Nepali Transformers in Bhutan, Foreign in Nepal

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    KATHMANDU, Sept 7

    Bhutan has done electrification using Nepali transformers at a time when the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has been procuring transformers from abroad.

    All transformers installed in the country, with population of around 750,000, are Nepal-made apart from a few Indians. The NEA, on the other hand, has been procuring from China and Sri Lanka, and it buys Nepali transformers only at times of emergency. Nepal Ekarat Engineering Company (NEEK) has sold over 4,000 units of different capacities to government-owned Bhutan Power Corporation (BPC) after starting in 2006. BPC has signed two-year procurement agreement with NEEK for over 1,500 units of different capacities to displace old ones and increase capacity.

    General Secretary of Bhutan Chamber of Commerce Phuba Tshering says Nepali transformers have been imported as they are cheap and of high quality. He reveals that Nepal had trade surplus with Bhutan when sale of transformers to Bhutan was high, and claims that Nepal now has trade deficit with Bhutan after import of transformers fell following completion of electrification campaign. Nepal exported goods worth Rs 120 million to Bhutan and import was Rs 400 million in the last fiscal year, according to the Trade and Export promotion Center (TEPC).

    Managing Director of NEEK Kush Kumar Joshi says preparations are on to export transformers to Bangladesh as well due to demand from the country as Nepali transformers are of high quality and reduce leakage. NEEK has taken part in the global bidding process to export transformers to Bangladesh. He accuses the NEA of not wanting to buy Nepali transformers by citing procurement process.

    “We are not allowed to even compete in the bidding process in different pretexts even though our transformers are of high quality. The NEA has been importing foreign transformers despite option of domestic products. They make Nepali transformers expensive by adding customs duty but don’t add on foreign ones. How can we compete in such situation?” he elaborates and complains that the procurement process is obstructing domestic products. NEEK produces 6,000 transformers a year, according to him.

    MD of NEA Mukesh Raj Kafle says Nepali transformers cannot be procured due to the Public Procurement Act. “We have not been able to procure transformers of NEEK even though they are of high quality as Chinese manufacturers quote a lower price,” he states. He had prepared a report saying NEEK transformers are of good quality while in the sub-committee to probe procurement of transformers.

    Energy Minister Radha Kumari Gyawali expressed dissatisfaction with the NEA for not showing interest to procure Nepali transformers despite being of good quality. “I had summoned Joshi after hearing that Nepali transformers are good. But the then MD of NEA did not show interest in different pretexts,” she claims.

    The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) had lodged corruption cases against over 20 NEA officials on import of substandard transformers from China and Thailand. There is higher leakage in foreign transformers as the majority of them use aluminum wire instead of copper.

    Delay in bringing transformers by LTL

    LTL Holdings of Sri Lanka has not been able to supply transformers even a year after contract agreement. It had signed agreement to supply all the transformers by mid-January but has yet to supply one lot. Minister Gyawali says LTL must be asked to pay compensation for failing to provide transformers in scheduled time. She told Karobar that the company has been dallying despite repeated reminders. LTL had signed the agreement to supply 1,040 transformers at Rs 205 million in three lots.

    She is also unhappy about the delay in supply of electricity meters.

    Source : Karobar Daily