Cabinet approves, in-principle, to draft civil aviation billsProposed legislation will split Civil Aviation Authority into regulator and service provider.
The Cabinet on Thursday gave an approval, in-principle, to the Tourism Ministry to draft two separate aviation bills to split the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal into two entities—regulator and service provider.
Tourism Joint Secretary Buddhi Sagar Lamichhane said they had proposed creating three pieces of legislation to run the country’s aviation body—Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal Act, Nepal Aviation Service Act and Civil Aviation Act. “The Cabinet has given approval to draft two out of the three proposed acts,” he said. “A proposal to draft the third bill will be tabled at the Cabinet soon.”
According to him, the draft bills will be sent to different ministries for their approval before seeking permission from the Cabinet to register them in Parliament.
The regulatory act will govern the regulatory body and the service provider act will govern airports and airport related services. The civil aviation act will govern aviation security.
The Tourism Ministry formed an independent committee led by former law secretary Raju Man Singh Malla to suggest appropriate modalities to run the civil aviation body after objections were raised over earlier drafts prepared by four separate panels.
The government plans to table the bill at the ongoing budget session of Parliament.
The House may send the draft to different parliamentary committees for further deliberations before it is passed into law.
The legislation envisages integrating previous acts to eliminate conflicts and contradictions at the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, which is currently functioning as both regulator and service provider from the same office, and there is no clear demarcation between its duties and organisational structure.
The government has been working on the proposed legislation for the last nine years.
In 2014, Spanish consultancy Ineco prepared the first draft with a $4.2 million funding from the Asian Development Bank following approval from the board of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal in 2010.
The proposed law is expected to replace two existing acts, the Civil Aviation Act 1959 and the Nepal Civil Aviation Authority Act 1996.
Two years after the first draft was prepared, a four-member committee led by Tourism Joint Secretary Lamichhane was formed to prepare a second one. The panel submitted its draft to the ministry in 2017.
In December 2018, a five-member panel led by Narendra Thapa, deputy director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, was formed to prepare another draft. The panel submitted it to the ministry in early January, proposing a slew of changes to the text prepared earlier by another government committee. In March, another five-member panel was formed under the leadership of Tourism Joint Secretary Suresh Acharya to prepare a new draft.
Due to the delay in passing the legislation, several international aviation safety agencies have even slammed Nepal’s poor progress in ensuring air safety.
In mid-February, the Tourism Ministry informed the ambassadors of different European countries, including the ambassador of the European Union Delegation to Nepal, about the progress achieved in breaking up the Civil Aviation Authority into two entities, which they said was a prerequisite to remove Nepal from the European Union air safety list.
On December 5, 2013, the European Commission put Nepal on the European Union air safety list for lacking the ability to oversee aviation safety issues. It had asked that the Civil Aviation Authority be broken up with a clear demarcation of its powers and responsibilities because its dual functions gave rise to a conflict of interest.
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