Govt bars NIB from handling mega hydropower projects

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    Power development agreementsKATHMANDU, Feb 13: In yet another case of inconsistent decision making, the government has barred Nepal Investment Board (NIB) from facilitating the implementation of mega hydropower projects (above 500 MW) by attracting foreign investment.

    Although NIB was formed to implement mega projects in a fast track mode, the cabinet meeting on Monday decided to bar NIB from facilitating implementation of those projects which is an explicit encroachment of NIB Act.

    “The cabinet meeting decided against delegating authority to NIB to facilitate the implementation of four hydropower projects — namely Arun III (900 MW), Tamakoshi III (650 MW), Upper Karnali (900 MW) and Upper Marshyangdi (600 MW),” Minister for Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation Ek Nath Dhakal told Republica. “The meeting also denied to hand over Kathmandu-Terai fast Track project to NIB.”

    The NIB Secretariat was in close communication with developers of the those projects after it received a mandate from its board of directors, which is chaired by Prime Minister Dr Babu Ram Bhattarai, in May 2012 to ink project development agreement (PDA) with them.

    “The cabinet meeting took the decision to keep the authority to facilitate implementation of the mega projects at the respective ministries as per our suggestions,” Dhakal said.

    The Ministry of Energy (MoE) that was handling the project before NIB came into being more than a year ago had written to the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Minister (OPMCM) a week ago, asking government not to hand over the projects to NIB. Saying that NIB lacks institutional capacity and resources to facilitate implementation of mega projects, MoE had requested the OPMCM to rethink before handing over mega projects to the NIB.

    The NIB Secretariat had submitted a proposal to the cabinet to get authority to carry out the projects smoothly after it felt resistance in implementation from the line ministries.

    The government on Monday authorized NIB to facilitate implementation of seven projects including Waste Management project, Chemical Fertilizer project, Infrastructure Development Bank project and West Seti Hydropower (750 MW).

    “NIB had sought authority to implement 14 projects,” said Dhakal.

    Meanwhile, the government´s inconsistent decision making has put the spirit of NIB in jeopardy.

    “There is no point establishing a high-level body if the government doesn´t want to separate strategically important projects from our rotten bureaucracy,” an official at OPMCM said preferring anonymity.

    Ironically, PM Bhattarai chairs the board of directors of NIB and heads the Ministry of Energy. While forming NIB, PM Bhattarai had announced to bring US$ 1 billion worth of foreign direct investment (FDI).

    Source : REPUBLICA