There is a ploy to weaken NAC: Civil aviation minister

Published On: November 27, 2018 08:24 AM NPT By: Santosh Pokharel

POKHARA, Nov 27: Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari has claimed that there has been a ploy to weaken Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC). The minister’s claim comes at a time when investigation is ongoing over procurement of two wide body A330-200 series Airbus aircrafts.

Minister Adhikari said so on Monday in his home district Kaski, where he had reached to unveil local infrastructure development plan of electoral constituency 2 of the district.

On the occasion, Minister Adhikari said that the government was making all efforts to strengthen the national flag carrier. “We want to make the NAC a strong aviation institution at any cost,” he said. “However a game is being played against the improvement of the NAC. There are elements who are trying to weaken it.” 

The minister added that the government was serious about making the NAC an efficient and strong institution. 

The corporation has recently acquired two wide body aircrafts to expand its business. Due to some technical reasons, the aircrafts are not operated to their full capacity.

He said: “Currently the wide body is flying seven hours a day, while it is supposed to fly 14 hours.” 

Once the country gets off the blacklist of European Union (EU) on aviation safety, both of the aircrafts will fly at full capacity, he claimed. 

“Growth of tourism industry in the country is not possible unless the national flag carrier becomes strong and efficient,” he added. 

Minister Adhikari also made it clear that the two wide body crafts were purchased and not taken on lease, as there existed some confusion about it. “We have all the legal documents to prove that we have bought these aircrafts, not taken on lease,” he added. He also said that based on the custom receipts for the aircrafts, the Ministry of Finance had issued money to buy them. The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) has already provided a certificate of ownership to the NAC for both aircrafts.

Referring to the claims that Rs 6.59 billion were embezzled in the procurement of the planes, the minister said that the issue was under investigation and it would be better not to talk about it. The officials of NAC were summoned to the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Sunday for clarification on the charges of embezzlement. The lawmakers also grilled NAC management about its marketing strategy for the new aircrafts.

“A parliamentary committee is working on this issue, and if the investigation reveals any irregularity on the procurement process, then the responsible person would face strong action,” he said. 


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