POKHARA, March 18: Pokhara Metropolitan City has decided to charge a monthly fine of Rs 5,000 against paragliding companies who have not paid the business and renewal fees.
The metropolitan city also decided on Sunday that the companies that fail to pay the fine will face complete ban on flights.
Gangalal Adhikari, information officer of the metropolitan city, said that paragliding companies would be allowed to fly only after they pay the fine.
The fine will be enforced from the Nepali month of Chaitra (mid-March to mid-April). The fine will increase by Rs 5,000 each month if the dues are not paid on time.
Paragliding companies have not paid the business renewal fee to the metropolitan city for the past four years. Even after the metropolitan city gave a one week’s time for companies to pay their dues, many have not responded.
As a result, the metropolitan city decided to ban flights of those companies. “If the companies fail to pay the amount by Nepali month of Asar, they will face a different penalty that is yet to be decided,” Subedi said.
Even though there are 61 paragliding companies who carry flights in Pokhara, only 31 flights have paid the business and renewal fee as of now. Each company has to pay a total outstanding fee of Rs 86,000. This is the total fee of four years.
Subedi said that the fine was imposed as the deadline given by the metropolitan city has already crossed. “Starting today, each company wishing to renew has to pay Rs 5,000 in fine,” he said.
He stated that the ban would not affect tourist flow as 31 companies were still functioning. “Prospective adventure seekers will be served by the 31 companies who have paid their charges,” he said.
Rana Bahadur Thapa, ward chairman of Pokhara-18 where flight starting point Sarangkot is situated, said that they were investigating the companies who have not paid their fees. “Flights are banned for those companies who haven’t yet paid the outstanding fees,” Thapa stated.
Companies haven’t paid taxes since the Fiscal Year 2015/16. The annual tax charged in that year was Rs 5,500 which was raised to Rs 50,000 in the Fiscal Year 2017/18. The amount has been decreased to Rs 25,000 for the current fiscal year.
Sarangkot is the take-off point for all paragliding flights in Pokhara. Earlier when Sarangkot was a Village Development Committee (VDC), each paragliding company used to pay Rs 125,000 annually in tax. However, after Sarangkot was included into the metropolitan city, entrepreneurs stopped paying the taxes, stating that the metropolitan city had not fixed an amount for tax.
Excluding taxes and fees, the companies also have not paid Rs 100,000 to the provincial government in tourism charge.
Sovit Baniya, vice-chairman of Nepal Airsports Association, which is the umbrella organization of paragliding companies, said that the association had requested all companies to pay the due amounts. “The companies should be proactive in paying the taxes.
There are complaints that the companies are deceiving the government,” he said.