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New constitution for Nepal today, public holiday declared!

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Kathmandu: As an unprecedented initiative, Nepal will promulgate its first-full democratic constitution on Sunday drawn up after years of political infighting.

Photo credit: foxnews.com
Photo credit: foxnews.com

The new constitution, which defines the Himalayan nation as a secular country and federal republic with seven states, is the six-decade-long cherished dream of Nepalese to see a charter through the Constituent Assembly (CA).

Hundreds of thousands of people across Nepal were lighting lamps in the rejoice of the new constitution, even as the government declared public holiday on Sunday and Monday to mark the occasion.

President Ram Baran Yadav will promulgate the constitution, endorsed by over 90 per cent votes in the CA, at a function in the assembly building.

Hundreds of security personnel have been deployed in capital Kathmandu to maintain law and order, as some parties and groups have been opposed to the new constitution.

Sections like Madheshis, Tharus, pro-Hindu and breakaway faction of UCPN (Maoist) have opposed the constitution.

Nepal has decided to opt for a secular, democratic, republicanism and federal structure in 2007 through the interim constitution. But with the installation of new constitution on Sunday, Nepal will formally institutionalise these four key highlights.

With the promulgation of the new constitution, there will be fresh election to the top posts like president, vice president, prime minister, speaker and deputy speaker of parliament within a month.

The assembly would dissolve and convert into a regular parliament.

According to the new constitution, the executive rights of the country shall vest on the council of ministers while the president would be ceremonial head-of-the-state.

The preamble of the new constitution says: “Realising a dream cherished by the Nepali people since the past 65 years, the new constitution will formally take the country towards a federal structure from the existing unitary structure that remained rooted in the country for 240 years.”

The new statute has proposed to federate the country into seven federal units, which will be one of the significant changes to occur on the basis of the new constitution.

The new constitution also expresses the determination to build an equitable society on the basis of the principle of proportional inclusion and participation, by ensuring economic equality, prosperity and social justice.

The preamble of the constitution also mentions people’s competitive multi-party democratic system, civic freedom, fundamental rights, voting rights, full press freedom, independent, fair and competent judiciary and building of a prosperous nation with the commitment to socialism based on rule of law.

In 2008, the Maoists had won elections to the constituent assembly, leading to the abolition of the 240-year-old monarchy. But amid squabbling, the assembly failed to draw up a new constitution.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Imposition of 10% Custom Duty on Book Import Impact Nepal’s Booksellers, Students

Many Nepali publishers print their books in India and earlier would have to pay 15 per cent tax. "Now they are asked to pay 10 per cent duty on total imports"

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nepal, duty on books
With the customs duty and the added charges, it is going to be difficult to sell imported books to academic institutions, libraries and students. Wikimedia Commons

Even as Indian publishers are grappling with a budget proposal of 5 per cent customs duty on imported books, in close neighbour Nepal, a 10 per cent duty on books has left publishers and booksellers reeling, with students hit badly as Kathmandu imports over 80 per cent of its books from India.

A few days after the Nepal government on May 29 announced a 10 per cent duty on imported books, publishers stopped picking up books at the Nepal customs point in protest and have demanded roll back of the move. With no text books coming in to Nepal, the student community has been affected the most, say publishers.

“Around 80-90 per cent of books in Nepal are imported, and most of it from India. Now the students, including those in Classes 10 and 11, are not getting text books on time. The National Booksellers’ and Publishers’ Association of Nepal (NBPAN) has decided not to import any books in protest. We import 90-95 per cent of academic and text books from India,” a noted book seller in Kathmandu told IANS on phone, declining to be named.

According to Madhab Maharjan, Advisor NBPAN and owner of Mandala Book Point in Kathmandu, the 10 per cent customs duty will attract other taxes, like the cost, insurance and freight tax and other charges, further pushing up the price of imported books.

nepal, duty on books
According to Maharjan if India revokes the 5% duty on imported books the move “may help to revoke 10 per cent duty in Nepal too”. Wikimedia Commons

“Books all over the world are sold at the printed price. With the customs duty and the added charges, it is going to be difficult to sell imported books to academic institutions, libraries and students,” Maharjan told IANS over phone from Kathmandu.

He said they have requested the KP Sharma Oli government to remove the tax. “We have a long tradition of importing books from India. Religious books were imported from Benaras in the 20th century. Now the import of books is restricted to New Delhi,” said Maharjan, adding that scholars, academics and experts are raising their voices in protest against the move through the print and social media.

The 10 per cent tax will hamper the free flow of books and also affect the reading habit of students, says Maharjan. According to him, a Nepali journalist in an article in a local daily asked Finance Minister Yuba Raj Khatiwada, who is a PhD in economics, whether it was a theory of economics to impose the customs duty on books when the need was to improve the reading habits and culture of the people.

The reason for stopping the books at the customs point was because “as soon as we import we will have to increase the price, and secondly the old stocks have to be sold at the old price”.

“Thus there will be two prices of the book in one book store. This will create misunderstanding with students, readers, scholars, researchers and academics at large with whom we have to deal with everyday,” Maharjan said.

nepal, duty on books
Many Nepali publishers print their books in India and earlier would have to pay 15 per cent tax. “Now they are asked to pay 10 per cent duty on total imports. Wikimedia Commons

He added: “We do not want any one taking undue advantage of the situation, including politically motivating the students. Thus we have opted for this move not to import books till we come to a final decision.” According to him, the onset of the digital era has hit book sellers and publishers. “There are not many book shops left, and with moves like this book sellers may not survive for long.”

Many Nepali publishers print their books in India and earlier would have to pay 15 per cent tax. “Now they are asked to pay 10 per cent duty on total imports. The earlier system was better to protect the local industry,” Maharjan said.

ALSO READ: Is Budget 2019-20 a Hope for India’s Development?

The number of students pursuing higher education in Nepal under Management, Humanities, Science and Education stands at around 400,000, and they would be directly hit by the duty on books imported from India. According to Maharjan if India revokes the 5% duty on imported books the move “may help to revoke 10 per cent duty in Nepal too”.

K.P.R. Nair, Managing Director Konark Publishers in Delhi, said Indian publishers are aware of the situation in Nepal and are trying to help. “They have asked for our help, and we are going to help them,” Nair, a veteran in the publishing industry, told IANS. (IANS)