Tuesday, August 10, 2010

CIAA hijacks NAC dream

The government's anti-corruption watch dog, again hijacked the Nepal Airlines Corporation's (NAC) long-cherished dream to add new aircraft to its existing fleet of two age-old Boeings for long haul routes.

Though, the Commission for the Investigation of the Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has been investigating the NAC's new Airbus buying process after it received complaint, today it took away all the documents regarding the aircraft purchase. "They took three suitcases and one box of documents from the NAC office," a NAC official said blaming the CIAA for delaying the much-needed aircraft purchase process.

However, the CIAA secretary Bhagwati Prasad Kafle said that there no doubt about the urgency and need of new aircraft -- either Boeings or Airbus -- for the national flag-carrier. "We are only investigating the process that is according to law or not," he added.

But according to the NAC, it has duly followed the Financial Regulation and Public Procurement Act. "NAC selected the lowest priced offer of Airbus among only two responsive offers," the official claimed.

However, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and CIAA have been repeatedly questioning the procurement process of aircraft. The Finance Ministry -- reverting from its earlier stance -- has also rejected to give government guarantee for the NAC.

As the ambitious national campaign -- Nepal Tourism Year 2011 -- that aims at attracting one million tourist is at the door step, the NAC feels urgency to add new aircraft to extend its services to Sydney, New York and cities in Europe -- the largest tourist markets.

NAC has decided to buy two aircraft – one wide-body and one narrow-body – from European manufacturer Airbus after its technical team gave it a green signal. "The A330-200 is a wide-body aircraft will have a seat capacity of 279 and costs $92.845 million, while the narrow-body A320-200 has seating capacity of 150 and will costs $41.289," according to the national flag carrier.

PAC has a couple of months month ago directed MoF not to implement an NAC board decision to purchase wide-body and narrow-body aircraft and to retrieve the lock-up money.

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