KATHMANDU, April 20: Workers´ unions at Nepal Telecom (NT) have asked the government to help the state-controlled telecom operator find a strategic partner so that it can face tough competition in the market effectively.
They also blamed the telecom sector regulator - Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA) - of favoring the private operators.
Speaking at the second national convention of Maoist-affiliated National Employees´ Organization of Nepal (NEON), leaders of different trade unions urged the government to save NT from meeting the fate of other public enterprises.
Instead of giving state-controlled agency special protection, they complained that the government and the regulator were creating obstacles in NT´s projects.
Manil Ojha, president of Nepal Telecom Workers Union, said NT was failing to compete with other operators because of the management´s incompetence. “NT needs a strong strategic partner if it is to expand its operations and sustain market competition,” he added.
Bholanath Ghimire, vice-president of Nepal Telecom Workers´ Union, said NT was facing hurdles in its expansion plan because of the indifference of the government and NTA. “It is unfortunate that the government is not willing to bring strategic partner in NT even though trade unions are ready for it,” said Ghimire.
Speaking on the occasion, UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal expressed commitment to help NT bring a strong strategic partner. “It is good to know that all trade unions have come up with a common demand,” Dahal said, adding, “The government should protect NT and make it competent.”
He also said the government must reform NT´s management committee or induct a strategic partner if it wants NT to compete with firms backed by huge foreign investment.
Amar Nath Singh, managing director of NT, assured the future of NT was bright despite some problems. “We are slowly doing away with the issue of power supply that has been affecting our service quality,” Singh said, adding that NT was introducing new services and focusing on making customers service better.
“We are in the final stage of negotiation to add 10 million GSM lines in our network. With the completion of this project, we will be able to meet demand for both 2G and 3G lines till 2015,” he said.
NT is soon bringing into operation convergent billing and WiMax very soon, according to Singh.