May 13 , 2014
Joint Tourism Coordination Committee (JTCC) on Monday issued a white paper on anomalies allegedly perpetrated by acting CEO of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) Subash Niroula.
In the white paper, the Joint Tourism Coordination Committee (JTCC) - a forum of different travel trade associations - has argued that the amended Financial Bylaws of NTB contradicts with the Public Procurement Act (PPA) 2007.
President of PATA Nepal Chapter Suman Pandey read out the white paper.
As per the Bylaws, the CEO can spend up to Rs 10 million at a time for tourism promotion activities inside the country and US$ 400,000 at a time outside the country without following due procedure prescribed by the Public Procurement Act. In addition to that, the Bylaws allow NTB to procure goods and services worth up to Rs 2.5 million without inviting tender. As per the Public Procurement Act, offices should ask for quotation to purchase goods worth more than Rs 1 million.
Niroula has also been blamed of freezing NTB’s bank accounts maintained at Nepal Investment Bank and Nabil Bank. The accounts were operated by NTB Director Nandini Lahe Thapa.
“Earlier, auditors could conduct independent audit and submit report to the committee. But the amended bylaws say auditors have to work as per the direction of the chief executive. This shows Niroula is involved in financial anomalies,” Deepak Mahat, president of National Entrepreneurs’ Association for Tourism-Nepal (NEAT-Nepal), said at the program.
Tourism entrepreneurs have also accused Niroula of submitting expenses of his personal visits to India at the board. Niroula has also been accused to traveling in economy class and submitting the expenditure of business class tickets.
JTCC has also accused Niroula of hiring his near and dear ones as interns instead of fulfilling the vacant posts at NTB. Besides, he has been accused of creating posts such as officer in-charge, manager in-charge and deputy CEO going against the Employees Bylaws.
Ramesh Dhamala, coordinator of Joint Tourism Coordination Committee (JTCC) and president of Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN), said the three-member probe panel formed by the tourism ministry on Sunday won’t be acceptable for them. “The government should first include representatives of private sector and tourism experts in the team,” Dhamala added.
Representatives of around 31 different travel trade associations are protesting against NTB, on the aegis of JTCC, for the past two weeks.
NIROULA NO LONGER ACTING CEO
Meanwhile, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) on Sunday wrote to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) that Niroula cannot be the acting CEO of NTB.
The office was responding to MoCTCA’s letter dated May 5. MoCTCA had sought legal opinion from OAG after a case was filed against Niroula at the Patan Appellate Court. A single bench of Patan Appellate Court had stayed the decision taken by the 187th Meeting of Executive Committee of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) to appoint Niroula as the acting CEO.
However, Niroula moved the apex court. A single bench of the then Acting Chief Justice Damodar Prasad Sharma on September 9 had upheld the decision taken by the 187th Meeting of Executive Committee of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) regarding the appointment of Niroula as the Acting CEO until a verdict is issued by full bench of Patan Appellate Court.
The decision had paved the way for Niroula to become acting CEO of NTB. However, the case at Patan Appellate Court was still under consideration. The full bench of Patan Appellate Court on February 5 upheld the decision of its single bench.