Nepal | April 01, 2020

Draft of Electricity Act gathering dust for over a month

Umesh Poudel

Kathmandu, November 10

Though the government has prepared the draft of the new Electricity Act to address all the concerns raised by the government and private sector power developers and concerned stakeholders, the government seems to be in no mood to introduce the act anytime soon as the draft has remained stalled at the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation (MoEWRI) since the last one-and-a-half months.

Stakeholders have repeatedly complained that the government has done nothing concrete to finalise the draft and introduce the final copy of the act.

Shailendra Guragain, president of Independent Power Producers’ Association, Nepal (IPPAN), said there are many provisions included in the draft which are not in the country’s benefit. “We have strong reservations against certain points like the one which states that the government can award licence to construct hydropower projects to both government and foreign firms without them having to face any competition,” he stated. “It will give rise to numerous anomalies in the long run.”

“The other disheartening provision in the draft is that the government can cancel the licence being held
by any private sector developer, which also points to the fact that the government is probably focused on nationalising hydropower projects being built by the private sector,” lamented Guragain.

The MoEWRI had previously mentioned that government and foreign firms will not have to compete with others to get licence of any hydropower project they want to build. This provision has been included in the draft of the new Electricity Act, which was made public on September 22 by the ministry for further discussion. The ministry had sought feedback and suggestions within 15 days. However, it has been more than one-and-a-half months but the ministry has not mentioned anything about introducing the new Electricity Act.

“We have already provided written suggestions on the draft of the new Electricity Act to the ministry, but the concerned minister and the ministry have not got in touch with us to discuss on our feedback,” Guragain said.

He further said that the delay by the government in formulating the new Electricity Act will directly affect plans of electricity trading with India and Bangladesh. “The new act is necessary for further cooperation in energy trading with the neighbouring countries.”

Earlier, Minister for Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation, Barsha Man Pun, had announced that the draft was not the final bill and there would be further discussions before it is finalised. However, he has not yet held any consultations with either the concerned stakeholders or with MoEWRI officials.

Prabin Aryal, spokesperson for MoEWRI, said they had received suggestions and complaints from various stakeholders. “We are planning to compile necessary feedback and consult with the concerned stakeholders. However, when and where we will hold the talks with the stakeholders has not been decided upon yet.”

Aryal further said that before holding a meeting with the stakeholders the ministry will speak to its legal adviser for further documentation process.

A version of this article appears in print on November 11, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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