Government forms five-member committee to investigate Ncell buyout rowThe committee has 30-day deadline to submit its report.
The government on Thursday formed a five-member high-level committee to investigate the Ncell buyout row.
A meeting of the Council of Ministers formed the committee led by former auditor general Tanka Mani Sharma, said Minister for Communication and Information Technology Rekha Sharma, who is also the government spokesperson.
According to her, the committee members include Secretary Phanindra Gautam, Joint Secretary Baburam Bhandari, Joint Secretary Ritesh Kumar Shakya and President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nepal Sujan Kumar Kafle.
Minister Sharma said the committee has the deadline to submit a report within 30 days.
On December 1, Axiata announced that it had entered into an unconditional sale and purchase agreement (SPA) with Spectrlite UK Limited for the sale of Reynolds Holding Limited, which owns approximately 80 percent equity stake in the Nepal-based Ncell Axiata Limited.
Spectrlite UK, registered in the United Kingdom in September this year, is owned by Satish Lal Acharya, a person of Nepali origin currently based in Singapore. Sunivera Capital Venture, owned by his wife Bhavana Singh Shrestha, has another 20 percent stake in Ncell.
The regulatory agency—Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA)—was kept in the dark about the deal even though the Telecommunications Regulation 1997 makes it mandatory for the licensed entity to get prior NTA approval for the sale or purchase of more than five percent of the paid-up capital.
After the NTA sought details of the deal, Ncell on Tuesday wrote to the NTA that it was in the process of collecting documents related to the SPA. It has also informed that the SPA would be submitted to the NTA for regulatory approval in line with clause 15 (K) of the Telecommunications Regulation 1997 and clause 4 of the NTA Bylaws (Share Sales of Licensed Persons)-2019.
The Cabinet has decided to form the commission a day after the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Representatives directed the government to halt the Malaysian company Axiata’s efforts to sell its shares in the Nepal-based telecom company Ncell until a detailed investigation into the matter is completed.
The Cabinet meeting appointed Rudra Prasad Gautam as Chairman of the Drinking Water Tariff Fixation Committee. Yasodha Karki and Kul Bhushan Sharma have been appointed members of the committee.