Fallout of favor

Published On: March 1, 2020 10:23 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Government’s open protection for a business group close to the ruling party has become a matter of serious public concern recently. Its undue favor for Yeti Group and various companies associated with it, for example, has not only brought the disgrace on the government but also Yeti Group is becoming synonymous with misrule and policy corruption.  The government allowed it to use several prime public properties including Nepal Trust property worth billions of rupees from Kathmandu to the Everest Base Camp for business.  Yeti Group managed to transfer the ownership of land inside the Sagarmatha National Park to its name to establish Kongde View Resort. Its members are appointed in Nepal Trust breaching the law. In December last year, the government extended the lease period of Gokarna Forest Resort at a very cheap rate to Yeti Holdings for another 25 years before the current lease agreement expires in 2025. From awarding contracts to ambassadorial appointments, members associated with Yeti Group have been the biggest beneficiary.

Now the decision to shortlist Switzerland’s Zurich Airport International AG for developing and operating Nijgadh International Airport is also found to have been taken under the influence of the Yeti Group, of all seven companies which had submitted their expressions of interest (EoI) to acquire the project. This seems to have been done to ensure huge financial gains for Yeti Group. Sources inside Office of the Investment Board, Nepal, say that the meeting of the board in September chaired by Prime Minister K P Oli picked Zurich Airport and the key interest in this was to ensure benefits for Yeti. From leases of lands from Gokarna Resort to posh Nepal Trust property in Durbarmarg for paltry amounts, Yeti Group has emerged as a powerful corporate player.

Yeti Group is also being dragged into corruption scam. It has come out that outgoing communications minister Gokul Baskota was engaged in direct correspondence with the French company INGroupe for procuring a security printing press, as an associate of the French company’s Nepal agent, Yeti Holdings. Prime Minister’s birthday celebration including that of chartering helicopter to transport the cake, which was heavily criticised by people on social media, is also said to have been sponsored by members of Yeti Group. Yeti Group seems to be making most out of its connection with the government. How come that there is Yeti connection in bad things happening in the country?  The undue favour granted to this business group has brought a blemish on the public image of the government. And none other than Prime Minister K P Oli is found protecting this business group. It is getting late for him to ditch Yeti connection. The PM can continue harbouring this controversial business group only at the cost of total disregard for rule of law and transparency. We wonder when the PM will have enough of bad reputation he is earning because of his open protection to a business group that appears to be involved in various unscrupulous business practices.

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