Govt raises visa fees for foreigners

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Kathmandu, May 9 The government has decided to raise visa fee for foreigners visiting Nepal. A meeting of the Cabinet this week decided to amend Section 46 of immigration regulation to increase multiple-entry tourist visa fee, spokesperson for the government and Minister of Communications and Information Technology Gokul Baskota said at a weekly press briefing today.

The new provision will come into effect once the amendment is published in the Nepal Gazette. As per the provision, foreigners visiting Nepal on a 15-day multiple-entry tourist visa will have to pay $30 in fees, up from existing $25.

Those obtaining 30-day multiple-entry tourist visa will have to pay $50, while those visiting Nepal on a 90-day visa will have to pay $125. Existing rates for the aforementioned visa types are $40 and $100, respectively.

Visa charge for those visiting Nepal on a 30-day non-tourist visa has been set at $30.

The government has also revised fees for acquiring a trekking route permit for foreigners.

As per the revised rates, foreigners willing to trek to Upper Mustang and Upper Dolpa have to pay $500 for the first 10 days. If they plan to extend their journey beyond 10 days, they will be charged $50 per day.

However, travellers from SAARC countries, except India and Afghanistan, enjoy free multiple-entry tourist visa for 30 days, and $3 per day thereafter.

SAARC countries in the scheme are Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Sir Lanka and Pakistan.

While Indian nationals do not require a visa to enter Nepal, Afghanistan is excluded from the scheme.

“We treat Afghanistan as a country outside the SAARC. Afghan nationals visiting Nepal have to pay visa fee accordingly,” said Ishwori Raj Paudel, director general at the Department of Immigration.

It should be noted that the government had announced a free visa scheme for Chinese nationals in December 2015.

On a different note, Minister Baskota clarified there was no bitterness in the relationship between the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) and the main opposition Nepali Congress.

He was referring to Tuesday’s confrontation between the two in the Parliament. “Such incidents are normal in a parliamentary system,” he said.

During the HoR meeting on Tuesday, tensions had flared after the NC lawmakers, accusing Prime Minister KP Oli of using un-parliamentary language, asked the speaker to delete a particular section of Oli’s speech. After Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara ignored the opposition’s demand, NC lawmakers had protested by standing up from their seats.

“Video footage of that day’s House meeting clearly shows what kind of language was used by the opposition lawmakers while putting forth their questions to the prime minister,” said Baskota. “So let’s not get into who said what.”

Baskota also defended the phrase ‘my government’ used by President Bidhya Devi Bhandari while presenting the government’s policies and programmes in the joint meeting of the Federal Parliament last Friday.

“Does it mean that any phrase used by someone at some point of time cannot be used by others?” he questioned.

“If it’s so, the NC should stop using their greeting phrase ‘Jay Nepal’ because it was used by late King Mahendra after he toppled the democratic government led by late BP Koirala.”

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