Kathmandu, July 4
Government Spokesperson Gokul Prasad Baskota today expressed dissatisfaction over the instruction given by a parliamentary panel to the government to immediately halt all work related to hosting of the International Indian Film Academy Awards in Nepal.
The directive issued by the parliamentary International Relations Committee on Tuesday has prompted the Nepal Tourism Board to temporarily halt the process of organising the grand Bollywood awards show in the country.
The panel gave the instruction stating that the Nepal government’s financial liability mentioned in the draft agreement to be signed with IIFA Awards organiser, Wizcraft International Entertainment, was “inappropriately and unnaturally high considering the country’s economic status”.
The panel also said that the agreement which the government was intending to sign with Wizcraft would “hamper Nepal’s independence, freedom and identity, and adversely affect Nepal’s cultural liberty and national interest”. This statement has drawn criticism, with many questioning how an Indian awards show could threaten Nepal’s sovereignty.
“Parliamentary committees should give instructions after conducting thorough research,” Baskota, who is also the minister of communications and information technology, told mediapersons, expressing dissatisfaction over words used by the panel in its directive. “Mediapersons should ask the parliamentary committee members how organising the programme would harm the country.”
The minister, who is quick at taking jabs at those who differ with the government’s views, also mocked lawmakers in the parliamentary committee, referring to them as a group of “know-it-alls”. “They must have prepared a thesis on the topic and consulted all the experts before issuing the directive,” Baskota said in a satirical tone.
Nepal is planning to host the IIFA Awards in August. The event is scheduled to be held with the support of Kathmandu Metropolitan City and Nepal Tourism Board. The draft agreement states that the government will pay $4 million to the event organisers and bear other costs related to accommodation and logistics of around 4,000 guests and construction of necessary infrastructure.
“So far, we have only agreed in principle to host the event. We have not signed any agreement and we have not decided to pay event organisers,” Baskota said during the weekly media briefing.
He added, “It was agreed that the private sector would host the event and the government would look after security arrangements.”
The IIFA has been hosting the awards ceremony since 2000. And every year the event is held in countries other than India. So far, the event has been held in around 11 countries across the globe, including the US, the UK and the UAE, according to the minister.
“We had decided to host the event after holding a round of discussion, as it could promote Nepal as an international film shooting destination. We are looking at business opportunities,” said Baskota. “But there has been unnecessary hue and cry about our plan.”
A version of this article appears in print on July 05, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.