Sunday, January 31, 2010

News Roundup: KFC Chicken is Hot in Nepal

Roundup of Nepali Economic and Business News for Jan 28-31

KFC and Pizza Hut are doing brisk business in Nepal. Their monthly sales have reached Rs. 30 million after having opened their shops on November 22, 2009. Naturally India's RJ Corp that owns them wants to open 3 more outlets, in Jawalakhel, New Baneshwor and Maharajgung.

Finance minister, Dr Bhola Chalise and Ganesh Bahadur Thapa are members of 3-person team to recommend three names to replace the current Governor of Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) whose tenure expired on January 31, 2010. RK Regmee argues that there is a need to depoliticize and professionalize the position. In developed economies independent Central Banks is considered a norm but not in Nepal. In the past 10 years, there have been 8 NRB Governors. Disjoining politics and quasi-government institutions is hard, especially in Nepal. Look at the situation at Security Board of Nepal, where Maoists-appointed head, Dr Surbir Poudel is on a hot seat over his failure to "contribute to the development of securities market in Nepal." What?

NRB’s efforts to cool down real estate market had shown results in Kathmandu. Now other regions are following suit. Revenue at Land Revenue Office (LRO) in Pokhara has dropped by 28 percent in the six months of the fiscal year.

Cell phone services through Nepal Telecom (NT) are available in 3,515 VDCs; only 400 are inaccessible. NT has 3.48 million rural subscribers and wants to increase that number. Cell phones have changed lives of fishermen in India because it has allowed them to get access to market information in real time. Not sure if Nepalese farmers are benefiting from the cell-phone technology.
Chicken prices continue to rise, up Rs. 10 to Rs. 270 per kilo owing to lack of supply - rising commodity prices are one of the causes. Industrialists in Morang-Sunsari Industrial Corridor threaten to shutdown factories over lack of fuel subsidy to compensate for the elevated energy costs due to load-shedding.

Nano, not the Apple's iPod but Tata's super-compact car is entering Nepal in March. The 624cc car will be priced around NRs. 700,000. All the passports issued after April 1, 2010 must be Machine Readable Passports (MRP) and all passports must be MRP by April 1, 2014. Nepal’s government is determined to get them from India at US$4 per copy despite competition from other countries.


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