law, Kul Prasad KC. The proposal has been tabled at the Provincial Assembly for endorsement. The meeting also decided to pick Lumbini as the name of the province. Any proposal to determine the permanent capital city and name of the province needs to be endorsed through a two-thirds majority of the provincial assembly. According to sources close to the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), the top leaders including Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Executive Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal reached an agreement to pick Deukhuri of Dang as the permanent capital of the province. 

 The police raid on three houses full of chocolate bars on Thursday in Kalanki and Bafal has exposed an organized practice of changing the labels on the wrappers of expired chocolates and supplying them back to the market. While there were earlier cases of stores and retailers selling expired products, Thursday’s raid, however, revealed that the supply of expired chocolates in the market after changing their labels is being carried out in an organized way on a big scale. Such practice is not only illegal but also puts the health of the public at risk. Preliminary investigation has found that there is a racket of smugglers in Kathmandu supplying expired chocolates to the market. Police are further investigating to bust the racket.

The Ministry of Health and Population reported a record daily jump of 2,722 coronavirus infections on Friday, taking Nepal's COVID-19 tally to 82,450 as cases surged across the country. At a virtual press briefing, Jageshwar Gautam, spokesperson for the ministry, said that 2,722 new cases were detected through 14,749 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests conducted at various labs across the country. This is the highest single-day spike of coronavirus cases in Nepal since the country reported the first COVID-19 case in late January this year. The Kathmandu Valley, which has emerged as one of the hotspots of coronavirus infections, saw 1,638 cases of coronavirus in the past one day. This is the highest single-day spike of COVID-19 in the Valley as of today. The country also recorded the highest number of recoveries from coronavirus in the past one day.

 The three districts in the Kathmandu Valley witnessed as many as 1,638 new cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the past 24 hours, according to the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP). Of the newly-confirmed cases on Friday, Kathmandu district alone added 1,280 new COVID-19 patients, while 196 other people in Bhaktapur and 162 in Lalitpur tested positive for this viral infection. This is the highest single-day spike of coronavirus infections in the Valley since the country first reported the first case on January 24 earlier this year. With this, the COVID-19 caseload in the Valley has jumped to 26,541. The three districts in the Valley are among the districts with the highest number of COVID-19 cases across the country.

Following the death of a doctor due to COVID-19 in Surkhet district on Thursday, the Nepal Medical Association (NMA) submitted a memorandum to the Ministry of Health and Population to take the responsibility of the entire management including medical expenses if any health worker catches the virus. Stating that a total of 79,728 people have been infected with coronavirus and 509 have succumbed to it, the association has demanded that the government make arrangements of emergency helicopters to airlift health workers to Kathmandu for speedy treatment if they test positive and need immediate care. In the memorandum, the NMA has asked the government to increase the number of essential medicines including injection, Remedesivir along with ventilators, medical oxygen, ICU beds and general beds required for the treatment of COVID-19 as mentioned in the guidelines of the Nepal Medical Council. The NMA has stressed the need for formulating and implementing an efficient strategy related to infection management for all health institutions across the country as recommended by the World Health Organization.

The Supreme Court postponed the hearing on the case relating to the nomination of ruling party NCP Vice-chairman Bam Dev Gautam to the National Assembly member as the time ran short on Friday. Now, the next hearing is scheduled for October 7, Wednesday. The constitutional bench comprising Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher JB Rana and Justices Deepak Kumar Karki, Hari Krishna Karki, Bishwombhar Prasad Shrestha and Ishwor Prasad Khatiwada on September 30 had decided to hear the case on Friday, citing the lack of time. Hearing on the case had started at the constitutional bench on September 30. The pleading on behalf of the petitioners has however been over, said Joint Spokesperson at SC, Devendra Adhikari. The lawyers on behalf of the defendants are yet to plead. 

Sharada Bhushal Jha, who has reported horrific accounts of her brutal rape when she was just a minor by the then tall figure as a politician and literary figure Modanath Prashrit in her autobiograbhy 'Dharatal', has expressed gratitude over the dismissal of this year's Padmashree Award.  No sooner Prashrit's name came out as a recipient of the award thaan she felt extreme pain and rage, she said. Talking to Republica on Thursday she stated that the scars given to her when she was barely 13 years old will never be erased from her mind and heart even as this incident continues to give her courage to fight for the cause of girls facing the same fate.

 Although China has time and again been saying that it stands ready to facilitate the export of Nepali goods to China, Nepali exporters have failed to benefit from this Chinese pledge due to the “stringent policies” imposed by the northern neighbor. Despite receiving repeated assurance from the Chinese authorities, Nepali goods have been facing hurdles when it comes to exporting them to China via land routes for the past few years. In addition, China has not paid any heed to revise the Nepali products under its duty-free pledge despite repeated requests made by its landlocked neighbor. China has been providing duty-free, quota-free market access to 8,030 Nepali goods. They include cooking utensils, outfits, footwear, toothpaste and brush, beauty products and toiletry, printing paper, buttons made of animal bone, animal products, medicinal oil and products, pen, daily goods made of feather and plastic products, among others. However, Nepal has failed to benefit from the offer made by China, as Nepal does not have a comparative advantage in most of the goods in this long list. So, instead, Nepal has long been requesting China to allow the export of 512 specified goods under the duty free, quota-free provision. During Prime Minister KP Oli’s visit to China in 2018, too, Nepal made a request to the Chinese government to grant an enhanced level of market access to these 512 tradable products.

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