Monday, September 24, 2018

Budhi Gandaki project re-awarded to Chinese firm, MPs to execute 20 projects, and more

From The Kathmandu Post: Budhi Gandaki Hydropower Project, once again, has fallen into politicking. The KP Sharma Oli administration last week decided to rope in China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC), reverting the erstwhile Sher Bahadur Deuba government’s decision to develop the 1200MW project with internal resources. The Cabinet meeting on Friday directed the Energy Ministry to initiate the process to award the project to the Chinese developer. As per the Cabinet decision, the ministry has been asked to hold talks with the Gezhouba, prepare a proposal, and strike a deal to execute the $2.5 billion reservoir project.

Following the government decision, the Energy Ministry will now invite the Chinese company for talks and prepare a draft of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) before signing it, according to multiple sources at the ministry. “The understanding will be signed to execute the project under the engineering, procurement, construction and financing (EPCF) model,” said one senior official.

Multiple sources at the Energy Ministry said the proposal was taken to the Cabinet directly by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) without involving Energy Ministry officials. “We came to know that the Chinese developer had filed an application at the prime minister’s office, expressing interest in executing the project under the EPCF model,” said another official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t allowed to discuss details of the proposal. Energy Secretary Anup Kumar Upadhyay, however, said he was unaware of the recent development and has yet to receive instructions from the PMO.

Local Infrastructure Development Partnership Programme: Guideline allows MPs to execute 20 projects in single constituency

From The Kathmandu Post: Going against the budgetary provision, the government on Friday endorsed the working procedure of Local Infrastructure Development Partnership Programme, which not only increased the number of projects, but also allowed lawmakers to have their say in project selection. Government officials said the working procedure has effectively ended the efforts to make the programme less distributive, as it has allowed federal lawmakers to execute as many as 20 projects in a single constituency.

The programme is modified version of controversial Constituency Infrastructure Special Programme (CISP) and the Constituency Development Programme (CDP) implemented through lawmakers. According to officials at the Federal Affairs Ministry, the option of selecting as many as 20 projects goes against the current fiscal year budget that states maximum of five projects related to road, drinking water, irrigation and river control could be carried out in one constituency. While drafting the working procedure, the ministry had proposed for selecting maximum 10 projects within five areas. However, after a strong pressure from the lawmakers, the number was doubled to 20.

After a strong lobby from lawmakers, it has given sole authority to select the projects to a committee headed by directly elected lawmaker and represented by parliamentarians from proportional representation and the lawmaker in the National Assembly. This goes against the provision of the current budget which had envisioned forming a committee co-ordinated by directly elected representative from particular constituency and represented by members of federal parliament, provincial parliaments and heads of the local governments.

Cabinet approves splitting of CAAN

From The Himalayan Times: The Cabinet meeting on Friday gave permission to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) to split the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) into two different entities — regulatory body and air navigation services provider.

“Since the Cabinet has given permission to split CAAN into two entities, MoCTCA and CAAN will frame a new act to implement the decision,” said Sanjeev Gautam, director general at CAAN. He further mentioned that after the formulation of the new act, MoCTCA will first forward it to the Parliament for approval. “After it is endorsed by the Parliament it will come into implementation.” In 2012, the government had formally announced that CAAN would be divided into two separate autonomous bodies. The government had said it would create two entities by dividing CAAN so as to improve the regulatory mechanism and also to develop civil aviation infrastructure.