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Committee formed to run NTA

KATHMANDU, FEB 11 -

The Ministry of Information and Communications has formed a five-member committee at the Nepal Telecommuni-cations Authority (NTA) to make “essential decisions” as it has no chairman. The committee consists of four NTA board members and a senior director.

The telecom regulator’s policy related tasks have remained pending in the absence of a chairman who makes policy decisions as per the Telecommunication Act 1997.

Senior director of the NTA Ananda Raj Khanal and board members Girindra Raj Adhikari, Mahesh Prasad Adhikari, Anil Kumar Dhungel and Dhana Raj Gyawali are in the committee. Ministry officials said that the committee had been formed as a stopgap measure until the government activates Clause 60 of the Act which allows the ministry to remove difficulties in implementing it by issuing an order.

The Communications Ministry has sent a draft of the order to the Law Ministry to look into the legality of the planned order which will be published in Nepal Gazette. The proposal to form a committee has been made so that the NTA could take decisions even in the absence of its chairman. After the cabinet approves the order, it is published in Nepal Gazette and is enforced.

“The five-member committee is an interim provision for removing the current obstacle in the telecom sector,” said Khanal. He added that they held the committee’s first meeting on Thursday and discussed important issues including implementation of the government issued order on infrastructure sharing and licence renewal of Nepal Satellite Telecom (NST).  

NST’s operating licence expires this Saturday. The NTA has not been able to take a decision on many crucial matters like license issuance, approval of voice and data tariff and license renewal of telecom operators and internet service providers requiring the board’s approval. Implementation of the authority’s annual programmes has also been affected.

However, the ministry’s move to form the committee through a direct minister-level decision has been criticised by NTA staff. An official at the NTA said that the ministry had repeated its past mistake by forming the committee which is against telecommunication laws. He added that immediately after the Supreme Court issued a stay order against Digambar Jha’s appointment as the new NTA chairman, they had urged the ministry not to give decision-making powers to any committee.

In August last year, the ministry had delegated the chairman’s authority to senior director Khanal to implement the NTA’s annual programme and make decisions on financial- and management-related internal affairs after the then chairman Bhesh Raj Kanel quit. Similarly, a four-member committee comprising three board members and Khanal was also formed to take policy-level decisions through a direct decision of the ministry.

Posted on: 2013-02-11 08:56