KATHMANDU, Jan 21: The process of selecting the new chief executive officer (CEO) for Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) has lingered over trivial issues.
The board of directors of NTB was scheduled to meet on Monday to select the new CEO from three names shortlisted by a sub-committee formed by it. However, the board meeting could not convene on the day. This is the third time that the meeting has been postponed.
The board was supposed to name the CEO on Friday. However, the meeting was postponed as some board members could not make it to the meeting. The meeting scheduled for Sunday was also postponed for Monday.
The meeting on Monday was postponed citing busy schedule of tourism secretary Kedar Bahadur Adhikari who chairs the board.
A source privy to the issue told Republica that board meeting was intentionally being postponed to buy time and politicize the selection process. “If nothing fishy is going on, why would the process be entangled when three names have already been shortlisted,” the source added.
An NTB official the selection process has been delayed with postponements of the board meeting. "It seems to be an attempt to have political influence in the selection process. It is a matter of shame,” the official told Republica.
Altogether, 17 applicants had applied for the top post at NTB. The selection sub-committee had shortlisted nine candidates – Dhananjay Regmi, Dipak Bastakoti, Hikmat Singh Aiyer, Deepak Raj Joshi, Bachchu Narayan Shrestha, Kashiraj Bhandari, Nabin Pokhrel, Rohini Prasad Khanal and Santosh Bikram Thapa for the position – and invited them to make presentations and interview last week.
The selection sub-committee led by Ghanashyam Upadhayaya, a joint secretary at the tourism ministry, has recommended three names – Dhananjay Regmi, Dipak Bastakoti and Hikmat Singh Aiyer – in alphabetical order, the official said.
Of the shortlisted candidates, Aiyer is a director at NTB, while Dipak Bastakoti is a tourism professional. Dhananjay Regmi has been working as a professor in the Central Department of Geography at Tribhuvan University.
Regmi had collected the most merit points strengthening the probability of him being the next CEO, according to people privy to the selection process. However, the board is preparing to omit his name from the final selection as he reportedly has inclination toward Nepali Congress. There are speculations that the government is trying to appoint candidate preferably from the Nepal Communist Party as the CEO.
“Politicization in the board when the country is celebrating Visit Nepal Year 2020 will have a negative impact,” the source said. “The post has been vacant and to make the campaign successful, deserving candidate must be selected.”