Ex-NRB guvs ask govt to toe rule of law

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, January 5:

Former governors of the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), and senior economists today said the government had no option but to appoint a governor to the bank from among the three names recommended by the three-member panel headed by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Bharat Mohan Adhikari.

The recommendation committee in which former finance minister Dr Badri Prasad Shrestha and former governor Ganesh Bahadur Thapa were members has recommended the National Planning Commission member Dr Yuvaraj Khatiwada, Prof Dr Parthiveshwor Timilsina and NRB deputy governer Bijayanath Bhattarai for the post. But the government has not been able to appoint a governor till date as Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba is learnt to have pressed his deputy to draw up another list of his choice.

Former governor Thapa said the panel recommended the nominees in accordance with the laws of the bank, and said all three were equally competent for the post. “Choosing another person as governor from outside the recommendation is not a viable alternative,” Thapa said at a programme in the Reporters’ Club. Thapa said the committee suggested the names on basis of their integrity, seniority and expertise in monetary economics.

NRB founder-governor Himalaya Shumsher Rana and Prof Dr Bishwambhar Pyakurel said either the Prime Minister or his deputy should step down on moral grounds if the government considers names other than the three names lawfully suggested by the panel.

“It is a matter of shame that the cabinet did not even entertain the recommendation made by the legally-constituted panel,” Pyakurel said, adding that the rule of law should prevail, over and above everything else.

Founder governor Rana opined that the government, especially the PM, is legally bound to appoint as governor any one of the three nominees recommended by the committee. “The PM should know whether or not a person (Chief Secretary Dr. Bimal Prasad Koirala) of his choice is interested in the governor’s job, since he is already in the highest ranks of bureaucracy,” Rana said, adding that a bad precedent had been set over the appointment of an apolitical and professional post like the NRB governor over the last few years.

Meanwhile, CPN-UML’s standing committee meeting stressed that the government could not disregard the recommendations of the three-member committee, insofar as the appointment of NRB governor was concerned. Asked about the party’s stance, Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies, Ishwor Pokharel, also a UML standing committee member, said, “The party has nothing to do with the committee’s lawful decision.”

The five-year term of the present governor, Dr Tilak Rawal, expires on January 29 and the government must find a replacement before the incumbent takes the mandatory home-leave, a month ahead of his retirement.