How the energy minister subtly betrayed Kul Man Ghising…

KATHMANDU: In an interview with Avenues Television on August 31, Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Minister Barshaman Pun said, ‘I will be holding consultations with the prime minister and will carry an agenda of reappointing Kul Man Ghising at Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA)’.

It is now becoming apparent that Pun mentioned that statement to just soothe the public sentiment. His words also discouraged the general people from organizing rallies in support of Ghising as they were optimistic about the government from what Minister Pun had to say.

Ghising’s tenure as the managing director of NEA came to an end on September 15. However, it is clear now that the minister did not take forward any agenda to reappoint Ghising to the top post of the power utility during the meeting of the Council of Ministers.

Minister Pun ignored the direction of former prime minister and co-chair of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), Puspa Kamal Dahal, to carry the agenda of reappointing Ghising at the state-owned entity. Dahal had twice directed Pun to take forward the agenda.

Ghising was appointed as managing director of NEA by then PM Dahal through open competition in 2016. Prior to that Ghising was serving as a senior official at NEA.

Pun’s media coordinator, Dayanidhi Bhatta,had frequently told the media that the ministry would carry the proposal of reappointing Ghising to the Cabinet. However, his claims turned out to be a lie in the end and they are still continuing to mislead and manipulate the media.

From the initial days of his appointment itself Ghising’s relation with industrialists started to deteriorate after he decided to levy tariff on dedicated feeder lines and trunk lines as per the provision of Electricity Tariff Collection Bylaws.

The industrialists even filed a case against NEA’s decision to levy tariff on dedicated feeder and trunk lines but the court issued a verdict in favor of NEA. After losing the case, industrialists started lobbying with various political leaders including Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli to put pressure on Ghising to take back the decision.

After receiving complaints from industrialists against Ghising, a meeting of the Council of Ministers decided to seek clarification from him. Ghising obliged to the government’s request and submitted his clarification through the secretary of the Energy Ministry.

The meeting of the Council of Ministers held on June 10 was satisfied with Ghising’s clarification and gave him a clean chit.

As Ghising’s tenure was coming to an end the general people were optimistic that the government would reappoint him. In fact, Ghising himself was positive that the government would take a decision to reappoint him. He had even received a green signal from former PM Dahal but Energy Minister Pun did not take forward that agenda to the meeting of the Council of Ministers.

In a very subtle manner the energy minister betrayed Ghising and all the people who wanted to see Ghising as the managing director of NEA for a second tenure.

According to a high-level source at the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation, Pun wanted to appoint Nabin Raj Singh as the managing director of NEA. Singh is the incumbent director general at the Department of Energy Development.

“The energy minister did not speak even a single word about reappointing Ghising, let alone sending a formal agenda,” a Cabinet minister told Fiscal Nepal.

Minister Pun and his team devised a strategy of holding an open competition to appoint the managing director at NEA. Meanwhile, Ghising had informed the minister that he would not compete through open competition if the government starts the process.

Apparently, Minister Pun ignored the directions of former PM Dahal to carry the agenda of Ghising’s reappointment to the Cabinet as he was unhappy that Ghising had been receiving all the credit for the successful works carried out in the energy sector.

Similarly, Prime Minister Oli was also not keen on reappointing Ghising as managing director of NEA citing that he had done all the work through his own perspective and not as per the government’s view. Many government officials also allege that Ghising took the sole credit for ending load-shedding and all other positive developments at the power utility.

According to a source, PM Oli and Pun were also not happy with Ghising for failing to give any credit to the political leadership for the transformation of NEA.

The concerned authorities, including PM Oli and Pun have still not clarified why Ghising should not be appointed for a second term. As a result, the public has been holding rallies and using social media to put pressure on the government to appoint him for a second term.

There are many milestones that Ghising achieved during his tenure at NEA. Not only was he able to end the hours-long load-shedding that had crippled life in the country but was also able to turn a loss-making entity into a profitable one. Moreover, he was also able to complete some sick hydropower projects like Chameliya, Upper Trishuli 1, Kulekhani III and the Kabeli Corridor Transmission Line Project.

Fiscal Nepal |
Thursday September 17, 2020, 12:45:23 PM |

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