Nepal | July 05, 2020

EDITORIAL: NAC on a prayer

The Himalayan Times
Share Now:

The NAC cannot be relying on the government for largesse to pay up its debt while the management does little to improve its efficiency

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli was right to question the Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) management at its 61st anniversary function on Monday why foreign airlines were making money in Nepal’s sky while it looked up to the government to bail it out time and again. PM Oli, who also looks after the tourism portfolio, is annoyed that while private and foreign airlines are taking advantage of Nepal’s sky, NAC’s planes – both small and big – are grounded, causing colossal loss to the airline. The NAC sits on a whopping debt of Rs 37 billion, whose annual installment payment to its creditors alone amounts to Rs 4.5 billion. But due to its inefficiency and lack of a business plan, the corporation, for the first time, has defaulted on its quarterly payments and made it known that it will continue to do so until the government intervenes, which Oli’s government is in no mood to oblige. The loans were taken from the Employees Provident Fund and Citizens Investment Trust to purchase four Airbuses – two narrow-body A320s and two wide-body A330s.

Once known for its excellent service, NAC has over the decades since 1990, when multi-party democracy was ushered into the country, lost all credibility. Until the 1990s, Nepal Airlines (formerly Royal Nepal Airlines) was flying with its narrow-body Boeing 757s to destinations as far as London, Paris and Frankfurt in Europe and Osaka and Shanghai in the Far East. Today the number of destinations has shrunk to just eight cities in six countries in Asia and the Middle East. NAC’s financial condition has especially taken a downturn with the purchase of two wide-body aircraft last year that remain underutilised even after a year due to lack of longhaul routes. The European Union has barred Nepali airlines from flying in its sky due to safety concerns. NAC’s jets were to start direct services to Osaka in Japan from July 4, but due to extremely poor ticket sales, the flights have now been postponed till August 29. NAC’s preference for Osaka over Tokyo, which was originally planned, has also drawn a lot of flak as Japan’s capital would have generated more passengers.

NAC, no doubt, sits on a pile of problems. But are they solely of NAC’s making or did government intervention again and again milk it dry? Since all the major political parties have been in the government in the last three decades, including those that constitute the present government, they should also own responsibility for the mess that NAC is in. Perhaps, the parties should explain why it took the airline almost 28 years to induct a new narrow-body aircraft. It would be unwise to keep brooding over NAC’s past, so the government and NAC management must think of how best to improve upon the bleak situation. PM Oli has warned that the government would be forced to take stern action should the current management at NAC fail to improve its efficiency. The NAC badly needs a shake-up, and the government should act swiftly and decisively towards this end. The NAC cannot be relying on the government for largesse to pay up its debt while the management does little to improve its efficiency.

Electric buses

Province 3 and two metropolises in the Kathmandu Valley – Kathmandu and Lalitpur – have reached a deal with Sajha Yatayat to operate electric buses in the Valley. As per the tripartite deal, the Province-3 government has agreed to provide Rs 300 million, and Kathmandu and Lalitpur Rs 100 and Rs 25 million, respectively, to Sajha Yatayat, a cooperative, which will also chip in Rs 25 million in the much-touted joint venture. Both the metropolises will also have a share each in the cooperative, which is all set to spend Rs 450 million to purchase 30 electric buses. The move taken by them is praiseworthy as their services in the Valley will immensely help in reducing air pollution and make public transportation easy and hassle-free. Moreover, the electric buses will use the electricity produced within the country. Nepal will be generating enough electricity from next year, and the surplus energy that we will have can be best utilised in the transportation sector. The only thing that we need to do is build charging stations at convenient places so that electric buses can charge their batteries easily. For this, Nepal Electricity Authority must work out a solid plan to set up the charging stations.

A version of this article appears in print on July 03, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Greenwood shines as five-star Man United crush Bournemouth

MANCHESTER: Manchester United's three-pronged attack combined to devastating effect as they crushed Bournemouth 5-2 in the Premier League on Saturday to move into the top four and stretch their unbeaten run to 16 games in all competitions. Mason Greenwood shone with two superb goals whil Read More...

Six killed, one missing in Bajhang landslide

Bajura, July 4 Six persons died in a landslide in Mallesi of Kedarsyun Rural Municipality, Bajhang, last night. One person is missing. A police team from Bisauna of Durgathali Rural Municipality and locals retrieved the bodies from the landslide debris today. According to Kedarsyun Rural Mu Read More...

NCP standoff continues

Kathmandu, July 4 The ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) postponed its Standing Committee meeting till Monday in an attempt to reconcile differences among party co-chairs Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal and senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal. The rival faction of the NCP has Read More...

Bayern thrash Leverkusen 4-2 to win 20th German Cup title

BERLIN: Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich kept their hopes of a treble alive after a dominant 4-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen to lift the German Cup for a record-extending 20th time at the Olympiastadion on Saturday. Bayern sealed their 13th domestic double as Hansi Flick, who took ove Read More...

Fertiliser crunch hits farmers in Siraha district

SIRAHA, JULY 4 Farmers, who have started paddy plantation, are facing shortage of chemical fertiliser in Siraha. Agriculture cooperatives are supposed to sell fertiliser supplied by the Agriculture Materials Company Limited and Salt Trading Corporations. But, farmers are facing paucity of fert Read More...

Govt turns deaf ears to demands of youths staging hunger strike

KATHMANDU, JULY 4 Two youths of ‘Enough Is Enough’ movement have been staging a fast-unto-death hunger strike for the past nine days, but the government has turned a deaf ears to their demands. Iih, 26, of Kathmandu and Pukar Bam, 30, of Kailali, who began their hunger strike from a Sattal Read More...

Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) building

Engineer booked for accumulating illegal assets

KATHMANDU, JULY 4 The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority yesterday filed a charge-sheet at the Special Court against Bharat Raj Acharya, an engineer at the Department of Roads. He has been charged with accumulating disproportionate assets worth around Rs 32.2 million. Ac Read More...

More public post holders submitting property details

Kathmandu, July 4 The number government officials and employees furnishing their property details has increased in the fiscal 2018-19 compared to the previous fiscal, said National Vigilance Centre. According to a report released by the anti-corruption watchdog under the Office of the Prime Mi Read More...