Energy ministry opposes govt attempt to empower NIB
BHOJ RAJ POUDEL
KATHMANDU, Jan 27: Protesting the government preparation to delegate more authority to the Nepal Investment Board (NIB) to enable it to handle mega projects independently, the Ministry of Energy (MoE) has written to the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (OPMCM) to rethink the move.
The OPMCP in preparation to forward a proposal to the cabinet to empower the NIB has been collecting comments from different line ministries.
The OPMCM has received a letter from the MoE, which has clearly urged the government to rethink its move stating that NIB lacks necessary human resources and expertise to independently handle hydropower projects of above 500 megawatts.
"The letter from MoE explicitly asks us to do a rethink before submitting a proposal -- that will delegate more authority to the NIB to handle mega projects -- to the cabinet for approval," a high level official at the OPMCM said in condition of anonymity.
The OMPCM had sought comments from all the concerned ministries before submitting a proposal to delegate authority to the NIB to facilitate implementation of 14 select projects including five mega hydropower projects, namely, Tamakoshi III (600 MW), Upper karnali (900 MW), Upper Marshyangdi (600 MW), Arun III (900 MW) and West Seti (750 MW).
The source, however said, other ministries have not shown any strong reactions regarding the proposal to strengthen NIB. "However, the MoE has asked the OMPCM to rethink before taking any decision stating that it would weaken the government´s implementation capacity regarding mega projects if more authority is delegated to NIB, which is lacking in institutional capacity," the source further revealed.
Meanwhile, officials at the MoE said that handing over projects to the NIB would not be practical without boosting its its capacity and human resources. "NIB doesn´t have technical know-how, lacks in institutional capacity and required human resources, whereas the ministry has experience of 30 years in implementing hydropower projects besides a department, Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) and qaualified human resources under it," a high level official at the MoE told Republica.
"There should be tremendous improvement in NIB´s institutional set up and human resources capacity if it wants to capacitate itself to implement mega projects. It will be a mistake if the government decides to ignore the institutioanl capacity of the MoE and delegate more authority to a new-born institution," the official said.
NIB, set up under the Investment Board Act- 2011, has long been seeking more teeth to handle mega projects independently.
The government in May last year had handed over 14 mega projects such as Second International Airport in Nijghad, Kathmandu-Tarai Fast Track, Project to upgrade and manage Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), Waste Management Project, Fertilizer Company and the aforementioned five hydropower projects among others.
However, Tulsi Prasad Sitaula, secretary at the Ministry of Physical Planning, Works and Transport Management (MoPPWTM) said that the ministry has no objection if NIB finds investors for project development. "But NIB is not the implementing agency for the selected projects," Sitaula said.