KATHMANDU, Dec 29: Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has defended the government’s controversial decision to extend the lease period of Yeti Holdings to operate Gokarna Forest Resort (GFR).
In his attempt to defend the government decision, Oli came down heavily upon independent media outlets saying they are creating illusion instead of supporting the good jobs done by his government. The premier accused government critics of attacking the government in an organized manner.
The Oli-led government has been widely criticized after it extended the lease period of GFR for another 25 years. The lease period was extended six years before the expiry of the current lease.
Defending the controversial decision to award GFR to Yeti Holdings, Oli said the lease period was extended based on scientific evaluation unlike the past practices of leasing out nationalized property of the former royal family haphazardly.
“Unlike the past practices of extending the lease period of Gokarna Resort haphazardly, the government extended the term only based on an evaluation by independent evaluators,” said PM Oli.
PM Oli, who is also the head of Nepal Communist Party, argued the lease period was extended after Yeti Holdings proposed to build additional infrastructures and offered an attractive proposal to the government through an open competition. “If the lease period is not extended earlier, the company cannot construct infrastructures there. Loan cannot be approved from banks and the construction needs be completed before the company operates its services in the extended areas,” he argued.
Apart from the GFR, the Oli-led government has awarded a huge plot of land at the prime location of Durbarmarg, Kathmandu and four ropanis of land in Kalimati to Yeti Holdings.
The Office of Nepal Trust, which manages the property of the former royal family, was silent on the decision to lease out land in Kalimati to Thamserku Trekking, the sister company of Yeti Holdings although the decision was made in February 2018.
Yeti Holdings is a company owned by the family of late Ang Tshering Sherpa. Many believe that the Sherpa family has close ties with PM Oli. Due to their close ties, lucrative pieces of property of the former royal family were leased out to Yeti Holdings for appeasing the people loyal to Oli under political influence.
The Oli government has been accused of misusing its power to lease out former royal family property to Yeti Holdings. The government had reshuffled the Trust board and revised the Trust Act to open the way for the Gokarna Forest Resort lease.
PM Oli, who has been facing widespread criticism for extending the lease period to Yeti Holdings for operating GFR for another 25 years even before the existing lease expired, came down heavily upon the media for their critical reporting. Without taking names, Oli said those who were involved in illegal works and irregularities are spreading anti-government rumors.