Appointment of new governor uncertain as Nepal retires today

Kathmandu, March 17

The government has not been able to start the process to appoint a new governor at Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) though the incumbent Governor Chiranjibi Nepal retires on Wednesday.

As per law, the Cabinet needs to form a three-member governor recommendation committee under the coordination of the minister for finance. The committee will have to recommend to the Cabinet possible candidates to lead the central bank.

However, the government is yet to form the governor recommendation committee, though Nepal completes his five-year tenure at NRB tomorrow.

Officials at the Ministry of Finance (MoF) informed that the process to appoint the new governor has been delayed as the Cabinet meeting could not take place because Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is still recovering from the kidney transplant operation.

“As soon as the Cabinet forms the recommendation committee, it shall suggest the possible candidates for governor,” informed an MoF official seeking anonymity.

Interestingly, a few weeks ago, Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada had said that a new governor would be finalised before the tenure of the incumbent governor ends.

If the government fails to appoint a new governor by Wednesday, Deputy Governor Chintamani Siwakoti will become the acting governor of the central bank, based on seniority.

Meanwhile, a number of people are seen in the race of the governor and are rubbing shoulders with those in power to claim the leadership position at the central bank.

So far, NRB’s Deputy Governors Siwakoti and Shiva Raj Shrestha, Chief Executive Officer of Investment Board Nepal Maha Prasad Adhikari, NRB Board Member Subod Kumar Karna, former finance secretary Rajan Khanal, among others, are seen as the top contenders for the new leadership at the central bank.

Siwakoti is considered to be close to Prime Minister Oli, while Deputy Governor Shiva Raj Shrestha, who had been given a clean chit by the Cabinet on allegations of misconduct, has been saying that all allegations against him were aimed at tarnishing his credibility in the run-up to the race for the post of the governor.

NRB Board Member Karna and IBN CEO Adhikari have also intensified their visits to top leaders and other powerhouses to claim their stake for the post of central bank governor.

Meanwhile, former finance secretary Khanal is believed to have a good rapport with Finance Minister Khatiwada and is also a potential candidate for the NRB governor’s post.