23 APRIL 2014, KATHMANDU – Despite the failure of promoting sustainability and increasing the tourist to the country, Nepal Tourism board’s recent activities made private sector tourism enterprises to boycott the ongoing tourism activities may organize by the board.
Government of Nepal has planned and celebrated several Visit Nepal year but it could not bring dreamed numbers of tourists to the country as there were lots of irregularities, corruption, political instability and many other reasons.In a recent incident, some Twenty travel trade organisations have decided not to get involved in any national and international programs organised by the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), accusing NTB officials of engaging in massive irregularities of funds collected from tourists.
At a meeting on Tuesday, the Joint Tourism Co-ordination Committee disclosed that NTB’s amended Financial Bylaws have authorized its chief to spend Rs 10 million at a time for tourism promotion inside the country.
The NTB chief has also been authorized to spend $400,000 outside the country and spend any amount through NTB’s honorary representatives, according to the committee’s letter addressed to the Tourism Minister.
The bylaws, which the private sector said was amended behind closed doors through a board decision, have allowed NTB to make a consignment or tender of goods amounting up to Rs 2.5 million without following the Public Procurement Act and Regulation.
The Public Procurement Regulation says a tender has to be called to procure goods worth above Rs 1 million. However, the amended bylaws have allowed NTB to procure goods worth Rs 1-2.5 million through quotation instead of a tendering process. The bylaws, which have not been made public, have provisioned tender for procurement worth more than Rs 2.5 million.
“The government and its agencies are guided by the Public Procurement Act and its regulation and amending the Bylaws overtaking the Act is unlawful,” said an NTB official. “The amendment has given the acting CEO full authority to misuse the fund.”
NTB’s officiating CEO Subash Niroula was not available for comments, although the Post made repeated attempts to contact him. A recorded voice message from the CEO’s mobile phone said: “We are closed today and please contact during the office hours.” NTB, which has been assigned to promote Nepal’s tourism in the national and international arenas, has been stumbling along without its head since the then CEO Prachanda Man Shrestha’s tenure expired on October 31, 2011.
“The board has not been able to promote Nepal despite adequate resources,” said Ramesh Dhamala, president of Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal. “It should end the haphazard spending of the fund in the name of tourism promotion.”
The private sector has urged the government to immediately implement a report on NTB’s restructuring submitted by a government-led team. The private sector has asked the government to immediately appoint a new NTB CEO through a competitive process.
As the government has permitted NTB to double its tourism service fee charged to tourists departing from the Tribhuvan International Airport to Rs 1,000 from March 1, NTB’s annual budget is expected to balloon to Rs 1.21 billion.
Cash-rich NTB recently said it would soon launch a five-year tourism plan under which it proposes to convert isolated and abandoned heritage buildings into commercially viable tourism products. Among the different proposed projects, the board is considering taking over palaces and residences of historical importance, particularly those illustrating the decadence of the Rana regime, and lease them out to private companies.