KATHMANDU, July 29: The government has initiated the process to find a strategic partner for Nepal Telecom (NT) by forming a new committee under Ministry of Finance (MoF).
A recent secretary level meeting of the ministry decided to form the committee that will carry out necessary ground work to take the necessary steps for divesting state owned operator´s stake to foreign partner.
Although the government had decided to divest at least 26 percent of the NT´s share to a foreign partner, not a single imporatnt step had been carried so far in two-year of period. A committee formed about three months ago also failed to conduct a single meeting.
“A new committee will come into effect from Sunday which will be chaired by joint-secretary of Finance Ministry,” Khum Raj Punjali, the head of the corporation coordination division at the MoF said.
He said the new committee was being formed as the previous committee failed to carry out expected work for the strategic partner. " The meeting of the commitee has been scheduled for next week and we are hopeful it will yield necessary result in a few weeks," he said.
Punjali said the committee will prepare a bid document, necessary terms and conditions to invite strategic partner and will submit to the Finance Ministry. "The name of the coordinator of the committee will be finalized by Sunday,”he said.
The six-member committee includes two officials from Nepal Telecom (NT) Surya Bhakta Pokharel and Rajesh Joshi, under secretary of Ministry of Information and Communications Saileja Regmi and under secretary from Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Law and Justice.
Although the privatization process of the operaor began in May, 2010 it failed to gain any momentum. The high-level taskforce has suggested the government to invite a strategic partner allowing the partner to own at least 26 percent equity shares.
The committee suggestion was based on growing competition against private operators and examples of state-owned operators in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan who have already welcomed strategic partner to survive the tough competition.
Privatization committee had formed a sub-committee under the coordination of Hari Rokka in May 2010 to find a strategic partner for the state-owned telecom operator along with other public enterprises. However, no praiseworthy work was done in the lack of political consensus.