KATHMANDU: The cabinet approved the resignation of the chief secretary as board chairman of Nepal Electricity Authority on Friday. However no one has been appointed to the leading position of the country’s only power utility.
Speculation is rife at NEA and the Ministry of Energy that Minister for Energy Umakanta Jha will be the board chairmanship turning away from the trend of appointing people other than the minister.
Such a move was initiated by former Energy Minister Gokarna Bista during the Jhala Nath Khanal-led government to ensure that NEA remains free from political influence.
Bista had proposed erstwhile energy secretary Balananda Paudel as chairman of NEA board instead of himself occupying the post. Energy secretary Hari Ram Koirala had thereafter led the Board, but the Cabinet had shifted Koirala and appointed Chief Secretary Leela Mani Paudel to the post in November.
Since its establishment in 1985, NEA has come under heavy political influence leading to overstaffing and corruption. Its annual loss stands at Rs 8 billion. Bista had argued that NEA should be steered away from political intervention while proposing the energy secretary as NEA board chairman.
According to NEA law, energy minister or persons assigned by a Cabinet decision shall chai the NEA board. Energy Minister Umakant Jha said he was yet to decide whether to lead the NEA board or to appoint someone else. “Currently I am chairman of the board as per the law. The appointment of another person is under discussion,” added Jha.
The chief secretary, disappointed with the appointment of junior secretary Umakanta Jha as energy minister, had quit the post of NEA chairman.
Some senior NEA officials argue it does not matter whether the secretary or minister leads the board, but it matters while making decisions. Some others at NEA are of the view that the minister can be bolder than bureaucrats in decision-making. However it should be noted that the NEA has improved under the leadership of bureaucrats than ministers as political parties are less interested in the leadership of non-political persons.