Government names chiefs at Caan, NACThe Cabinet on Thursday appointed Sugat Ratna Kansakar as managing director of Nepal Airlines Corporation and Sanjeev Gautam as director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal.
Newly-appointed Tourism Minister Kripasur Sherpa on Thursday tabled a proposal to this effect at the Cabinet.
Although the Public Enterprises Directorate Board (PEDB) oversees the appointment of the chief at NAC, the Finance Ministry has relaxed the rule, allowing political appointment.
The Finance Ministry had written to the Prime Minister’s Office stating political appointment at NAC could be granted as the national flag carrier had been facing a leadership crisis at a crucial time when new planes had arrived, a highly-placed government source said.
Under the Finance Ministry’s guarantee, the Employees’ Provident Fund has lent Rs 10 billion to NAC to purchase two Airbus A320 planes. In addition, the ministry is also preparing to sign Rs 3.61 billion loan from the China EXIM Bank to purchase four Chinese-made aircraft.
PEDB Chairman Bimal Wagle said political appointment at NAC “is a policy flaw”. “The government has entrusted the PEDB with the task of appointing chief at NAC through a competitive process, but it itself made a political appointment.” Fed up with a five-year power struggle between managing director and executive chairman under a dual-power arrangement, the government had appointed Madan Kharel as managing director through open competition in December 2012.
However, Kharel had to resign on March 15 for what had been believed to be a growing power tussle with chairman Shiva Sharan Neupane. The then tourism minister Deepak Chandra Amatya had tabled a proposal recommending Neupane as NAC’s chief at the Cabinet before he resigned on May 21.
CPN-UML leaders had criticised Amatya for “failing to deliver” as Tourism Minister. Before Amatya, former tourism minister Bhim Prasad Acharya had also tabled Neupane’s name for the NAC chief.
This is the second time Kansakar will be heading the national flag carrier. The Maoist-led coalition had appointed Kansakar as managing director in December 2008. However, he was relieved from his duty on June 29, 2011.
The Commission for the Investigation Abuse of Authority on Dec 24, 2010, had filed a case against Kansakar in the Special Court, accusing him of corruption in the Airbus purchase deal. However, the Special Court on April 19, 2011, acquitted Kansakar.
Meanwhile, newly-appointed Caan chief Gautam said he has not received the official appointment letter. Gautam, who is currently Caan’s deputy director general, said his focus will be on assuring aviation safety and infrastructure development. The top post at Caan had been vacant since May after its Director General Ratish Chandra Lal Suman was suspended in a Nepal Tourism Board irregularities case. Suman’s tenure ended on May 6.
Among three major agencies under the Tourism Ministry—Caan, NAC and NTB—facing leadership vacuum, the government has yet to appoint a head at NTB. NTB, the country’s tourism promotional body, has been without its chief since October 31, 2011.