KATHMANDU, July 7: It looks like the present government is bent on reversing the decisions made in the past by the parliament.
Within less than two months of the dissolution of parliament, the country has recorded two such instances which give indication that the caretaker government is going against the decisions made by the then people´s representative body.
First case involved relocation of six resorts operating inside the Chitwan National Park.
In 2010, the then parliament´s Natural Resources and Means Committee had instructed the government not to renew the lease contract of the resorts, which is expiring in mid-July.
But lately the demand of resort owners to extend the deadline, which was always backed by the tourism ministry, has received tacit approval of the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation as well.
Now, another government body -- Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) -- is also following the footsteps of the tourism and forests ministries.
On Wednesday, the NTA, the telecom regulatory body, forwarded a policy which allows acquisition of frequency and licenses to provide telecom services without competitive bidding. The policy was forwarded by a committee headed by NTA Chairman Bhesh Raj Kanel to the Radio Frequency Determination Committee and the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) for approval.
If the policy is approved, existing telcos can acquire additional GSM or CDMA frequency as per the demand by paying a fixed amount on the basis of megahertz.
The recent move is against the instruction of the then parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, which had ordered halt to all the process related to spectrum distribution and awarding of telecom service license. This move also comes at a time when the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) is investigating possible anomalies while awarding telecom license and frequency.
Spectrum is considered a scarce resource because of its limited availability. In India, a similar decision to hand over 2G frequency without auctioning had sent a minister and a parliamentarian, among others, behind bars. But the NTA has tried to sweep the issue under the carpet by calling the latest policy decision as “interim”.
An official at MoIC, however, argued that such policy decisions cannot be reversed in the future although the NTA is calling it “interim”.
“It looks like the NTA committee is trying to take advantage of the political vacuum to serve its own interest,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
The parliamentary committee during its investigation last year had directed the government to scrap all polices on frequency including Radio Frequency Distribution and Pricing Policy stating that frequency allocation process was impractical and inappropriate.
The major concern of the committee was over the auctioning of GSM license and frequency, which the committee estimated should have yielded revenue beyond Rs 80 billion.
“The new policy has incorporated the old provision which was scrapped by [the then] PAC,” the official at MoIC said. “Going by the instruction, the new policy should have followed competitive bidding as the only way for frequency allocation but this has not been done.”
The committee coordinator Kanel when enquired refused to comment on the matter.