Pending aviation bills will be passed, House panel saysPassage of the two key pieces of legislation is crucial to get Nepal removed from the European Union blacklist.
A week after the Supreme Court reinstated the House, the parliamentary International Relations Committee has moved to get Nepali airlines allowed to fly in the European skies again.
The House panel has informed the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal that two long-stalled civil aviation bills, whose passage is crucial to get Nepal removed from the European Union blacklist, would be endorsed by the upper house with some amendments.
The upper and lower houses of Parliament held their first meetings on July 18 after its restoration.
The committee on Tuesday summoned officials of the civil aviation regulator and took stock of the current state of the civil aviation industry.
The two key pieces of legislation are currently stuck at the upper house due to messy political turn of events. The dissolution of the lower house on two occasions had put national politics into turmoil, and the five-year-old constitution into uncertainty.
On July 13, after months of political wrangling, Nepali Congress Chairman Sher Bahadur Deuba was appointed prime minister following the Supreme Court's order as per Article 76 (5) of the constitution that brought the political tussle to an end.
“The committee on international relations has informed us that the legislative committee had conducted the necessary discussions on the two important pieces of legislation. They will be tabled at the upper house with amendments,” Rajan Pokhrel, director general of the civil aviation authority, told the Post.
Pokhrel said they were waiting for the appointment of the tourism minister to expedite the process.
The two crucial bills are needed to break up the aviation body to comply with European Union requirements so that Nepal can be removed from its Air Safety List, officials said.
Nepali carriers are banned from Europe over safety issues, and a prerequisite to getting Nepal back in its good books is splitting the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal into two entities to facilitate stringent enforcement of safety measures.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal Bill and the Air Service Authority of Nepal Bill were stranded after President Bidya Devi Bhandari prorogued the seventh session of the National Assembly at the recommendation of the KP Sharma Oli government on January 10.
With the lower house dissolved and mid-term elections declared, Nepal plunged into political uncertainty. “As the political uncertainty has ended, we are hopeful that the government will accord top priority to pass these two crucial civil aviation bills,” said Pokhrel.
The European Commission, the lawmaking body of the EU, had asked that Nepal’s civil aviation body be fragmented with a clear demarcation of its powers and responsibilities because its dual functions gave rise to a conflict of interest.
The European Commission continued its ban on Nepali airlines for eight consecutive years through an updated EU Air Safety List published on June 2.
On December 5, 2013, the European Commission had imposed a blanket ban on all airlines from Nepal from flying into the EU. Nepal has yet to fulfil its pledge to break up the civil aviation body into two entities in order to be delisted.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal Bill and the Air Service Authority of Nepal Bill were at the final stages of being passed by the National Assembly during the budget session of the federal Parliament that ended on July 2 last year.
But the Oli administration had abruptly decided to prorogue Parliament, which was largely guided by internal problems in the ruling Nepal Communist Party. The two pieces of legislation will become law after they are signed by the president.
The government has been working on the proposed legislation for the last 10 years, and it has been held up by the bureaucracy at every step.
Following pressure from a number of global aviation watchdog groups, the cabinet had given the go-ahead to the Civil Aviation Ministry in July 2019 to draft two separate bills to split the Civil Aviation Authority.