Power play delays NTB CEO selection process

Kathmandu, January 21

The selection process of chief executive officer of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) has been delayed due to political power play.

A board meeting of NTB was supposed to appoint a new CEO on January 19, but it failed to do so citing insufficient quorum. The meeting scheduled for Monday was then postponed citing the busy schedule of Tourism Secretary Kedar Bahadur Adhikari, who is also chairman of the NTB board.

The tourism board put off the meeting again today ‘until further notice’ without giving any specific reason.

A sub-committee formed to select final candidates had shortlisted nine names out of 17 applicants on January 4. While the sub-committee had shortlisted Dhananjay Regmi, Dipak Bastakoti and Hikmat Singh Aiyer as the final candidates on January 19, the board meeting had ended inconclusively.

An NTB source informed that the selection process of CEO of NTB is being delayed as it has attracted the attention of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.

The source, seeking anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, said that one of the powerful applicants for the post who did not make it to the final shortlist had reached out to the prime minister and tried to influence him saying that the NTB CEO should be in favour of Nepal Communist Party.

“And now, PM Oli has directed the sub-committee to revise the shortlisted candidates,” the source said.

Krishna Bahadur Mahara, one of the members of the sub-committee, posted a status on his Facebook page on Monday stating that the Tourism Ministry was trying to bring in a political appointee as NTB CEO. ‘The board meeting of NTB for CEO selection has been cancelled time and again without any discussion with the members.

Shall we select the CEO from the three shortlisted candidates or knock on the doors of the political leaders for the appointment?’ he wrote in Nepali.

Mahara, in his Facebook status, further opined that NTB, which is an organisation operating under public-private partnership model, should appoint a capable CEO rather than someone representing a particular political party.

During the selection process, Regmi had scored the highest marks. Hence, his name was recommended for the top post of the tourism body by the sub-committee.