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House panel quizzes NTA chief over Ncell case

House panel quizzes NTA chief over Ncell case

Kathmandu: The Finance Committee of parliament on Wednesday directed the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) to submit the details with factual information within 15 days on the issues relating to sale of Ncell shares.

The committee had invited NTA chair Purushottam Khanal to enquire about the issue.  After the discussion, the committee chair, Santosh Chalise, informed  that they asked the NTA to submit the details about the sale and purchase of Ncell shares in writing within two weeks.

NTA chief Khanal told the House committee that a letter was received from the Ncell Axiata Limited, stating that it would provide the details of sale and purchase of Ncell share soon as it was collecting documents in this regard.  On Dec 1, the NTA had written to Ncell, seeking details of the sale and purchase of its shares. The letter was sent in response to reports about Axiata exiting Ncell by selling its majority stakes. 

“The process of collecting related documents is underway and it would be submitted to the respective body within the existing laws of Nepal", Khanal informed the committee. NTA has said it will launch further investigations if the sale and purchase of Ncell stakes is suspicious. The House panel has also sought response from NTA about the arrears of over Rs 2.2bn, which has to be recovered within three months from nine telecommunication service providers. 

Lawmaker from the Rastriya Swatantra Party Swarnim Wagle demanded that Ncell management be brought before the finance committee for a further inquiry.  "The finance committee should write to the chief executive officer of Ncell Axiata Limited and its partner in Nepal inquiring about the matter,” he said. “A foreign company is exiting Nepal at a time when we are talking about organizing an investment conference in the country.” Wagle expressed concern that the case could send a negative message to foreign investors aspiring to invest in Nepal.

CPN (Maoist Centre) spokesperson and former Speaker Agni Sapkota on Wednesday said the government had no weakness in the sale of Ncell stakes. Speaking at an interaction organised here by the Rafat Sanchar Club, the leader said the powerful probe committee should not shy away from taking action in the case if proved guilty. 

Stating that the government is not guilty in the case of Ncell share sales, he said if anyone is found culpable, the guilty party should be booked. 

"Problems have surfaced without the help of stakeholders in the initiatives taken by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal. 

The whole Council of Ministers could not be mobilised to realise the aspirations of the people for development. Prime Minister tried to do many works. But there was no support from the Council of Ministers. On the other hand, government employees are also not cooperating, resulting in the difficulties the government is facing to deliver," he said. 

Stating that Prime Minister single-handedly undertook the initiative for rescue efforts and relief distribution to the earthquake victims, the leader said there was however reports of death of some victims for want of relief due to non-cooperation of the respective sectors. 

Welcoming the government decision to involve the Nepali Army in the relief distribution efforts, he advised the government to address citizen's concerns and criticism regarding its performance. 

"There is no issue in the ruling coalition and it will last for five years," he claimed, adding that it is essential to maintain public trust and uphold hope in the alliance. 

Stating that the government secured achievements in Lalita Niwas land scam, gold smuggling and the fake Bhutanese refugee, he said the Prime Minister's foreign visits have contributed to strengthening the country's diplomatic ties on the global stage. 

He advised the political parties to consolidate intra-party democracy to promote the overall national democracy. 

As he commented, the parliament the venue of amplifying the voice of the citizens has seemed confused. "The Parliament failed to prove it lively and pro-people. None is above the parliament.  The passages of the bills have been hampered.  The parliament should reflect parliamentary practices."