Kathmandu, July 28
The Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Water Resources has directed Ministry of Energy (MoE) to immediately finalise the Bill on National Energy Crisis Alleviation and Electricity Development Decade so that it could be tabled in ongoing House session.
The Cabinet, on February 18, endorsed Action Plan on National Energy Crisis Alleviation and Electricity Development Decade in the wake of trade blockade on Nepal-India border points, which completely halted supply of various essential goods, including petroleum products. The action plan has incorporated 99 points aimed at making Nepal self-sufficient in clean energy production, such as hydro and solar power, so that dependence on imported fossil fuel could be reduced over the years.
After the action plan was endorsed, the government decided to convert it into act to put legal teeth into the document and ensure policies and programmes included in the plan can be rolled out effectively in the future.
“It’s been five months and seven days since the document was endorsed by the Cabinet, but the MoE still has not been able to prepare the draft of the bill,” Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Water Resources, Gagan Thapa, told the panel’s meeting today. “Considering the government’s response, it does not look like the energy sector is facing a crisis.”
The action plan, which is being converted into law, has recommended a host of policy and legal reform measures, including reform of the MoE and the Department of Electricity Development, to give impetus to the growth of the energy sector. It has also suggested a slew of measures to remove legal and administrative hurdles, in areas such as land acquisition, to expedite development of hydroelectricity projects and power transmission lines.
It has also made an attempt to attract foreign investment by enabling Nepal Electricity Authority to sign power purchase agreement with foreign hydro project developers in convertible currency for a period of 10 years to cover foreign exchange variation risk.
As per the timeline mentioned in the action plan, groundwork for implementation of over 60 per cent of these works should have been laid within three months of the introduction of the plan.
“So, it’s high time the MoE prepare the draft of the bill so that it could be tabled in the ongoing House session,” Thapa said, adding, “Proper implementation of policies and programmes laid in the action plan could completely transform the country’s energy sector.”
In response, Energy Secretary Suman Prasad Sharma said the draft of the bill has already been forwarded to the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs (MoLJPA).
“The MoLJPA has asked us to draft the bill in a way so that it does not become obsolete once the country embraces the concept of federalism,” said Sharma. “We are holding a series of meetings with the MoLJPA beginning today so that the ministry’s concern could be addressed. Once the new
provisions are included, we will finalise the draft and forward it to the Parliament.”
A version of this article appears in print on July 29, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.