Govt forms committee to clear project hurdles

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    Singh DurbarKATHMANDU: A meeting of the National Planning Commission (NPC) held recently has formed a seven-member committee to effectively deal with problems faced by development projects so that their implementation is not delayed.

    The project implementation coordination committee was formed as per the decision taken by the 33rd meeting of the National Development Action Committee held under the prime minister and in participation of all the government ministers and secretaries.

    The committee, led by NPC vice chairman, comprises an NPC member, finance secretary, secretary of the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, financial comptroller general and NPC member secretary as members. The chief of the Monitoring and Evaluation Division at the NPC will assume the post of member secretary in the committee.

    The committee is yet to finalise its terms of reference, so its responsibilities and jurisdiction are not clear yet. It is also not known whether it will deal with projects involving the private or the public sector or both.

    Teertha Raj Dhakal, chief of the Monitoring and Evaluation Division at the NPC, only said that the committee will basically coordinate in project implementation if project developers face problems.

    “This committee will liaise with ministries if there is need and can invite high-ranking officials of ministries to find solutions to problems faced by project developers,” said Dhakal, the committee’s member secretary.

    The need for such a committee was felt after problems erupted while finalising the project development agreement (PDA) on 900MW Upper Karnali hydroelectric project. The Investment Board Nepal (IBN) and GMR Energy of India, developer of Upper Karnali project, were initially expected to sign the PDA during Indian PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Nepal in the first week of August. But that could not happen after some of the political parties raised objections, citing ‘more homework needs to be done’.

    Politicians, at that time, were mainly concerned about two issues. First, the impact of the hydroelectric project on irrigation projects like Rani-Jamara-Kuleriya, Rajapur, Surya Patuwa that lie downstream of the Upper Karnali site. Second, the proposal to extend one-time cash incentive of Rs five million for every megawatt of electricity generated by the project.

    As the IBN board meeting, led by Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, could not resolve these issues, a 13-member high-level committee was formed under National Planning Commission Vice Chairman Govind Raj Pokharel to address the problem.

    “The committee, which has just been formed, will perform its duty whenever such problems arise. Our responsibility would be to coordinate with various ministries and recommend measures that could resolve the problems,” Dhakal said.

    Source : The Himalayan Times