Delayed budget approval may hold up projects, say officialsThe Civil Aviation Authority has prepared a Rs45 billion plan for fiscal 2019-20.
The budget of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal for fiscal 2019-20 is more than a month overdue, and it is unlikely to be approved anytime soon, which means the implementation of its various projects may be delayed.
Two senior officials at the regulatory body told the Post that the annual financial plan may be held up for a few more weeks as the newly appointed Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai may want to revise it.
The Civil Aviation Authority had prepared the Rs45 billion budget and plans for various projects and programmes and submitted it to its board for approval before the new minister was appointed.
“The approval may be pushed back as the minister, who is also the chairman of the board of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, will review it before giving his okay,” said an anonymous source at the Civil Aviation Authority.
On Monday, Minister Bhattarai had announced a slew of reforms and projects in the tourism and aviation sector. The projects include upgrading Manthali Airport in a bid to divert domestic services, particularly Lukla flights, from Kathmandu's congested airport.
The minister also announced incentive packages to lure airlines to serve Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa. Bhattarai declared that site clearance work at Nijgadh International Airport in Bara would be started within nine months. He also said that Bharatpur and Surkhet airports would be upgraded this fiscal year.
The ministry revealed a plan to conduct a study for operating a flying school under the public-private partnership modality within a year.
“The minister has announced starting a number of new projects, so the budget has to be revised,” said the source. In the last fiscal year, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal spent 70 percent of its Rs43 billion budget allocation.
“This year, there are several projects that are in their final phase of completion. So we expect more than 85 percent of the budget to be spent,” said another official at the authority who was involved in drawing up the budget.
According to him, a staggering Rs30 billion has been earmarked for three projects—Tribhuvan International Airport capacity enhancement project, Gautam Buddha International Airport project and Pokhara International Airport project.
Among them, Gautam Buddha International Airport is expected to be completed by December-end and commercial operation will begin after three months, the ministry said in its plan unveiled on Monday.
The authority has also allocated a budget for the operation of Gautam Buddha International Airport. Of the total budget, the government has provided Rs15.89 billion in the form of an equity investment in the institution. Funds have been set aside to prepare feasibility studies for two airports in Tehrathum and Darchula.
The Civil Aviation Authority has allocated funds to lengthen the taxiway from the southern tip of the Runway 02 approach point at Kathmandu airport. As the 02 approach point in Koteshwor is not connected with the taxiway, aircraft require extra time to park after landing.
The new connection will save at least 8-10 minutes. The airport is also constructing a 300-metre runway at the southern side.
More than Rs1.5 billion has been allocated for preparatory works at the Nijgadh airport project.