Draft of Civil Aviation Bill sent to Tourism MinistryThe proposed Integrated Civil Aviation Bill 2016 has moved a step forward with a draft being sent to the Tourism Ministry on Wednesday for its examination.
The proposed Integrated Civil Aviation Bill 2016 has moved a step forward with a draft being sent to the Tourism Ministry on Wednesday for its examination.
The draft bill was submitted by a government four-member review committee led by Joint Secretary Buddhi Sagar Lamichhane of the Tourism Ministry.
Progress on the Integrated Civil Aviation Bill has been frustratingly slow. The government has been working on it for the last seven years. Spanish consultancy firm Ineco had prepared a draft bill and submitted it to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) in 2014.
Ministry officials had recently pledged at the 2016 Tripartite Portfolio Review Meeting held at the Finance Ministry that they would present a draft to the Cabinet by November 21, after its earlier deadline set for October looked unachievable.
A key element of the new bill is splitting Caan into two entities—regulator and service provider. The agency has been planned to be broken up to facilitate stringent enforcement of safety measures under the $4.2-million Air Transport Enhancement Project funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Caan has been multitasking as regulator and service provider out of the same office, and there is no clear demarcation between its duties and organisational structure. Stakeholders have been saying that delays in approving the new law have hampered making improvements to address current safety issues and capacity constraints.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (Icao) Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme has recommended that Caan be split to make the aviation sector more efficient.
Similarly, the bill has promised setting up an independent aircraft accident investigation bureau.
“The objective of the bureau will be to improve aviation safety, prevent possible accidents in the future and make recommendations for the improvement of aviation services by identifying factors for such incidents,” said Rajan Pokhrel, deputy director general of Caan who also sits on the review committee.
The Tourism Ministry customarily forms an ad-hoc investigation committee whenever there is a plane crash. The panel includes representatives of the airline concerned creating a conflict of interest. After the bureau is set up, it will authorise the commissioner to conduct independent investigations.
Removing airline representatives from the Caan board is one of the crucial elements of the proposed bill, said Pokhrel. “Airline representatives on the board can lead to a conflict of interest when decisions are made. So the new law will eliminate this provision.” The draft bill has also proposed to appoint tourism secretary as the Caan chairman. At present, the tourism minister is appointed as the chair of the aviation sector regulatory body.
The proposed bill has given greater powers to the Caan director general, thus preventing unnecessary intervention by the Tourism Ministry. The bill has also proposed setting up a separate airport security unit.
Ministry officials said that the new law was expected to go into effect by early 2017. However, Caan officials said that given the current pace of work, it does not look possible. There are still many tasks to be completed.
After the draft has been reviewed by the Tourism Ministry, it will be put on the ministry’s and Caan’s websites to get feedback from stakeholders.