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Three new laws suggested to run civil aviation authority

- SANGAM PRASAIN, Kathmandu

Jun 22, 2019-

An independent committee formed to prepare a new draft Civil Aviation Bill that envisages splitting the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal into two entities has submitted its report to the Tourism Ministry proposing three separate pieces of legislations.

According to officials familiar with the document, the committee has proposed a regulatory act, service provider act and civil aviation act.

The regulatory act will govern the regulatory body and the service provider act will govern the airports and airport related services. The civil aviation act will govern the aviation security. The Tourism Ministry had formed an independent committee led by Raju Man Singh Malla, a former Law Secretary after objection were raised on earlier drafts prepared by four separate committees.

The government plans to table the bill at the ongoing budget session of the Parliament.

The legislation envisages integrating the previous acts to eliminate conflicts and contradictions at the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal which currently has been functioning as both regulator and service provider from the same office, and there is no clear demarcation between its duties and organisational structure.

Progress on the legislation has been frustratingly slow. The government has been working on it for the last nine years.

Suresh Acharya, joint secretary at the Tourism Ministry, said that they have received the draft from the committee and will review it before finalising the draft. “After that, the draft will be sent to the Law and Finance Ministry for their comments before tabling it at the Cabinet.”

Following the Cabinet approval, it will be registered at Parliament. The Parliament may send the draft to different parliamentary committees for further deliberations before it is passed into the law.

The first draft was prepared by a Spanish consultancy Ineco with Asian Development Bank funding of $4.2 million in 2014, following the approval by the board of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal in 2010. The proposed law is expected to replace two existing acts, Civil Aviation Act 1959 and Nepal Civil Aviation Authority Act 1996.

Two years after the first draft was prepared, a four-member committee led by Tourism Joint Secretary Buddhi Sagar Lamichhane was formed to prepare another draft. The panel submitted its draft to the ministry in 2017. In December 2018, a five-member panel led by Narendra Thapa, deputy director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal was formed to prepare the draft. The panel submitted the draft in early January to the ministry proposing a slew of changes to the draft prepared earlier by another government committee.

Again in March, a new five-member panel had been formed under the leadership of Tourism Joint Secretary Suresh Acharya.

Due to the delay in enacting the law, a number of international aviation safety agencies have even slammed Nepal’s poor progress in ensuring air safety.

In mid-February, the Tourism Ministry informed the ambassadors of different European countries, including the ambassador of the European Union Delegation to Nepal, about the progress achieved in breaking up the Civil Aviation Authority into two entities, which they said was a prerequisite to remove Nepal from the European Union air safety list.

On December 5, 2013, the European Commission put Nepal on the European Union air safety list as it found it the country lacking the ability to oversee aviation safety issues. It had asked that the Civil Aviation Authority be broken up with a clear demarcation as its dual functions gave rise to a conflict of interest.

Lawmakers at the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee have been complaining that the Tourism Ministry does not seem serious about splitting the civil aviation agency into two entities.

Published: 22-06-2019 08:54

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